Sat. & Sun., Mar. 10 & 11, 2018
4th Sunday of Lent, Cycle B
Rich in Mercy
Our Lent is flying by.
I should begin with a point not related to the
readings, and then turn to the readings for our
spiritual growth this week.
The first point is this, that a successor has
been named. Fr. Noel Cornelio, currently
Associate Pastor at St. Isidore’s in Macomb, has
been named the future pastor of Sacred Heart
here in Imlay City and of St. Nicholas in Capac,
as of July 1. This news should have been told
me, and then, with some thought and preparation,
some edifying way of delivering this news
provided, but unfortunately, the AoD Central
Offices put the news out without me knowing for
quite some time. I was informed that someone
simply forgot. The result was that many of you
heard, as if by gossip, this news, and it caused
some consternation; I too heard it by the grape
vine, as the expression goes, and wondered
whether it was true until I could get the
information verified. I’m sorry that you had to
go through that.
I personally don’t know him; only that he was
born on Christmas, which explains his name, he
is of Filipino descent, and that some have told
me that they know him and that he is about as
friendly as they get. I hope you provide Fr.
Noel a reception full of the charity expected of
the followers of Christ; make friends with him,
get to know him and welcome him to our beautiful
Now I wish to turn to our readings, to
provide some spiritual reflections through Lent.
Our first reading summarizes a very important
period in the life of Israel – the Babylonian
Exile. It so happened that, to punish Israel for
her sins – so the Scriptures themselves declare
– God submitted his people to being conquered
and enslaved for about seventy years. The
Babylonians were conquered in turn, and the
Persians sent them back to Judea and Jerusalem.
The years were approximately 587-527 b.c. Judea
never managed to recover its glory as under King
David and his son Solomon five centuries
earlier. The northern kingdom, called Israel,
had been destroyed only decades previous to all
of this, and they were never restored; this area
became called Samaria by the time of our Lord.
The sins mentioned are, that the “Princes of
Judah, the priests, and the people added
infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the
abominations of the nations and polluting the
LORD’s temple… they mocked the messengers of
God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his
Often in the history of Israel God treated
his people with severe punishments; they were
events of nature or of foreign nations which God
Providentially governed, but the Holy People
could see, with the eyes of faith, that the
natural explanation was not the only one. We in
our times don’t seem to experience this. Are we
any less sinners than Israel? I doubt it. Have
Catholics been impeccably faithful for the last
two thousand years? The evidence says no. But
the consequences of our sins have not been like
what Israel experienced. There are often
consequences of sin, but not in this Old
Testament form. Why is this so?
St. Paul, in the second reading, provides
some important light, and there he writes some
of the most beautiful words in the Bible: “God..
is rich in mercy, because of the great love he
had for us” (Eph 2). Does this mean that we
should plow full speed ahead embracing our sins?
Obviously not – not only because it turns us
away from the Creator and towards creatures, not
only because it trains us in the dark arts of
selfishness, not only because sin habituates us
to forget about God and then use and abandon our
neighbor. But also because justice for sin is
still always paid.
No, you will probably never feel the
demolition by the Assyrians which the northern
kingdom of Israel experienced. You will probably
never be deported into slavery by the
Babylonians. The payment of sin is all levied
against Jesus Christ the Son of God. So writes
“Surely he has borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
As Holy Week approaches – it will be on us
before we know it (let’s hope the snow melts
first!) – we should be full of love, compassion
and gratitude towards Jesus our Suffering Lord,
always in the company of Mary his Mother, and
our love should be our greatest motive for
resolving to fight against sin in our own lives,
and helping others to escape from the slavery of
sin as well. May the Merciful Lord, by Mary’s
intercession and the angels’, provide us this