March 10 – Fourth Sunday of Lent

You can find many statistics and studies pointing to the fact that faith in first world countries is in decline. The question “why is this happening?” can be asked. How could the cultures and countries that were instrumental in the spread of the Catholic faith now be lacking in faith? One thing I would propose is that we are going too fast. These countries and peoples, which include us, are not taking time to recollect, reflect, and pray.

Have you ever tried to recall an event that happened suddenly in your life, such as an accident?  Many times, we struggle to put all the details together. Or have you ever tried to capture information while traveling down a highway? If you aren’t giving your complete attention, you will miss all the details as you go by.

In our first reading, in the midst of the sorrow and sadness of being in exile, King Cyrus issues a decree allowing the Jewish people to return to their land and rebuild their temple. Here the Lord is acting through a world leader. As the Jewish people return to rebuild, they still mourn because the new temple would never measure up to the glory of Solomon’s original temple. The people were failing to see God’s hand in it, despite the fact that he had freed them from years of captivity and oppression.

In our second reading, St. Paul asks the people of Ephesus to recall God’s Mercy in Christ. In a way, they had forgotten about it, maybe due to the busyness of their lives. How many times have we been so caught up in our busyness that we fail to recall God’s Mercy in our lives? Do we fail to reflect on what Christ has done for you and me?

Finally, in our Gospel today Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, a sign that he was searching for the true Light of the World. It was also at a time when there was nobody else around. Nicodemus went to encounter Christ when the world was sleeping; he went to seek him in the silence.  This first encounter would lead to Nicodemus’s conversion, and eventually to his acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice, as he would help bury our Lord’s body after the Crucifixion. 

What can we do to grow in our faith, especially in the season of Lent?  May I encourage us to slow down, take time to recollect, and reflect on the way the Lord has worked, is working, and continues to work in our lives? May we never get too busy to miss the workings of the Lord and his presence in our lives, thanking him for all the good he has done for us.

Father Michael