Vigil for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

by Sister Elizabeth Carrillo

“Awake you who sleep, arise from the dead and Christ will shine upon you…”
These words from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians, addressed to all who would follow Christ,
hold a profound significance for those of us in monastic community.
For they are sung during the rite of final profession and speak of the light and new life promised
to all who give themselves to Christ, who first gave himself for them.

On this vigil of Laetare Sunday, at the midpoint of our Lenten journey, we are called to rejoice
in the infinite mercy and love God has revealed to us in Christ. We are invited again to embrace
our identity as children of the light and to leave behind the works of darkness.

In the Gospel, we encounter Jesus speaking to Nicodemus, a leader and teacher within the
Jewish community, who seeks greater understanding and belief. Jesus words to Nicodemus
reference the desert journey of the Israelites, where they grumbled in their hearts, complained,
and lost faith in God’s plan. Yet, despite their disobedience, God still loved them and desired
their healing, guiding them back into a relationship of trust. Just as Moses lifted up the image of
the serpent on a pole in the desert to bring healing to the Israelites, Jesus will be lifted up on
the cross as the definitive sign of God’s limitless love and desire for the healing of all the world.

We hear that “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.” God sent the Son into the world not for
judgment or condemnation, but exclusively for the salvation of the world – opening for us the
possibility of reconciliation, healing, eternal life, and the renewal of all creation. But this doesn’t
just happen automatically. All of this is God’s gift to us if we believe. And belief here is not
simply an assent of faith, but rather a radical, personal trust in the depth of God’s love for us as
revealed through Jesus, the light of the world.

We are given a choice. Are we willing to come into the light, allowing ourselves to be seen and
known in love, or do we prefer to remain in the darkness, hiding our ambiguities and
shortcomings? But we need not fear. In the compassionate light of Christ’s love, we are
empowered to look at ourselves honestly, to reveal our weaknesses, and to let them be lifted
up for healing and transformation.

Little by little, we align our works within the framework of Jesus’ great work of the cross, willing
to accompany him into the heart of human suffering and contradiction. And as we do so, we
begin living the truth of God’s boundless love. Just as God remains patient with us as we
struggle to choose between light and darkness, truth and evil, let us extend that patience to
one another, reverencing and supporting each other as together we seek to live in the light.

So let us walk in the light, with our eyes fixed on Christ “lifted up,” who shows us that we are
loved beyond imagining and that God always desires our greatest good. May we embrace the
power of this truth and share the light of Christ with the world that God so loves.


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Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica
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