Father Rick’s 3-Minute Homily for the 4th Sunday in Lent – Good Shepherd, Sunday, March 10, 2024

Fourth Sunday of Lent | USCCB

The Snake and the Cross

Today’s gospel reminded me of a time when I went mushrooming with my Dad. I was only about 6 or 7 years old. I saw a snake and was curious. So I got a long stick and poked at it. The snake curled up in a ball and bit itself. All of a sudden, it turned upside down and died.

So it might seem a bit confusing why God would use a bronze serpent on a pole to heal people if a real serpent bit them. A snake is what tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they committed Original Sin.

Guess what? I discovered that a snake is a symbol used for transformation because of its ability to shed its skin. Now, it made sense. God takes something so evil and turns it into something good for us.

We all could use that transformation – to shred old patterns of thoughts that steal our peace of mind and heart. Personally, I think too of patterns of behavior and ways of relating to people that keep me stuck, seeing them and relating with them the same way I have for years.

Jesus related the lifting up of the serpent in the desert to Himself. His crucifixion was something evil that happened to Him. Jesus said that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. I recall the soldier who stood under Jesus while He was dying and said, “Truly, this is the Son of God.”

With the spear in his hand, he got a taste that Jesus did not condemn Him, even as this man crucified Him. We are that soldier who needs to look up at Jesus dying on the cross.

Every so often I take a hard look at the crucifix on my Mom’s Rosary I pray every morning. Soon enough, past sins come to mind I committed and didn’t confess. From that little cross, I hear Jesus saying in my heart, “Father, forgive Rick. He didn’t know what he was doing.”

The words of St. Julian of Norwich, who lived in the 11th century, come to mind, “The person who loves us most is the person who knows us at our worst and still loves us.” This is Jesus. This can be you and me when we confess and embrace His mercy.

Gospel Challenge:
If you like, get out your Rosary in a moment of quiet and look hard at Jesus on His Cross. Keep looking. Wait for Him to speak in your heart words of mercy and healing as He brings to mind past offenses you committed. Hold onto His words all day and all night, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” We all have some old skin we need to shed so we can love everyone like He loves us.

For your convenience, The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available every evening, starting on March 18 from 6-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week.

Confessions will not be heard after Tuesday of Holy Week, including Holy Thursday – Holy Saturday. Please take advantage of this opportunity.

Love Your Neighbor:
Please join me in praying for all baptized Catholics to be faithful to Jesus in the Holy Mass every weekend. Hail Mary, full of grace…

Mother Mary, “I am yours now and forever. Through you and with you, I always want to belong completely to Jesus.” The Surrender Novena – InHeartland. https://inheartland.com/pages/the-surrender-novena

Peace be with you.

Fr. Rick Pilger, I.C.
pastor@bscchurch.com

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