We have no one in the RCIA this year, which is unusual. But it is also refreshing to be able to use the Scriptures for the regular Sunday of Lent. These came to us from 2nd Chronicles, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In Ephesians we are reminded that though we were dead in our transgressions, the grace and mercy that God has for us brought us to life with Christ. We are told that this restoration to grace from sin is not of our doing, "it is a gift of God"; there can be no boasting because we have done nothing to bring this about, "it is a gift of God". We are HIS handiwork.
Chronicles tells us that God's people, princes, priests and people, added infidelity to infidelity, mocking the way of God and profaning the Temple, till there was no remedy, and destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, captivity for God's people, and abandonment by God for seventy years afflicted the people. Only after that time did God relent and restore his people and rebuild their Temple through the beneficence of the king of Persia, Cyrus. Cyrus was the instrument that God used to bring about this restoration.
And in John, Jesus reminds Nicodemus of another restoration and healing. This time the need came from a disobedient and complaining people on journey to the promised land. When God sent serpents to punish his people and many died of their poisoning, Moses asked God to relent, and God told him to make a bronze serpent, lift it high upon a pole, and show it to the people. Those who saw were reminded that the serpent was was the reason for their death, and their deaths the result of their complaining against God, and they were moved to repentance. And with repentance came restoration to life.
Whenever we look upon the crucified Lord, we are reminded of the cost of our sin - death - which Jesus bore for our sake. We are called to realize that our sinfulness is an obstacle to an eternal life with Christ. And, please God, we are prompted to repent ... which leads to restoration. This is the power of the Lenten season.
I had a wonderful celebration of welcoming into the family of God earlier today. I'll share a little on that later today.