A few years ago I brought some food for my office staff and we had hearty snacks later in the afternoon. As we were all preparing to end the day, I noticed my assistant holding something in a paper bag “I didn’t take mine because I’m bringing it home for my children”, she said. It was so touching, a gesture that’s something close to my heart, as bringing gifts, food, or toys, is something parents like to do for their children.
“Oh, I’ll give something for them too”, I told her in reply.
It’s something common among parents, mothers especially; to bring something when they return home at the end of the day. At least that’s how we were brought up. In their prime, Mom and Dad always had something when they return home from work. Those were things that we didn’t even ask, but they would do out of their love and thoughtfulness. There are situations that most parents even do more than that, they even sacrifice their own personal plans just to make their children happy.
The Gospel (Jn. 3: 14-21) today contains one of the most popular verses in the Scriptures, one that my high school religious education teacher referred to as the “Gospel in a nutshell”. John 3:16 is so popular that you can even see it printed inside tricycles (Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB has observed it too), a popular mode of transport in our country.
“For 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 today’s Mass at the St. John Bosco Church broadcast online, Fr. Armand gave an extended description of the verse,
“God loved us so much that He finds ways to show His love. And He did it by sending His Son on purpose, to die for us. So that we will be happy. So that we will find the meaning of everything that happens to us. So that those who believed in Him, may have eternal life.
Eternal life means ‘always new’, ‘always fresh’, so when I talk of eternal it means ‘never ending’, it’ll be true forever and ever, but it is also true today, in the present. So when we talk of the joy of eternal life, it is the joy that is given to us not only after we die when we go to Heaven, but it is the joy of light that we experience now, no matter what we go through. So Jesus died for us, not only to give us happiness after death, but to make sure that we will have happiness in our life, here on earth, today. That is eternal: ever fresh, ever new. You can experience it any time. It can be in the future, it can be in the present.
Those who put their trust in the Lord, those who believe in what He says, and I who believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, do it because He paid the biggest price ever. (I will believe what you say, because you are an honorable, honest man. In other words, I believe what you say, because of your honesty.) Jesus is more than what He said. I believe in what Jesus said because He died for it. He offered His life for it. So those (of us) who believe in Jesus (and He taught us how to live life, loving our neighbor, carrying our cross, etc.) the teachings of Jesus give us the joy of living. Surely, because He died for us in order to prove that what He said is true.”
Fr. Armand finds proof in the First Reading (2 Chr 36: 14-16, 19-23) that “God finds ways”, when, despite infidelity after infidelity, resulting to the Israelites taken into exile in Babylon for a long time, God showed He didn’t forget them. Yahweh loved them so much that “He finds ways”, when He inspired King Cyrus of Persia to allow them to be freed from exile and allowed to go back to Jerusalem. “God is so rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions.” (Second Reading, Eph. 2: 4-10)
Today, reflect on God’s love for you and on the “Gospel in a nutshell”. Memorize it even. Delight in every word and know that in embracing this verse, you are embracing the entire truth and totality of God’s love.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16)