Daily Readings Reflection for 3/22/09

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Reflection on the Daily Readings for 3/22/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Fourth Sun. in Lent, II Chronicles 36:14-17.19-23. Psalm 137:
1-2.3.4-5.6. Ephesians 2:4-10. John 3:14-21. Lectionary # 32:

Our first reading is about the tragic downfall of the kings of Judah
and the deportation of the people of Isael to Babylon.  This is around the
year 586 B.C.  Finally, the Persian King named Cyrus becomes a type of
messiah for the people of God and issues a decree that all Israelites are
free to go back to Judah. He helps and encourages many of them to rebuild
the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem. The book of Chronicles closes with
the words of Cyrus who expresses faith in the living and true God of the
Israelites: “Thus says Cyrus, King of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth
hath the Lord, the God of heaven, given me; and he has charged me to build
Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you
of all His people–the Lord his God be with him–let him go up!” (I
Chronicles 36:23).  In the Hebrew commentary this succinct summary captures
the message of II Chronicles: “The Chronicler had the task of relating the
eclipse of Israel’s nationhood, but the edict of Cyrus heralded the
termination of captivity and gave promise of a renewal of the glories of
the past.” (Socino Commentary, II Chronicles, page 347).

Psalm 137 shows us the broken-hearted lamentations of the Israelites
as they hang up their harps in the foreign land of Babylon; they yearn for
Jerusalem and pray and lament about their terrible situation in an alien
land.  This prepares them and their coming generations for the promise
given in II Chronicles and the eventual return and renewal they will enjoy
under God who always is acting in marvelous ways throughout the troublesome
history of all his people but especially of Israel.  Renewal and Promise
are two good themes to think about as we journey in this fourth week of
Lent.

Ephesians is a universal letter shared with all ages under the
guidance of those who write in the spirit of St. Paul.  We too are led from
the Exile of sin and separation from God by the richness of God’s mercy
shown to us in the salvation in Christ’s resurrection — a grace and a
favor given to us without any merit on our part. Paul says, “I repeat, it
is owing to his favor that salvation is yours through faith. It is God’s
gift. We are truly God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to lead a life
of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance.”

The great and famous line “God loved the world so much, he gave us
his only Son that all who believe in him might have eternal life.” (John
3:16).  Jesus’ love is costly. He is lifted up (crucified)  just as Moses
had lifted up a sign of contradiction in the desert–the bronze serpent, so
Jesus becomes a sign of salvation and healing for all who put their trust
(faith) in him.  No one is lost who believes in the Son of God. In fact,
the promise of eternal life is given by God and by his Son Jesus.  Thus we
return to the Lenten theme of Jesus’ suffering and his death on the cross
in order to pass over into eternal life.  Good Friday does not stand by
itself; it opens up the light of Easter Sunday.  We now are closer to
experience the joy of Easter, hence, this Sunday is called “Laetare
Sunday”–meaning a Sunday observed with gentle and reverent joy. Amen.

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