Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
I love to read history or watch a good documentary. But more often than not I feel sad when it’s over.
Not all of human history is sad, but so much of it is the story of human folly and cruelty—of bad choices. War, greed, oppression mark the history of our world.
The Bible has its share of sad stories and today’s first reading is one of them. The account from the Second Book of Chronicles generally tries to stress the positive points of Israel’s history. But here, in describing the infidelity that preceded the tragedy of the exile or “Babylonian Captivity,” the author tells in stark terms how the people abandoned their half of the covenant with God.
In theological language, the result is that God declares a Sabbath—a time of rest for the land—until the “lost Sabbaths”—the neglect of God—has been restored. This history ends on a note of hope, describing how the Persian king Cyrus, was God’s instrument to restore the people to their homeland.
In Lent we examine our lives in order to restore our part of the baptismal covenant—our relationship with God in Christ. As our other Scriptures for today point out, in Jesus Christ, God brings life from death, light from darkness. That’s the hope of those preparing for baptism and the hope of those of us keeping this Lent.
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In the first reading (II Chr 36:14-16, 19-23), what was the role of the prophets in the history of Judah?
How does this reading explain what happened to the Jewish people—the destruction of the temple, the Babylonian exile and the decree of Cyrus?
Why does Paul describe God as “rich in mercy” in this week’s second reading (Eph 2:4-10)?
Why does Paul say that we are saved by faith and not by good works?
According to the Gospel (Jn 3:14-21), who is Nicodemus who came to question Jesus at night? And why did he come at night?
Why did God give his only Son? What was his purpose?
We are well into the season of Lent. Take some time to reflect on how you are doing with your Lenten promises that you made at the beginning of the season. Reflect on what you have learned, where you have struggled, and how you can strengthen your commitment for the rest of Lent.
This week’s Gospel refers a lot to light. Use the sun’s light to your advantage and create your own stained glass windows at home. You can find lots of recipes online for how to make the paint that is safe to paint on your windows or glass doors. Create your own pattern and then enjoy the light shining through your design.