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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 4th (B) of Lent

1st Reading (2Chr 36:14-16.19-23): In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets, until the anger of the Lord against his people was so inflamed that there was no remedy.

Their enemies burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set all its palaces afire, and destroyed all its precious objects. Those who escaped the sword were carried captive to Babylon, where they became servants of the king of the Chaldeans and his sons until the kingdom of the Persians came to power. All this was to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah: «Until the land has retrieved its lost sabbaths, during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest while seventy years are fulfilled».

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: «Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!».
Responsorial Psalm: 136
R/. Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!
By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. On the aspens of that land we hung up our harps.

For there our captors asked of us the lyrics of our songs, and our despoilers urged us to be joyous: «Sing for us the songs of Zion!».

How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten!

May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.
2nd Reading (Eph 2:4-10): Brothers and sisters: God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ —by grace you have been saved—, raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 3:16): God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
Gospel text (Jn 3,14-21): Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

«God so loved the world that he gave his only Son»

Fr. Joan Ant. MATEO i García (Tremp, Lleida, Spain)

Today, the liturgy offers us an advanced flagrance of true Pascal joy. The ornaments of the Celebrant are pink. It is “laetare” Sunday inviting us to a serene joy. “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you that love her...” says the antiphon of the introit sung today.

God wants us to be happy. The most elementary psychology tells us that a person who does not enjoy life ends up sick, both in body and spirit. However, our joy must be well founded; it must be the expression of serenity given by a full meaningful life. Otherwise, it would degenerate into superficiality and silliness. St. Teresa, most accurately, distinguished between “holy joy” and a “foolish joy”. The latter is only external; it lasts very little and leaves a bitter aftertaste.

Our life of faith is going through difficult times. But they are also thrilling times. To a certain extent, we may experience the Babylon exile sung by the psalm. Yes, we can also live an exile experience “weeping when we remembered Zion” (Ps 137:1). Our external problems and, most of all, our sins, may take us by the rivers of Babylon. However, there still is room for hope and God keeps telling us: “May my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you…” (Ps 137:6).

We can always rejoice for God loves us so much that He “gave us his only Son” (Jn 3:16). Soon enough we shall join this only Son in his walk to death and resurrection. We shall contemplate the love of He who loves us so much as to die for us, for you and me. And we shall fill our heart with love and “will look upon him whom they have pierced” (cf. Jn 19:37), and, inside us, there will grow such a great joy that nobody will be able to remove it from us.

The true joy that enlightens our life does not come from our own effort. St. Paul reminds us that: thanks may be given by many on our behalf for the gift granted us (Eph 2:8). Let God loves us and let us love Him, and our joy will be greater next Easter and all our life, too. And let us not forget to let God come closer to be regenerated by Him through a good confession before Easter.