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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 4th Sunday of Lent B – 10th March 2024

4th Sunday of Lent B

Sacred Heart Church, Rushbrooke

10th March 2024

“We are God’s work of art”

My friends,

One of the widely acknowledged downsides of social media is that it can be used/manipulated to spread misinformation and falsehood. It’s such a pity that an instrument for so much good can, in the hands of the wrong people, wreak confusion, distortion and downright evil. That reality of the integrity and character of each individual person shows how much life and society is shaped by the intentions of the human heart and mind.

For us the Lenten journey continues with an invitation through the Readings to-day to renew our appreciation of the power of the grace of God in our life. St. Paul writing to the Ephesians 2:10 says “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he has meant us to live it”.

How often do we hear the phrase “There, but for the grace of God, go I”. It’s said frequently when we see the misfortune or failure of someone – and we acknowledge that were it not for having the blessing of good guidance or support we too can so easily veer off track. It’s a realisation and admission that indeed any of us no matter how well intentioned can be lured into ways of thinking and behaviour that we know deep down to be spiritually or psychologically unhealthy.

We are not alone in this experience. The ferment of images and ideas that are in circulation through every media is so persuasive that it is difficult to sift the good from the bad. This experience is overwhelming especially for young people – but not for them alone. There is ample evidence that more mature people in their mid-lives are especially impacted with a level of disenchantment that leaves them lacking motivation and energy for living.

Just yesterday I was reading a column which spoke of “languishing” as a word to describe this experience. An American sociologist has written about this phenomenon and suggest its symptoms are a restless emptiness, a sense of being emotionally flattened. But what is particularly interesting was his solutions – the first on the list is having a spiritual life – by way of having a sense of purpose and belonging in life.

“Yes God loved the world so much, that he gave his only Son – so that ….. So that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life” Jesus said to Nicodemus.

In the shifting sands of culture and society we each need to be alert to the subtle changes and influences that flow into our heart and minds. To suggest as St. Paul does that we are God’s work of art is a sense of viewing our life as precious, blessed and unique. It is also an invitation to see our life as a joint work in progress – continually evolving depending on our openness to his grace in our lives.

This way of seeing and living finds a continual expression on our prayer and reflections/meditation and contemplation – it is primed by a sense of gratitude for gifts and blessing. It is sustained by our openness to plead for strength in our need and by our humility in the face of sin and failure.

“God loved us so much that he was generous with his mercy”.

“This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness toward us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace”.

May our Lenten journey continue to be a time of grace and renewal for us.

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