Reflections: 11th March 2018

A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

JN 3: 14-21 (

“As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up”. What a strange image! The serpent / snake which Moses lifted up was a metal image of a snake.  A strange image given the abhorrence for carved images in the Old Testament and the whole drama around the metal bull which the people made and worshipped in the absence of Moses. Strange that Jesus should liken himself to that image of a metal snake being raised aloft for people bitten by real snakes to gaze on and be cured. But that image is still with us today. The sign above so many pharmacies carries the image of a snake. This is because the snake also provides the antidote to its poison. The image of the snake as healing continues.

If St. John uses a proliferation of images of Jesus with the overall insistence on the certainty that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore God, he is surely protecting his listeners and readers from concentrating on one image and deciding this is who Jesus is.

Nicodemus takes our place before Jesus as the one who is confused by what Jesus is saying, like being born again. The words that follow in this text did not seem to disturb Nicodemus much. He seems to have got the main message which is what I take for myself too: look at Jesus who was simultaneously raised on the cross and raised from the dead to a life of glory, believe in Jesus with all one’s heart and that is where salvation from darkness and evil lies, basking in the “light” that has come into the world. 

John Kingston C.S.Sp. – Ordained in 1976, Fr. John was initially appointed to Angola. Having also served in Ireland and in Rome, he is now serving in Moçambique for a second time.