POPE BENEDICT XVI COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF THE 4TH SUNDAY OF LENT (B)

POPE BENEDICT XVI COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF THE 4TH SUNDAY OF LENT (B)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On our way towards Easter we have reached the Fourth Sunday of Lent. It is a journey with Jesus through the “wilderness”, that is, a time in which to listen more attentively to God’s voice and also to unmask the temptations that speak within us. The Cross is silhouetted against the horizon of this wilderness. Jesus knows that it is the culmination of his mission: in fact the Cross of Christ is the apex of love which gives us salvation. Christ himself says so in today’s Gospel: just “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15).

The reference is to the episode in which, during the Exodus from Egypt, the Jews were attacked by poisonous serpents and many of them died. God then commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent and to set it on a pole; anyone bitten by serpents was cured by looking at the bronze serpent (cf. Num 21:4-9). Jesus was to be raised likewise on the Cross, so that anyone in danger of death because of sin, may be saved by turning with faith to him who died for our sake: “for God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:17).

St Augustine comments: “So far, then, as it lies with the physician, he has come to heal the sick. He that will not observe the orders of the physician destroys himself. He has come a Saviour to the world… You will not be saved by him; you shall be judged of yourself”. (On the Gospel of John 12, 12: PL 35, 1190). Therefore, if the merciful love of God — who went so far as to give his only Son to redeem our life — is infinite, we have a great responsibility: each one of us, in fact, must recognize that he is sick in order to be healed. Each one must confess his sin so that God’s forgiveness, already granted on the Cross, may have an effect in his heart and in his life.

St Augustine writes further: “God accuses your sins: and if you also accuse them, you are united to God…. When your own deeds will begin to displease you, from that time your good works begin, as you find fault with your evil works. The confession of evil works is the beginning of good works” (ibid., 13: PL 35, 1191).

Sometimes men and women prefer the darkness to the light because they are attached to their sins. Nevertheless it is only by opening oneself to the light and only by sincerely confessing one’s sins to God that one finds true peace and true joy. It is therefore important to receive the Sacrament of Penance regularly, especially during Lent, in order to receive the Lord’s forgiveness and to intensify our process of conversion.

ANGELUS ADDRESS, MARCH 18, 2012 FROM VATICAN WEBSITE

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