This isn’t just one phrase more. Words that could be cut out of the Gospel without changing anything important. It’s the affirmation that gathers the essential nucleus of the Christian faith. «This is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son». This love of God is the origin and the 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 uncared-for. God envelopes it with love through and through. This has consequences of the utmost importance.
- Jesus is above all the «gift» that God has given to the world, not just to Christians. Researchers can endlessly debate many aspects of his historic figure. Theologians can keep on developing their more ingenious theories. Only the one who comes close to Jesus as God’s great gift can deeply and joyfully go about discovering God’s closeness to every human being in all Jesus’ gestures.
- The Church’s reason for being, the only thing that justifies her presence in the world, is to remember God’s love. This underlies so much of the Second Vatican Council: the Church «is sent by Christ to manifest and communicate God’s love to all human beings». Nothing is more important. What is principle is to communicate that love of God to all humanity.
- 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 very dangerous to make a whole pastoral program 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 are not transmitting to them Jesus’ message, but something else: maybe our own resentment and anger.
- In these moments when everything seems confused, uncertain and discouraging, nothing stops any one of us from introducing a little bit of love in the world. That’s what Jesus did. We don’t need to wait on anyone. Why not be good men and women in these moments, introducing in our midst love, friendship, compassion, justice, sensitivity, help for those who suffer? These kinds of things build up Jesus’ Church, the Church of love.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf