Holy Mass, March 14th, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 3,14-21.
so that everyone who 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 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.
“The Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
When the people sinned in the desert (Nm 21:5f.), Moses, who was a prophet, commanded the Israelites to mount a serpent on a cross, in other words to put sin to death (…) They had to look at a serpent because it was with serpents that the children of Israel had been struck as their punishment. And why with serpents? Because they had repeated our first parents’ action. Adam and Eve had both sinned by eating the fruit of the tree; the Israelites had also complained regarding a question of food. To move words of complaint because they lacked vegetables is the limit of complaining! This is what the psalm testifies: “they rebelled against God in the wasteland” (Ps 78:17). So, in Paradise too, the serpent was the source of complaining (…) In this way the children of Israel were to learn that the very same serpent that had plotted Adam’s death had brought death to them, too. And so Moses hung it on the pole so that, when they saw it, its likeness would lead them to remember the tree. For those who turned their eyes towards it were saved, not indeed by the serpent but in consequence of their conversion. They looked at the serpent and were reminded of their sin. Because they were bitten, they repented and, once again, were saved. Their conversion transformed the desert into a dwelling-place of God; through repentance the sinful people became an ecclesial assembly and, still better, worshipped the cross in spite of it.
Sermon attributed to Saint Ephrem (c.306-373)
deacon in Syria, Doctor of the Church