Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How big is your world?

It is easy to read chapter 17 of John’s gospel and see the world as a place of sin, the world vs. the Church. But we have to go back to the verse that many of us memorized as children John 3:16,”God so loved the world...”. That’s right.  Love of the world was the impetus of the story that is at the heart of the gospel. Even in chapter 17, we are told that Jesus does not pray for the father to take us our of the world, but to simply protect us from the evil one while we are here. 

 But how big is our world?  The Greek word used in John’s gospel is “kosmos.” It reminds us that God is the maker of all thing visible and invisible. It reminds us that God loves the entire creation and therefore so should we. But do we?

It we look at original sin, and the stain of original sin in us, we find that it manifests itselfin the turn inward, the tendency in us to focus on ourselves ahead of others. Put simply, it shows itself most clearly when we are self centered. It can be insidiously subtle in its operation. 

Like Jesus we are called to love the world.  Today’s opening prayer speaks of a world “united in purity of intention.”  We are called to be one Church, and beyond that to love the “kosmos” the entire world. But because of original sin, we tend to shrink the world we love. And fear encourages the shrinking. 

We shrink it to “people who look like me”, “people who speak my language”, “my friends”, “my family.” And left uncheck it can shrink to the point that the only one I truly love is me.  We see it happening not just in the US but in other countries as well, a pulling away. Sometimes it is nationalism. Sometimes it is a smaller subgroup inside a nation.  It is the opposite of the unity to which we are called by Christ. 

Luckily we know the solution. It’s really simple. Fear and love work as opposing forces. Fear shrinks our world. Love expands it.  If we let the tv and the internet,and even sometimes the people around us, fill us with fear; our world will shrink. We will return to a primitive tribal state of being, the state of our ancestors before the gospel. But St. John tells us that there is no fear in love and that love can cast out fear. 

Love expands our world. For example: When you hear the words North Korea, do you think merely of nuclear weapons or do you think, as well,of the millions of hungry oppressed people who are our brothers and sisters? We don’t ignore the problems but we don’t reduce an entire nation of people to a thing. Can we show real love  for the people of a place like Iran? Do we even bother with news about the people south of our border?

As humans we have a tendency to shrink the world of our concern.  But as Christians we must constantly be expanding the boundaries, striving to imitate Jesus who gave his life for every single person who ever was, is, or will be.