Cycle B 4th Sunday of Lent

 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23; Eph 2: 4-10; Jn 3: 14-21

During the First Reading from the Second Book of Chronicles (2 Chr. 36:14-17, 19-23) we heard of the compassion and patience of the Lord God. The Lord God does not wish for any to perish because of their disobedience to His righteousness.

The same message is expressed in today’s Gospel reading from John 3:17, "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." This passage encapsulates the heart of Jesus' mission on Earth – a mission centered on salvation and redemption. This is the great message that the season of lent tells us.

Jesus tried to establish his mission through various means. Primarily he has done it through His Teaching and Proclamation:

In the Old Testament (OT), we see a foreshadowing of Jesus' teaching and proclamation in the words of the prophets. Jesus, however, surpassed them all, bringing a message of love, repentance, and salvation. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7),

Jesus unfolded the principles of God's Kingdom, teaching not only about actions but also about the heart's condition. He proclaimed the good news, inviting people to turn away from sin and embrace the Kingdom of God.

Jonah's Message to Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-10) was the same. God commanded Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim a message of repentance. Jonah, after initially resisting, eventually delivered God's message: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4). The people of Nineveh responded by turning away from their sinful ways, fasting, and seeking God's mercy. This event exemplifies the power of proclaiming a message of repentance and the willingness of people to embrace God's Kingdom when confronted with the truth.

Saint Francis, known for his radical commitment to poverty and love for all creation, lived a life dedicated to proclaiming the good news of Christ. His famous prayer, "Make me a channel of your peace," reflects his desire to bring the message of repentance and the Kingdom of God to those around him. Francis' humility and compassion attracted many to embrace a life centered on Christ.

Again Jesus used Miraculous Signs and Wonders to establish his mission.

Throughout the OT, God used miracles to display His power and reveal His presence. In the life of Jesus, miracles served as powerful signs of the Kingdom's arrival. From turning water into wine (John 2:1-11) to healing the sick and raising the dead, Jesus demonstrated His authority over both the physical and spiritual realms. Miracles were not mere displays of power; they were invitations to faith, pointing to the deeper reality of spiritual transformation.

Thirdly Jesus demonstrated God’s Love through Compassion:

The compassion of Jesus mirrors the heart of God revealed in the OT. In the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), Jesus illustrated the Father's boundless love and forgiveness. Similarly, Jesus' interactions with sinners and outcasts highlighted the depth of God's love for all people. His willingness to dine with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10-13) challenged societal norms, revealing a God who seeks the lost and extends grace to the undeserving.

Sacrificial Atonement was the pivotal aspect of Jesus' mission. His sacrificial death on the cross, fulfilling the ultimate atonement for sin. This concept finds its roots in the OT sacrificial system, where the shedding of blood symbolized the forgiveness of sins. Jesus, the Lamb of God, willingly offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice, bridging the gap between God and humanity. His crucifixion became the means by which sinners could be reconciled with a holy God (Isaiah 53:5; Romans 5:8).

Finally, Jesus empowerment his disciples for Global Impact:

Jesus not only came to save individuals but also to establish a community of believers empowered by the Holy Spirit. In the OT, God worked through individuals like Moses, Joshua, and the prophets. In the New Testament, Jesus equipped His disciples to continue His mission. Through the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), the disciples became bold witnesses, spreading the message of salvation globally. This empowerment extended to all believers, making them agents of transformation in their community.

As we reflect on these five means through which Jesus saved the world, let us be reminded of the richness of God's plan for redemption. Jesus' mission was not one-dimensional; it encompassed teaching, miracles, compassion, sacrificial atonement, and the empowerment of His followers. Today, as we live in the light of His salvation, may we embrace our role in continuing the mission of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with a world in need of redemption and hope. Amen.