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Sunday Readings Commentary and Reflections 4 th Sunday of Lent B (Laetare) March 15, 2015 In preparation for this Sunday’s Liturgy As aid in focusing our.

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Presentation on theme: "Sunday Readings Commentary and Reflections 4 th Sunday of Lent B (Laetare) March 15, 2015 In preparation for this Sunday’s Liturgy As aid in focusing our."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sunday Readings Commentary and Reflections 4 th Sunday of Lent B (Laetare) March 15, 2015 In preparation for this Sunday’s Liturgy As aid in focusing our homilies and sharing Prepared by Fr. Cielo R. Almazan, OFM

2 1 st reading: 2 Chr 36, Sin 14 In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD'S temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. 15 Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets, until the anger of the LORD against his people was so inflamed that there was no remedy. Punishment (Destruction of the Jerusalem and Exile) 17 Then he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men in their own sanctuary building, sparing neither young man nor maiden, neither the aged nor the decrepit; he delivered all of them over into his grip. 19 They burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set all its palaces afire, and destroyed all its precious objects. 20 Those who escaped the sword he carried captive to Babylon, where they became his and his sons' servants until the kingdom of the Persians came to power. 21 All this was to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah: "Until the land has retrieved its lost sabbaths, during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest while seventy years are fulfilled." Forgiveness (Return) 22 In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: 23 "Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: 'All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!'" A simple outline! The focus is on sin, punishment and forgiveness.

3 Textual Context of 2 Chr 36, Outline (NABRE): I. The Reign of Solomon (1,1—9,31) II. The Monarchy Before Hezekiah (10,1—27,9) III. Reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah (28,1—36,1) IV. End of the Kingdom (36,2-23) Jehoahaz 36,2-4 Jehoiakim 36,5-8 Jehoiachin 36,9-10 Zedekiah 36,11-14 Dissolution of Judah 36,15-21 Decree of Cyrus 36,22-23

4 539 Cyrus the Persian victory 538 Decree of Freedom 520 Temple Rebuilt Ezra’s mission 445 Nehemiah arrives 400

5 1 st reading: 2 Chr 36, Sin 14 In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD'S temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. 15 Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets, until the anger of the LORD against his people was so inflamed that there was no remedy. Commentary 2 Chron is part of Chronicler’s History, composed after the Exile. V.14 says that the political leaders, religious leaders and the ordinary people have sinned against God. They committed infidelity to infidelity. (non-stop violation of the law) They practiced abominations… (paganism) They polluted the Lord’s temple. (no respect for the place) V.16 also enumerates the sins of the people: They made fun of the prophets of God. They despised his warnings. They did not heed his threats. They scoffed at his prophets.

6 1 st reading: 2 Chr 36, Punishment 17 Then he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men in their own sanctuary building, sparing neither young man nor maiden, neither the aged nor the decrepit; he delivered all of them over into his grip. 19 They burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set all its palaces afire, and destroyed all its precious objects. 20 Those who escaped the sword he carried captive to Babylon, where they became his and his sons' servants until the kingdom of the Persians came to power. 21 All this was to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah: "Until the land has retrieved its lost sabbaths, during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest while seventy years are fulfilled." Vv.17,19 and 20 indicate how the people of Judah are punished: God used the king of the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to punish them: All were slain. V.17 Temple was burnt. (house of God). Walls (protection) were dismantled/demolished. Palaces burnt. (houses of kings and princes) v.19 Valuables (archives, vessels) were destroyed.v.19 Survivors were exiled to Babylon. Forced eviction. V.20 Terrible was God’s punishment upon his sinful people, whom he expected to be holy. They were punished until the time of the Persians (537 BC), in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (before the Exile).

7 1 st reading: 2 Chr 36, Forgiveness 22 In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: 23 "Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: 'All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!'" Vv indicate how God restores his people to Jerusalem. He inspired Cyrus (the Great), the king of Persia (now Iran) to return the people back to Judah. This is in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, the prophet during the invasion of Judah by the Babylonians. Cyrus acknowledges that he has been authorized by God to build a Temple in Jerusalem (to allow the rebuilding of the Temple) and allow the Jewish people to go back to Judah. Cyrus ends this reading with good wishes to the returning people.

8 Reflections on the 1 st reading God abhors sin. It is an insult to God. Sin is not just private. Sin can be committed by the community. It can be communal and structural. God does not tolerate sin, especially if it is left unabated. If we do not stop sinning, God will stop us. The punishment is great: Demolition and destruction of the place where you sin, even in temples. Violent death to all, including young men and women (who are supposed to procreate). Exile (you are driven away from your homes and workplaces). Should we wait for our own destructions before we change our ways? We should live holy lives now, not to earn the ire of God.

