Gospel Reflection for  Sunday the  14th of March 2021

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Forth Sunday of Lent

John 3:14-21

Possibly the most recognisable quote from Scripture in this Sunday’s gospel, the immortalised John 3:16. I can’t help but think of signs when I read this passage and how it has even found its way into sporting events, one of those childhood images implanted in my memory.

This passage also captures one of the most striking themes throughout the gospel of John. The conflict between dark and light. John is no doubt in agreement that those who do not recognise the light of God revealed in Jesus are shrouded in a cloud of darkness and worse even prefer to remain there.

This famous quote is one I feel we can be short changed with especially in the English translation. Some render it as Jesus being gave, or sent, but these words simply fall way too short in describing the great mystery surrounding Jesus as God incarnate.

That moment when salvation history was rooted in a physical way through the great fiat of Mary’s yes to God, the word becoming flesh. Mary being the first to see the light of Christ and give a home to it. The cycle is in motion then, the great turn, and it can’t be reversed any more than a person can climb back into their mother’s womb as Jesus says to Nicodemus previously in the same conversation but omitted here when talking about being born in the Spirit*. A great gift has been offered to the world and we have a choice to make, to accept what is pure gift from God or to reject it. To say yes like Mary or no.

Answer me this, when it comes to the faith do you find yourself being mocked, your warnings being despised, being scoffed at? If the answer is yes then good. This is how the messengers of God have been treated before and after Jesus, how Jesus himself was treated. This is how those who prefer to come out of the darkness to choose the light and accept this gift are and will continue to be treated.

Lent is exactly that, a time to turn, to move out of the darkness and come more fully into the light with Jesus Christ being the lamp we set our sight toward. A time to say yes to God.

We do this by committing to acts of prayer, fasting and charity. If we are engaging in any of these activities, and better still all three, you can bet you are experiencing the resistance.

You are finding yourself more in conflict with yourself and others as you venture ever deeper into becoming a spirit of light and truth. A lamp to the world, no longer hiding underneath a shade.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this passage reminds us that God does not intend to come as just judge but rather as merciful lover. The passage points us toward the coming passion of Jesus. A story shrouded in the love of God for creation. Jesus’ passion in John reminds us that it is about being set free from the burden of slavery to the sin that holds us to this world. So a simple reflection is to ask yourself, is there anything that needs to move from the dark into the light? In the spirit of Nicodemus, before we can have honest conversation with Jesus, we need to have truthful conversation about our own questions in life. This is what it means to live in plain sight, in the light of the eyes of the Lord.

*(It can be helpful to read this week’s gospel in the full context of Jesus’ conversation
with Nicodemus.)

– Fr. Frank Trias CP

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