Mission Society of the Philippines



Jn 3:14-21

THE GOSPEL TODAY leads us to reflect on the meaning of Christ’s “lifting up” on the Cross. Jesus has anticipated His crucifixion and He likens his “lifting up” on the cross to that of the lifting up of the bronze serpent in the desert by Moses. In both instances, LIFE is being signified. On the one hand, when the “poisoned” Israelites looked at the bronze serpent, they did not die, but lived. On the other hand, Jesus’ self-giving on the cross gives everlasting life to believers. Thus, the cross signifies life, an eternal life.

Let us examine some important points presented in the gospel.

Firstly, this popular passage found in John’s gospel contains the phase, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” So, the driving force in the mystery of salvation is the love of God, that is, God’s love for humanity. This is the beauty of the God of Christianity. God created the world and humans, but afterwards, He did not abandon them. When God saw that the world is in need of redemption because of man’s sinning, He made a sacrifice by sending his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to save it. Thus, the mystery of salvation is a mystery of God’s love.

Secondly, the plan of salvation has a certain requirement on the part of humanity. Jesus added this phrase, “so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. The word “believe” has been used five times in the gospel passage. For us Christians, faith is an important component in our life. Faith is something that we should nourish through our life. We have received it when we were baptized and we allow it to grow. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between faith and eternal life. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Whoever believes in him (Son of Man) may have eternal life.” Faith in Jesus leads to salvation. Through his death on the cross, Jesus gave us life, an eternal life. He brought us salvation when he was “lifted up” on the cross.

But, how appealing is salvation for modern people? Our world today is full of the so-called “self-made” people. They attribute their achievements to themselves, and as such, the question of God and salvation becomes insignificant to them. These people have so much resources, as well as power. In that sense, they think of themselves as powerful, and consequently, they think of themselves as gods. Because of this, salvation is no longer hoped for.

Thirdly, the passage continues with the theme on light. “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.” I would say that light is something we, humans, value. At nighttime, we always turn on the lights. We hate darkness actually. If the highway or road is dark, we complain usually to the authorities and demand to brighten the dark roads or streets. Light is not only useful or helpful, but also beautiful.

But it is not the same in man’s life. Why? Because often, as the gospel says, people would prefer to live in darkness than in light. Jesus is Light and the words of Jesus are a “lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”. But still many have rejected Jesus and the words of Jesus.

As we continue our journey in this Lenten season, we shall always remember that our life can only have meaning if we have and believe in Jesus, for Jesus is our life and our light. A few days ago, I have watched on tv a European journalist who interviewed an American pro-life activist. The journalist asked her: “How important is God or Jesus in your life?” Her reply was this: “I could not imagine myself having a God-less life. Without God and without Jesus, surely, I will never live.” AMEN.

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