Homily for April 14th, 2021: John 3: 16-21.
“God so loved he world …” we just heard. Perhaps someone is thinking: “But of course. Isn’t that obvious?” To many people it is not obvious. Christians who in past centuries used to be called Puritans consider the world an evil place, from which Jesus’ disciples must flee. This view is still alive and well today in certain quarters. It has a kernel of truth. The world organized apart from God, and against God is evil. Jesus refers to that world when he says, later in John’s gospel: “In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (16:33). In today’s gospel, however, Jesus is speaking of the world in a good sense: not the world of human marring, but the good world of God’s making. That world must be lovable, for God does not make anything that is not good.
“God so loved the world,” Jesus goes on, “that he gave his only begotten Son.” He was the most that God had to give or could give. And God’s Son came into our
world, and continues with us through the power of his Holy Spirit, not as some kind of great policeman or scold to frighten us into measuring up to his unrealistically high standards. No. Jesus came, and remains with us, “so that the world might be saved through him.” How?
As we read on in today’s gospel we discover the answer. We are saved “by believing in him,” Jesus Christ. To believe in someone is to trust that person -- more, to entrust ourselves to him or her. Whoever does that, our gospel tells us, lives not in darkness, but in light – the light that shines from the face of Jesus Christ. How dark our world would be had he never come to us!
We pray in this Mass, therefore, that we may entrust ourselves ever more completely to Jesus, himself the light of the world; and that we ourselves may be lenses or prisms of his light in a dark and often fearful world.