St. John tells us in the Gospel Reading that the means of responding to such love is to believe in the saving power of Christ. “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.” (Jn 3:16) The Lord expects us to believe in Him who hangs on the Cross – the Redeemer. “Just 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.” (Jn 3: 14-15) Believing in Jesus means something more than going to Mass on Sunday and something more than saying the right words and even something more than a particular feeling of faith. Believing means to accept the person of Christ: to have the intimate, unwavering conviction that by the virtue of the Cross we too shall be wholly glorified in eternity. It is recognizing Him as the Son of God, genuinely sharing in His life and surrendering ourselves out of love and, therefore, becoming like 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.” (Jn 3:18) Faith brings us out of darkness into the light and sets us on the road to salvation. Therefore, we must share in the very life of the Savior, choosing it as the model of our own actions and pledging to live according to His example.
While faith is a supernatural free gift, it is also a virtue, a good habit, which every Christian should practice and develop. We need to make explicit acts of faith in order to make this virtue grow. Live in the light so that your works may be clearly seen as done in God (cf. Jn 3:21). We must respond to God’s love by actively proclaiming his word, professing his life, and witnessing to his glory.
Are we like Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, afraid of what people might think had they seen him associating with Jesus? Are we those Catholics who are afraid to stand up for their religion when it is insulted and attacked? Are we the Nicodemus who, through fear of losing acceptance in a group of worthless esteem, are prepared to forego the esteem of God and the promise of salvation? Do we think it is enough to render good works for others, while excluding God in what we do?
We may be assisting others in their material needs, but what spiritual value can it have if we don’t do it for the love of Jesus? During this season of Lent, let us dig deeper into our hearts and find out where we really stand. Do we stand in the light or do we stand in darkness? Or are we standing half and half, one foot in the Light of God and one foot in the darkness of this world?