4th Sunday of Lent – 14 March 2021 – Bible Readings for Mass: I: II Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Responsorial: Psalm 137; II: Ephesians 2:4-10; Gospel: John 3:14-21
At the close of our second Scripture reading from St. Paul we read that we are the handiwork of God. As we recall other words from the Bible we are reminded that all creation proclaims His glory. All creations bears witness to the Truth, the majesty, the Presence of God. As we begin this fourth week of Lent Jesus, our Creator and Savior, would remind us of this eternal truth that we share with all creation. We are His handiwork. And in our Lenten journey, our steps as Christians, when we take that truth to heart, we are both liberated and challenged to grow, to ongoing conversion to allow the hands of God to lead and make us according to His designs.
The Old Testament reading from the book of II Chronicles shares the sad decline and failure of the Hebrew people to follow and live for God, to live according to His plans and design. In response to their failure God does something extraordinary. The Lord had sent His prophets, His messengers to try to bring them to grow in their truth. They had not responded. So God goes to a land of their origins, Persia, Ur of the Chaldees, modern day Iran. It was last week our Pope Francis made the first journey of any pope to this ancient land and he visited Ur considered to be the birthplace of Abraham, the father of the Faithful., Jews, Christians, Moslems. But at the time of our story the Persians were considered enemies of Israel. (Somethings are very slow to change). It was there God gave to their Emperor Cyrus the idea, the call, to restore the people of Israel to their promised land. This account of the handiwork of God is drenched in the eternal love and mercy of God. But it amazed and consternated the Hebrews. God could NEVER call someone like that to serve His will! God would not, could not, should not do something like that…Ever! For God to use an idolatrous, pagan, sinful ruler to exercise His plan defied all that was understood to be holy and right. But Cyrus was the handiwork of God. As we all are. But IF this is true why is it so hard to remember and realize this lesson for ourselves and especially for others?
It is on Holy Thursday we are given the answer. We, as the disciples were that holy night, are called to be seated with Christ, in heavenly places, [Second Reading from Ephesians]. These few short words are, again, drenched in Truth and lessons. They speak of our being (present tense) seated, with the Communion of the Saints, as Jesus raises us up to heavenly places to be seated with Him. It is with and in His Presence we live and proclaim His mercy that saves us by the gifts of His grace. But these words are also a lesson about eternal, spiritual geography. For they also describe the heavenly places where we are called to be …seated with and in Christ, at His Eucharistic table. And in this lesson we see that the closer we are with God the better we hear His Words of Truth and Life, as He spoke to John the Beloved laying on His breast. For it is as we journey from this holy meal we are called to abide in God’s Presence and where His hands can fulfill His handiwork.
Let us each take a firmer grip of He who hands were pierced for us. And with Jesus let us then take a more grace-filled grip of those in our lives and those to whom He would lead us, that, together, we could grow, as His handiwork.