God is not “out to get us”!
God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved by him! (John 3:17)
A priest friend of mine used to tease people by saying, “God’s going to get you!” He said it so often that one day I felt compelled to say to him, “You say that so often that I am beginning to think that you really believe it.”
Today’s Gospel very explicitly tells us that God is not “out to get us”. Do we hear what the Gospel says? … God 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!
In Jesus Christ, God became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). The Father did not send Jesus to be punished, or to suffer, or to die. The Father sent his Son that the world might be saved by him. (John 3:17)
Throughout his life, Jesus demonstrated God’s love for us in his words and in his actions. When he healed the sick, cast out demons, ate with known sinners, challenged the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, Jesus made present in that moment the love and compassion which God desires to give to all people.
It was those who rejected God’s love and compassion who made the cross a necessity. They feared and hated Jesus because of the message he brought. Jesus didn’t want the cross: My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will. (Mat 26:39) . For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame. (Heb 12:2) Jesus wanted what his Father wanted: that the world might be saved by him. (John 3:17)
Jesus accepted the cross because he trusted that his Father’s love was more powerful than his enemies’ hatred. Through the cross he embraced even his enemies in order to bring all to new life. Father, forgive them, they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
Today we lift up the Crucifix to remind ourselves of the One who accepted even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8) in order that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., Retreat Director, Bishop Molloy Retreat House, www.bishopmolloy.org