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4th Sunday of Lent

The gods are not to blame

2 Chron 36:14-16, 19-23; Ps 137; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21

And 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

(John 3:14)

In the overcrowded refugee camps of Kakuma and Dadaab, tucked away in the semi-arid north of Kenya, temperatures can soar to a scorching 40 degrees centigrade. It is a land that resembles Jeremiah's prophecy – a land wasted of life and sustenance, where hopes wither and die in a sweltering cauldron of despair. Beaten by long, endless years of oppression, the refugees who inhabit this land survive one day to the next, never sure of the difference. None of them chose to be in this place of desolation. Forced to flee the land they once knew and loved as home, they now wander and wait for the years to be fulfilled. They survive at the mercy of their unwilling hosts – oppressed, marginalized and impoverished. In this desert of wasted lives and ashen dreams it is hard to perceive signs of anything resembling mercy, love or redemption.

Like the refugee camps of Kakuma and Dadaab, our world is full of places and people yearning for signs of God's mercy, love and redemption. Some are abused on account of their gender or race; some are displaced by circumstances beyond their control; others are impoverished by forces they can neither name nor understand; some are afflicted with sundry diseases, like HIV/AIDS; some are victims of people they call 'leaders'....

Moses presaged God's deed of redemption when he lifted up a bronze serpent to focus the gaze of his afflicted people on a solitary standard in a desert poisoned by venoms of drought, starvation and disease. It is an act of hope; a vivid reminder that it is in such desolate terrain that God plants a stake of mercy on which hangs the savior of the world. In a world where hopes and dreams easily evaporate under the heat of injustice, Jesus Christ is God's standard rich in mercy, full of life, resplendent with truth and uplifting our aspiration for signs of new life.

Our world would be different if for every act of oppression and injustice people of faith raise a banner of mercy, love, light and truth. Our world would be saved.

Thought for the Day

"All that is needed for evil to run rampant is for good women and men to do nothing" – Martin Luther King, Jnr.

Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

Click here for French version: 4e dimanche de Careme