4th Sunday – Lent, Year B

John 3:14-21

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[a] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[b]16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Reflection, by Fr Aldo, sx

I am writing this few lines while visiting the Xaverian Novitiate in Campinas, Brazil. This afternoon the temperature went as far a 35?C and one of the problems of this region is the scarcity of water. My confreres were telling me a while ago that a deep well was dug in the premises of a big factory nearby for their own consumption. However, the owner of this factory, having a big heart for the entire community, placed a water station outside its wall and shared drinkable water for free with the whole neighborhood. Surprisingly, some people who benefited from that water began vandalizing the station. First they broke the tiles, then the sink and finally the faucet.  Disappointed the owner of the factory repaired it once, twice and a third time until he got upset and gave up. He decided to close everything and stopped giving free water. Many people are sad now, but most of them say that the owner is right. He tried to do something good, but people abused his kindness, so it is just that he gives up.

This anecdote contrasts with today’s Gospel. God gave his Son for the sake of our salvation. What father or mother would spontaneously give their son, especially if they knew that he would suffer, be tortured and killed?  The goodness of God is indeed without limit and is far beyond what the poor human mind can imagine. It is unthinkable. How can a father give his son to the wolves knowing that he will be devoured?

Here we realize how great the love of God for all of us is. God does all this craziness for the sake of  having us restored from our sinful condition and be in union with him. And even after all that humanity did and does to Jesus, God does not give up on loving us. This love is our model and standard in our relationships whether with Him, self and others. Actually God loves us first, his love involves us and all we have to do is respond to it by believing in Jesus.

Therefore, this passage tells us of the great breadth and width of God’s love. Not an exclusive love for just a few or for a single nation, but an all-embracing redemptive love for the whole world, and a personal love for each and every individual whom God has created in his own image and likeness. God is a loving Father who cannot rest until his wandering children have returned home to him. Saint Augustine of Hippo says, “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.” God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love. Jesus shows us the paradox of love and judgment. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief or we can love the light of God’s truth, beauty, and goodness. If our love is guided by what is true, and good and beautiful then we will choose for God and love him above all else. What we love shows what we prefer.

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