Reflection for Fourth Sunday of Lent

When people speak of our redemption they usually mean one single historic event: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We should, however, speak of it as a process started on Mount Calvary and continuing till the end of time. The redemption of humankind will be completed only at the resurrection of the bodies and final judgment. As long as Sin – original and personal – is a problem, there will be need of redemption – that is, of the application of the redemptive act of Christ and its grace on the individual soul laden with sin. In today’s scripture readings redemption is presented to us in three biblical images.
         The first image is the return of the Jewish people from their Babylonian exile. Exile means to be far away from one’s homeland; it means to be a distance from one’ s home. The distance will vary according to the seriousness of the individual ‘s sin. Redemption occurs when the exile, the prodigal son or daughter returns to the family home. If  the break between parent and child was not complete, redemption will be the coming closer and closer  to the parental embrace as time goes on.
        Another image for redemption is alluded to in today’s gospel. As we reflect on the poisonous snakes tormenting the Jewish people in the Sinai desert, we must think of the poison of sin in our spiritual bloodstream. The grace of Calvary will be the antibiotic that will prevent the venom from killing us and wii purify our blood.
        The third and most powerful image is used by Saint Paul in the second reading. It is the resurrection from the dead. Sin kills or, at least, weakens our resistance to the germs which might kill us. The grace of Christ calls out: ” Lazarus, come out! ” (Jn. 11:43). Our response to this call is redemption.
         The exile, the poison and death are of our own making. Redemption, however, is not” … your own doing. It is God gift; neither is it a reward for anything you have accomplished …”Redemption comes from God. It is the result of the rich mercy, and great love of God for us, of the great wealth of God’s favor, of the kindness to us  in Christ Jesus. It is because ” God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” The return of the Jewish people to their homeland was not the idea of Cyrus, the King of Persia, it was God who inspired him to issue his proclamation.
         Redemption is God’s gift. But it cannot be effective unless we accept it. The edict of Cyrus did not do any good for those who did not take advantage of it and did not return to their homeland. They got rich in the exile and developed deep emotional attachment to the people and to the values of the land of their exile. They forgot Jerusalem and did not consider it the highest value of their life. They were the ones who responded favorably to the invitation of their captors: Sing for us the song of Zion!” The grace of God can raise us from spiritual death, but it can not keep us alive and well, unless we lead the life of good deeds.  The gift of redemption can be effective in our life only if we believe oink God’s only Son and act in truth.
       As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us make sure that it be a real thanksgiving for the divine gift of our redemption. When we receive the Body and Blood of Christ -,the memorial of our redemption – let us ask him to make us worthy of the divine gift of redemption.
       God bless you all
       Fr. Dominic
       Your brother in Christ