We hear very beautiful words in today’s Gospel that fill us with joy and hope, “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.” Those words are an excellent summation of the Gospel!
The first thing we note is that it is God who took the initiative in saving us. Sometimes the impression has been given that God had first of all to be pacified before he would extend his forgiveness to us. We have a picture of God as being stern, angry, and unforgiving. Jesus, on the other hand, was presented as being kind, gentle and forgiving. It makes it sound like that by his sufferings and death, Jesus changed God’s attitude towards us. However, the passage shows that it was God who sent his Son to us. It was God who took the first step. A reminder of what I said in the homily on Ash Wednesday: it is not about us, but about what God is doing for us!
God approached the gift of salvation with love, not using power. God acts not for his own sake but for ours. God is not an absolute monarch who is not happy until he has reduced his creatures to absolute obedience. Rather, God is our Father who is not happy until all his wandering children have come home. Recall the parables of the Prodigal Son, the lost sheep, the lost coin. They all reveal this truth about God.
Today’s passage also reminds us of how all-inclusive is God’s love. Salvation is a gift offered to every man, woman, and child from the beginning of creation until the end of time. No one is excluded.
We also need to look at how the passage today also speaks of judgment and condemnation. If God’s approach is so loving, how can it include judgment and condemnation? How can condemnation be reconciled with love? Condemnation does not follow from God’s action but from our response. God condemns no one. People condemn themselves by adopting an attitude of indifference. God sent us the light, Jesus. If people get lost it is because they have not accepted the light. The fault is not God’s but the persons.
People who are indifferent and negative shy away from the light because it reveals themselves to themselves. They will avoid the light in order to avoid the pain of self-discovery.
May we walk always as children of the Light so as to inherit one day the fullness of the gift of salvation in the new and eternal Jerusalem.
— Fr. Dennis, March 14, 2021