Everything is grace; and that precisely is the message of this Sunday in the season of Lent. All is God’s grace, that is, his gift to us (cf. Eph 2:8). It is by this grace that we have been saved and made God’s children and part of the very life of God. It is by this grace also that we are called to manifest what God has done to our life.
The First Reading from the second book of Chronicles narrates the unfortunate story of Israel, God’s chosen people. Although God has graciously bestowed on them his favor by making them his people through the covenant, granting them possession of the land and defending them from all their enemies, they were unfaithful to God and repaid him with ungratefulness for the goodness he has shown them. They practiced abominations in his sight and even desecrated his Temple in Jerusalem. Israel made herself undeserving of God’s kindness and graciousness. Although God sent his messengers to repair the damage done and call Israel back, they did not repent and thus brought upon themselves death and punishment. Yet God never wavered in his love for his people. Even if Israel’s sins angered the Lord to a point Everything Through God’s Grace that there was no remedy (cf. 2 Chr 36:16), God still looked upon them with mercy and compassion. He still brought them back and eased their years of pain and distress. Though undeserved, God saved them through his graciousness—the gift of his grace.
This is also the story of our own relationship with God. Although we have been faithless and undeserving before God because of the many sins and wickedness we have done, God continues to show us his loving mercy. He has sent us his only Son Jesus, not to condemn us of our sins, but to free us (Jn 3:17). Although we have turned away from the light and preferred to live in darkness, he has sought us and brought us to the light of his truth (cf. Jn 3:19-20). Although our works were evil and we deserved the punishment of death, he has shared with us eternal life (cf. Jn 3:16).
God initiates the way to bring us back to himself even if we lack any worthiness to be united to him. All of this flows from his great love, his abounding mercy and immeasurable kindness (Eph 2:4-7). All of these is God’s grace.
On this fourth Sunday of our Lenten journey, we continue to reflect on and appreciate the wonderful mystery of God’s grace and what it has accomplished in our life. Yet the real task in front of us during this season is how we can respond adequately to the invitation of grace asking us to live out truly the new life God has imparted to us. This season challenges us to make living and effective what God has begun in us by making ourselves faithful to our vocation as God’s children. “We are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance” (Eph 2:10).
As we approach the high point of this Lenten journey, may our lives reflect more the wonderful things accomplished in us by the grace that comes from God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Author: Fr. Marvin M. Cruz
Adapted from Sambuhay Online (published with permission)
More Lenten Reflections
Gospel Readings Fourth Sunday of Lent – Cycle B
First Reading [2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23]
A reading from the second Book of Chronicles
IN THOSE DAYS, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets, until the anger of the Lord against his people was so inflamed that there was no remedy. Their enemies burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set all its palaces afire, and destroyed all its precious objects. Those who escaped the sword were carried captive to Babylon, where they became servants of the king of the Chaldeans and his sons until the kingdom of the Persians came to power. All this was to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah: Until the land has retrieved its lost sabbaths, during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest while seventy years are fulfilled. In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!”
Second Reading (Eph 2:4-10)
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians
BROTHERS and sisters: God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ—by grace you have been saved—raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
Gospel (Jn 3:14-21)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
JESUS said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.