The Prelate’s Sermon, Sunday, January 23
Today, on the second Sunday following the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, the reading is from the Gospel of Saint John 3:13-21. This passage follows the conversation between the heavenly Master and Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrim.
- Jesus, after saying that “no one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man,” identifies Himself with an Old Testament scene, the serpent raised by Moses in the desert (Num 21:9) referring to His Crucifixion. Thus, from the very beginning of His mission our Lord uses this well-known device of typology, making it clear that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament’s teaching and prophecy. Saint Paul referring to this fact says, “these are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col 2:17).
- Following this biblical parallel, our Lord Jesus Christ makes an astonishing statement, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone one who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” By this announcement, Jesus unveils the mystery of God’s essence and relationship with the world, as well as the supreme goal of His redemptive mission.
- By stating that God loved the world, Jesus reveals the true essence of the Omnipotent Mastermind, of the Creator. Love only can generate love, good can only produce good. Jesus once said, “the good person brings good things out of good treasures” (Mt 12:35). If this is true for men, it’s also true for God. The Creation mirrors God’s true essence as love and goodness since the beginning, when He said, “It is good” (Gen 1:3).
- God’s love is unconditional toward the world, i.e., mankind. Regardless of the disobedience of our fore-parents and of the chosen people, as well as the shedding of the blood of innocent Abel to Zechariah (Lk 11:51) and the rebellion of mankind against the Providence, God’s love is unshaken. As Jesus said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8), likewise, God’s steadfast love is the same yesterday, today and forever. God manifested His love through the Patriarchs, Prophets, and in the fulfillment of time through His only Son.
It is true that we read about God’s wrath and His envy in the Scriptures. Nevertheless, they are all-loving wake up calls to restore our dignity as Divine royal family heirs.
- The mission of the newly born King was presented by the Angel of the Lord to Mary in its simplest way, “He will inherit the throne of his ancestor. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33). Now Jesus makes His mission very explicit. It is an open invitation to all without restrictions. It crosses borders and travels through the ages revealing its universal and timeless character. All human excuses: physical, mental, psychological, and social, melt in this purifying fire of love. The sole expectation to enjoy the limitless benefits of this invitation is to Believe in Jesus.
- The condensed statement of our loving and caring Master is marvelous. He refers to a reality that humankind avoids knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly. “Everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life” signals to an eternal status of being perished or saved.
Each and every person is at a critical juncture to make their eternal choice. It is not a random choice; it’s a solid walk, step by step, with Whom descended from heaven so that we can ascend into it, have eternal life, and praise the loving and caring All-Holy Trinity. Amen.