4th Sunday in Lent
And just 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 Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.
Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Lord and King, I truly believe that you are my Savior and Redeemer. I place all my trust in the power of your grace; I want to live a life that shows I love you above all things.
Petition: You will be my judge, Lord. Help my soul. I ask to you change my heart to receive your will with unconditional welcome, so as to draw closer to you and be able to bring others to know you and love you.
1. "That Whoever Believes in Him Will Have Eternal Life." Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ (CCC 1022). We have to make an enormous effort and we have to count on the help of grace, in order to raise our minds and our ambitions beyond the immediate things of this life. The first step in responding to our Christian call is to believe in it. Believing means not only knowing but being convinced of the truths of our faith. And we are only convinced of something when it influences our actions. True belief cannot be separated from our actions, and by our actions we can tell if we truly believe. So, whoever believes will do the things that give us eternal life. Lent is a good time to reflect on the depth of our faith. The depth of our faith is not the amount of Apologetics we know, or the Scripture passages we can quote, or even the amount of prayers we say, but the influence my faith has on the options I make every day (the things I read and speak about, the desires I harbor in my heart, the way I deal with others…). These will show us the true state of our faith, and they will lead us to eternal life.
2. "God Did Not Send the Son into the World to Condemn the World, but in Order that the World Might Be Saved through Him." Pope Benedict stated that Christianity is not the religion of prohibitions. It entails some, of course, but it is essentially Good News, it is essentially a project to realize in my life. The “do’s” that Jesus gives us are immensely more breath-taking and abundant than the “don’ts”. Love your enemies, Do good to those who hate you, Settle with your enemy, Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, Let your light shine, Learn from me, Come to me, Go the extra mile, Forgive seventy times seven…, the list is endless. The flip-side to these do’s are the don’ts, but they are a consequence of the do’s, and not essentially what Jesus is about. There are ways of the world we must condemn, there are attitudes of the world that can destroy the Word within us and we must eradicate them, but the essence of who and what we are is not in our defects, but rather in what we are striving to attain. The same with a vocation, its essence is not to be found in the things we have to give up but in the close following of Christ that entails giving up those things, often very good in themselves. Christ’s full intention in coming to this world was to save, rebuild, pacify, purify from sin, train in objective goodness, and re-establish the Kingdom in men’s hearts and societies. “I came so that you would have life and have it in abundance.” We have the most positive message possible to give the world.
3. All Who Do Evil Hate the Light and Do Not Come to the Light. “Our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” (Confessions, St. Augustine, Book 1, Ch. 1). God is light, he is love. This may explain the immense depressions that occur due to sin and hatred. It seems that when a soul doesn’t accept God wholeheartedly, true torture begins. This torture is not just the normal wear and tear of life. It is guilt beyond explanation. The Light is the light of Christ. We are often tempted not to come to the light, not to open up the needs of our soul to Christ in prayer and the Sacrament of Confession. But the rewards are countless. He also gives us his light through his Body, the Church, in her teachings, which are always a reflection of him, and through her legitimate Pastors, the bishops in communion with the Pope. This is the light we must strive to bring into our conscience. When we come to the light it becomes easier to discover and eventually reject the evil and the darkness in our soul. It makes it possible to do good consistently, and so “become” good.
Conversation: Lord Jesus, help me see that my Faith is the light that should always guide my steps in life, and especially the major decisions of my life. Enable me to give my faith the place you want it to have in my life, and to act always as your true follower. During this Lenten season I rededicate my heart to you. I promise to receive your sacraments with a heart that wants to change.
1. Can I tell from my actions if I really believe in God and in the future life?
2. What is my attitude toward the world? Am I convinced that as a Catholic Christian I have the message it desperately needs?
3. Do I live in the Light, or is there something I am still trying to hide from myself or from God?