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Fourth Sunday,LentB,April2.jn.3:14-21

Speaking of the mercy and hope instilled into him by the Gospel, St.Augustine says: “ Jesus came to us captives as a Redeemer, not an oppressor. The Lord shed His blood for us, redeemed us, gave us new hope …. Even while we are being tossed about by the waves on the sea, we have the anchor of hope already fixed upon the land.” The mercy and compassion of Jesus makes St.Augustine say again: “I will hold fast to you, Lord, as you hold fast to me.”

As we are nearing the end of the period of Lent, we become more aware of the need of God’s mercy in our lives, in the context of our own sins and failures. All the readings from the Scriptures today speak to us about His great mercy and love.

The Book of Chronicles shows how in spite of the infidelities of Israel and their betrayal of their faith in the Lord, God offers them hope in their period of suffering, in their time of captivity. God makes them understand that their period of captivity will be over soon and they will be brought to their motherland to enjoy once again freedom and peace.

This paradigm of punishment-repentance-freedom and joy is more forcefully highlighted in the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel. Jesus asks us to look up to Him for our slavation.The Cross is our symbol of hope. Looking up to Jesus on the Cross, the Risen Jesus, gives us strength and hope in our times of suffering , pain and hardships.

Jesus tells us that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son so that every one who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. Those words will always be a powerful challenge to all the prophets of doom who see only dark clouds in the world.

Whatever may be our difficulties, and problems in life, let us feel comforted and strengthened by the words of Jesus. He has shown what the love God the Father has for each one of us : God has sent His Son not to condemn us but to save us.

Just as for the Israelites, the snake, their mode of punishment, was transformed into a sign for their healing, so too the cross, the symbol of punishment and suffering was transformed by Our Lord into a symbol of victory and glory. No more does the Cross signify someone who was defeated and thrown into the dustbin of history but the one who conquered the forces of suffering and death and established himself as the Lord of the Universe.

Our sufferings, our defeats, our painful experiences, our tragedies are no more the low points in our lives, but are the high ways of our spiritual growth, of our union with the Lord our Savior. What the world thinks as our failures-- our sufferings, our pains, our lack luster performance in the financial or the professional world-- will be our achievements in the eyes of God.

We have to look at our crosses, our sufferings, our pains and see in them the outstretched hands of Jesus comforting and strengthening us. Never more can we say in our hour of agony that we are alone. For, Jesus assures us that He is with us until the end of our lives.

Today let our prayer may be: “Christ, radiant light of the world, lead us through the gloom of this world until the Father’s eternal light shines upon us.”

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