John 2:13-25 Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
March 6, 2021
John 12:20-33 5th Sunday of Lent
March 20, 2021

John 3:14-21 4th Sunday of Lent. Today is Laetare Sunday or the Sunday of Rejoicing

Today is Laetare Sunday or the Sunday of Rejoicing which is quite inconsistent with the whole penitential season of Lent where there is fasting, abstinence, remorse of conscience, sorrow or compunction for our sins or the general atmosphere being sad and forlorn as the liturgy requires it. But this is a reminder of what Jesus said to his disciples that if you fast, wash yourselves clean as if nothing happened. That in spite of the penance that we do, we are still happy doing the sacrifice. That explains the meaning of why we are happy doing a sacrifice. And the best example that we could think about this is the nursing mother who wakes up in the middle of the night and feeds her baby happily. Laetare Sunday is a reminder to us that sacrifices can turn into joy.

4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday)
2Chronicles 36:14-17, 19-23
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

A. Text/Context
• First of all, a little background of who Nicodemus is because the gospel today is a portion of the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus
• So who is this Nicodemus? Why is it that Jesus is giving him a very special lecture?
• Well, Nicodemus is a Pharisee, and take note, the Pharisees are the ones who are always opposed to Jesus because they are very educated and they know a lot
• So they do not like to be censured or admonished or corrected by Jesus. But this man Nicodemus is different because he is a believer of Jesus
• And what kind of a believer he is? He is a secret believer. He has faith in Jesus inside a closet. He believes but he is silent about it
• Most of the Pharisees reject the teachings of Jesus and so they reject Jesus himself
• But this man Nicodemus believe in Jesus and so every time that he wants to talk to Jesus he will come during the night to avoid being seen by the people
• He will see Jesus under the cover of darkness because if he will be discovered that he is a believer, that will be the end of his career, he will be expelled in the temple, he will be criticized and perhaps he will even be penalized or get killed
• He only sees Jesus by nightfall scared of the danger of getting exposed
• And so today in the gospel, Jesus gives a very beautiful lesson to Nicodemus: For God so loved…
• In summary, light came into the world, because God sent his son but the people prefer to live in darkness, and it is so telling about the faith of Nicodemus who cowers in fear

B. Human Situation
• More oftentimes in our life as Christians as much as possible because of human weakness, we want to keep it secret to save our face from shame, embarrassment or self- ruin
• It is really a very human reaction, in fact in anthropology we call it self-preservation
• That is very understandable, but if for a very long time already you have been hiding a very dark secret in your life, doing and repeating the same horrible sins then, you have not made use of the grace of conversion
• Let us make Nicodemus a model of change in our life
• Nicodemus turned from a secret believer to an open believer. When Jesus died and was taken from the cross he was the one who openly expressed his faith in Jesus
• He was the one who helped Joseph of Arimathea anoint and bury Jesus openly
• The truth about our conscience is that we bear the burden of guilt for the sins we did
• If all those guilt feelings that we carry, the guilt that burdens and constantly haunts will remain unresolved it will take its own toll later on
• We do not wish that even at the moment of our death there are still people who are fuming mad and angry against us
• That even if our heart has stopped beating there are still people cursing us because of what we did
• Instead of praying for our soul, they will continue to curse us. What kind of grace shall comfort our soul in order to finally find eternal rest in the Lord? Nothing

C. Challenge
• In this holy season of lent we are reminded to do penance. Penance is one of the pillars of the Lenten season
• In this cycle of life that we live we also experience the darkness of sin that blinds us to see the goodness of God’s love
• The darkness of sin will surround and envelope our souls so that we will all be impaired to see the beauty of God’s love
• But if we ask for forgiveness, we repent of our sins, the darkness that surrounds us will be uncovered and the rays of God’s light will penetrate upon us and we will be living a life of grace
• From darkness into light, from a life of sin to a life of grace and that is the beginning of real happiness
• Did you experience this? Did you feel the joy after a sincere confession? Did you experience happiness after reconciling with a long time enemy?
• Real happiness comes when we unburden ourselves of the heavy baggage of sin
• If we unburden ourselves with that, I tell you, the joy of forgiving and the joy of being forgiven is so overwhelming
• The reward is calm, peace and serenity of soul. The person who asked for forgiveness and is forgiven is a person who sleeps in peace
• Look at the 1st reading, because of the sinfulness of the inhabitants of Judah they were exiled to Babylon and subjected to all sorts of sufferings and torture by the Babylonians
• This is also something mysterious, God allows evil to come to us to make the offender realize the mistakes
• But they repented and so God sent King Cyrus and inspired him to give an edict that all the victims of conquest will return to their own country
• And the Jews returned to Jerusalem like a real free people
• In the 2nd reading St. Paul said that even if we were dead in our sinfulness, God who is rich in mercy has raised us back to life
• Let us put a stop to all the unpleasant and nasty things that we do in secret
• Let us make our life an open book with nothing to hide, exposed to the brightness of grace
• Well, there are things that we need to keep secret always and that is only between you and your God
• What I mean is that no evil can live, lurking in the dark corner of our hearts, if the light of grace deeply penetrates even the darkest recess of our soul
• Nicodemus has chosen to embrace the light and we are challenged to do the same
• And on this Laetare Lenten Sunday we are challenged to make a joyful sacrifice
• Let our sacrifices turn into joy so that even the most difficult trials and the heaviest cross that we carry will become easier to bear

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John 3 verse 14-21 Laetare Sunday

John 3 verse 14-21 Laetare Sunday

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