13 March 2015

'Those who do what is true come to the light.' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

From The Gospel of John (2003) directed by Philip Saville
[Today's Gospel begins at 2:02 and ends at 3:10]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

Gospel John 3:14-21 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For 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.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Nicodemus, Unknown Flemish Master
Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent, Belgium [Web Gallery of Art]

The Pharisees generally have a bad name and the adjective 'pharisaical' is defined in Merriam-Webster as marked by hypocritical censorious self-righteousness. Those words could certainly describe most of the Pharisees we meet in the gospels. But they do not apply to Nicodemus. He was patently a good man who said to Jesus when he met him at night, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God (John 3:2). He was also with Jesus at the end helping to prepare for the burial. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds (John 19:39).

This good Pharisee can help us come to the light, especially when that involves walking through the darkness. Physical darkness is part of the reality that God has given us and can protect us from the cosmic powers of this present darkness (Ephesians 6:12), as it did Nicodemus when he came by night to visit Jesus.

God has given us many examples of persons willing to confront the cosmic powers of this present darkness even at the risk of their lives. One such person is Patience Mollè Lobè, a 57-year-old widow and member of the Focolare Movement. An engineer, she became a very senior official in the Department of Public Works in Cameroon. She saw at first hand the powers of darkness in the corruption she encountered there. Here she relates how attempts were made three times to kill her.

[There's a transcript of the video here

Patience Mollè Lobè is yet another example of a layperson living fully the vision of Vatican II. So many have the idea that carrying out a particular kind of liturgical service, eg, being a reader, is what being a good lay Catholic is all about. It's much more than that. It is a way of life in following Jesus, living every moment according to the Gospel, bringing the values of Jesus into every human situation. In the words of St Paul in today's Second ReadingFor we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life (Ephesians 2:10).

Here in the Philippines many of us have known persons like Patience Mollè Lobè, some of whom have died for confronting the cosmic powers of this present darkness. Their witness to Jesus and the Gospel brings us the light of hope and proves the truth of his words today, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Antiphona ad introitum  Entrance Antiphon  Cf Isaiah 66:10-11

Laetare, Jerusalem, et conventum facite, omnes qui diligitis eam; 
gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristis fuistis,
ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolations vestrae.

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.
Be joyful, all who were in mourning,
exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.


On 11 March it was announced that the the poem below by Irish poet Seamus Heaney (1939 - 2013) had been chosen as Ireland's best-loved poem of the last one hundred years.

When all the others were away at Mass 
by Seamus Heaney

In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.


Saint Laurence O'Toole said...

Dear Father,

The Catholic Heritage Associations of Ireland, each in their own small way, are doing their bit to promote our Catholic heritage. We have had you in our blog list for a long time. It would be very kind if you could include a link on your blog to ours. The most active blogs are:


God bless,


Fr Seán Coyle said...

Hello, John. I've had a link to St Conleth's for quite a while. I've just added the other three you posted. I hope to visit the grave of Blessed Thaddeus in June on a pilgrimage organized by the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association. We'll also visit the grave of St Columbanus in Bobbio. He is the patron saint of the Missionary Society of St Columban to which I belong.

Thank you for linking my blog to yours. God bless.