1.2.Chronicles 36:14-17,19-23
2.Ephesians 2: 4-10
3. John3:14-21

THEME OF READINGS “  Rejoicing in God’s love
As we celebrate the fourth Sunday of lent Year B, the words of entrance hymn give us hope and courage as the words read “rejoice Jerusalem, be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her you who mourn for her”( Isaiah 66:10-11). We can put this question across that why our mother Church invites us to rejoice in the middle of Lenten (penitential season?) this can be illustrated by the example of a man whose job was printing papers in printing press factory. A man had a little daughter called Alice, it happened one day that Alice went with her father in a printing factory, and in the course of going around the factory Alice picked a piece of paper having one line of print and it was written “God loved the World so much that he gave his only son....”thus Alice hold the paper and kept the idea of loving God in her mind, from that moment Alice had smiling face radiated with joy also. Getting back home her mother noticed a smiling face and joy in Alice, therefore her mother asked what made her to be smiling? Alice in responding to her mother’s question showed her the piece of paper with printed line. So her mother looked at that piece of printed paper and said “what did God give?” “I don’t know” said Alice, “ but if God loved us well enough to give us something, then we need not be so afraid of Him” in this context God is giving an assurance of to Israelites who had been in despair as all Jesus events of salvation was to take place in Jerusalem.
We can put this question before us that what does it mean to say that God loved us? To understand what the bible means by God’s love? First and foremost we have a need to understand a Greek connotation of the word ‘love’ in Greek understanding of the word Love we have the following terms, 1.Eros meaning romantic love, for example the love between a man and a woman that leads to marriage,  2.Philia, meaning fellowship love, for example a football fellowship/ material attractions that made people of the same feelings attractions to form a common fellowship towards things, 3.Agape ( sacrificial love) for example this is a love that makes a mother to risk her life for her yet unborn child. In romantic love we tend to receive, and in fellowship love we long to give and take (reciprocal love) but in agape love we long to give without looking back an advantage. We can ask this question to ourselves that what kind of love God has for us. The answer is obvious; that the love God has for us is the sacrificial love. He gives and forgives and thus He is agape.
In the second reading St. Paul states that “we are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life.” (Eph 2:10). This verse reminds me the story of grimy painting that hung for many years on the wall of dining room of one of religious community; it stayed there for long time without being noticed its significance and everybody passed by without noticing something. As time went on some experts investigated that grimy painting and noticed some important values in it, and that which was noticed was the painting work of great Caravaggio of Rome, it was the painting of the arrest of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. All the time it hung in the dining room its great value was not yet established, it hung there waiting somebody to recognize its true worthy, its value as the work of art. Thus in the second reading when St Paul says that we are God’s work of art created in Christ, like that painting  we can at times go unnoticed as the work of art. Self consciousness is very much needed on our part more especially in our relationship with God our creator. In this context we are all invited to value our own dignity and the dignity of the rest mankind. God our creator knows our true worth. The image and work of God is revealed to each one of us. Thus we can think of other people as works of art also. We are invited to value other people as God’s treasure. God created us to be a treasure to each other in the church and outside the church (society). In treasuring other people to be of great value we don’t need to count costs on what we do to them regardless of their great demands on us we simply love them the way they are. Our personal experience with others in a community reflects also how God loves us also. God gave his only begotten son because of His love for us all. Thus we are of such in God’s eyes.
The gospel reading brings us also the notion of light. Jesus in the gospel scenario is portrayed as the light. The gospel according to St. John the evangelist declares that “light has come into the world through Jesus.” ( Jn3:19). What’s that light? This is the light of love. In that light of love that Jesus brings to us from God we find the light of mercy, great love, generosity, kindness, forgiveness and infinite grace. The light being spoken is the light that is able to lift us from darkness, the light that enables us to recognize the art of God’s creation in us and in others. It is the light that shines in us regardless of what we have done and what we have failed to do.
We all long to move out of darkness, to move from darkness we dare to have light. As Christians we all have experienced darkness in different forms, example in one way or another we have experienced the darkness of despair, sickness, lose of our beloved ones, unemployment, family problems etc. Such kind of expression finds its echo in the responsorial psalm “By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept remembering Zion” (Psalm 137:1). Like Israelites exile, our own exile is when we feel being cut from what gives meaning and purpose to our lives. We should not be cut off by challenges of life (spiritual and material challenges) but we should welcome the light of Christ that is the light of love and endurance to shine in our lives. The God gave us the gift of light freely, thus it is our own freedom to accept that light. To accept the light of Christ is the very gradual process, the lord is prepared waiting us, he waits our free response to that light. As we celebrate the 4th Sunday of lent let us keep on enduring in the love of Christ through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

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Chapisha Maoni