Saturday, September 13, 2014

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD: A Homily for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

“For God so loved the world”(John 3:16).  

Is there a better premise on which to base a life?  
‘For God so loves us, for God so loves me, for God even loves those I do not love so much.’
It is hard to argue with the thesis of John’s Gospel:  a Gospel that explains so well the marriage between the Incarnation and life in the Spirit, affirming the unequivocal goodness of Creation and the transcending nature of faith –all providing hope for genuine resurrection.
But the Philippians hymn, that also we hear today, is not bad either. 
It reminds of once upon a time while I was struggling and a wise person rather providentially said to me that a vocation is grounded in service – it (the Christian calling) does not make sense without a significant other to love.   

I think she was right.

Unless we empty ourselves of ourselves and become open to mystery, to needs and wants outside of ourselves, we implode (and sink). 
Life in the spirit demands self-sacrifice, genuine care, and compassion for others who long to be loved.
The Christian calling is, sine glossa, to love as Jesus loved. 
And it never hurts to remind ourselves that “God loved us first”(1 John 4.19), while Jesus loved his friends to the end (John 13.1).

In preparation for the upcoming Synod on the Family, a Belgian bishop has written an inspiring theological expose on his ‘expectations’ for the Synod where he wrestles with the relationship between the Church and the World - the world that, of course, God so loved.   Bishop Bonny makes the point that while with Christ it was indeed all against one, it was never one against all. 
“Jesus opened his heart and his arms to people whoever they were and whatever their experience in life.  There were no walls or boundaries around his mercy and compassion.  He went from village to village to be sure that no sick person would elude him, no leper seek him in vain, no sinner be left without forgiveness.  He entered into dialogue with unexpected dialogue partners and accepted invitations to dine with people of questionable character.  He was not particular or exclusive in his choice of friends or table companions, not even in his choice of apostles.  These,” the bishop says “are the tracks on which Jesus placed the Church.  In her relationship with the world and the people who live in it, the Church should exhibit the same openness and compassion as her founder.”

Well friends, we are the Church and we are to follow Jesus.  Might we do so by being open. Might we ground ourselves in the words of Jesus, believing that God truly loves the world including all of us who remain within it.  With hope for resurrection, might we too love and serve.