4th Sunday of Lent

4th Sunday of Lent

Fr. Joseph Levine; March 14, 2021
Readings: 2 Chr 36:14-16,19-23; Ps 137:1-6; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21

Rejoice, Jerusalem! Those are the words that begin the entrance antiphon today, that make this to be the joyful Sunday of Lent, the occasion for the rose-colored chasuble.

Jerusalem is the city of the Old Testament, the capital of the kingdom of David, the place of the Temple of God, that was a symbol and living prophecy of the heavenly city towards which we are making our pilgrimage, following Christ on the way of the Cross, and a symbol of the Church, which through the celebration of the Mass becomes the earthly presence of the heavenly Jerusalem, and also a symbol of the faithful soul, living by the life of grace, in whom God dwells as in a Temple.

This year as we come to the Jerusalem of this altar, we can rejoice and give thanks to God simply because we have indeed returned here; last year this was the first Sunday we missed due to the Covid shutdown.

We rejoice because God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but might have eternal life. Here, at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we receive the gift of God’s love, the gift of his Son, in the gift of Holy Communion, which is in very truth the Body of Christ, true God and true man.

He is the light who has come into the world; he is the light who shines in the darkness. (cf. Jn 1:5,9)

Even in the middle of Lent we rejoice in the light, but our joy in this world is always marked by the presence of the darkness of evil, a darkness which weighs heavy upon us during these times, a darkness that during the course of the past year has been made manifest. The manifestation of darkness, however, shows us that the light is truly shining.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus does not only talk about the light, but also about the darkness. This is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to the light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, so his works might not be exposed.

Now just as God’s love is revealed as light in the gift of Jesus Christ, his Son, God’s light shines forth when we live in fidelity to the love of Christ. That is why St. John writes in his 1st letter: He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 Jn 2:9-11)

Now we must pay close attention here because the darkness, born of the devil, the father of lies, calls hatred love and love hatred. We must not, then, let ourselves be deceived by the words, but pay attention to the reality; love and truth are inseparable.

A man does not love his brother if he sees him walking toward a pit and but fails to give warning. A man does not love his brother if he sees that he has a deadly but curable disease and hides the truth from him. A man does not love his brother if he sees him living a life of sin, which is the path to the pit of hell and the deadly disease of eternal death, and tells him, “You have chosen to live this way. I am here to support you in your choice.”

A man does not love his brother if he approves of abortion, the killing of innocent children, his brothers, even if he masks over the reality with expressions like ‘reproductive rights’ or ‘the right to choose’.

A man does not love his brother if he tells him that he can find happiness by perverting the generative powers given him by God; that is what the sexual revolution has done.

A man does not love his brother if he tells him that he need not accept his God given identity, inscribed in his very body, created male or female.

A man does not love his brother, for whom Christ shed his blood, if he denies his humanity through the sin of racism, even though he hides his racism by calling it ‘antiracism’.

Racism is not the worst of sins, but because of Adolf Hitler the world has become conscious of the gravity of racism and the evil it can perpetrate.

Still, we should note that racism and racist genocide were not Hitler’s worst sin; his racism possessed a special character because he sought to exterminate the Jewish race, a race that belongs uniquely to God and bears unique witness to the existence and providence of God. His attack against the Jewish race was a direct attack against God; an attempt to wipe the memory of God from the earth.

In any case, because Hitler has made racism to become the paradigm for evil, the meaning of the word is easily blurred and manipulated on behalf of evil agendas. We must learn to pay attention to the realities, not the words that are used to deceive. The ‘race card’ actually makes it harder to fight against real racism.

Make no mistake about it: the sin of racism consists in willfully holding another human being in contempt because of his race or ethnic origin. Racism is not so much a matter of blindness or prejudice, but a matter of principle.

Nazism is truly a racist ideology because it holds, as a matter of principle, that Jews (and others) are subhuman. The Klu Klux Klan and similar groups are truly racist because they hold as a matter of principle that blacks (and others) are subhuman.

When it comes to racial, ethnic, and cultural prejudices, just about every human being is subject to these to one degree or another. This certainly involves a blindness that needs to be purified, but this can be readily overcome when it meets with true goodness in another human being, despite his difference.

Now, however, we are met with a new racist ideology that masks itself as ‘antiracism’; the antiracist ideology begins by blurring the distinction between a racist ideology like Nazism and common prejudice. This new racist ideology of antiracism is rooted in the diabolic philosophy of Marxism.

Let me observe here that American Marxists are rarely upfront about their Marxism; nevertheless, the political Left is fundamentally Marxist, whether they use the word or not; note also that the Left is different from the political Liberal. For example, the Leftist does not really uphold free speech but the Liberal does. The Left is totalitarian; the Liberal is not. Liberals have generally been played by the Left and now the Left is in a position of open political dominance.

Now, back to Marxism? Why do I call Marxism diabolic? Because it does nothing but sow the seeds of hatred and division. Let me explain.

In the first place Marxism is explicitly atheistic and materialistic, it rejects both God and Jesus Christ. Second it always has an entrance into any society because it exploits the inequalities that will always be present. Note well, there are always inequalities in any society; not every inequality is unjust, but almost any inequality can be portrayed as unjust.

