HOMILY & IDEAS

Jn 3:14-21

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

Jesus said to Nicodemus: ÒJust as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 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.

This reference to Numbers 21:4-9 parallels the healing power of the image of the serpent with the saving power of Jesus. I have come across some interesting insights that I thought were preachable here. First, God instructed Moses to make and elevate an image of a serpent so that it might have an effect on other serpents -- namely that it take take away their venomous impact toward their victims. Likewise God sent his only Son into the world who was completely human (and divine) to be lifted up so that He could have an effect on other humans -- namely that He could take away the venom of sin. Just as the brazen serpent that healed contained no venom itself, Jesus who saves was free from all sin

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.

There are many themes here to develop and preach on -- especially the divine initiative to Love from God, and the condemnation of self through human choice

HOMILY: However, I am pulling out of this passage the them of darkness and light to preach on this week .I think it is obvious through the study of human nature -- and by simply being a sinful, human being, that the attraction to the darkness can be very real and powerful. As St. Paul states -- The very things I do not want to do, I do, and the very things I do want to do, I do not. Everyone can identify with this and the choices to be made are clearly defined between darkness and light.

I think the more complex problem of choice that exists today are competing sources of light -- or that which appears as light. They are not evil -- just lesser goods that can be attractive enough to steal away our attention to the true light -- Jesus Christ.

This weekend I will use a story from my own life to illustrate this.

When I was a kid I had a notorious reputation in my family for unintentionally demolishing or losing an array of manual or power tools that I happened to get my hands on from the workshop that my father built in our cellar. As the years progressed -- and pull chords from chain saws and lawnmowers were promptly ripped out -- and tools frequently disappeared -- my tool-borrowing privileges became more and more restricted until I was simply forbidden to even look at any items from the workshop.

The last straw involved the borrowing of a flashlight. We have a rather long, dark closet in our cellar which never had a light installed in it. In order to find something in this closet one would need to use a flashlight and of course, the flashlight was an inventoried item from the forbidden workshop. Rather than risk the punishment of having both hands cut off and being thrown inside a Turkish prison for borrowing something without permission, I remember ambling upstairs one morning to ask my father permission to use his flashlight to search for our set of yard jarts (what I did with our yard jarts is another disaster story which will have to wait for another time).

My venture was successful and I can recall happily sprinting out of the closet, putting the flashlight down somewhere in the cellar, and running over to the house of my best friend. Of course, later that day the old man needed his flashlight and it was nowhere to be found. Did I take it out of the cellar? No. Then where was it?

We have all been in this predicament at one time or another in our lives. We look a a space of about 400 square feet and we know that the object we have lost is somewhere in front of us. BUT WHERE!? I looked for a solid hour. EVERYWHERE. I could only conclude that it had miraculously dematerialized.

It was only when night had fallen and when I had entered a the darkened cellar that night that I saw a single, weak, beam of light shooting across the cellar from between two boxes.

The light is easy to see in the darkness. The contrast is strong. Still, we can clearly make a bad choice between the darkness and the light. However, in the competition of daylight, it is easy to have our attention stolen from the true source of light -- Jesus Christ.

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