Today we wear the Rose (all to often pink) Vestment to denote joy. The opening Antiphon from Isaiah 66.
Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.
Be joyful, all who were in mourning;
exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.
Today's gospel takes me back to my days as a child in Southhall Baptist and the Baptist Tabernacle, where my cousin R.J. served as pastor. No one should ever misread my love for the Catholic Church as a repudiation of my time in the Baptist Church. Those formative years, immersed in the powerfully retold Bible stories, have remained the foundation of my faith.
The first Bible verse I remember memorizing was John 3:16.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life.
At age 55 I can still mediate on this and find new depths of meaning.
The following sentence is equally central to our faith, because it explains why God became incarnate.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Only at my present age have I begun to grasp the truly cosmic scope of the truth contained in these verses. The word employed throughout the text is κόσμος, cosmos. God did not come into the world to save some small sliver of the population. The Church condemned a heresy known as Gnosticism because it teaches duality in the world: Material versus Spiritual or Body versus Soul. The former is evil the latter is good. Christianly teaches both are good, both participate in salvation.
Jesus came to offer salvation to all the world. He died to make it possible for all people in all times and places to know salvation. So great was God's love. So great is God's love. As we sing ever time we celebrate mass,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
We live in a universe filled with the glory of God, with eternal life constantly at our fingertips. And keep in mind this isn't extended biological life. This is zoe aionios, a perpetual participation in the new life in Christ.
On this fourth Sunday of Lent, we are called to rejoice because we are coming close to our annual celebration of the events through which God did more than restore the world, God elevate the world, the cosmos, to a new level. With the death and resurrection of Jesus God opened a door to a new and eternal life, and each of us have the God-given freedom to choose to step through the door into the light or remain in the darkness.
This has been a long winter, hopefully by now we are all sick of the darkness. We are yearning for the light. We want to feel the warmth of the sunlight on our face. Let those feeling translate into a spiritual yearning. Let us recognize our yearning for Christ in our yearning for the light.
May we feel the light of Christ warm our hearts as the sunlight warms our bodies. As the sunlight fills the sky may we see a cosmos filled with the glory of God.