WelCom June 2020:
First Sunday after Pentecost – Trinity Sunday
16God 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.
17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
18Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
God Loved the World
A reflection on John 3: 16-18, by Tom Gibson
There are only three verses in today’s gospel. The first verse is perhaps the best-known verse in John’s New Testament, John 3.16.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. (The Jerusalem Bible)
Because we are so familiar with this text, I will analyse the first two phrases. The first phrase affirms, ‘God loved the world’, it does not single out Catholic, Christian, or the Church, but the world. God’s passion is the whole world. God created the world and everything in it. Next, we consider how much God loves the world, ‘that he gave His only Son’. In John’s gospel, this phrase does not refer to Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of all sin, but the whole incarnation.
In a similar way ‘eternal life’ means not just our life after death, but also our life today, in the here and now. What should this mean to us? What is the value of our eternal life to us today? To love the world means to love the world as God in Jesus loved the world; He gave His life for it. What we do whether it be for community, nation, mankind, the earth and the environment; and there is a myriad of ways because each of us serves God in our own way, what we do for Our Lord is a direct expression of the eternal life that He has given us.
Jesus explains this in His earlier dialogue with Nicodemus who came at night to question Jesus. Jesus tells him, ‘unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’ (Jn 3:5). Nicodemus speaks for those with inadequate faith and lessor understanding. He asked, ‘How can that be possible?’ Jesus replied. ‘You, a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things?’ (Jn 3:9-10). But did Nicodemus really want to know how to enter the kingdom of God? And what about us; do we?
That was the end of the dialogue; today’s gospel is the monologue. Consider the precious words with which Jesus begins His reply, ‘I tell you most solemnly, we speak only about what we know and witness only to what we have seen and yet you people reject our evidence’ (Jn 3:11)’. John is emphasising the fact that Jesus is God’s Son who has come into the world to bring God’s own life to it, so that everyone who believes in Him can have eternal life. For those of us who believe, we don’t have to go through any vetting process or court trial; it is as if we have already been tried, judged and found to be innocent. Let’s find the real meaning in the eternal life that Christ has given us and enjoy it as He would like us to. The gospel today is an encouragement for each of us.
Tom Gibson is a retired farmer and a parishioner at Immaculate Conception, Stratford, Taranaki.