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Lenten Reflection, The Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 15, 2012

Reflection on St. John’s Gospel 3: 14-21

I will begin with verses 16 and 17: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

 

This gospel proclaims the great news of salvation through God’s absolute and eternal goodness, expressed through his sustaining love of the world and of humankind.   God expresses his love for the world by making a supreme gift: God’s gift to the world is his only begotten Son, Jesus, who also gives us the model upon which we can build our lives and our faith.  We are assured that Jesus is the way to salvation: “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John’s gospel continues to instruct us by pointing out that Jesus came into the world as a human being to validate the goodness of creation, not to condemn it, and to show people the way to salvation.   This is an important point that reinforces what we have learned from the first chapter of Genesis: that the world created by God is seen as manifestly good and that this world is meant to sustain and to help men and women in their earthly journey.

John continues in a magnificent passage that proclaims the absolute differentiation between Jesus Christ, who is seen as the Light of the World and whose way is truth, and evil, which tempts mankind to love the darkness rather than the light, and leads men and women deeply astray:

“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.   But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”   These two verses close the reading from the Gospel of John for today.  They tell us that evil wants to hide itself and hates the light because it is conscious of having wronged God and fears reproof, or spiritual correction.  The connection between doing truth, or doing what is good and beneficial, and the light that Jesus represents is made stronger by John’s claim that our good deeds are rooted in our love of God, and that such deeds want to manifest themselves, show themselves, as expressions of that love.

As we meditate on this gospel message, let us reflect on the teaching that Jesus is truly the supreme gift and the abiding light which comes to us as a sign of God’s love for us and the world.

 

Joseph Heininger

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