Homily for Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year B

Readings Chronicles 36:14–17, 19–23; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21

Theme: Accepting or Rejecting the Light

The fourth Sunday of Lent is sometimes called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word that means “rejoice”. Even as we observe the discipline and sacrifices of Lent, we rejoice in anticipation of the joy that will be ours at Easter.  Our first reading today reminds us that God remains faithful to His People despite rejections of Him: the Exile described in Chronicles is seen as a sign of compassion, to bring them back to their senses and mercy is seen in the return to the Promised Land after the Exile. Paul’s words to the Church in Ephesus as shown in our second reading, underline one of the causes of this falling away: our over-reliance on our own efforts and our need to trust in the love and mercy of God. God’s supreme faithfulness is seen in the gift of His own Son, sent to bring us to New Life. He never condemns, it’s we who turn away.

In the Gospel, Nicodemus is quite a hero for John. He mentions him 3 times in his Gospel, and nobody else does! He is a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Council of the Jews. He is very open and is touched by Jesus at the meeting - and he wants to find out more, but fails to understand what Jesus is saying: light needs to banish darkness (he came at night). Later in the Gospel, he appears when the opposition is growing against Jesus: the Sanhedrin was for killing him, even without a trial – something that Nicodemus rejects, the Law demands fair trials! (Jn 7/51) The final appearance is when he appears to give Jesus a decent burial, by providing expensive spices.

Nicodemus is open-minded and a genuine seeker after truth; he was a fair-minded man, as the second appearance shows and finally he is seen as a rich man, but with much compassion and generosity. However despite these qualities, he still chose to go and see Jesus at night, secretly – a decent man, but who could have been a great one! As we reflect on what we see of Nicodemus in John’s Gospel, we see the need to get off the fence and proclaim Jesus wholeheartedly. It is not a question of simply believing, but of living according to that belief, if we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in this way, we can do great things. Have we seen it, in the light of the words of J K Rolling: “which parts are we promoting?”

Jesus is the light of the world that has come but people prefer darkness as shown in our sinfulness. In Christ, there is no darkness – His light shows up the darkness in us; For instance, his truth shows up our lies; His integrity shows up our falseness; His generosity shows up our selfishness; His peace shows up our conflicts. His openness to others shows how closed up we are. We should not be afraid of His light – we should rejoice in it. “Christ, radiant Light of the world, guide our steps in the way of truth and goodness and lead us through the gloom of this world to the Kingdom of unfailing light!” Amen!  

God bless you all. 

– By Fr. Innocent Abonyi, MSP

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