The Message of the Risen Son
Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
Preached on March 17-18, 2012 at Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY and Saint Mary Catholic Church, Perryville KY
Readings: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Psalm 137:1-6; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21
Back in the day, horror movies were set in the night time. Vampires prowled in the dark. Werewolves howled at the full moon. Ghosts and monsters and the boogey man hid in the shadows. As soon as the sun had set in the west, the nightmare on Elm Street would begin and it would not end until the sun came up again. There was this notion that “everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed” (Jn. 3:21). Evil monsters lurked in the shadows because they could not tolerate to set foot in the light.
That was then. Now, Hollywood has pushed even our nightmares into our waking hours: in some horror movies vampires prowl during the day, monsters and zombies crowd under the sun. What is perhaps most frightening about these movies is the idea that there is no escaping evil, that it haunts us even in the light of day.
In a way, these movies make a point: horror does not come out just because the light has been turned off; it comes out of a heart of darkness. It was not an eclipse over the land of Judah that made it fall into the hands of its enemies. The people from the very top to the very bottom—the princes, the priests, and the people—added infidelity to infidelity (cf. 2 Chr. 36:14). Their hearts had turned away from the Lord. Early and often did the Lord send His messenger to them (cf. 2 Chr. 36:15) but they preferred lies to truth, their sins to the Lord’s salvation. That is the most awful tragedy, the greatest poverty of our day: “that the light came into the world but people preferred darkness to light” (Jn. 3:19).
The old horror movies pointed out that such a preference changes people. Those films were set in the night time because the monsters, even in the cloak of darkness, were terrifying to look at: they have transformed into something unnatural and unpleasant. The evil within was apparent in the hideousness without.
Perhaps, that is why the Son of God had to be lifted up on a cross (cf. Jn. 3:14), so that He might be seen over and above these shadows as a beacon beckoning us home. His Passion and Death stand as proof that God is willing to pay any price for our lost souls, to bear any burden for our many offenses, to prove, once and for all, that ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn.1:5) .
Men so loved the world that they gave up their claim to Paradise. They chose the things that perish over the promise of eternal life. Yet, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).
As it was in those old movies, just when we thought the forces of darkness were taking over, the sun comes out and puts an end to all misery. So it is with our salvation: the Risen Son alone can take us from the horror of sin to the splendor of everlasting life. Early and often has He sent us that message; we need only to listen and believe.