We are Redeemed by God’s Grace in Christ
Readings: 1st: 2 Chr 36:4-23; Ps 136:1-6; 2nd: Ep 2:4-10: Gos: Jn 3:14-21
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow” Today is Laetare Sunday. It is unique because the Church exalts us to rejoice in the hope of our salvation.
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Our first reading of this Sunday presents what seems to be the two sides of a coin. That is the wrath, and the mercy of God revealed in both the exile and liberation of his people. Three complaints were made against Israel and its leaders. These include: “That they were unfaithful; they defiled the temple; and, they laughed at the prophets.”
This led to their deportation and exile. However, in his mercy, God decided to restore them at his own time. Hence, this reading is essentially a message of hope anchored on the Grace of a loving, merciful, and sovereign God. This is a demonstration of how God chose to save humanity through his only son Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, for some obvious reasons, only a few of those granted freedom by king Cyrus took advantage of the opportunity to return home. The rest continued living in the land of exile. When God is ready to save us, we must respond positively to his offer of salvation both from physical and spiritual captivity. It is only through this that our joy will be complete.
In the second reading, Paul reminds us of our former state and how God did redeem us: “…When we were dead through sin, He brought us to life with Christ.” This is simply a manifestation of God’s love and mercy. Most importantly, it highlights the Grace of God in action. Today, we rejoice because God has shown us mercy through his Grace.
However, Paul calls our attention to an essential point and question, “shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Rom 6, 1). Of course, the answer is no! The reason is that we must not take anything for granted. We have a part to play. God’s grace has been poured out to save us. However, we must reach out to fetch it.
God has saved us through Grace, but he expects us to nourish the new life by living a good life. So, the purpose of saving us through his Grace is clear: “To live a good life, as he meant us to live it from the beginning.” Yes, this is what Grace did for us. It restored us to the life of innocence. So, we must appreciate what God has done for us through Christ.
The gospel of this Sunday contains a very popular verse: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that anyone who believes in him might be saved.” This is the core of today’s good news and should be a source of great joy for all of us. God’s offer was free and communicated the fullness of Grace.
The condition of this offer is clear and simple: “…So that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may be saved.” This reminds us that Grace is not opposed to faith. Instead, they work together. Also, it reminds us that God has made Grace and salvation available this season. On our part, we must be ready to accept this offer through faith in Christ.
In conclusion, we are called to rejoice today because Grace has been made available, and our salvation is close at hand (Jas 5:8). What we simply need to do is, believe, and live the good life for which God created from the beginning. The good life means living as faithful children of God. It means living for God day after day and time after time. This is the only way our joy can be complete.
Peace be with you!