Fourth Sunday of Lent - 11th March, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

John 3: 14-21 


Just over two weeks ago on the feast of the Chair of St Peter, I was privileged to attend the episcopal ordination of Brian Mascord and his installation as the 5th Bishop of Wollongong.  I have known Brian on and off over the years when he was a seminarian, deacon, and priest and so it was very special for me to witness his ordination as Bishop.  An episcopal ordination is a glorious event full of beautiful symbolism, reverence and great joy, and Brian’s was no exception.  I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence throughout the liturgy and several times I was moved to tears by what I saw, heard and felt.

 

As the Cathedral of Wollongong is rather small, the ordination was held at the WIN Entertainment Centre, which allowed for a great use of technology in the liturgy.  The use of lighting in particular was used to great effect, and throughout the liturgy our attention was drawn to different items or areas of the stadium through the variance in the brightness of the lights.  One example of this was when the symbols of a bishop – the mitre, crozier and episcopal ring were brought forward, placed on or given to Brian and then after the appropriate ritual, Brain was escorted by the consecrating bishops to his cathedra, and was seated in blazing light.  Brian was metaphorically bathed in the light of Christ.

In today’s gospel, Nicodemus is the recipient of Jesus’ discourse about movement from darkness to light through him.  Nicodemus hears that it is because of Jesus that all may have life and be saved, if they will but respond in love and draw closer to the light (God) and move away from the darkness (sin).

We hear elsewhere in John’s gospel that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, for fear he would be condemned by his brother Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin should he do so in the daylight.  For Nicodemus, it was easier and safer to stay in the darkness.  Yet Nicodemus persisted and still came to Jesus.  As we know, Nicodemus came into the full light at the death of Jesus, being the one who brought myrrh and aloes to bury Jesus with dignity and respect according to Jewish custom.

This season of Lent is a time when we are invited to look at the areas of darkness in our lives, and through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, shine some of God’s loving light on those areas of darkness.  Lent encourages us to bring our darkness into the light of God, and be no longer ashamed, but instead work to transform ourselves, and dwell in God’s light.  This of course can be easier said than done.  Some of our darkness may have become a habit in which we feel comfortable, and perhaps don’t realise it is taking us from the light.  As Nicodemus experienced, it can be hard to own who we are, and own that we need transformation.  Bishop Brian before his ordination, no doubt had his areas of darkness, but through his life strove to stay close to the light of Christ.  Now as a Bishop he must more than ever be one who not only dwells in the light, but be one from whom Christ’s light shines forth.

In our annual remembering of the Passion and death of Jesus, we know that it ends in the glory of Easter.  It would serve us well to remember this as we take every daily opportunity to walk further from the darkness, toward and into the light of Christ.

Mark Wilson