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FIRST READING   
The wrath and compassion of God are shown in the exile and liberation of his people.
A reading from the second Book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 36:14-16.1923)

In those days: All the leading priests and people were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his word, and scoffing at his prophets, till the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, till there was no remedy. And the Chaldeans burnt the house of God, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious vessels. The King of the Chaldeans took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished,  the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.” 

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm137: I -2.3.4-5.6 (R. 6a)
R/. 
O let my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not.

By the rivers of Babylon
There we sat and wept,
Remembering Sion;
On the poplars that grew there
We hung up our harps. R.

For it was there that they asked us,
Our captors, for songs,
Our oppressors, for joy.
“Sing to us,” they said,
“one of Sion’s songs.” R.

R/. O let my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not.

O how could we sing
The song of the Lord/ on foreign soil?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
Let my right hand writher! R.

O let my tongue cleave to my palate
If I remember you not,
If I prize not Jerusalem
As the first of my joys! R.

SECOND READING          
“When we were dead through our trespasses, we were saved by grace.”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians (Ephesians 2:4-10)

Brethren: God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The word of the Lord.

VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL John 3: 16
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. God do loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should have eternal life. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

GOSPEL
“God sent the Son that the World might be saved through him”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (John 3:14-21)

At that time: Jesus said to Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”  For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Today’s Reflection:

God in His mercy redeems and sanctifies us although our sin condemns us.  In the first reading, God’s agent of salvation for the Jews is the Persian King Cyrus; God uses different agents in His plan of salvation. The Gospel reminds us that Christ will be lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him will be saved.  When we see the symbol of a serpent on a staff in hospital signposts, it takes our minds back to the scriptures (Number 21:8-9). So too the crucifixes we see around us should take our minds back to the love of God and His generous mercy in giving up His only Son for our healing and redemption.  It is up to us to believe in Him and be saved.

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