Gospel Reflection: Fourth Sunday in Lent

Reading II

Eph 2:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
God, who is rich in mercy,
because of the great love he had for us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions,
brought us to life with Christ — by grace you have been saved —,
raised us up with him,
and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come
He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace
in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
it is not from works, so no one may boast.
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works
that God has prepared in advance,
that we should live in them.


Jn 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.


In today’s readings, we read about the love and mercy of God.

In the Second Reading, Paul reminds the Ephesians that salvation has been a gift from God, which they have not received by any of their good works – it is simply His gift because of His love and tenderness. He also reminds them that they are the work of God, created to live holy lives with the help of His grace.

In the Gospel, we read about a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee who came to converse with Jesus at night. Nicodemus recognized something different in Jesus and was genuinely interested in understanding who Jesus was. He met Him at night to avoid distractions and to avoid being seen.

Jesus prophesies to Nicodemus that just as Moses mounted a bronze serpent upon a pole so that people of Israel would be healed by looking at it if they were bitten by serpents, He Himself would also be lifted up – exalted to glory at His cross and resurrection – so that those who see Him and believe in Him would receive the gift of eternal life.

Jesus emphasizes “believe” in His conversation with Nicodemus because He recognized a curiosity in Nicodemus, but also a fear to believe. Nicodemus knew that proclaiming and supporting Jesus publicly as the Messiah would compromise his reputation as a Pharisee and perhaps his safety. Jesus invites him to believe and affirms that whoever believes in Him as the Son of God will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned.

The invitation is before us today to raise our eyes to Jesus on the Cross and renew our belief in Him as our Savior. Let us recognize our need for His salvation and healing, and approach Him in thanksgiving because healing and eternal life have already been won for us. Let us seek God’s grace to help us live holy lives, honoring the sacrifice of Him who loved us unto death on the cross.

Please be assured of my prayers before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+ Bishop Schlert


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