Can you believe we just passed the mid-point of Lent? Laetare Sunday brought us organ and violin prelude, rose-colored vestments, flowers by the tabernacle and images of our Lady, St. Joseph and St. Paul of the Cross. The smell of the jonquils by the Pieta statue (statue of our Blessed Mother holding Jesus after he was taken down from the cross) was a foretaste of resurrection glory!
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
The readings this week call us to a deeper understanding of God. We all have heard that God is our Creator and Redeemer, but the terms are so familiar that we can forget what that means in our lives – in your life and in my life. This Sunday we are challenged to open our eyes to see God as He wants us to see Him.
St. Paul in our epistle beautifully sums up our relationship with God: “We are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” Wow! Anne and Sr. Cecilia Maria found great consolation in this second reading. God continually creates us in His Son! Not only did He create us “once upon a time,” but through our whole lives He forms us, teaches us, guides us, admonishes us, calls us back when we wander, and heals us when we hurt ourselves. Why? Because He has prepared good works for us to live in, and He just can’t stand it until we are able to live fully in that goodness! Everything that exists, everything that happens is a gift of God for you. He had you personally in mind when He created it, so that it would help you grow into the good works He has prepared for you.
Our first reading relates to us how this beautiful providence looked at the time of the Babylonian exile of the Hebrew people. “Early and often did the Lord … send His messengers to them, for He had compassion on His people,” the Chronicler tells us. God wants not only to give us His gifts, but to have us keep them always! He seeks to teach us how to live in those good works; when we are unfaithful, in compassion He cries out to us to return. Sr. Rose Marie highlighted for us how the justice of God is always related to His mercy, and that when we think God’s justice is “punishment,” we are forgetting who God really is. God does admonish us, in the hopes that we will hear and return to the good works He created us for, but His justice is not punishment. He knows that on our own we cannot live in His good works. How could He punish us for not doing something we are incapable of doing? No, He has mercy and gives us His own justice, His own strength, His own Son.
Yes! “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.” This Sunday’s gospel sings once again that well-loved verse and celebrates the largess of our tremendous Gift-Giver. God created us in Christ Jesus for His good works! He loves us so much that He gives us everything we need to live in His goodness; we have only to open our hearts to receive His gift. Sr. Mary Veronica kept returning to this mind-blowing reality. He GAVE His only begotten Son! He did not just send, He GAVE His Son to us!
Have you received Him? Do you live in Him?
Sr. Mary Andrea brought our attention to a message common to all the readings this week: God gives us all these gifts so that He might be our abiding companion. “May his God be with him,” acclaims the first reading about every Hebrew. “May thus and so happen to me if ever I forget you!” cries the psalmist in exile from his land and his God. God creates us “that we should live in [His good works],” teaches St. Paul. And finally, the gospel reminds us that God gave us His own Son so that we might have “eternal life” with Him.
Did you know that eternal life can start now?
It starts as soon as you begin living in the goodness God created you for!