Homiletic Notes Prepared by Fr. Jaime Hinojos
After the Fall of Adam and Eve, God has not ceased attempting to restore creation. With Adam and Eve's sin, a sin that can be characterized as an act of rebellious disobedience to God, humankind became disposed (inclined) to sin more and more. Sin is also walking away from God, turning one's back on God; sin is turning ourselves to other gods. Sin is a willful refusal to God's gifts of grace and glory. Perhaps the sinner is not saying explicitly, "I refuse God's gifts of grace and glory." However, the outcome of sin is the death of the life of grace in the human soul.
What is at stake in the first reading? (Cf 2 Chr 36:14-23).
God's people live in infidelity concerning God's Law and their vocation as people of God. What the people are doing is in opposition to their true identity. Their actions do not match their divine call to be and live as people of God. And what is even worse, the messengers and the prophets God sent them, out of compassion and love for them, the people killed.
Who are these people? Who are they? What is their identity? They are the people of God. That is their primordial identity. They are children of God. They are God's creation. God's chosen ones. God created them in His likeness and image. God gave them the Law, and with the Law, God also promised them life. But the people chose to disobey the Law and made themselves liable to death. Because God is so loving, kind, and merciful, God tried to save them by sending them many messengers and prophets to call them to repent.
The messengers and the prophets God sent to his people told them:
"But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy" (2 Chr 36:16).
When the people of God refused to repent, catastrophe ensued. The Chaldeans invaded the people. Many were killed, both old and young, married and virgin, and those who survived the massacre, were taken captives and became slaves in Babylon. I believe that this catastrophe represents hell. [PAUSE]
Therefore, he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. 19 And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah... (2 Chr 36:17-21).
Cyrus, king of Persia, was benevolent to God's people. He was an instrument of God to restore God's people. Cyrus foreshadows Christ the Redeemer. (See 2 Chr 36:22-23). The exile of God’s people in Babylon foreshadows the passion of Christ.
It is true, after all these dramas, God will send the last Messenger, the Last Prophet, The Savior of humankind, and give the people one more chance. God will not destroy humanity; however, unrepentant sinners will self-destroyed. Now, the truth is on the table.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come (Mt 22:2-3).
This is how the Lord ends the parable:
"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Mt 22:14). And why is that? Can we figure it out?
I don't think that there is an easy or simple answer; who will be saved and who will be lost, in the end, is totally up to God. The ways of God are embedded in Mystery. However, we do have light and guidance in the Word of God. For example, in today's readings (Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle B), solid, mature, right faith leads to trust and obedience. By studying God's Word, we understand that we are called to act in a certain way that is congruent with our faith. We do need to express our fidelity to God in ways that are pleasing to Him. Doing otherwise requires repentance. For instance, think in the Lord's Prayer: Forgive us, Lord, as we forgive those who offend us. In this particular example, it is necessary to remind ourselves that the Lord said:
"But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Mt 6:15). Forgiving each other offenses is pleasing to God, and forgiveness restores broken relations to a state of union, reconciliation, and peace in Christ. On the other hand, unwillingness to forgive our brothers and sister separates from one another and God.
But to do the actions that please God requires and takes grace. Without God's grace, we cannot do what pleases God. Conversely, we need to repent of our sins and infidelities in order to receive God's grace. And God's grace is maintained and increased by our regular participation in the Sacraments; especially, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Constant prayer, Studying Sacred Scripture and exemplary devotion to Mary help too.
Perhaps the best gift we can to ourselves and to God before Easter is the gift of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Question: Am I willing to find a priest to confess my sins with sincere repentance and a holy desire to amend myself?
Let us remind ourselves what the Lord wants:
"So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Mt 5:23-24).
For additional Study:
CCC 389, 457-458, 846, 1019, 1507: Christ as Savior
CCC 679: Christ the Lord of eternal life
CCC 55: God wants to give man eternal life
CCC 710: Israel's exile foreshadowed the Passion