The Gospel according to John 3:16-21
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Opening Prayer: As we recall year by year the mysteries by which, through the restoration of it’s original dignity, human nature has received the hope of rising again, we earnestly beseech your mercy, Lord, that what we celebrate in faith we may possess in unending love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
Encountering Christ: Have you ever been in a room that was completely dark and then lit a candle? It’s amazing how one very small candle can give off enough light that, as your eyes adjust, you can begin to see. And the longer that you stay in that subdued space the more visible objects start to become, more and more illuminated. Think of Jesus as that candle. He brought us into the light through His teachings, His actions and His love. The more that we grow in our relationship with Him, the brighter His light becomes. Death could not extinguish that light, because through His resurrection it was allowed to grow even stronger through us.
John 3:16: These are some of the most famous words of the Gospels. We see this passage written on signs at public venues, prominently displayed on the faces of sports players, and printed on t-shirts. It’s no wonder—this simple phrase assures us that God is love, that he loved us enough to sacrifice his Son for our good, and that we never die because eternal life awaits us. Our greatest two fears are not being loved, and dying. If we believe in the risen Christ, we need not ever fear either!
I Believe: Belief in God requires our turning away from sin and striving to live according to the commandments and Church teaching. But many in our modern, post-Christian, individualistic society believe that obedience to God is a price too high to pay. It restricts “freedom,” they complain. If God so loved the world as to give his Son in sacrifice, then we can trust that his commandments are also for our own good. Trusting our lives to the commandments and Church teaching, is that one important way we show that we believe! It’s one beautiful way to show our love for God! And through our obedience, we experience true freedom as Jesus told us in John 8:32: “…the truth will set you free.”
Condemnation: When we refuse to believe in Jesus, we “have already been condemned.” We are condemned even before we die as we wallow in unrepentant sin, enslaved by our passions and stubbornness. This spiritual reality binds us to the darkness, but even more tragically, we miss out on the delight and wonder of coming to know our loving God here and now. Life can be wonderfully illuminated by God’s light–in the faces of our loved ones, in the glories of nature, in the experiences of his grace–or we can choose to live in darkness. All it takes is a little faith to break free of darkness; it starts with one small flame.
Conversing with Christ: When my own “works are done in God” I radiate your light and, by your grace, I can reach into another’s darkness to help them break free. Lord, I want to be an instrument of your light for many of my family and friends. Please continue to bless me with your grace so that I may “let my light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will reach out to others with a kindness, and compassion, knowing that your light is shining through me.
Closing Prayer: Lord, send your light upon us, so that we may show the others the brilliance of your eternal love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.