9 Resp. Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6. R. (6ab) Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you! 1 By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 On the aspens (poplars) of that land we hung up our harps. 3 For there our captors asked of us the lyrics of our songs, And our despoilers urged us to be joyous: "Sing for us the songs of Zion!" 4 How could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten! 6 May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, If I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.

10 Resp. Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6. R. (6ab) Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you! 1 By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 On the aspens (poplars) of that land we hung up our harps. 3 For there our captors asked of us the lyrics of our songs, And our despoilers urged us to be joyous: "Sing for us the songs of Zion!" 4 How could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten! 6 May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, If I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy. Commentary The psalm is classified as community lament. It is supposedly composed by the musicians of the Temple of Jerusalem, who were exiled to Babylon. V.1 indicates the feelings of the musicians (we sat and wept). V.2 indicates the musical instrument they were using (harps) in Jerusalem. V.3 tells us how the Babylonians asked the Exiles to sing their songs. V.4 expresses a strong feeling of the Exiles in the form of a question. Vv.5-6 indicate that the musicians will never forget Jerusalem. It is their joy to remember the Holy City.

11 Reflections on the Psalm Many of us today sing like the Exiled Judeans, because of migrations. Memories connect us with our origins. They are in the form of music, musical instruments, costumes, and affection for the place and people. Are we ready to sing our songs, present our culture and faith in foreign lands, when solicited? No matter where we are, we must exude joy because we remember and we can perform, using our talents.

12 2 nd reading: Ephesians 2, God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so no one may boast. 10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. The focus is on God’s rich mercy.

13 Textual Context of Eph 2,4-10 Outline by Perkins Greeting (1,1-2) Thanksgiving for redemption and knowledge of heavenly mysteries in Christ (1:3-14) Through the apostle God has made the Gentiles alive in Christ (1:15-3:21) Prayer for the faith, love and hope of those whom God has made part of the body of the heavenly Christ (1:15-23) Contrast between their old "death" in sin and life in Christ (2:1-10) Reconciliation of the Gentiles to God in the one body of Christ(2:11-22) Paul's suffering and ministry to bring the Gentiles into the body of Christ (3:1-13) Prayer for faith and love among Paul's converts (3:14-21) Christian life in the world (4:1-6:20) Unity in the body of Christ which is built up by different ministries (4:1-16) Old life in "darkness" contrasted with new life as "children of light" (4:17-5:21) Household code: Marriage in Christ; children and parents; slaves and masters (5:22-6:9)

14 2 nd reading: Ephesians 2, God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so no one may boast. 10 For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. Commentary V.4 acknowledges God’s richness in mercy, because of his great love. V.5 highlights God’s mercy. His mercy operates even when we are in sin. We owe this to the efforts of Jesus. V.6 says that God raises us up. And he seats us with Jesus in heaven. V.7 tells us the motive of God for saving sinners: To show his limitless love for all ages. V.8 reiterates how we are saved: by grace, through faith. It is God’s gift. V.9 also reiterates that we do not earn our salvation. V.10 acknowledges that we are God- made. He has made and created us and destined us to live in good works.

15

16 Reflections on the 2 nd reading We, catholics, must learn that we do not merit our salvation. We must acknowledge that our salvation is God’s work through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must stop believing that we can save ourselves. What, then, is the role of good works? Good works are signs that we are accepting God’s ways and gifts in our lives. Good works are concrete signs that we are appreciative of God’s limitless mercy and love.

17 Gospel reading: John 3,14-21 Eternal life 4 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. Judgment 19 And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. 21 But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. A simple outline! The focus is on having eternal life.

18 Gospel reading: John 3,14-21 Eternal life 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. Commentary V.14 recalls the fiery serpent in the desert during the time of Moses. The people bitten by the snake were saved by looking at the bronze serpent lifted up. It is a way to explain the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus. V.15 The meaning is that everyone of us may have eternal life. V.16 goes deeper into God’s act: For God so loved the world… that we may have eternal life again as in v.15. V.17 strengthens the position of God in sending his Son: To save the world, not to condemn it, unlike the fiery serpent in the desert. V.18 concretely states who are to be saved: Those who believe in him. It also states that those who don’t are not saved. Salvation is not automatic. It demands a response of faith in his only Son.

