Fourth Sunday of Lent | Year B

Posted on marzo 8, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

(Pop = Popular)

Pop Verse John 3:16, in our Gospel: 

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,  so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. John 3:16

For evangelization, it sums up the Good News that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy. (Pope Paul VI) 1   

Pop Church

“We can hear people – whom we wish to believe are well-intentioned but who are certainly misguided in their attitude – continually claiming to love Christ but without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to belong to Christ but outside the Church. The absurdity of this dichotomy is clearly evident in this phrase of the Gospel: «Anyone who rejects you rejects me.» And St. Paul: who says that «Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her»?2

Pop Prayer

Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42, that make up the Hail Mary prayer, has been said and prayed billions of times more than John 3:16. Life magazine estimated that the “Hail Mary” prayer is said two billion times every day.3

Pop Duel

Dueling Bible verses: John 3:16 vs. Revelation 3:16 which speaks about God warning the lukewarm believer.4

In John 3:16, one would expect, according to Protestant tradition, the word “believe” to be in the aorist tense in Greek, showing a “one-point-in-time” event, i.e. “I believed in Christ on such and such a date, so I know I am saved.”

However, believe is in the present tense «that whosoever is believing in Him;» it is about currently believing and presently having eternal life: that you will currently be having eternal life.

«Don’t you wish you had the assurance of salvation?» or “Have you been saved?” envisions salvation as an accomplished event that lies in your past—as something that has already happened. Sometimes, the Bible DOES speak of salvation this way. E.g., in our Second Reading today, “by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5, 8). But this is not the only way that the Bible speaks of salvation:  Paul tells his readers to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), which is salvation as ongoing and also as a future event (Romans 13:11).

“Have you been saved?” Say: “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I hope to be saved.”5 Or say, «I did believe in Christ, I am believing in Christ and I am being saved.»6

Pop Love: Isaiah 43:1

“….There always seemed to be a kind of glass wall that kept me from experiencing his love in a personal and intimate manner. I could sense that it was just beyond that wall, but I couldn’t reach it….Then in 2010, during an eight-day silent retreat with a group of brother bishops, the retreat director suggested that I bring to prayer this passage from Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine…Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you….I am with you (Isaiah 43: 1, 4, 5).

Putting my head down, I began thinking how unworthy I was to be loved so deeply: “To be so loved right now!” I thought. “Maybe I’ll know it later.” Then inwardly I heard the Lord speak, “Look up at me! Do you not get it? You are precious in my eyes. Yes, you are a sinner, but you are a sinner who has been redeemed by my love for you. I love you right now!” In that moment, the glass wall shattered, and I cried out with joy—softly but oh, how gratefully! Can you imagine how I felt? So much love was flooding my heart” 7

1,2 Evangelii Nuntiandi #26-27; 44-45

3.  Robert Sullivan, “The Mystery of Mary,” Life Magazine, Dec., 1996, p. 45.

4. Robert Bagley, John 3:16 vs Revelation 3:16, K of C Michigan

5. Jimmy Akin, “Have You Been Saved?”

6. Steve Ray

7. Bishop Paul Loverde, A Shattered Wall and a God of Love, The Word Among Us