Year B, Fourth Sunday of Lent

That All Who Believe...

April 2, 2000


Ronald D. Curley

TEXT: The Holy Gospel According to Saint John 3:14-21

I hear this morning the words of St. Paul saying (II Corinthians 5:21) -- "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

In addition, I hear the words of St. Paul saying (Philippians 2:5-11) - "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Our second reading (Ephesians 2:4-10) this morning has emphasized - "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

St. Augustin suggests to my mind and heart today - what man could explain this redemption by and through God to another man, or what angel could explain this redemptive work of Christ to an angel or a man?

Yet, here we have the story of the ages before us, a completed work of God. And, we bask in the glory laid out before us, dumbfounded by the awesome scope of this redemption.

At Easter Vigil we shall hear the words, "What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?" ... "O Happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a redeemer!"

Yet, JESUS came to us and offered himself for all, like the serpent that Moses lifted up in the desert place.

Can we contemplate this? Are there enough brain cells for us to make adequate our contemplation? I think we are dull in our understanding of so great a redemption. Thing upon it briefly, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe comes down and suffers at the hands of his fallen creatures, because he LOVES US!

What man can explain it to a man, what angel to an angel or a man?

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,

15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."

To trust (believe) in Christ is to come onto the path of eternal life, where Jesus and Mary walk, and where we are invited to come and see, walking with Jesus daily.

Why are we invited?

Certainly, Jesus spoke to the heart of all of us when he spoke to Nicodemas.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Here we have the passage that little children ought to memorize for life!

Here is the summary of the Gospel message of salvation through Christ Jesus!

And, it tells us that the one who is "having faith" in Christ.

NOTE-- (a present participle "pisteuwn" in Greek, John 3:16 - houtos-gar hgaphsen ho theos ton kosmon hwste ton huion autou ton monogenh edwken, hina pas ho pisteuwn eis auton mh apolhtai all' exh zwhn aiwnion.) may have eternal life. This goes along with the emphasis of Ephesians 2:8-10 that real faith is never alone, but, is empowered by grace through faith to cooperate with the grace of God)

Jesus says,

18 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.

19 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.

How true this, beloved.

We choose to do what we will do. We are rarely forced to do anything.

When presented with choices, we make them!

And, here is the verdict.

20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

21 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.

We do as we are.

If we are doers of evil, then we hate the light and dare not come into the light, but, remain in the darkness that we might not be exposed to God and men. Yet, if we love God, then, we are willing to show God and men that what we do is of God.

How we must be transformed from within!

Therefore, God takes the initiative and seeks us out.

"What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?" ... "O Happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a redeemer!"

The beauty of this redemption is that it is to ALL who believe.

May we with Mary the Mother of God be believers, those who are trusting Christ fully, transformed and renewed daily through the Eucharist.

Deus et Sanctissima.