Sunday, 22 March 2009

4th Sunday of Lent, Year B, Shaftesbury

2 Chron 36:14-23; Ps 136; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21
Our second reading spoke of the great love of God for us, and I want to run through a few of the signs of that love, in our various readings today.

In the first reading we heard about how the people defiled the Temple, they did things even worse than chatting in church. And though God punished them for their sins by the Exile in Babylon, He did this to purify them, to that He then rescued them and saved them.
He could have left them in their sin, but no, He purified them so that they could be His own again.
Then in our psalm 136, we heard about how the Children of Israel sang sorrowfully by the waters of Babylon. But even there in the midst of their sorrow, they were neither abandoned or alone, The Lord was with them and preparing them, not least by calling them to recall the Jerusalem they had lost and yearn for the New Jerusalem and our Heavenly Home, and get them ready for it.
In our Gospel, the heard the reference to the serpent in the desert, which should remind of us of how when fiery serpents came among the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness, God gave them the miraculous image of bronze serpent, so that anyone who was bitten could look upon it and live.(Numbers 21:6-9)
And this, of course, is a sign and foreshadowing of Christ being lifted up on the Cross. We, now, even in our sin and suffering and difficulties, we can look to Him who suffers with us, and pleads for our forgiveness.

There is one particular sign of God’s love that I’d like to mention today, however, and that is mothers, because today is Mothering Sunday. It’s true that not everyone gets to be blessed with a living mother, and not everyone is blessed with a caring mother –there are some people that God blesses in other ways. But it is right today to sing the praises of mothers.

I was thinking on Thursday whether God could have made a world without mothers. And I thought about how sea turtles are born. When the little turtle pops out of its shell it’s all alone on the beach, and has to make its own may in the world.
But that’s not how God has made us. God has made humans so that we are born weak and born in need of someone to care for us.
We are inherently social beings, and our need for mothers is a sign of our need for love, and a sign of our need to love others back.
We need someone to watch over us from our beginnings, at our weakest. To know us and know our needs, to worry about us even when we don’t think to worry about ourselves. And this is what a mother is called to give us.

Today, just as I was earlier recounting the goodness of God, today we should be giving thanks to mothers and to our own mother –to not let love be a one-way street.
If our mothers have passed on from this life, to thank them beyond the grave.
If there are things we need to forgive our mothers for, to not nurse grudges.
And when there are things to ask forgiveness for ourselves, to not forget this either.

Finally, there is one particular Mother we should not forget, the Mother that EVERYONE has, our heavenly Mother, Our Lady.
So when we see the children come up later with flowers for Our Lady, let us pray in our own hearts too, to thank God for her, and to thank her for all her prayers on our behalf.

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