Homily for the fourth Sunday of Lent - Year B - Jn. 3:14-21
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" Jesus was saying: 'And 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, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has 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 men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. "
" Jesus was saying: 'And 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.' "
This is the price that Jesus paid in order to open the gates of Heaven to us and to lead us to eternal life! This is the price: like the serpent that Moses lifted up in the desert, Jesus was lifted up on the Cross, he died for us on the wood of the Cross before lifting himself up into Heaven on the day of his Ascension! The serpent that Moses lifted up in the desert was a source of healing: similarly, the Lord Jesus who is now in Heaven is the source of eternal life, through the merits of his painful Passion and of his death on the Cross.
The serpent in the desert was a sign for the Hebrews: the sign of God's mercy towards his People, the People He had chosen for the purpose of making his glory and magnificence shine out throughout the world. In a similar way, but in accordance with the reality that He is in himself, the Lord Jesus is the sign of God's mercy and love towards all men. His glorious wounds, which he still bears in Heaven, are so many jewels that witness to his triumph over sin and death; but, above all, his wounds are, for all the elect of Heaven, the shining and ever-visible signs of his inexhaustible love for those whom He has chosen from all eternity to live with him in Glory.
" For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. "
God loves us! Our Heavenly Father, the Creator of us all, loves us so much that this love leads him to give us his only Son. Saint John speaks in the past tense; he says: "God loved... he gave..." But all of this is also true of the present, since, for God, everything is always in the present: God is eternal, and for him there is no past or future. It is only in relation to us, mankind, that there is a past and a future for God. The Father's Word, his Son, was incarnated in the womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary two thousand years ago. This is in the past, it was then that God gave his only Son. But we can say still today that God gives us his Son, every day, every hour, every minute: if we ask him for this, humbly and with great faith, then God will give us He who is his Life, his whole reason of being, He who is the object of his love.
" Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. "
The Lord Jesus is God: He is the Truth. He is the Truth we must believe, for it surpasses all intelligence, it is above all reason, it is supernatural and divine. But as this is the Truth that is God, this Truth is also Life: the Lord who is Truth is also Life, because He is almighty and merciful Love, Infinite Love, which cannot fail to be communicated to anyone who truly wants to enter into a communion of Life with Him. Thus, through the virtue of faith, the Truth that is God, and in whom we believe, gives us his Life: through faith, we are made participants in the very life of God in the Lord Jesus. Moreover, let us listen to what the Lord tells us: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life." (Jn. 6:47)
" The light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. "
Saint John had already told us this at the beginning of his Gospel: "The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not." (Jn. 1:9-11) This is the drama of all Creation: the Light is here, in the world, and yet many are those who reject it, who do not go to it in order to be interiorly illuminated by its all-powerful grace! Men are afraid of this divine light, they do not want to approach it, for it may show everyone, everywhere, the ugliness of their life. But above all, they do not want to see in this light the life and love that it essentially is: for they do not want to change their life, for they do not want to participate in the life of God.
" But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. "
Let us look at this expression of Saint John: "He who DOES what is true..." The Truth of God who is Light (cf. 1 Jn. 1:5) is a Truth that cannot be dissociated from acts of virtue and works to be done in accordance with the commandments of God and the Church. It is not enough to simply believe, it is also necessary to perform works of charity and mercy. Of these works, we shall soon accomplish the most important of all. We shall communicate of the Eucharist: we prepare ourselves to participate in the Passion of Christ, to communicate of his Sacrifice, that which the Lord has offered once and for all, but which, through the sacrament, will be made present to us, we who are living today! We shall associate ourselves with the dead and resurrected Christ, He who was lifted up from the ground upon the wood of the Cross, and who is now lifted up at the right hand of the Father who is in Heaven!
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who saw her Son on the Cross, help us to worthily receive her Son Jesus, in order that we might participate in the Passion of Christ, for his Body, which is the Church!