Fourth Sunday of Lent Gospel Reflection
Sunday, March 14, 2021
by Sister Roseanne Murphy, SNDdeN
The readings for this Sunday are full of stories of the tension between light and darkness, sin and forgiveness. In the first reading, we learn that God allowed the Israelites to be captured and taken off to Babylon because of their sinfulness. After suffering for seventy years, they amended their ways and returned to Jerusalem where they built their temple and again celebrated their Sabbaths. Much later, St. Paul tells the Ephesians “even when we were dead in our transgressions, yet God brought us to life with Christ and raised us up with him.” And in one of the most famous lines in scripture, John writes that “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.” The clash between light and darkness, sin and forgiveness, is found in all the readings but hope is also a central theme.
We have read the words of John’s gospel many times in our lives; so much so, that often we respond to the message there with something like, “I know that.” Often, the impact of that statement is somewhat muted because it has become so familiar to us. But if we thought about what is happening in our own country, we might take a little more time to reflect on our day and time, recognizing the fact that the conflict between good and evil is much the same today in our country as it was in the time of Christ. Paul could also say to us that “God, who is rich in mercy because of the great love he had for us even when we were dead in our transgressions, Christ can bring us to life and save us by his grace.” Watching the evening news often shows us what John was talking about when he said, “…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.”
The readings for today describe well our times. While we have gone through a painful period of isolation and sorrow for all who have died and those who have suffered intensely yet have survived, we, as a nation, have suffered in many ways especially in the outbreak of violence and the continued threat of more to come. Putting all this in perspective, we come to Easter with hope that somehow we can find decency and justice in our land. We can choose this Lent to come to Christ, as Paul urges the Ephesians, to find hope even when we are “dead in our transgressions, (when) God brought us to life with Christ.” We are blessed with the liturgies that speak of God’s great love for us, and Paul tells us “for by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from you, it is the gift of God.”
As we pray over the scripture passages during Lent, perhaps we can attempt to walk with Christ to Calvary, sharing in his sufferings, knowing that he takes our sins and the sins of our country through the crucible of his Passion. Christ calls us to join him in praying to God for the grace to change the hearts of those who plan violence and promote hatred. We can cleanse our hearts that we may become messengers of hope and love, healing our world from the hatred that is so obvious today. If we do that, when we read again, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life,” that sentence will become for us one of the most beautiful and powerful sentences we have ever read.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
The Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son. On these grounds is sentence pronounced: that though the light has come into the world men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear his actions should be exposed; but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Meet Sister Roseanne Murphy, SNDdeN
After Roseanne Murphy finished nurse’s training to become an RN, she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur whom she knew from five years of boarding school in Belmont, California at Notre Dame High School. Sr. Roseanne was sent to Mt. St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, and then to Stanford University for her M.A. in the same subject. When she won a Research Assistantship to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, she spent three years studying for her Doctorate in Sociology. She returned to Belmont where she was assigned to College of Notre Dame in Belmont where she has been since 1965. After 37 years of being Department Chair for the Sociology/Psychology Department, Sr. Roseanne retired from teaching in 2000, worked for ten years as Alumni Director, and then as Director of Planned Giving until her retirement from the university in 2013. In 1987, Sister Roseanne was asked to deliver a paper in Namur on the apostolic work of St. Julie Billiart, Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame. She got so enthusiastic about the life of St. Julie, she determined that she would write a new biography of the saint to help many people know more about her. The book, Julie Billiart, A Woman of Courage, was published in 1995. Because of that work, she was asked to write the life of Sr. Dorothy Stang, the SNDdeN murdered in Brazil in 2005. Her second book, Martyr of the Amazon: The Life of Sr. Dorothy Stang, was published in 2007. Sr. Roseanne is a member of the Province Center community in Belmont.