Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘The Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’
Gospel Commentary by Fr. Murtagh
This is the story of the Hebrew people, the pilgrimage of the chosen ones and the story of everyman on our pilgrim way through the desert of life. It is a journey into freedom, a journey homewards, an exploration and adventure into the nature of ourselves and that of God, if that is what we choose. God’s side of the story is given in the New Testament. We are told that we are God’s work of art, that God has created us into life and love and re-creates us into eternal life in Christ. God has constantly taken the initiative, sent yet more messengers, re-made yet another broken covenant, opened up another possibility and choice and freedom, when we seem to have clearly seemed to indicate that we prefer the ways of the world to the ways of God, the privacy of darkness to the judgement of light and the security of slavery to the uncertainty of a long trek through uncertain terrain, into a future which is only a promise, albeit God’s promise. God’s story is also written in the face of Jesus – the crucified Jesus. As the Hebrew people were asked by Moses to lift their eyes up to the saving standard, so we are invited to look up to see God’s initiative, God’s generosity, and the depth of God’s feeling for his scattered and battered people. For God, this is a love story, a freedom story, a life story. The cross is not simply history. It is the living reality of a loving relationship pushed to its limits. In the passion, Jesus gives himself, pours himself out in generous commitment to the will of the Father and the Father gives as no-one has been asked to give before. Jesus submits to suffering and to desertion and death while his Father submits to watching his Son die. He watches his only Son praying to him for relief, calling to him in despair, and dying dishonourably as a common criminal. Jesus is deserted by his company and feels deserted by the Father, yet in this separation there is communion and intimacy. God’s work is done. Jesus has made his choices, travelled his journey homewards, fulfilled his purpose and can say, It is accomplished.’ Our journey continues. Our work continues.