11th March 2018

The daffodils in the picture are emerging from under a heavy weight of snow which has been lying on the ground for the past week. Some are still waiting to be released by the ongoing thaw.  They are lying flat on the ground when they first appear from under the snow and look like they will  never rise up again. As they are exposed to the light however, they are rising up to where they were before the snow fell.  Within a few more days, their beautiful yellow flowers will break open and give joy and hope to those who have time to stop and notice them.

Today is the fourth Sunday of the Lenten season.We are already more than half way through this time of penance and preparation for Easter and are recommended in the liturgy of today to ease off a little on the fasting and self denial. The purpose of this break is to give us an opportunity to enjoy the liberty and freedom we have already achieved by taking this road  of self control and reflection. We can also look forward joyfully to feeling complete freedom as people of God in the Risen Christ at Easter.

Just like the daffodils emerging from under the weight of snow and the people of Israel escaping from captivity and exile in Babylon  (c.f 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23), we too are freed from the captivity of our self preoccupations to the liberty of the sons and daughters of God.  In that freedom we realise that we are God’s work of art, still in the making but each one with potential to be a masterpiece  (c.f. Ephesians 2:4-10). We have every reason to rejoice and be glad because we are no longer on our own but in and with Christ through whom nothing is impossible.  If we believe this, we can transform ourselves and our world through works of mercy, compassion and love.

The Gospel reading for today from John 3: 13- 21, makes this wonderful assertion: ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son ….  not to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him’.  We are offered freedom from exile and alienation by the free gift of God’s love for us.  In freedom we realise that we are all God’s chosen ones and nobody should ever be written off or abandoned.  We are all children of a loving God helping one another on the way to complete freedom.

Psalm 137  The song of the exile.  ‘By the rivers of Babylon –  there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Sion’  Our response is: ‘Let my tongue be silent if I ever forget you’.

Questions:  Where is the darkness in my life?  Where do I feel most trapped? Where do I feel most free?