March 11, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Lent


Life is a journey moving everyone toward God — their final destination. Today’s readings show how salvation history plays a significant part in that journey. Cyrus, the Gentile king, liberates the Jews and allows them to leave their Babylonian captivity and return to their God-given home, Jerusalem.

John the Evangelist describes how Jesus moves from this time and place to his life of glory through his suffering on the cross. John writes how Jesus achieves final victory over death through his resurrection. Every Christians’ life parallels Jesus’ life in some way. Disciples pass through each present moment, whether crossing over mountains or struggling through valleys, and they succeed because Christ accompanies them. There is no success without Christ.

The believer’s journey is one of faith. It meets doubts and moments of disbelief, for life is never without unresolved questions that weaken determination. Christ shows all believers he is determined to be there in the disquieting and the joy-filled moments.

As disciples follow Christ today, they also bring Christ to others through their everyday contacts. When they are faithful in the little things in their lives, they endure life’s bigger challenges. Through them all, Christ promises to help. Christ desires faithfulness more than he does outcomes.

Susan refused to eat her spinach. She pushed it away, just as her mother lifted the cherry vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Susan loves cherry vanilla. When she asked her mother for some, her mother answered, “Yes, but first you must finish your spinach.” After pouting for a few minutes, she watched her mother returning the ice cream to the freezer. Susan quickly ate her spinach without further incident. And then, she ate a bowl of cherry vanilla ice cream. The lesson Susan learned was simple. Life is not all ice cream. Often, we have to do what is not agreeable.

The Scriptures suggest the same lesson. Eternal life is the faithful’s joyful reward, but while journeying there she knows life’s joys and crosses.

Fueling the Fire

“It is not the finest wood that feeds the fire of divine love, but the wood of the cross.” — St. Ignatius of Loyola

Homily Helps for the February issue were written by FATHER RICHARD R. DE LILLIO, OSFS, D. Min., an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, who is a recently retired associate professor of homiletics at The Catholic University of America.