On the Road Together for March 10&11
On the Road Together
For March 10&11, 2018
by Tracy Rodenborn, Director of RCIA
4th Sunday of Lent:
Our Lenten journey is preparing us to celebrate fully the Paschal Mystery – Christ’s journey from suffering and death at the Crucifixion to rising to new life at Easter. This is celebrated to its fullest at the Triduum services. Triduum, meaning three days, begins at sundown on Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, continues to Good Friday with the veneration of the Cross and concludes with the magnificent Easter Vigil Mass, beginning after sundown on Saturday evening and continuing with our Easter Mass celebrations on Easter morning. The Easter Triduum services are really considered all of one piece – one liturgy that continues for three days.
The Easter Vigil Mass begins in total darkness, as we left on Good Friday. Then a fire is lit and the Paschal Candle is processed into the totally dark church, the only light to be seen. This symbolizes the light of Christ coming into the darkness of the world soon to totally illuminate every person who is there. Each person has a candle that is lit. It is a spectacular symbol of how the darkness in our world is dispelled by the light of Christ, which we all carry:
…a fire into many flames divided, yet never dimmed by sharing of its light…
click here to read the Exsultet
Our readings this weekend really hit home about what that darkness in the world is. In our first reading, we hear from the Second Book of Chronicles. It retells of the peoples’ “infidelity added to infidelity” and their abominations that led them to exile. As much as God tried to send messengers and warn them, they only got worse, so much so that it seemed there was no remedy. God, who continued to reach out even then, changed the heart of a non-Israelite king, King Cyrus, to allow them to go back to their land and rebuild the Temple. We see here, as the writer portrays, even in this total depravity and lack of faithfulness, God continues to meet them. How unexpected that King Cyrus would allow them freedom to go back to their land and worship their God. God saved the Israelites yet again!
Our Gospel this weekend is the oft-quoted passage from John that includes, John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…” In this passage, we see the dichotomy of darkness and light. The whole passage is Jesus’ response to Nicodemus who comes to Jesus at night. After Jesus explains to him who He is, he does not quite accept all that Jesus offers him. He fades away into the background during this speech that Jesus is giving about the significance of His life. We also see in this reading the darkness of the world that is already condemned – harkening back to our first reading where it seems there is no remedy for the evilness of the people. We also have people who choose the darkness over the light. It does not take much for us to relate to these descriptions as we both look at the world today and add up our own infidelities, our failures, our regrets, our sins.
It is here in the darkness that God continues to come for us. Is that not amazing? It is this darkness that God yet enters and becomes one of us, suffering all the abominations that a human could suffer, and even then, redeems even that. As the Gospel writer of John portrays, Jesus is lifted up and exalted by His victory on the Cross. It is in this darkness that God sent His only Son, continuing in a profound way what God had been doing all along in salvation history, rescuing us from the darkness, and drawing us to Godself.
At the Easter Vigil service, there is an ancient hymn that is chanted, and it is the only time in the church year that we hear this hymn called the Exsultet. It is sung after the Paschal Candle has spread its light to all present at the beginning of the service, called the Service of Light. One part of this beautiful hymn, sung in praise of the candle reminds me of our Gospel today:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.
The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.
As we maybe limp along at this point in our Lenten journey, we can know joy today that we are almost there. And the ‘there’ is all there is! In our Gospel, Jesus says that some prefer the darkness to the light – because when our wickedness is illuminated before it is redeemed, it is painful and hard. Maybe now, with our last weeks of Lent, we are called to sit right with that. What needs to be illuminated in our lives? What is holding us back from fully celebrating at Easter the light of Christ? When do we prefer the darkness to the light? We must know that even as we sit there, in our shame and in the pain that is illuminated, God is there, meeting us in that darkness.
Readings for Mass
Sent by Beverly Aviles on Thursday, March 8 at 6:34PM