4th Sunday of Lent
Willi Hoffsuemmer tells the story of an intelligent young king who ordered all the learned professors of his kingdom to gather and write down all the wisdom of the world. They got right down to work and forty years later, they had a thousand books packed with wisdom. The king, who had just reached sixty years of age, told them, “I cannot possibly read a thousand books. Reduce all that wisdom to basics.”
After ten more years the professors reduced the world’s wisdom to a hundred volumes. “That’s still too much,” said the king. “I’m already seventy years old.” Condense all that wisdom into absolute essentials.”
So, the wise men tried again and squeezed all the wisdom of the world into just one book. But by that time the king was lying on his deathbed. So the leader of the committee of the wise men condensed the thousand volumes of wisdom to just one sentence: “People live, they suffer, they die… the only thing that outlives them is love.”
If we are going to condense or summarize the entire Sacred Scriptures into absolute essentials, we could use the words of today’s gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This most famous passage from today’s gospel reading has far-reaching implications the minute we begin living our lives based on this statement. It is a liberating message for it reminds us that salvation is open and is given for free for anyone who accepts the offer.
Human love is biased and often impure as to its motives. Human love is selfish and is usually given out on the basis of what it can hope to receive in return. God’s love is not like that at all! God’s love is always pure, always holy, always seeking what is best for the object it loves. His love is given freely without hope or desire for anything in return. God loves, because he is Love. His love is never ending… His love is always given first… His love is precious beyond words!
It is the nature of God that his love abides forever – his love is ever faithful. And if there is one thing we all ache to experience in our lives, it is the love that we can depend on, we can rely on… the love that is not withdrawn when misfortune comes… the love that sees beyond our frailty and faults because it sets no limit, no measure, no condition.
Always remember this: As God’s child, there is never a moment when you are not under God’s tender loving care – never a time when you are not the object of his love. you are never outside the scope of his constant care. St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans (8:39), declares that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. God will never turn from the love he has lavished on us.
Allow me to quote (extensively) a reflection from a book:
“If you’re God’s child, you’re wasting your spiritual time and energy worrying about God’s love.”
“You’re not spending your time and energy well if you’re trying to unpack little moments in your life to see if they are an indication of whether he loves you.”
“It’s not wise to compare your life to another person’s, wondering what the evidence tells you about who God cares for the most.”
“It is tempting to do all of these things, particularly when life is hard, when unpredictable and difficult things have entered your door.”
“But questioning God’s love never goes anywhere good.”
“When you are tempted to do so, you need to run to his word for peace and reassurance.”
“You’ll never establish personal peace by picking apart little moments and trying to look into the mysteries of life.”
“The Bible was given to give you peace in those moments when it’s hard to figure out what in the world God is doing.”
This is the great challenge on us: To fully realize and deeply experience God’s faithful love, God’s unconditional love for each of us. Believing in God who is love… trusting in God who loves us… recognizing God’s love for each us… that is the heart of Christian faith. It is by this truth that we must live our life.
We are invited this Lenten season to dwell more deeply on God’s love. All our thoughts, decisions, and actions should be put in the light of this truth: that God loves us very much.