Today’s Gospel contains the very heart of our reason for celebrating the season of Eastertide. Jesus said: ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that’ everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.’
Amidst the uncertainty and the pain that unfolds through the Passion of Christ is the promise of a new way, a new life, a new kingdom.
The message of the Cross is our message, too. It is our emblem, our mark of who we follow, of who we seek to emulate in all that we say and do and are. Christ is our way, our truth and our life. And, just as Christ willingly suffered on the Cross for humanity, so we must play a part in the suffering of Christ.
We needn’t look far to see that suffering unfold throughout our own lives. In whatever way it comes to us, it becomes clear that we have a cross to carry – our own Calvary. For many, that cross is hidden. Yet, it is still very much part of our lives. We feel the nails and the wooden splinters of a difficult life.
Today’s Gospel allows us to zoom out from the specifics of our cross, so that we might remember its purpose. The Cross is not its own purpose. We do not worship or venerate crosses in themselves. We should not enjoy suffering; to do so is masochism which is tremendously unhelpful in every sense. No, we should remember that our minds are on Christ’s message of hope, his message, indeed, of joy.
Let’s look at that astonishing revelation once more:’
‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.’
It is astonishing, because we are the beneficiaries of this new kingdom, this promise of eternal life. And, just as the shadow of Christ’s cross draws over our own life and society, so too does his promise rise like the sun over us, illuminating our way. It is joyful because God is the very source of joy. And so, we allow ourselves a period of joy on this day in Lent, to praise God in all his benevolence, and to sing his praises as the inheritors of his new and life-giving kingdom which is to come. ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (3:14-21).
Glory to you, O Lord
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘The Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much
that he gave his only Son,
so that’everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe
in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer
darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth
comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.