Gospel Reflection Mar 14 – Deacon Frank
Sunday, March 14
Fourth Sunday of Lent
John 3: 14 – 21
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.
With this Sunday’s milestone of the 4th Sunday of Lent – and later next week with the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th – there is a funny story about an elderly Irishman who slipped into the confessional one Saturday afternoon. He humbly confessed his sins, but before he got up to leave the confessional, he somehow gave the impression that there was something more to say. “Is there anything else?” the priest gently inquired. “As a matter of fact,” the man replied, “there is. You see, I normally have a tot of whiskey before I go to bed. This Lent I decided I’d give up the drink till Easter Sunday. And I have kept my promise up until now.”
“Well, that’s a wonderful effort,” said the priest. “Tomorrow is Laetare Sunday, and it means that we are already halfway through Lent; it’ll soon be Easter. You must be very pleased. However, you only have a little more time to go. Why are you celebrating now?”
“I don’t know, Father, ” came the reply. “You see, if I go without me whiskey much longer, I’m afraid I might lose my taste for the stuff altogether.”
Whatever we think about that, our reason for rejoicing today is not that we have made it to the halfway mark of Lent, but rather that today we hear readings that bring us the most incredible news we could ever hear. It’s as if the Church is asking us to raise our eyes and look to the future; to think of the extraordinary events that we’ll soon be celebrating, events that from the climax of the Church’s liturgical year, the suffering, death, and resurrection of our beloved Lord. Jesus’ crucifixion was foreshadowed when Moses lifted the serpent on a pole as a way to cure the Israelites of poisonous snake bites. So, too, the cross will save us from the venom of evil.
The scene on Calvary speaks eloquently of how much God loves us. In the simple yet powerful words of John, the Gospel writer, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but will have eternal life.” Calvary is the supreme proof that our God is a God of love, a God who in the person of God’s son came into this world not to condemn but to save. Let us raise our eyes this weekend before the Eucharist to our Lord Jesus and prepare ourselves to receive him – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – Laetare – REJOICE!
-Deacon Frank Iannarino
CRS Rice Bowl Week 3: A Story of Hope from El Salvador
Some young people in Ahuachapán in eastern El Salvador think that being a farmer is a thing of the past. Their families have farmed for generations, but climate change and soil erosion have caused harvests—and therefore, their incomes—to shrink considerably.
Edwin Carlos, a 17-year-old eager to support his parents and two little brothers, did not see farming in his future. However, after a teacher told him about how new techniques and technology were changing the way farming was being done to help restore the environment, he changed his mind. Edwin Carlos decided to join a group of 220 students who are learning skills like the importance of distancing when plowing and how burning harvest residue can harm the land and air.