19 Gospel reading: John 3,14-21 Judgment 19 And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. 21 But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. V.19 is harsh on people who prefer living in darkness and doing evil. They will be condemned as stated in v.18. V.20 describes the nature of evildoers: they hate the light, for it exposes their evil deeds. V.21 states the fact of a believer: they come to the light. They are not afraid to be exposed in the light.

20 Reflections on the gospel reading We, Christians, are saved by God through his Son. God loves us and the world. He promises us eternal life, as long as we believe in his Son. It is not his plan to condemn us. But if we choose to do evil deeds, surely we will be condemned. Faith and evil deeds do not go together. There is no salvation in evil deeds.

21 Tying the 3 readings and the Psalm The first reading warns those who do evil deeds. They should repent to avoid punishment. The psalm reflects on the condition of punished people. The second reading attributes our salvation to Jesus. The gospel reading teaches us how to have eternal life. In this season of Lent, we remind people to repent from their wicked deeds. Heaven cannot be attained while we remain in sin.

22 How to develop your homily / sharing We should be reminded that the ultimate goal in life is not fulfillment of our ambitions, but sharing in God’s life. We should take this destiny seriously. Oftentimes, we forget that there is such a thing as eternal life or heaven. This is due to the fact that we are too much engrossed with our affairs, our businesses and small time concerns to the point of sinning. If we have committed sin after sin, we must repent.

23 If we want to go back to God, we must abide by God’s rules. The first reading describes what happens to those who consistently sin (infidelity after infidelity, non-stop doing foolishness), doing abominations (abhorrent, aberration), not listening to the words of the prophets and do not repent. They will be severely punished. (They will be banished and will be forced to stop their foolishness). The reading invites sinners to repent or else…

24 But we should not miss an important point in the reading. God is also forgiving. He restores people after having served their sentence (after being punished). The reading invites us sinners to repent from sin and live in God’s protection.

25 The second reading emphasizes God’s magnanimity. He loves us even if we are still sinners. His love cannot be turned off (is not diminished) by our sins. He remains the same, a loving God, especially to those who repent. Therefore, let us repent. Let us take advantage of God’s love.

26 The gospel reading assures us that the condemnation of anyone is never in God’s agenda. In fact, he has sent his Son to bring us back to God even if we have condemned ourselves by sinning. But we must answer his invitation to live his life. Faith in his Son, who calls us to repentance, is basic to our salvation. The gospel of John has always taught us that Jesus is God’s instrument in giving us life.

27 Lest someone says that Christian religion is too other-life centered, it must be clear that we cannot really set our hearts and minds to heaven, unless we live our lives to the full here and now. The gospel passage does not allow our minds to soar high (in heaven) as if nothing else (on earth) matters. It is important to live our faith concretely where we find ourselves. We don’t expect heaven if we live corrupt and immoral lives, if we are self-centered, destructive, hostile and materialistic, if we do not repent.

28 We, Catholics, should learn how to listen to the Church’s official teachings (found in the encyclicals, pastoral letters, and catechism). They are supposed to interpret God’s will and help us live our faith concretely, here and now, as we are confronted with many questions, like how to be faithful to your family (No to free love, neglect of parental obligations) how to treat our bodies as Temples of the Holy Spirit (No to artificial contraceptives and violation of human rights) how to treat creation (No to environmental destruction, mining, logging, pollution, etc.)

29 how to treat other people of different cultures and beliefs (No to fundamentalism, ethnic cleansing, militancy) how to govern ourselves (No to graft and corruption, injustices) how to live moral and faithful lives (No to licentiousness, pornography, lawlessness, untruthfulness) How to use social media (new media) (No to malicious posting of mis/information) how to be true catholics (expected to live sacramental life and active in mission) (No to civil marriage, zero prayer life)

30 The eucharist is the sacrament of hope and joy for those who repent and listen to God and his representatives. The gift of the eucharist is God’s way of reminding us, repentant sinners, that there is such a thing as eternal life, something to hope for. When we receive the eucharist, we are showing our belief that Jesus is the one who can bring us back to God, no one else, nothing else. In the eucharist, we experience God’s limitless love now.

31 Our Context of Sin and Grace Materialism Minds and hearts set only on what is earthly (money, power, prestige) No fear of being caught and punished Exaggerated concern for other life, forgetting to respond to the needs of today. No sense of sin No conscience Repentance Being sorry for one’s offenses Confession Sound theology (faith relevant to life on earth) Faith in God’s promises Belief in God’s total salvation. Showing signs of repentance (good works, acceptable behavior)

32 Suggested Songs Hosea From the Depths Paano Namin Masasabi


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