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  • Bill Miller

Scripture Reflection, March 10, 2024, Fourth Sunday of Lent

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

There are a number of sub-plots in the readings of the day; however they all lead back to the primary theme: faith/belief.

In the first reading (from: 2 Chronicles) we hear a story about the unfaithfulness of the Israelites, their capture and exile, and the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem. It represents a low point in the history of God’s chosen people. However, God honors the Covenant God established with them many years before. But God does this through an unlikely source, the King of Persia. This king, Cyrus, is God’s instrument to bring back the faithful remnant of believers to their homeland. Note the word “believers”. God honors them!

In our second reading, from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, Paul talks about the ultimate gift of being saved by faith. There’s that concept once again: faith/belief! Paul goes on to say that both our faith in God and our good works (the good things we do in order to build God’s reign on earth) are important. However, we do not earn our way into heaven by doing good things - rather, if we are true believers in God, we are thereby compelled to do good things, in order to demonstrate our love for God, and to continually strengthen that loving relationship.

The Gospel, from John, gives us a “ringside seat” for a conversation between Jesus and the esteemed rabbi, Nicodemus. The most powerful depiction of this conversation between the two is a dramatic presentation in the currently popular television/movie production titled: The Chosen. This conversation is depicted in an episode late in Season One of the acclaimed series. In the conversation, Jesus explains his mission in clear and dramatic terms. Once again, we read of the importance of belief in the one true God. And, once again, Jesus emphasizes that “whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” (John 3:21) [Note: Emphasis is my own.]

Once again, the Lord reminds us that both faith and works are important. However, true faith in God is what saves us, not good works. That said, we will be compelled to do good works if we truly believe in God; because Jesus Christ was sent to us by the Father in order to teach us how to live as true believers. One who says that he/she believes, yet does not act in a loving way, motivated by that belief, is a hypocrite.

How do my actions, the way I treat others and myself, demonstrate that I am a true believer? Do I have room for improvement?

by: Bill Miller

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