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4th Sunday in Lent, Year B – Homily

4th Sunday in Let, Year B
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21
March 15, 2015

 

The Books of Chronicles help tell the story of God’s relationship with the people.  Today’s passage comes from a time when the people of Israel had turned away from God and lived in infidelity, committing abominations against the Lord’s ways and polluting the Temple by their sinful acts.

The Lord was not pleased.  Things had gone too far.  God had tried to help the people to be good, early and often, by sending them the prophets as His messengers.

Did they listen to the prophets?  At times some did, like the Ninevites who repeated at Jonah’s preaching.  Not this time.  The people are mocking the prophets and ignoring what they said.

It seemed like there was no remedy.  I stress “seemed” because with God there is always hope for God is rich is mercy and love.  God always works towards the salvation of His people.

The reality is that we are human and none of us are perfect.  We make bad choices.  God knows that.  God knows we need to be healed of our sins.

What does it take for God to heal us?

In the Book of Numbers we read the story of the people sinning and, as punishment, the Lord sent poisonous saraph serpents who bite the people.  When they repented and called out to the Lord for help, God told Moses to mount one of the saraph serpents on a pole and all who looked at the saraph lifted up on the pole in faith would be healed.

To heal us of our sins, God gives us the perfect remedy.  What does God do and why?

God so loved the world that he gave his only son.

When we realize we have done something to hurt another human being, our tendency is try to do something to make it up to them.  When we sin, how do we make it up to God?

We might try to make up for it by doing a good deed.  We might also want to change our behavior before we ask God for forgiveness.  We should try to change our behavior and make amends with good deeds but we shouldn’t do these to “earn God’s forgiveness.”  We cannot earn God’s forgiveness.

Receiving God’s forgiveness is not based on mathematics of weighing the sin against our good deeds.  God’s forgiveness is made possible for us by Jesus’ giving of his life on the Cross.

Even with Jesus’ death, we should not look at it as a weighing of the good and bad.  What about Jesus’ Crucifixion makes it possible for our sins to be forgiven?  It is because Jesus’ Crucifixion is an act of love and surrender.

When we sin, we must try to make amends for our actions and we must try to change our behavior but we should not wait to change to ask God for forgiveness.  Asking God for forgiveness should be the first thing we do.

We ask God for His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  God is rich in mercy and eager to forgive us but we need to come to Him with a humble and contrite heart.

Confessing our sins is not easy.  We don’t like to admit our failures, especially to another human being but it can be a powerful experience.

As the one hearing the confessions, it can be a humbling experience.  Sometimes hearing confessions can be one of the highlights of my week.  It’s not that I want to hear bad things about other people.  I don’t.

To see people’s burdens lifted when I give them absolution reveals God’s power at work in me.  For the last two years, our diocese has had a day of penance where Confession is offered in all the parishes on a given day.

When they first announced this I thought that we didn’t need to offer it for seven hours.  There won’t be that many people.  I wondered what I would do for all that time just sitting in the confessional.  I brought books with me to read.

When the day was over, I was sort of right.  Seven hours was not the right amount of time.  It took me a little over eight hours to hear all the confessions.  I never picked up any of the books I had brought.  I only left the confessional once for a bathroom break.  It was a powerful experience.

Last year, it only took me six and a half hours to hear all the confessions.  Next week, on Tuesday, March 24th we will again have a Day of Penance and Mercy across our diocese.  Do you need to come?

If you seek the sacrament but can’t make it on the 24th or Saturday afternoon, please call for an appointment.  God is rich in mercy so there is plenty of forgiveness to go around.

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