Mass for the 4th Sunday of Lent at St Patrick’s Cathedral - Sunday 15 March 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Readings we have just read give a contrast between the infidelity of the Jews and God’s patient, constant invitation to us to change our lives. It was Saint Paul who said to the Ephesians: “You must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way in the goodness and holiness of truth.” (Ephesians 4:23-24) Pope Benedict reminded us: “Faithful fasting contributes to unity of the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord … it is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live.”

Today’s Mass challenges us to see what is the origin of that humanity. God invited his own people to be faithful to him, to treasure his word in the bible and King David even wrote: “Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forgive you.” We are reminded of the limitless of love of God in the words of the Gospel: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that all who believe in him might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Saint John even says that God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. Lent then is a time of adjusting our vision to God’s plan for us. It means faithfulness to prayer and Mass on Sundays, so that the fundamental contact that we have with God will be real and not just something distant. It means that we subject the needs of our body to the needs of our spirit so that our mind and heart and spirit will guide our body in the way that our Maker has instructed. That is what Lent is all about.

Saint Paul said to the Ephesians this morning: “God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: When we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ. It is through grace that you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

It is significant that belief is the thing that is life changing. All who believe in him are offered eternal life. The ability to make that leap that Nicodemus was reluctant to make to see that Jesus is Lord of my life. Like the bronze serpent in the Old Testament, Jesus, the Son of Man, is lifted up on the cross so that we may have eternal life. Yet, the snake in the Old Testament was an idol. Jesus in the New Testament being lifted up is powerful, between heaven and earth, bringing us to eternal life.

Let us remember, above all, that Jesus is leading us on a journey that we cannot fully imagine and yet one that does lead to life. Perhaps the problem for us is that we see Jesus as sugar-coated or halo given or as a distant figure that does not touch our life. Yet the example of people who believe shows us that when Jesus is real and what he has done is recognised, then what he achieves is powerful. God loved me so much he gave me the chance to accept his only Son. What will I do? How will that change my life? How important is Jesus to me?

Let us ask Our Lord as we pause in silence that he will show us his way.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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