Taking advantage of inequality, Marxism feeds on envy, which is a truly diabolic sin. It divides the world between two irreconcilable classes, oppressor and oppressed, and proposes to take the side of the oppressed in the ‘revolution’ against the oppressor. The oppressor and those who side with the oppressor are always considered wrong; the oppressed and those who side with the oppressed are always considered right.

In its classic form Marxism took the side of the ‘worker’ against the ‘owner’. This country has seen Marxism in the form of the oppressed woman, held bound by the chains of her body, her capacity to become pregnant, who is set free from the oppression of men by being given control over her body through the right to abortion. We have also seen the oppressed homosexual or transgender, who are held bound by the chains of ‘heteronormativity’ – that is the idea that there is something natural and normal about male-female sexual identity and relationships.

Marxism now comes to us also in the flavor of ‘critical race theory’, which sees whites as oppressing all people of color. Now, in truth critical race theory is itself racist. Why? Because it defines racism as the oppression of people of color by whites; it defines whites as being racist, regardless of anything they do. In fact, in the name of ‘antiracism’, it is promoting racism against whites; whites are being told they must apologize for their ‘privilege’ of being ‘white’, which they possess purely by their being ‘white’ regardless of their social, economic, or political status. Whites are being told they must become ‘less white’.

‘Whiteness’ itself becomes a category that, insofar as it suits the so-called ‘antiracists’, can include any number of things, like ‘logic’, ‘objective standards’, and also ‘Christianity’.

This new ‘antiracism’ has abandoned the ideal expressed by Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

At the same time, the ‘antiracists’ will deny they are being racist because they will say that racism is a matter of power dynamics (everything for the Marxist is a matter of power dynamics) so only an oppressor can be racist. Since they are on the side of the oppressed, they can’t be racist.

If someone wants to understand the way in which language is being manipulated today by the antiracists, he might do well to read the classic work of dystopian fiction by George Orwell, “1984”. The three slogans of the Party in that world are: “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery”, and “Ignorance is Strength”. The Party government has a “Ministry of Truth” which disseminates lies; a “Ministry of Plenty” which oversees an economy of perpetual shortages; and a “Ministry of Love”, which is the office of the secret police, called the “Thought Police” who are in search of “thought crimes”.

Marxism exploits the inequalities that will always exist in the name of ‘justice’ a purely human ‘justice’ at that. Marxist justice is arbitrary – because the rules are always changing – and unforgiving.

In the other classic work by George Orwell, “Animal Farm”, the pigs lead the other animals in a revolution against the tyranny of their human masters, proclaiming the equality of all animals. Once the revolution is complete, the pigs take charge and slowly the other animals discover, too late, the changing standard. It turns out that some animals, the pigs, are more equal than others.

Marxism is a doctrine of hatred that divides people against each other either to start a revolution or keeps them divided in order to keep them under the control of the Revolutionary government. There is no place for the reality of love in Marxism.

God’s way is different. He does not condone injustice, indeed he is the source and origin of all justice, but he teaches us first, through the Cross of Christ, how to support human injustice, in patience and love. He wants the oppressed to recognize the humanity of the oppressor and the oppressor to recognize the humanity of the oppressed. Further, he wants us to distinguish oppressor and oppressed from rich and poor, who must learn to serve each other in love, male and female, who must learn to serve each other in love, and the different races, who must learn to collaborate and share their gifts in love.

None of that is possible unless we recognize each other’s humanity, created in the image of God, redeemed by the Blood of Christ, and called to sanctification and eternal life in the Holy Spirit. None of that is possible unless, before we demand justice of others, we recognize that we ourselves stand before God as sinners in need of forgiveness. None of that is possible without the grace of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, which brings us the forgiveness of sin and enables us to love as Christ loved, forgiving those who sin against us and loving and praying even for our enemies, desiring to have them as brothers and sisters in the heavenly kingdom, when death will be destroyed and every tear wiped away. (cf. Is 25:7-8; Rev 21:2-4)

Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that the Marxist philosopher Theodor Adorno admitted that there could be no true justice because that would require a world that not only wiped out present suffering, but undid all past wrong as well, which to his Marxist mind would require the impossibility of the resurrection of the flesh. (cf. Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 42) The antiracists would undo the past wrongs by simply erasing or cancelling the past. Pope Benedict responds to Adorno with the hope revealed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:

“God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith. Yes, there is a resurrection of the flesh. There is justice. There is an ‘undoing’ of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright. For this reason, faith in the Last Judgement is first and foremost hope.” (Ibid. 43)

God begins to create justice through a love that surpasses justice, forgives sins, and transforms the repentant sinner into a just man. God will bring justice to completion when he raises the dead to life and renders to each one according to his deeds in the body. Then there will be the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem, in which justice dwells. (cf. 2 Pe 3:13; Rev 21:1-2)

All this is made possible by God’s gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. We must first of all believe, accept, recognize, and receive the love of God in Jesus Christ.

God’s gift of his Son is inseparable from the Cross of Christ. 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. He gives us his Son Jesus Christ through his death on the Cross; he gives us his Son in the Holy Eucharist, in the form of the sacrificial victim by which we commemorate and renew the sacrifice of the Cross.

St. John tells us: In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 Jn 4:10-11)


Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.

Recent Sermons