Fourth Sunday of Lent 2021: Bulletin Cover Art, Column

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Dear Followers of the Christ,

In our gospel, John 3:14-21, we hear the images of darkness and light as we approach these weeks toward the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We also hear that just like Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, the Son of Man will be lifted up, that he will be hung on a cross so that the world may come to know freedom, forgiveness and redemption. 

This image of darkness and light is worth our reflection this week. The gospel says that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness instead. In other words, we still have trouble as human beings accepting the message of Christ Jesus. Sometimes we wallow in hatred than in hope. Sometimes we enjoy putting others down rather than lifting them up. Sometimes we shirk the possibilities of hope as we remain stuck in the mud of our self-reliance. 

Jesus desires that we follow him from darkness to light.  We learn a great deal simply through the images of the Lenten season. We all know what it means to be in the dark, not only on a strange, curvy road in the nighttime aching to make it home safely, but in the dark that keeps us clueless about what our spouse thinks of us or about the argument that has just happened. In the darkness, we miss out on something happening. The same occurs in Lent. We are invited into the mystery of our salvation, but if we prefer the darkness of sin, doubt and chaos, then we are missing out on longing for the person of Christ Jesus. Conversion of heart is the place for our redemption. Conversion of heart is the hope that light will replace darkness. Conversion of heart puts away our cowardice and moves us toward the Light of Christ. 

Jesus desires for us the light of forgiveness. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection are hope for our world. This is the Paschal Mystery. Our connection to Christ’s love is our baptism. This light redeems us and offers us a home in faith, hope and love. Christ’s love is also manifest in forgiveness. Forgiveness is never easy for anyone. Forgiveness, however, can create a new world. If we are willing to stand on this earth and learn to take responsibility for our actions and to name our faults when we are wrong toward our neighbor, the love of Christ will flourish. The mercy of Christ Jesus is powerful. The abundant gift of mercy comes to us as balm for our sin, our division, and ill will. The Light of Forgiveness leads us home. 

Jesus desires us to become the light of love that we seek. The mission of the Church comes from living out our role through baptism. In our conversion of heart, we are to help others along the way. If there is room in our heart for darkness to be cast away in forgiveness, then we become capable of loving others. We live in a difficult time. We are tempted to constantly blame others for our suffering. We even sometimes think that we are better than others and that they deserve what they get. Instead, we are called into a change of heart. A change of heart rooted in faith that motivates us to live lives of self-giving and genuine purpose. As Christians we are to live as a beacon of hope on the hilltop. By our example, we draw others to Christ Jesus. This is the journey of the Lenten season. 

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor

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