by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Fourth Sunday of Lent Homily: March 11, 2018
“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.” This verse from Second Chronicles describes God’s love for Judah. God warned the people and the priests of Judah “early and often” of their unfaithfulness to Him and the abominations they practiced in His Temple. God lovingly called them back, urged them to stop, and desired them to repent. God seeks to reconcile with them and to put them on the right way. That is God’s nature, to have compassion on his people.
That Old Testament passage mirrors the verse in John’s Gospel today: “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.” That passage describes God’s nature today, towards us. God loves us. We need redemption. Redemption comes exclusively from God’s Son, Jesus Christ. So therefore, we need Jesus Christ. Why? We need Jesus because Jesus’s Incarnation is united to His Redemption of us. Jesus will redeem us by offering up His Body as a sacrifice. His sacrifice will atone for our sinfulness. Jesus will lift up His Body as a sacrifice on the cross. “Lifted up” means crucifixion.
We need Jesus because Jesus’s direct mission is salvation. The motivation to save us from sin is God’s and Jesus’s love for us. That is why God delivered His Only Son to death. He did it with a view to the salvation of every believer from sin and to bring everyone to an eternal life of happiness with Him in heaven.
Jesus asks us to believe in Him. Mankind makes its own judgement by their attitude toward Him. He who believes, repents, is changed for the better, and incurs no damnation. But he who refuses to believe is already damned because he chooses to make himself an unbeliever in the name, mission, and divinity of Jesus Christ.
We need Jesus because God has made us, and we have made ourselves sinners. This Lent we are urged to destroy what we have made, sin, through repentance and belief in Jesus. By doing that, God can save what He has made: us. Repent from sin and love God’s work in you. How can we do that? By going to confession. The beginning of good works is the confessing of bad works. Salvation is belief in Jesus accompanied by deeds done in God. May we cooperate with the truth and come to the light. That way our works can be seen as done in God. We have been made in Jesus Christ for good works. Salvation is from Jesus and good works are an integral part of the Christian life.
Our disposition must be completely opposite from the people and priests of Judah. Our disposition must be completely opposite from one who does wicked things and hates the light, in order to preserve his sinfulness.
So what must we know? That Jesus Christ is God’s Son and is going to be lifted up on the Cross to atone for our sins and save us. What must we do? Have a right disposition towards God. Good will and a right heart will help us to repent from our sins and welcome Jesus Christ in us. Be open to His Grace and act on His Grace through faith. Continue going to confession, continue prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to strengthen your right disposition towards Jesus. Why should we care? Because the people of Judah in the Old Testament rejected God and incurred His punishment. That is completely opposite what God wanted to do for them. We should care because God cares, that much.