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Love is Lifting Me Higher -- A Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
Archiocese of Washington ^ | 03-14-15 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 03/15/2015 7:17:47 AM PDT by Salvation

Your Love is Lifting Me Higher – A Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

The readings in today’s Mass speak to us of our desperate condition, and how God’s abiding love has not only set us free, but also lifted us higher. God was not content to restore us to some earthy garden, paradise though it was. No, he has so loved the world that he sent his Son who has opened heaven itself for us and given us a new, transformed and eternal life.

Let's look at some of the themes and ponder that God works which demonstrate his ardent love and persistent work to lift us higher. If there is any problem it is from us, not God:

I. ProblemsIn those days, all 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.

And thus we see our repeated infidelity, our worldliness, and our impurity. It is not as though we have had just a few bad moments, we have been persistent and consistent in our sinfulness. The cup of human human wickedness never seems drained. This is what God is dealing with, and what we experience in the long, and often sad tale of human history.

Are there good chapters? Sure.

But any honest look at human history will also reveals to us that there is something deeply wrong and flawed with human nature. We are living in a fallen world, governed by a fallen angel and we have fallen natures. Thrice fallen! This is our condition and this is what God is dealing with.

But God does not remove his love and remains a ardent lover of us.

II. ProphetsEarly and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets, until the anger of the LORD against his people was so inflamed that there was no remedy.

God’s first recourse is to call us through the prophets and through his word. Like any loving Father, he does not seek merely to punish, but to instruct so as to avoid punishing. Perhaps we will hear and amend our ways.

Have we? Is the presence of God’s word among us a saving remedy? Again the answer is mixed, but poor.

To some extent Jesus’ call to love has led to greater healing in this world. The light of faith which once informed the Western world gave birth to hospitals, greater love for the poor, greater respect for the dignity of the human person, the University system, and the scientific method. The warlike barbarians of ancient Europe were given faith and many found unity in the bosom of the Church and in more stable governments, and respect for just law.

But it also remains true that too much of human history, even in the Christian era is marked by violence, war, unforgiveness, injustice, unchastity, and a lack of commitment to the truth of the Gospel.

Yet, God continues to send his prophets in and through the Church. Can the World really say that John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI have not been prophets? Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, Fulton Sheen, CS Lewis, and countless others.

In all our ruinous state, God does not remove his love and remains a ardent lover of us.

III. PunishmentsTheir enemies burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set all its palaces afire, and destroyed all its precious objects. Those who escaped the sword were carried captive to Babylon, where they became servants of the king of the Chaldeans and his sons until the kingdom of the Persians came to power.

Punishment is not an act of venting anger for God; he is not seeking vengeance.

The purpose of punishment is to allow us to experience in smaller ways the effects of our sin, lest something worse befall us. And thus the ancient Babylonians afflicted Israel and God punished, purified his people.

So too for us, God may well permit great suffering to come upon us, not to vent his anger, but to summon us to repentance, lest something worse befall us, namely eternal hell fire.

But, truth be told, we are a hard case. Any look at the decline of the West and you’d think we’d have come to our senses by now. Our families are ruined, our birthrates are devastated, our educational system is in steep decline, our economies are way off the hook, we have a debts we cannot pay, we seem incapable of chastity or of making commitments and keeping them. Yet still we stubbornly persist in our path away from God and the gospel of truth and freedom.

Will we recover our senses, or will we vanish like empires before us? It remains to be seen. But the Church will persist, and though punished, and pruned, she will endure.

For In all our ruinous state, God does not remove his love and remains a ardent lover of us.

IV. PurposeAll this was to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah: “Until the land has retrieved its lost Sabbaths, during all the time it lies waste it shall have rest while seventy years are fulfilled.

Sin causes damage and that damage must be repaired. We must come to understand that sin is not just the breaking of abstract rules, it causes real harm.

The Christian term “reparation” refers to the repair that must be made for the damage sin causes. The verse used here in today’s readings talk about healing the breach that sin has caused.

