Year B: Fourth Sunday of Lent
First Reading: 2 Chronicles 36: 14-16,19-23
The First Reading today has not been chosen to reflect the Gospel but to continue a résumé of the history of the salvation of God’s people.
The reading is a summary of what had led God’s People into the great Exile - and how, in time, they had been give the liberty to return home.
The writer identifies the causes of the Exile as lying in the people’s unfaithfulness to God - until, in the end, God loses patience and allows them to be taken into captivity. there they languish for seventy years until the land of Israel has had a Sabbath rest - a time of purification. then a new king - a pagan king at that - discerns that it is time for the Hebrew people to be allowed to return home.
The time of Exile seared into the soul of the People of God. Everything they had built up was destroyed - even their Temple which celebrated the presence of the living God among them. They lost everything.
But, as the Psalm of the Day (136) shows - the experience was not wasted. In exile, the People realised what they had lost. They mourned and they grieved for the songs and the land of Zion. Far from the land of their birth - the land given to their parents and grandparents - people realised how blessed they had been.
Many people will identify with that feeling. Very few people are exiled because of their own sin. It is more usually the sin of others - war - economic decisions - prejudice - ethnic cleansing - oppression - that leads them into exile... It is the tragedy of sin that the innocent often suffer more than the guilty.
And yet, as
the Gospel and this Reading remind us - God is aware of what is
happening - and desires always to bring the best for His
children. In Exile, people began to realise the graces of being
God’s people - and, when the time was right - brought those
What does it mean for me?