Sunday Gospel reflection: God’s love sets the world on fire

Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday), Year B

"Christ talking with Nicodemus at night" by Crijn Hendricksz Volmarijn (1601–1645). Photo: Public Domain

Lent is about “spiritual ignition.” If Ash Wednesday signals that the fire of charity has cooled down, then Lent strikes flint against rock for the hope of a spark in the heart. This great season invites us to step back and examine our relationships with others, God, and the world.

Today’s Gospel makes clear that the world is not an enemy. It is the stage upon which God inspires and acts. It is the only stage we have; there is no other. God loves the actors, but the actors often fail to love one another. Love in the world has cooled down to ashes.

How is this love reignited? We turn to Jesus who was “lifted up” on the cross to be the light of the world. Who are the people we “lift up”? The poor, lonely, and marginalized are those on the ground who cannot get up because no one comes to their help. Like the Good Samaritan and Simon of Cyrene, we carry the burdens of others. We ponder that image of the Crucified “lifted up” on the cross.

At Mass, we sing, “We lift [our hearts] up to the Lord.” Our desire to lift the heart of humanity to God is the spark that sets the world on fire. We are nourished at the Eucharist in order to have strength to “lift” others up.

— Robert Dueweke


2 Chronicles 36:14–16, 19–23

Psalm 137:1–2, 3, 4–5, 6

Ephesians 2:4–10

John 3:14–21

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