Fr Vincent's reflections on the 4th Sunday of Lent 2021
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) What is the true quality of my/your “belief” in Jesus, and is it complete enough that we might inherit eternal life? God is doing His part, but we must do our part as well.
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 4th Sunday of Lent 2021
Read the script:
Fourth Sunday of Lent (Mar. 14, 2021)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, let us pray:
O God, who through your Word
reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,
grant, we pray,
that with prompt devotion and eager faith
the Christian people may hasten
toward the solemn celebrations to come.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is John 3:14-21.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“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 might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we have the famous Scripture passage, John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world . . .”! I am sure that thousands upon thousands of Christian people feel great relief when they read this single verse. But, none of us are meant to read and live by single verses of Scripture. We read and live by the whole of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, true enough, God has loved every human being enough to send His Son so that we might have eternal life. Honestly, I enjoy throwing back to my Bible verse-quoting friends the final words of that particular verse, “might have eternal life.” “Might” does not mean “will have eternal life, but rather, it is a possibility but it is not a “done deal!” Even people who believe in Jesus can lose Heaven.
We must read further through the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. . . . But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” Jesus is clearly pointing out that to believe in Jesus is not enough. How we live our lives is as important as our interior belief in Jesus.
Before I go on, I think I need to say a few words about the meaning of the word “believe” itself. So many people use the word believe as if it is merely an emotional attachment. So: I find truth in the words of Jesus, so I value them; I love them, so I claim to believe them. They are truthful and loveable words. However, that is not truly belief. To believe means “to live by” or “to live within” the words I claim to love. To love them, but to live contrary to them displays an insincere love and therefore truly an absence of belief.
So, do we back up our belief in Jesus with actions – consistent, daily Christian behavior? If I pick and choose when to be Christ-like and when to act less than fully Christian, then I do not truly believe in Jesus; I am not living within the words of Jesus! The image of light and darkness which Jesus uses can be very telling in our self-evaluation. Are you prepared to have each and every thought, word, and deed of your life made public to everyone who knows you? Or, as an old priest friend used to say, “Does your mother know?”
It is so easy for people, probably you and I as well, to excuse some of our thoughts and behaviors because we think no one will ever find out. But what happens is that we are choosing darkness over light and proving a lack of belief in Jesus. This is the challenge of this Sunday’s Gospel: Yes, God loves us tremendously because He wants us in Heaven, but do we love so lavishly in return that the entirety of our life belongs to Jesus? This is what it takes to gain eternal life: to live completely with Jesus now, this is the only way to live with him in the fullness of Heaven.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
Bow down for the blessing.
Look upon those who call to you, O Lord,
and sustain the weak;
give life by your unfailing light
to those who walk in the shadow of death,
and bring those rescued by your mercy from every evil
to reach the highest good.
Through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.