Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson Fourth Sunday of Lent
Allow me to present some facts about an event coming next Saturday, March 20. That will be this year’s date for “the Vernal Equinox. At precisely 5:37 AM that morning, when most of us will probably be enjoying a Saturday sleep-in, the Northern hemisphere of our home will be at the one or two moments in the year when our sun will be exactly above the Equator. As a result, day and night will be of equal length. More importantly, that will be the official arrival of Spring 2021. “Vernal” meaning “fresh or new.” The days will be noticeably longer than the nights. The new season will usher in all the joys of extended light after a long winter’s darkness.
May I ask you now to make a spiritual application? Apply all this to Our Lord’s teaching we hear of today to what He told the significant Jewish leader Nicodemus. The man was obviously attracted to Jesus and His teaching and he wanted more in a private session. Yet he cowardly came at night, such was his fear that others might easily spot him in daytime.
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus speaks of “the light that came into the world,” without telling Nicodemus it is He. But He quickly adds the sad fact that “people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.” In all honesty, haven’t we thought of ourselves as being in that group? Preferring the protection of darkness, even that of secrecy, rather than exposure of any kind?
Recall that infamous day a bit over 2 months ago when our Nation’s Capitol became “a crime scene.” On any given day, we agree that a brazen crime is made worse if it is committed “in broad daylight.” The boldness adds to the evil.
Lent is our opportunity to make reparation for all of our dark deeds. We want to straighten out our relationship with the Lord. We have the advantage of knowing from our Bibles and from consistent Church teaching that God indeed loves us, and was willing to die for our reconciliation with Him. The wisdom of our Church’s lived experience is such that she knows we would have had to invent a Lent if she had not already done so. Just like this Lent, now, in the year 2021.
Not to take advantage of this Lent here and now seems like the height of foolishness, does it not? Making a good confession is an essential part of the process, and we know that. Above all “be not afraid,” as our great John Paul urged us at his installation as pope. Lenten reform is really not as complicated as the timing of the Vernal Equinox.” God is simple, holy, and loving of you all the time. Take advantage of it and enjoy the sun- shine. God love you and give you His peace.
Reading I: 2 Chronicles 36: 14-16, 19-23
The story of a collapsed Judah follows divine judgment. The chief evil of ignoring the prophets brings about a 70 year long exile of the Israelites in Babylon. The unexpected decree of Cyrus king of Persia brings about a happy outcome.
Reading II: Ephesians 2: 4-10
God’s great love for the world is most evident when He sends His only Son into the world as His greatest gift.
The Gospel: John 3: 14-21
The Father’s love for the world is manifest in His Son Jesus. Jesus in turn tells His pupil Nicodemus that when “the Son of Man is lifted up” (on the cross) it will be a similar but much more powerful healing than that of the serpent lifted up in the dese