Reflection for Sunday – March 10, 2024

Readings: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23; Ephesians 2;4-10; John 3:14-21 
Preacher: Deirdre McKiernan Hetzler

            “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” that we might have eternal life

            “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love He had for us... brought us to life with Christ…By grace you have been saved.”

In the middle of Lent, these Laetare Sunday readings offer us words of great joy! Despite our plentiful foibles—or maybe even because of them—God looks on us with love and mercy. God desires a profoundly personal, heart-to-heart relationship with each of us. Each and all.

Plumbing the depth and richness of today’s readings fully is challenging. Impossible in one short homily. Yes, Lent is a call to conversion. Continuing conversion. And the first movement of today’s liturgy does indeed call for repentance.

The reading from Chronicles tells the story of Israel’s perfidy. In forsaking their covenant with God. Mocking the prophets. Defiling the temple. But the story also tells of God’s compassion: “Early and often did the Lord…send his messengers to them.” By ignoring them, Israelites brought down calamity on themselves. They were carried into slavery by an enemy. But eventually they were rescued by a loving God—who anointed Cyrus, a pagan king (messiah is the word used) to free them. Amazing! Can you and I be open to the wisdom of those outside of our tradition? Of our borders?

Who are the prophets of our lifetime? Who comes to mind for you? I think of Al Gore and the many climate activists that warned us. Repeatedly. Now, we find ourselves at the tipping point of calamity. I think, too, of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Houses, like Bethany House and St. Joseph’s locally.  And then there’s the author Mathew Desmond, who challenges us to find the political will to end poverty in our lifetime.

But this is only part of the story.  My heart leapt to see how Ephesians and the Gospel shift the movement—towards joy in God’s love and forgiveness. Grace, poured out on a world so loved by God, changes everything! By grace we have been saved. We are God’s handiwork, Ephesians says.  “Created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance that we should live in them!” You and I are invited, then, to be co-creators of the world God wants. If we allow ourselves to be born again in the Spirit that has been given to us.

The question then becomes: How do you and I respond to God’s loving invitation? To turn our lives more constantly towards the God who calls us by name? As we have been reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus, so you and I are called to be reconcilers in our world.

In conversation or online, then, can we be careful that the way we express our opinions does not inflame a situation? Or demonize others? Even our strongest opinions, political or religious? Given my Irish heritage, I admit to struggling with that challenge.

How are we called to cherish and respect all of God’s creation? In the world around us, and in ourselves as well? We say we believe that we are created in God’s image. That humans are God’s temples. So can you and I look for—and honor—Jesus’ presence in the people we meet each day?  And reveal Jesus’ presence in the world by our actions?

As we continue our journey towards Easter, may we open our hearts ever more fully. To the grace by which we have been saved. To the truth that we proclaim. And to the actions that grace calls forth from us.

Deirdre McKiernan Hetzler
Latest posts by Deirdre McKiernan Hetzler (see all)