And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever 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 may not perish but may have eternal life.“ Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
A Far Side cartoon depicts a clueless dweeb walking beneath a piano suspended in midair. God watches the scene on his computer, his finger poised on the “Smite” button. Sometimes it feels like God is out to get us!
John 3:16 to the rescue… “For God so loved the world…” Jesus has come not to condemn but to save, to call us from darkness into light. Still… something inside us prefers darkness, the clueless comfort of sin.
Nicodemus, a teacher of the law, comes to Jesus by night. It would be risky for him to be seen with the likes of Jesus. And yet he’s more than curious, he’s truly searching for truth. On graduation day he boldly comes into the light, bringing burial ointments for his slain teacher. This is the journey of discipleship we all must make – from the darkness of fearful ignorance into the knowing light of Jesus’ love.
—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. His daily Lenten video reflections can be seen at heartoheart.org
Too many hiding places in my heart,
closets and twisted corridors, locked with a skeleton’s key.
Too many back staircases, places I hide in fear,
occasionally bit by a spider or tripped by an unfriendly chair.
Too much of my heart that is shrouded, shadowed, unknown.
Too much of me I’m afraid to see to shed night’s cowering blanket.
But this is the question,
the judgment I don’t understand:
When the stars are asleep and the sun has arisen
and that light could illumine my home,
Why bolt my doors and strangle my curtains
in a panic to tie down the shades?
I protect the secret catch of cobwebs.
Enlighten me, Lord, when I choose a darkened day.
—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