2CHR. 36:14-16, 19-23
JOHN 3: 14-21
Beloved in Christ, today we celebrate the fourth sunday of lent and traditionally, this sunday is called “LAETARE SUNDAY”. Laetare is a latin word that means “rejoice” and this is derived from the entrance antiphon taking from Isaiah 66:10-11. This invitation to rejoice is in anticipation of Easter. Therefore I have chosen ” THE LOVE OF GOD: CAUSE OF OUR JOY” as our theme for this sunday. This theme is to help us appreciate that it is the love of God which culminates in the event of Easter that motivates us to rejoice. Thus , we are to rejoice because Jesus has come into the world to reveal our sins so that they may be forgiven.
Beloved, the Greek language has three different words for three types of love though, the English language has only one word, namely:
(a) eros which refers to the romantic love between a man and a woman that leads to marriage. In this love we receive.
(b) philia which refers to fellowship love, like the love for football that brings people together to a fan club. In this love, we give and take.
(c) agap which refers to the sacrificial love, like the love that leads a mother to sacrifice her life for her unborn child. In this love, we give and this is the type of love God has for us. For God gives and forgives while we humans gets and forget.
Beloved, it is therefore in this context that in the second reading Paul says we are saved by grace alone and not because of what we do, for salvation is a free gift of God. However, we Catholics go a step further to affirm that though salvation is a free gift of God, it is not a one time event, for it is a process. Thus one cannot say I am saved today so I can live anyhow. It is for this singular reason that the Catholic Church insist that though salvation is an inheritance (Gal. 5:21) we can loss that gift through the choices we make in life.
Beloved in Christ, the good works we talk about as Catholics are not meant to gain or merit us a heavenly reward but they are our appreciation to God for giving us the Kingdom, hence they are the means by which we repent.
Beloved in Christ, I urge you to share this homily with your friends reminding them that though salvation is by grace alone (Eph 2:8) and through Christ alone (Acts 4:12), our goods works are our appreciation to God for the gift of salvation. For you cannot claim you are saved while your life does not correspond to the gospel of Christ.
This has been Fr. Dolphyne’s presentation for the fourth sunday of lent, year b.
May God richly bless you.