March 22, 2009


God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. – Jn 3: 17

Such a statement may well be hard for us to accept. Negative appraisals are the air we breathe. We are used to being judged by other people. Our boss, our family, our spouse & our neighbors are continually weighing us & finding us wanting. So we might be forgiven being a bit skeptical when we’re told that God has abandoned judgment in favor of salvation.

It is awkward enough when we have to admit that we are grounded in & sustained by an ultimate Mystery that we do not control or completely comprehend. But it is mind-blowing to realize that Divine Love cannot tolerate the sight of humans perishing, & wants to fill us with a life that does not end. The judgment of God is love & life.

However, freedom is always operative, & we have the option of refusing this Love & the One who reveals it. When we do, we cut ourselves off from the source of life; in short, we condemn ourselves. But, we might ask, who would be stupid enough to cut themselves off from salvation? What’s the problem? The problem is that individually we are not all love, & we live in a world not dominated by love. It is the presence of God’s love that makes this painfully clear.

We were in darkness, but did not know it. It was not until an alternate way of knowing & doing given by our Lord showed up that we were handed the conditions for a decision. Those who have a history of doing evil suddenly realize that their evil will be exposed, & they recoil at the prospect. Long standing bad habits resist the call to change. Likewise, those with a history of living the truth or at least seeking it are predisposed to come to the light. As strongly as those doing evil avoid exposure, those attempting to live the truth seek it. Such people do not fear the sacrament of Penance, but embrace it.

Preferring darkness, self-condemnation, is both easier & more mysterious than we think. We did not always know it as darkness. It was just business as usual, pursuing our well-being in an unthinking way. Only with the arrival of the light did the character of our thoughts & deeds become evident. But by now we are attached to our thinking & behaving. It was easier to create a cover story than to engage in painful self-examination. Politicians are only being like us when they try to cover up a scandal that could ruin them.

Amazingly, others seem eager to buy this cover story & become accomplices in our deceit. Perhaps they sense that they, too, could be “outed” by the light shining too harshly on too much. If they do not look too closely at our story, then perhaps we will not look too closely at theirs.

The tragedy of all this is that we deprive ourselves of health & true joy. God’s plea is that it doesn’t have to be that way, that there is a better way, & it often falls on deaf ears. We are the losers, & we only have ourselves to blame. AMEN!