God So Loved

In “Star Wars, the Phantom Menace,” a Jedi knight believed the young Anakin Skywalker fulfilled an old prophesy. The young boy would balance the dark and light sides of the Force. The Jedi knight only came to this conclusion after a test of the boy’s sub-molecular structure which came back positive. The knight, in this case, based his belief upon science.

globeChristians base their faith not so much on the facts, but in a trust relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. Trust of a person, not knowledge of the facts or obedience demanded by duty, defines the Christian life. In John’s gospel, Jesus revealed trust as the key to eternal life.

We can find these famous lines in John 3, where John set God’s messenger (Jesus) against a teacher of the Law (Nicodemus). In John’s mind, Jesus spoke for the Christian audience the evangelist addressed. Nicodemus represented opposing Jewish communities lead by Pharisees. By the time John’s gospel first appeared in a complete form (100-115 A.D.), Christians not only professed a new Messiah; they proclaimed a new spirituality. God created a new, spiritual relationship with all people (not just Jews). And this new relationship bypassed the Jewish Law. No wonder the Law-keeping Pharisees (represented by Nicodemus) didn’t understand!

For those who believe, our triune God dwells within us by grace and communion, drawing us into the inner life of the Trinity. The unceasing Life of the Trinity is this: to love us into eternal Life! This love calls us to love others without reserve, to draw near to the other, to give ourselves graciously for the well-being of others. Love begets love.


Darkness and Light

Confusion. Times we’re clueless. Subjects in which we pray for “enlightenment,” a journey away from “darkness.”

It’s easy to use the analogies of “light” and “darkness” when academic notions are discussed. “Light” is mastery of the subject. “Darkness” is ignorance. However, when we apply these analogies to the faith and morality, we can no longer speak of “light” as mastery, but as commitment. “Light” becomes faithfulness. “Darkness” becomes rejection.In Jesus’ discourse to Nicodemus, he spoke of “light” and “darkness.” But, the light was not the believer’s commitment to God. The “Light” was Christ, the Father’s commitment to his creation.

This Sunday’s gospel presents Jesus’ final comments to Nicodemus, who visited the Master at night. John used this opportunity to contrast light from dark, salvation from condemnation. He saw the “world” as those who hid from the light (dishonorable) and those who act in the light (the honorable). When this Sunday’s gospel declares that God so loved the world, this is not saying love, but doing love.

God remains patient with us while we struggle with choosing between darkness and light. In the midst of our struggle, it is God who brings us greater belief and leads us to eternal life. Such is the depth of love God has for us.

We experience God’s unbounded love through our forgiving one another, through our care for those who are demeaned, and through our protection of te weak and mistreated We experience God’s unbounded love through the joy we feel in loving family life, through a greater realization of our own goodness. We experience God’s unbounded love in the overwhelming grace of salvation.

What does God ask of us? God asks for the total gift of our lives. We are to love as God has loved us.