Shikrot Mpwi – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk                 

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B (Laetare Sunday) – March 13, 2021

Readings: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23; Ps 136:1-6; Ephesians 2:4-10; Gospel – John 3:14-21.

Theme: Living by the Truth!

Sunday Synopsis

The first reading recounts how Israel lived falsehood by following foreign gods which led to the Babylonian Captivity. In the second reading, St. Paul urges us to live “the good life,” through the Truth which that is revealed in Jesus Christ, whom God raised. The Gospel reading presents Jesus as the Son of Man, the Truth, the Life and the Light. We are urged to shun the works of darkness and embrace the amour of light even as we celebrate “Rejoice” Sunday!

Introduction

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent otherwise known as Laetare – Rejoice Sunday. It is so called because the Latin words of the Introit “Laetare Jerusalem” (Rejoice, O Jerusalem) taken from Isaiah 66:10 appear in the entrance antiphon at Mass in the Western Christian Liturgical Calendar.

Laetare Sunday is considered as a day of relaxation from the normal rigors of Lent as Easter is in view. Traditionally, weddings which are usually discouraged during the period of Lent are performed on Laetare Sunday. To further authenticate “Rejoice Sunday,” servants were released from their Master’s Service to visit their mothers which is why in some Churches, Mothering Sunday is held on this day.

Summary of Our Readings

The first reading (2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23) recounts how Israel lived falsehood by following foreign gods which led to the Babylonian Captivity. It reveals how the priests scandalously committed infidelity by defiling God’s Temple. The people added sin upon sin by ridiculing the prophets of God, despising His words and burning His Temple.

As a consequence, the survivors were deported to Babylon, under the king of Persia until Cyprus obeyed God by ordering that a Temple be built in Jerusalem. The waywardness and sacrilege of the chosen people was corrected by the obedience and readiness of a Persian king to build a Temple for the God of Israel. By worshiping falsehood, the people of Israel lived far away from the truth.

In the second reading, (Ephesians 2:4-10) St. Paul urges us to live “the good life.” He further invites us to live by the Truth revealed through Jesus Christ, whom God raised. By stating that “we are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life,” Paul challenges the faithful to live in and by the Truth as revealed by Jesus.

The Gospel reading (John 3:14-21) presents Jesus as the Son of Man, the Truth, the Life and the Light. The text suggests that “Living by the Truth” is a remedy for sin. It further laments that “though the light has come into the world, men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil.” It adds that “everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it for fear his actions should be exposed.”

Pastoral Lessons

1. God Chooses the Weak: When the Lord’s chosen disappoint Him, he is able to raise a pagan king like Cyprus the king of Persia to lead his people to demonstrate that he has no favourites – God deals with those who are ready to cooperate with Him which is why we have the mandate to build and maintain the Church of God – Where we show lack of commitment,  he embarrasses us by choosing non-Christians to act on his behalf.

2. Shun the Worship of False gods: All those who proclaim the name of Christ must shun the worship of false gods – as part of “Living by the Truth,” Christians must not be identified with living falsehood like wearing amulets/charms, having secret altars in their homes and visiting shrines to make it in life.

3. Lift Christ Up: We are urged to “lift Christ up” (Jn. 3:14) in our lives – we have the mandate to proclaim Christ in our offices and places of business. As we approach an election year, we are required to go and have our Permanent Voters Cards which will enable us to have an opportunity to announce Christ in the public sphere.

4. Key into Jesus’ Blueprint: John 3:16 reminds us about the vision and mission statements of Christ – Every believer, therefore, must key into this blueprint by ensuring that the gospel message reaches to the ends of the earth.

5. Be Sympathetic to Sinners: Since God did not send his Son to condemn the world, Christians are charged to be sympathetic towards sinners – we are encouraged to expedite action in the area praying for hardened sinners while being empathetic towards souls that are on the verge of being lost.

6. Live by the Truth/Light: Christians are reminded to live by the Truth and the Light – Those who live by these have no need to fear anything because their actions are plain and are done in God.

Summary Lines

1.The first reading recounts how Israel lived falsehood by following foreign gods which led to the Babylonian Captivity.

2. In the second reading, St. Paul urges us to live “the good life.”

3. He further invites us to live by the Truth revealed through Jesus Christ, whom God raised.

4. The Gospel reading presents Jesus as the Son of Man, the Truth, the Life and the Light.

5. The text suggests that “Living by the Truth” is a remedy for sin

Conclusion

Christians should be worried that though that Light has come into the world but people prefer darkness like recruiting innocent souls into occult-groups and being obstinate about pornography. We must ensure that every human being lives the manual of “the good life” God has designed for all His children – Destitute children, the aged and all those whose rights have been trampled upon look up to the Church for true leadership in terms of direction, liberation and succour. We are urged to fulfil the demands of Lent by truly demonstrating that we are saved by grace.

This requires approaching our annual Lenten Observances of prayer, fasting and almsgiving with decorum and pious secrecy so that God who sees all that is done in secret would rewards us (Matthew 6:4-10). May God grant us the grace, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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