Reading 2 Eph 2:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
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 — by grace you have been saved —,
raised us up with him,
and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come
He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace
in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
it is not from works, so no one may boast.
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works
that God has prepared in advance,
that we should live in them.

Verse Before the Gospel Jn 3:16

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

Gospel Jn 3:14-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

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.
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.

**

 THE FINAL ENEMY

by Father Robert Barron

We are halfway through Lent which means the passion and death of Christ are slowly coming into view. At this point, I would like to spend a little time contemplating what God thinks of death.

To put it simply, God hates death and wants nothing to do with it. Listen God speaking through the prophet Ezekiel: “I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” These words are spoken just after the marvelous scene of the enlivening of the dry bones.

There is an important clue here, by the way. Those dry bones were there because a battle had been fought on that spot. Death, the fear of death, the threat of death-all of this broods over human life and grounds sin and oppression. All sin, which involves the terrible clinging to self and attacking of others, ultimately flows from a fear of death. Every tyrant who has ever ruled has succeeded only by instilling in people the fear of death.

But what if death – as we know it and experience it – is not at all what God intended? What if it were something that God wanted to deal with once and for all, to get rid of? The book of Genesis tells us clearly that death came from sin. Death as we experience it – as something fearful, horrible, terrifying – comes from having turned from God.

But Jesus came primarily as a warrior whose final enemy is death. I know how easy it is to domesticate Jesus, presenting him as a kindly and inspiring moral teacher, but that is not how the Gospels present him. He is a cosmic warrior who has come to do battle with all of those forces that keep us from being fully alive.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus deals with the effects of death and a death-obsessed culture: violence, hatred, egotism, exclusion, false religion, phony community. But the final enemy he must face down is death itself.

**

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