THEME: Joy of Being Forgiven and Loved

BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie

2Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23;
Psalm 136;
Ephesians 2:4-10;
John 3:14-21

The inner joy of being loved is unspeakable. The joy is even greater when we realize that we don’t merit it and that it is freely given. Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is a special day in the period of Lent. It is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word meaning “rejoice”. So we are invited to rejoice this Sunday in the midst of the sober atmosphere of Lent. But why this outburst of joy and rejoicing? The answer is not just blowing in the wind, as one would imagine. It is in the readings of this Sunday. The joy is the joy of salvation. God forgives and loves us despite who we are, not minding our transgressions, irrespective of all the wrong things we have willingly done against Him.


The greatest joy of the Christian faith is that God loves us. This love is such that no one who believes in Him gets condemned no matter the sin or crime. This sounds incredible. But it is true. It is the reason for Easter joy, the joy of salvation. Jesus saved us while we were yet sinners. It doesn’t seem to sink in sometimes. He rewards us with great treasures even while we are so despicable. He didn’t save us when we were wonderfully good. He redeemed us because we were wounded by sin and helpless. Ordinarily, we should have been allowed to die miserably, to wallow in our blood and vomit. No, God sent a redeemer, His own Son to rescue us. He does not punish us according to our sins anymore. The only thing we are asked to do is to believe in the Son, to cling to him. This is the message of this Sunday.
1. The first reading from 2Chronicles 36 narrates the painful story of how God punished the people of Israel for their sin of infidelity. He allowed enemy forces to destroy and plunder them. The experience was very devastating. However, at the appointed time, God relented and restored His people. Israel had learnt a terrible lesson with the experience of the punitive exile. The text of Psalm 36 tells it all: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, remembering Zion.” But the experience was also salutary. The people swore: never again would they forget the Lord and His holy city Jerusalem: “If I forget you Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.” The dramatic return from exile together with the restoration of the people and their city was a fantastic demonstration of God’s loving kindness. The Prophet Hosea would say: “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress they seek me, saying, ‘Come, let us return to Yahweh. He has rent us and he will heal us; he has struck us and he will bind up our wounds’” (Hos 5:15-6:1).
2. In the Second reading, the Apostle Paul in the letter to the Ephesians (2:4-10) expresses the immense mercy and love of God towards us sinful human beings. The old order of punishment for sin is over. God saved us through Christ while we were still immersed in sin. Unlike in the past when the people were punished through plunder and deportation by the enemy, now the story has changed. God has forgiven us in Christ and no longer counts our trespasses against us. Salvation is a free gift and no person’s good deeds can win it, as all have been found wanting before God. What God wants is a new story of faith which will lead us from glory to glory. But all these are not by force. The human person has to accept the invitation to enter the new life freely opened in Christ.
3. This point is best elaborated in the Gospel text from John 3:14-21 where Jesus explains his identity and mission to Nicodemus. God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world but to save it. All who believe in the Son are saved. Simple! This is the whole story. But those who refuse to believe are condemned by the very fact of refusal to enter new life. They condemn themselves by refusing to enter into thd freely opened gate. The new life is the kingdom of light which Jesus has brought about with him. All who believe in him and identify with his teaching and lifestyle move from darkness to light. The tragedy, however, is that despite the splendor of this glorious light, many still prefer the darkness to light. This is why the world redeemed by Jesus is still undergoing pain and tension. The enemy wants to obscure the light and lure many people away from it. Unfortunately, many are falling headlong.
4. The worst form of darkness today is hate and violence. Those who hate their fellow human beings, no matter the reasons, are still living in the kingdom of darkness. Since we are saved by love, it follows that only love can make us enter the new life. Whenever we love and forgive our fellow human beings whom God Himself loved and redeemed without charge, we are making ourselves Godlike and thus worthy participants in the new life of joy and peace that He opens. When we love we open new doors and windows of life and opportunity. But when we hate, we close the opened doors and shut the opened windows. The consequence is that we all suffocate for lack of fresh air, for lack of breath and for lack of new opportunities of life. This is what is killing our society. We refuse to be like the one who saved us while we were sinners. We refuse to love and forgive. We turn happy places into vales weeping and tears. How wonderful our families and communities would be if we were to love and forgive and begin a new life!
May the joy of this Sunday be our portion, and may we become the transmitters of joy to all we meet today and always!



Dearest Friend of Homily Hub, We need about $1350 to pay up our subscription debts. We do not only publish the Word of God, we also have a charity Foundation. We accept donations as low as $5. Please, listen to the voice of God in your heart, you could be an answer to our prayers to God. You can also send checks. Fill the simple form below to Donate>>>