March 15, 2015 - 4th Sunday of Lent, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
I Googled John 3:16, part of today's Gospel, and I found T-shirts and prayer cards, wristbands and bookmarks, dogtags and billboards. I found this scripture citation painted on the faces of football players and even tattooed on peoples’ bodies.
The message seems clear, that faith in Jesus Christ can be summed up on a T-shirt or a tattoo or in one single scriptural citation.
To believe that the source and summit of our Christian life together, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Word made Flesh can be summed up in one scripture verse borders on the absurd.
This overly simplistic approach to our faith can certainly get us into spiritual trouble. Faith in Jesus Christ is not a scriptural citation that we can wear on a T-shirt or chant at a pep rally or prayer meeting.
Wearing scripture verses and quoting scriptural citations does not save us. The gospel passage today tells us that God's only son Jesus Christ saves us. And the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ is not summed up in John 3:16.
As a matter of fact, when we look at the entirety of the four Gospels and the whole tradition of our Catholic faith, we still do not get a clear picture of Jesus Christ.
In the end we are left with the mystery of faith. When we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death Lord until you come again. And as with any mystery there are parts of this that are difficult for us to grasp.
Saint Paul says we were dead in our transgressions, but because God is rich in mercy, he brings us to life with Christ.
It is difficult for us to understand that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world. Rather Jesus came to save the world.
But our common everyday understanding of Jesus is that Jesus judges and Jesus condemns.
But the gospel does not say this. The Gospel says that Christ the Light came into the world to save the world, but the people preferred darkness to light because their works were evil.
Evil deeds are done in darkness. They are secrets. And everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light.
And so we must ask ourselves today do we live in the light? Everyone who lives in the light, lives in the truth and performs works that can be clearly seen as done in God.
Jesus is talking about good deeds, acts of kindness and charity, good works that bring us to the light. When we do our good deeds, the light shines a little farther into the darkness.
What works do we perform in the world and in our community that bring light to the world? Too often we focus only on our deeds of darkness. We allow the darkness to block out the light.
As we continue our Lenten journey we must examine our lives to seek the good that we do. And if we don’t find any good, there’s no better time to start than today. We must learn to live in such a way that our good deeds overcome the darkness, pushing back the shadows.
We can Google John 3:16 or any other scriptural citation all we want, but unless we struggle to live in the truth, unless we struggle to live in the light, unless we struggle to live each day following the Lord Jesus then we will not be saved.
Salvation does not come from our ability to quote scriptural citations. Salvation comes from Jesus Christ. Many people choose to live in darkness because their deeds are evil. Let us choose, here and now, to live in Christ our Light.