When we think of the many religions of the world, there is an interesting difference between them and our Christian faith. Buddhism and Hinduism and other similar religions tell their believers a set of rules that they must follow to be good. With Christianity, our God has told us what we must do through the Commandments. In non-Christian religions, the believers are searching for God or a higher place. For Christians, our God loves us so much He is always looking for us to come to Him. Our God is ready to open His arms and forgive your transgressions if we accept Him.
Lent is a time where we remember the number of times God has forgiven His people. In the reading from Chronicles the number of times Israel has turned from God is listed as lost Sabbaths much like we keep track of how many times we missed Mass. The prophets are proclaiming the number of lost Sabbaths is equivalent to seventy years. Restitution must be made. Fortunately, God uses the Persian King Cyrus to rebuild the temple. King Cyrus sees the benefit of having allies to support him rather than keeping the people in slavery. This is a good point to remember: God will use people of other cultures to further His purposes. In this case, the rebuilding of the temple.
God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. Why? God is searching for us. By sending His Son God wants us to realize how much God loves us. God desires to forgive our sins. But we must turn to Him. We need to ask for forgiveness. Through God’s mercy and forgiveness, we are growing in our relationship with God. Our hope is to spend eternity with God. God’s forgiveness is granted to all who believe in Him. It seems strange that we somehow continue to stray from God. In St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians St Paul teaches that we turn from the light. It is as if we prefer the darkness. How can that be?
Perhaps we do not realize the awesome gift God has given us. Or maybe we do not see God’s gift as a gift. God’s gift to us is the cross, the crucifixion, and resurrection of His Son. The cross and crucifixion do not appear as gifts. But God’s Son accepted them as a gift because of His love for us. We are to follow the example Jesus gives us. We accept what this world has to give us, but we realize we belong to the Kingdom of God. God gives us His grace everyday to face the challenges of this day. Only trusting in God’s grace do we receive salvation. Nothing we can do on our own will bring us to God’s kingdom. Yet, we must recognize with God’s grace we can help others. Because of God’s grace we can do good works in the name of the Lord. Today, we celebrate God’s love and His abundance grace for us. Let us share what we are given freely to all.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen