GOD LOVES THE WORLD
It’s not just another phrase. Words that could be eliminated from the Gospel without changing anything important. It’s the affirmation that gathers the essential nucleus of the Christian faith. «God so loved the world that he gave his only Son». This love of God is the origin and foundation of our hope.
«God loves the world». God loves it just as it is. Unfinished and uncertain. Full of conflicts and contradictions. Capable of the best and the worst. This world doesn’t run its course alone, lost and abandoned. God envelopes it with love through and through. This has consequences of the highest importance.
First. Jesus is above all the «gift» that God has given to the world, not just for Christians. Researchers can debate endlessly about all kinds of aspects of Jesus’ historical figure. Theologians can keep developing their most ingenious theories. Only someone who comes close to Jesus as God’s great gift can go on discovering in him, with feeling and joy, the nearness of God to every human being.
Secondly. The Church’s reason to exist, the only thing that justifies her presence in the world, is remembering God’s love. Vatican II has often emphasized this: the Church «is sent by Christ to show forth and communicate God’s love to all people». There’s nothing more important. What’s first is communicating that love of God to every human being.
Thirdly. According to the Gospel writer, God gives this great gift that is Jesus to the world, «not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved». It’s dangerous to make whole pastoral programs out of denouncing and condemning the modern world. Only with a heart full of love for all can we call one another to conversion. If people feel themselves condemned by God, we aren’t transmitting to them the message of Jesus, but something else: maybe our resentment and anger.
Fourthly. In these times when everything seems confused, uncertain and discouraging, nothing keeps any of us from introducing a little love into the world. It’s what Jesus did. Don’t wait on anything else. Why aren’t there good men and women right now who introduce into our world love, friendship, compassion, justice, sensibility and help to those who suffer…? These build the Church of Jesus, the Church of love.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf