2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23
Watch a video with homily hints
The Gospel assigned for today brings us to the most well-known verse of the Bible, John 3:16 -- “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.”
As Lent draws closer to its culmination in the Easter Triduum, it becomes clearer in the readings and prayers of the liturgy that this season is a great preparation for receiving the gift of eternal life obtained for us through the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. The Catechumens of the Church prepare to receive this gift in baptism; the rest of us prepare for the renewal of our baptismal vows at Easter Mass; for all of us, it is the fulfillment of John 3:16.
The homilist might reflect that the purpose of Christ’s coming is that we “might not perish…but have life.” As The Gospel of Life makes clear, this promise of eternal life implies the sacrosanct character of natural life, which provides the foundation and context in which we accept this gift of everlasting life. His will is that human beings not perish – neither by losing their salvation, nor by being deprived of the opportunity to grasp it by being born and eventually hearing God’s word and living the faith. God always shows himself to be on the side of human life.
Yet the acceptance of life, natural and supernatural, and the defense of that life, creates division. “The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light.” This explains why we have to fight against the forces in our world that would destroy human life. He who would destroy it “does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.” Injustice in the world always flourishes when it is hidden. Those who support the culture of death in all its forms want to keep their actions hidden. Sr. Helen Prejean, who is a renowned advocate for abolishing the death penalty, writes, “I am convinced that if executions were made public, the torture and violence would be unmasked, and we would be shamed into abolishing executions” (Dead Man Walking, p.197). Those responsible for killing Terri Schiavo in 2005 likewise kept people out of her room – including volunteers in the very facility where she was staying. Armed police officers manned the door at all times. As I revealed to the news media, her death was far more horrific than the euthanasia advocates wanted the public to believe. And, of course, the reality of abortion continues to lie hidden. People never see the procedure on television or in print. People who do see it are often converted on the spot.
The application for us is that our Lenten journey, and our acceptance of light and life (baptismal symbols) empower us to abandon denial and face both good and evil head-on with honesty, and with confidence in the ultimate triumph of grace over sin, truth over falsehood, and life over death.