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. John 3:16
God of mercy,
you are full of tenderness and compassion,
slow to anger, rich in mercy,
and always ready to forgive:
grant us grace to renounce all evil and to cling to Christ,
that in every way we may prove to be your loving children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- Gen 12:1-4a
- Psalm 121
- Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
- John 3:1-17
- Exodus 17:1-7
- Psalm 95
- Romans 5:1-11
- John 4:5-42
A Thought to Ponder
Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus: “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” The Pharisee and teacher Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the middle of the night (in John’s Gospel, night/darkness symbolizes the lack of faith/light). A man of learning, Nicodemus is one of the Jewish elites who were favourably disposed toward Jesus but were struggling to grasp the full meaning of his teachings. For the writer of the Fourth Gospel, Nicodemus represents exactly the kind of timid disciple the evangelist seeks to persuade to come forward and openly profess his/her faith in Jesus as the Christ.
In their exchange, Jesus explains that the kingdom of God he proclaims transcends time and place, that God’s reign is a state of being: to enter the realm of God demands an interior transformation in the Spirit. Invocating the image of Moses’ staff of a bronze serpent raised to save the Israelites from the bite of poisonous snakes (Numbers 21:9), Jesus foretells his own crucifixion, when he will be “lifted up” for the glory of God and the salvation of humankind. And, in one of the most famous verses in John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of a God who is motivated by love so great that the Father has given the world his own Son not to condemn but to save.
Despite our own life’s experience, wealth and status, we are incomplete and lost until we are “reborn in water and the Spirit”: to be immersed in the Gospel principles of justice and reconciliation, to be transformed in God’s spirit of humility and compassion.
To be “born in the Spirit” is to see things with the eyes of God, to honour what God honours, to love as God loves us. The kingdom of God that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel transcends boundaries and labels, stereotypes and traditions, the colour of flags and the colour of skin. In God’s eyes, we are all his children; in God’s heart, we are all brothers and sisters to one another.
While we tend to see God as the great cosmic Ruler, a mysterious Being totally detached from us and removed from the human experience, Jesus reveals God as a loving Father who created us and our world out of love and seeks to restore his beloved creation through an even greater act of love: God’s becoming human himself in order that his beloved humanity might realize God’s dream of becoming holy and sacred.
You can read the Pew Sheet here47f09-lent-2-a