4th Sunday of Lent (B)


4th. SUNDAY OF LENT (B) John 3: 14-21 - March 11, 2018

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so everyone who believes in him might have eternal life

The Book of Exodus is the greatest story of deliverance in Israel history, the liberation from Egypt. Today we hear the second greatest moment of freedom for God´s people in the Old Testament, the return from the exile, in the II Book of Chronicles. In the Gospel of John we hear Jesus himself speaking of another and even greater deliverance: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but may have eternal life. God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians teaches us that deliverance comes from God alone, and is not anything we deserve: “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ –by grace you have been saved- raised us up with him, (…) and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”

The Persian king Cyrus served as God´s instrument to release the Israelites from the Babylonian exile back to their homeland. It meant freedom for them; however the Israelites had to start again, since they found their temple and city in ruins. The Hebrew saw the hand of God, first in the Babylonian captivity, because of their abominations, as purification, and then in their liberation. God had only punished them for a while, but they would be freed and return back home. In the Gospel Jesus indicates that the way he would release his people from sin to new life is via the cross. The cross has a very significant meaning in the Gospel; it is both suffering and victory.

The cross is central in our Christian life; it is not just a logo for us Christians or our churches. It is the powerful sign of God´s love for us. But the cross is still a cross, something painful. The cross is a sign of contradiction. What appears as cruel defeat is really a joyful victory because the sacrifice of Christ is the initiation of the kingdom of God. Our contemporary society does not want to hear about suffering. Sacrifice is meaningless. Jesus says in today´s Gospel that the love of God was so great to us “that he gave his only Son.” The Son of Man is lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

We recognize that life is full of struggle and pain. A dear friend of mine, a priest, has had already remove three brain tumors and his doctors told him he only has a few months of life. You probably have lost a loved one, or have lost a good relation, marriage or friendship; or your secure job has come to a sudden end. Many times we are in grief. When our grief becomes a hopeful prayer, and we look at Jesus lifted up on the cross, we are at our strongest. Jesus is our strength.

If we try to handle life alone, we find out that it is too hard. Everybody needs help. Jesus wants to heal us with his love. But we need to trust him and put our life, with all its troubles, into his hands. Let us allow him to be our strength and nothing would defeat us.

When Jesus says to Nicodemus that he must be lifted up, he is talking about his crucifixion. For people outside our faith that sounds as a tragedy. Our Christian faith tells us something completely different. The cross was not a defeat but a glorious triumph. The cross we received on our forehead the day of our baptism, the cross we carried in our First Communion, and we may still have it, the one we have at home, is the symbol of the great love God has brought us when we were dead in sin. Sharing the cross of Christ leads us to resurrection.

Escribir un comentario

Código de seguridad