March 18, 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Lent
2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23; Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21
Today we hear a passage of scripture that is very familiar to many of us: “For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” It is a passage of the gospels that is often learned and even memorized by little ones, and righty so because, beyond just being a catchy phrase, John 3:16 speaks of a very profound truth. The Father sent the Son into the world out of pure love for us. Jesus became man in order to suffer and die and rise from the dead, because He wanted to save us, to bring us into full communion with Him.
What a gift. Indeed, God’s love and generosity knows no bounds.
In our quest to live as Christian stewards, to live as disciples of Christ, we speak a lot about the many gifts God has given us – our time, our talents, and our treasure. Because of God’s generosity, every one of us could list a number of the incredible gifts we have – some are talented musicians, others have the gift of public speaking, still others are great cooks, and some have the gift of working with the youth. The list goes on and on, and we know, as Christian disciples, it is our duty to recognize those gifts, receive them gratefully, and return them with increase in gratitude to the Lord. We are called to recognize the gifts God has given and show Him our gratitude for them by using them in loving service.
Today’s scripture readings bring our attention to the gift of all gifts, Jesus Christ and the salvation that He offers us.
Paul speaks of this great gift in his letter to the Corinthians as well.
“God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love He had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life in Christ. … For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not from you. It is the gift of God.”
The Father offers us salvation through Jesus Christ, and in order for us to attain salvation, Christ suffered and died for us. That is love, true, selfless, generous, life-giving love.
How can we thank Him?
He wants us to follow suit – to give of ourselves in an act of total selfless, generous love; to serve one another lovingly just as He has so lovingly given Himself for us.
In short, He wants us to be His disciples, and, reflecting on the gift of Christ Himself should fill us with such deep gratitude that we are compelled to serve Him and to live our lives in such a way that they proclaim the Gospel, a message of pure, selfless, life-giving love.