Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year B

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Christopher J. Drennen, O.S.A.
Malvern Preparatory School
Malvern, Pennsylvania

Readings
2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23
Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6.
Eph 2:4-10
Jn 3:14-21

When I was a child, playing games with my siblings and friends, if someone stumbled and fell, you would hear a voice saying, “God got you for being bad.” I don’t know where we learned that, or if it was passed down through generations, but we believed it. God was a force to keep us in line, a power who would be ready to punish us for the slightest mistake or sin.

It is a concept that my educated mind now rejects but sometimes I still find myself feeling that I must have done something wrong when I failed or fell short of my goal.

Jesus’ message to us through Nicodemus tells us a new message. God does not joyfully condemn sinners but in fact wants us to succeed. He does not look for ways to condemn us but wants to save us. God loves us so much that he gave us his only Son so that we might have eternal life.

I think we get the negative false message from the world, not from God. The world is often not very supportive and seems to cherish other people’s failures. It has created a god who loves to punish the weak. God does not condemn us but we condemn ourselves when we choose to live in the darkness of sin and the world that does not live in the Spirit.

John’s beautiful description of eternal life reminds us that we need to choose the light and reject the darkness. We can make the choice to know and to love the light because we have seen the light, Jesus Christ. The beauty of light is that it will always dispel the darkness if we open the shades and let it in. At the Easter Vigil, it just takes the light of the one Pascal candle to help us to start to see. As the light is dispersed throughout the community the whole assembly becomes visible and darkness has no place to hide.

This week in our society we begin Daylight Savings Time, when we gain an hour of light in the evening. It can be a tough transition for some, but when we notice the evening light we have a sense that summer is coming and the darkness of the winter is fading away. That’s what happens spiritually as we approach Easter. The darkness of Lent is giving away to the bright promise of eternal life in Easter.

We are people of the light. We reject the darkness and choose the light. God chooses us, too. He wants us to be full of eternal life. He would never condemn us but always reaches out a hand and gives us more. We will not perish. We will not get punished when we fail. We are redeemed and saved by Christ’s death and Resurrection.

The challenge is to turn off the voices of condemnation that we might have deep within us and bask in the light of Christ. The victory has been won! We can stop the battles of darkness and live in the peace of God’s Son, the gift of eternal light and life!