April 22, 2020
Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Opening Prayer: Lord God, you live in light inaccessible. You are the sun of righteousness that sheds your lovely light on us. Thank you for coming to save the world. Thank you for raising us up to light imperishable when our lives here below have run their earthly course.
1. Lumen Christi: This passage can be divided neatly into two parts. Verses 16-18 speak of the Son of God. God gave his only Son; God sent his only Son; those who do not believe in the Son of God are already condemned. Verses 19-21 speak of the light. The light came into the world; the wicked do not come toward the light; but whoever lives the truth comes to the light. The Son of God is the light. John 8:12 says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” At the beginning of the Easter Vigil Mass, as the priest holds up the Paschal candle, he intones three times “Lumen Christi!” and the people respond, “Deo gratias!” This means, “Light of Christ!” and “thanks be to God!” It is God who has sent light into the world, not “to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
2. Dispelling Unbelief: God sent his Son into the world to save the world, but from what does it need saving? From unbelief. The passage does not say that God condemns the wicked deeds of men (though, of course, he does); it does not say that he condemns at all. It simply affirms, “whoever does not believe has already been condemned.” Unbelief bears its own punishment. The world needs saving from unbelief in Jesus Christ. Life apart from Jesus leads to wicked works done in darkness. I cannot reject Jesus, and at the same time retain goodness, light, and truth—at least, not in their fullness. “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (and the light!),” says Jesus.
3. God Sent the Light: Another translation of John 3:16 reads, “For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son.” There is nothing better than Jesus. God the Father can give no greater gift than his only-begotten Son. What’s more, we can say that with the giving of Christ, God has already given us everything–light and life and blessings and happiness and holiness. And friendship and love and truth and courage, and much more besides. Jesus is God’s gift of salvation to men. The very name “Jesus” means “God saves.” He came for no other person, except that “everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” And the proof that he can give us eternal life is his own Resurrection.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, be the light of my life! Shine in me so that I can shine out to others, calling them to live in the light. You are that light! Give me the grace to do all my works “in God.”
Resolution: Lord, today, by your grace, I will pray the rosary meditating with Mary on the luminous mysteries of Christ’s public life.
For Further Reflection: Read some selections from Pope Francis’s encyclical on faith, Lumen Fidei. (It’s good to know that this is the sequel, so to speak, of Pope Benedict’s encyclicals on hope and charity, Spe Salvi and Deus Caritas Est, respectively.)