Fourth Sunday of Lent

2 Chron 36:14-16 & 19-23; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21 (Year B)

The biblical account of Israel’s history is more than a record of the past; it is a challenge to the present. Thus today’s account of Israel’s continued infidelity, leading to Jerusalem’s downfall and exile, speaks to us.

For generations a people called to holiness had ignored the prophetic call to repentance. They had become, in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, a people honouring God with their lips while their hearts were riddled with compromise.

If our Lenten observance is to be sincere, it must be more than outward show. The psalmist tells us that genuine tears of repentance came to Jerusalem only with the bitterness of exile. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, remembering Zion. Sing to us, they said, one of Zion’s songs. O how could we sing the song of the Lord on alien soil?”

Sin takes us into an alien land, robbing us of the joy of God’s familiar presence. It can become an exile, killing love’s joy and spontaneity. This is, for us, sin’s wilderness and exile. During Lent we face our wilderness with honesty and contrition. We do so with hope. As the God of Israel restored an exiled people to their beloved Jerusalem, so the same Lord promises healing and redemption to our wilderness.

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