Fourth Sunday of Lent

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

A couple went on their dream vacation to Hawaii.      The husband, an organized and frugal man, had reserved compact rental cars on each of the four islands.   On arriving at the big island and presenting their reservation to the car rental desk, they were told that the economy car they had reserved was not available.     The wife readied herself as her husband’s face reddened in preparation for battle.     But the clerk did not seem to notice.      “I’m sorry, sir,” he said, “will you except an upgrade for the same price?”    Barely satisfied, her husband put their bags in a beautiful white sports car and off they drove.

The same thing happened throughout the vacation.    They would turn in their car and fly to the next island, only to be told the budget car they had been promised was not available and offered a same price substitution.     It was amazing, she said later.     For the price of a small compact, they had been given a Mazda MR-10, A Lincoln town car, and finally a Mercedes – all with the sincerest apologies of the rental agencies.

The vacation was absolutely wonderful and on the flight home, she turned to her husband to thank him for all he had done to arrange such a memorable time.

“Yes,” he said, “it was really nice. It’s too bad they never had the right car for us.”

He was absolutely serious.

It goes without saying, this poor guy could not see or appreciate the good things right in front of him.

The Gospel challenges us to see the love of God all around us in the love of family and friends, in the beauty of creation, in every act of justice, kindness, and mercy we witness.

Jesus reveals a much bigger God than we can imagine:  a God who does not condemn but loves;  a God who does not punish but lifts up;  a God who does not destroy but reconciles.

This is the God we meet in the person of Jesus – a God who is loving father, compassionate physician, wise and generous friend – in whom we discover our identity as children of God and participants with God in the work of re-creation.

You know we are a lot like the disciples during the time of Jesus; it took time for them to come to know and to be disciples of Jesus.

Being disciples of Jesus is more than saying I’m Catholic, it’s more than saying I believe in God, it’s more than saying I go to church.

Being disciples of Jesus means living the gift of faith.

Being disciples of Jesus means sharing the story of Jesus.

Being disciples of Jesus means living the story of Jesus with our children, spouse, relatives, friends, parishioners, co-workers, classmates, everyone.

St. Paul today reminds us all that we are all called to be disciples of Jesus in today’s world.   St. Paul reminds us that each of us is the handiwork of God, God’s work of art, graced by God to carry on the good works God has in mind for you, for me, for us…

In one of the “Peanuts” Cartoons, Snoopy is sitting on the roof of his doghouse, typing a letter that says:   “Dear God, I just want to say I love you.”   In another strip, Peppermint Patty is telling Snoopy her troubles.  She’s a mess after the week she just endured and asks him, “What do you do when everything goes wrong?”  Snoopy’s response is to give Patty a big kiss on her cheek.  “That’s good advice,” Patty says.   Snoopy reminds us that love is always the best answer for us to give and the one we always hope to receive.         Best of all, the one who loves us the most is:  God.