Thus, while God never withholds his love, it remains true that he must journey well out in the wayward paths we have trod and lead us back. This a work of God’s, not just a wave of the hand, not just a legal declaration.

We have done more than disobey a legal precept, we have strayed far off and a repairing journey must be made. The Lord himself will shepherd us back!

For In all our ruinous state, God does not remove his love and remains a ardent lover of us.

V. Persevering – (from the Gospel)  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

And thus is fulfilled the great and passionate love God has for us. For In all our ruinous state, God does not remove his love and remains a ardent lover of us.

His own Son comes to find us in our wayward places and leads us back.

For In all our ruinous state, God does not remove his love and remains a ardent lover of us.

VI. Promotion – (From the Epistle)  God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ – for by grace you have been saved – raised us up with him.

And thus is our redeemed state even greater than our original justice. We have been raised up with Christ. Grace has brought us higher than we ever were before.

Now, no mere earthly garden is granted, but heaven itself.

For In all our ruinous state, God does not remove his love and remains a ardent lover of us.

VII. Peril - (From the Gospel) – Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world,  but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light,  so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,  so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Many who love to quote John 3:16 (God so loved the world…)  usually stop before these lines. Yet these lines are critically important to the passage since they remind us the necessity on our part to welcome the saving love of God.

God has done everything to help us and summon us to him. But he does not force the deal. He stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). He does not barge in. We must open.

But some do not open! Why? Because they prefer the darkness to the Light. To them the Light is harsh and convicting. It exposes their deeds for what they are: wicked, sinful, unjust, and wrong. Pride and obstinance keeps many from answer God’s call. As such they reject the saving love he offers (which we have reviewed) and the many ways he has sought to reach out to them.

Her then is the peril of human choice. God offers, but some reject him, preferring their sin and the darkness. God permits this rejection because he wants our love. Yet love cannot be forced it must be free. That there is a peril, is on our side, not God’s. God wants to save us and lift us higher. The peril is that many would prefer wickedness, the darkness, earthly pleasures, and to “reign” (they will not) in Hell, rather than serve in heaven. This peril is from us, form our obtuse hearts. It is not from God.

For those who do open, God’s love is ready to lift them higher. He offers them eternal life, that is, the fulness of life, a life that grows richer from year to year until it opens to a life so full and beautiful that eye has not seen nor ear has heard of the glories waiting for us (cf 1 Cor 2:9).   Praise God! Rejoice!

OK, I know the song isn’t religious. But transpose it to the higher key, like the Song of Songs does the Bible. Consider these lyrics as referring to the Lord and how his love quenches all our desires and lifts us higher:

Your love, is liftin’ me higher
Than I’ve ever been lifted before
So keep it up, quench my desire
And I’ll be at your side forevermore.

Now once I was downhearted
Disappointment was my closest friend
But then you came and he soon departed
And you know he never showed his face again
That’s why your love…is  liftin’ me, higher, and higher….

I’m so glad I finally found you
Yes, that one in a million
And with your loving arms around me
I can stand up and face the world

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: 4thsundayoflent; catholic; cslewis; fultonsheen; love; motherteresa; msgrcharlespope; padrepio
1 posted on 03/15/2015 7:17:47 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Monsignor Pope Ping!

2 posted on 03/15/2015 7:18:35 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

It’s just fine in the key it was recorded in.

3 posted on 03/15/2015 7:51:22 AM PDT by 9thLife ("Life is a military endeavor..." -- Pope Francis)
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To: Salvation; NYer

Thank you for the to Msgr Pope’s homily.

Today was Camp Day at my church. It was to spread word about the regional summer camp program for youth, teens, young adults and adults. 4 of your youth/young adults talked about their camp experiences and what they have gained from them. We also dedicated the new “Praise Hymnal” that we’ll use occasionally to introduce new music into the congregation, particularly praise hymns the youth learn at their camps to us old folks whose youth camp days are many decades past. Somewhere on this link is a sample selection of the praise hymns and I’m NOT trying to sell it.

4 posted on 03/15/2015 11:59:01 AM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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