One of the most famous lines in the Bible is mentioned in today’s Gospel.
There are 73 books in the Bible and today we encounter a line of Scripture that has filled Christians with hope for the past 2,000 years. It’s John 3,16 and it says:
“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”
God’s love for us is indeed beyond our comprehension. It’s beyond what we in our human weakness and limitations are capable of even imagining. He doesn’t owe us anything and yet He gives us everything! To help us understand His love, He gave His Son who underwent indescribable suffering, and died for us. This is why it’s important to have a crucifix in your home, to remind you of His love.
In our First reading today we hear from the Second Book of Chronicles. We see how the people were unfaithful to God, and were involved in all sorts, including idolatry etc. God, in His great mercy, sends prophets to warn the people to change because their sins will cause them great suffering and disaster. They are warned that when you push God and His blessings and protection away, then you are on your own, and you will suffer great consequences. It reminds us of Our Lady of Fatima who gave a similar message. Sadly, God’s warnings are ignored, and disaster ensues. The Babylonians come in and destroy Jerusalem, and the Temple, and take the people away to Babylon.
But….that’s not the end of the story. In our Psalm we see the people weep by the rivers of Babylon repenting of their sins. God, in His unfathomable Mercy, comes to their rescue and some seventy years later, when the Persians have taken over Babylon, a King emerges who incredibly allows the Jews to return home, and even helps them to rebuild the Temple. This book is the last book in the Jewish Bible so it ends on a high note of hope.
In our Gospel St John also teaches us that although God, in His great love, has sent the light into the world, that some people preferred the darkness to the light. We are told they avoid the light because their actions can be exposed.
They can get angry with us for shining the light on them. We can’t however throw the towel in because the light blinds them. We have to continue to show the light because they need the light. We are only helping them. Think of flowers in the dark, they will die, unless they are exposed to the sun light.
A friend of mine told me a story about his Dad. He worked on a building site and used to read his Bible at lunchtime. This infuriated some of the others. One day some of the men approached him and said he is not to read the Bible again in their company or there will be big trouble.
That evening he sat down for dinner with his family as usual. They noticed he was sad. They asked him what was wrong and he told them. His daughter said: “Dad, you can’t give up! You have to continue reading your Bible no matter what the consequences are.” She got him to go to work the next day with a T-shirt saying “Jesus loves you.” Nobody came near him!
So dear friends, God loves you. He loves everyone. It is up to us to tell others this Good News. Some will be interested and some won’t be but at least you can say you tried, and you did so out of charity.
God bless you,