March 18 (late)
032.Sunday, March 18:
Scripture: Lectionary 32. March 18. II Chronicles 36:14-17. Psalm 137:1-2.3-4.5.6. Ephesians 2:4-10. John 3:14-21:
Contrasts are strong and stark in our first reading from Chronicles and then in Psalm 137. We are accustomed to these differences during this season of Lent when we turn from something that may not be leading us on the right path to choosing a path that leads us to the face of God. We turn from our former behavior patterns and bad habits to God who is all loving, faithful, and merciful. We see how the sins of the leaders called the kings of both the northern kingdom and the southern have failed on their part in the covenant God made with them. They are constantly be challenged to return from any form of idol worship to the God of love and truth. They have sinned and now the people are in Exile in Babylon. The Psalm reflects the sorrow and pain they go through while being away from their homeland and from their sacred place of worship, the Temple in Jerusalem which has been destroyed. How could they ever sing for non-believers and oppressors their beautiful psalms except in the lamentation that we have from their throats in Psalm 137. Their only hope is to return to the promised Land and to rebuild their city of Jerusalem.
Cyrus of Persia is the one who through God’s mysterious ways offers the chosen people a future to hope in. He proclaims they are to return to their homeland and start rebuilding the place where they sang songs of joy and praise to the God who is always faithful to them. Their seventy years are coming to an end as Jeremiah prophesied and soon they will make their way home.
Salvation history is behind the many events that happen to us just as it happened to them. God works always and quietly through all the havoc of wars and threats of terrorism.
Our remembering the history of Israel thus is a help to us as we look at these reading with eyes of faith and as we, like Israel, return to the Lord. Jesus of Nazareth takes the role of Cyrus for Christians. We hear his living voice in the Gospel of today saying, “ God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that those who believe may have life in him.” (John 3:14). Amen.