It was the people’s transgressions that brought them into exile. They easily forgot the marvels the Lord had done for them. The princes, the priests and the people, all practiced infidelity upon infidelity. After a series of warnings, through His prophets, the anger of the Lord blazed upon them. And when the wrath of God came, there was no escape from it. While they were in their Babylonian exile, they cried and wept. They were filled with regret for their iniquities, they recalled the glory days in Zion, and they swore an oath never to offend God anymore. As soon as God heard their appeal for mercy, He relented his anger and, as easily as He cast them into exile, He returned them back to their land. It is fascinating that whereas God used one pagan king to send His people into exile, He used another pagan king to bring them back, but not before they had borne the brunt of his anger and repented of their evil ways. The lesson in this example is that God can do whatsoever He wills. Yet, there is no doubt that His love for His creation far outweighs any transgressions. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that it might be saved through Him. It is humanity’s preference for darkness and evil that separates us, yet in His infinite graciousness, God continues to go in search of us to bring us back from a place of darkness to light and from death to life. The sending of his only begotten son, Saint John tells us in today’s gospel, is the highest manifestation of that love. The purpose of Lent is to call our minds back to that huge sacrificial love of God made manifest in the death of His son on the cross. Our appreciation of the sacrifice can only be shown in the amount of love we have for God in return. To love God is to turn away from evil, to forsake the darkness of sin and to walk in the bright light of righteousness. While all of these may seem impossible to accomplish, Saint Paul reminds us that, by the grace of God all things are possible. Amen.