EXODUS 34:4B-6, 8-9-11 | CORINTHIANS 13:11-13 | JOHN 3:16-18
“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.”
This is our gospel message today. Can there be any message that carries more hope and consolation? When we contemplate the accounts of what Jesus said and did, these words stand out as a summary of his teachings and actions – love – love with no limits love unconditionally poured out.
Think of some of the things Jesus did. He told the religious leaders to throw the first stone if they themselves hadn’t sinned when they dragged an adulterous woman before him quoting the law that she should be stoned. He healed a leper by touching him, an act of horror and disgust to the people of his day. He entered into communion with traitors and sinners, like the tax collectors, Matthew and Zacchaeus, by eating with them. He offered “living water” to the Samaritan woman who was rejected by society because of her numerous marriages. He assured the revolutionary who was crucified with him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” He looked down from the cross at the crowd condemning him and prayed, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” Can anyone deny God’s love for us when we look at Jesus’ actions?
Did Jesus get angry at people? Yes. He was angry with the religious leadership who were rigid and judgmental. Did he get frustrated by people who refused to hear his message of love and forgiveness? Of course! But as today’s gospel passage goes on, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
Never forget his teaching, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He was calling us to act like him, to think like him, to be like him. Paul testified to this call when he wrote to the Galatians: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” As followers of Jesus we have to be so careful not to fall into pre-Jesus ways of thinking: accusatory, intolerant, judgmental. We’re called to open our hearts to divine love to be healed by that love, just as the leper was healed by the touch of Jesus’ hand. We’re not called to self-righteous condemnation of others. We’re called to preach hope, consolation and God’s unconditional and unending love.
Let’s conclude this reflection by reminding ourselves of what Paul wrote to the Romans. “In all things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”