The Readings for the 4th Sunday of Lent (B2)
The Greek in this passage has rich wordplay that is missing in the English. There is a dance between the Greek word meaning to Judge κρίνω krino and to Save σῴζω sozo: because krino means to cut apart, to separate; while sozo means to heal, to make whole.
If you read the whole passage in the Douay, it looks like this (as is):
For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world: but that the world may be saved by him. He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: Because the light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil.
But if we read it with different eyes:
For God sent not his Son into the world, to divide the world: but that the world may be made whole by him. He that believeth in him is not cut off. But he that doth not believe is already cut off: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the division: Because the light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil.
The world made whole by action of Jesus. And elsewhere St Paul means when, elsewhere, he says God was in Jesus, reconciling the world to himself – making this newly whole world to be one, in Christ, with God. And in the same place St Paul calls all of us Christians, “ministers of this reconciliation.”
Today’s Gospel – with what must be the most-often quoted verse in the Bible – is the very root of Theosis, the very fire of our divinization in Christ: God’s love. We are all called to be united in Christ’s love. Please note: Christ’s love is entirely one-sided. We are not called to “love if you are loved” or to “love if others love you back”. Christ’s love cost him his life. He loves us so much that from us he accepted steel in his hand, his feet, his side, thorns on his brow, and, sourged about with whips studded with nails, he let his body be draped in a purple robe of mockery. When that robe was torn off, all the wounds opened again.
This is love! God so loved the world that he let us kill him.
Feeling uncomfortably selfish or needy yet? My friend, talking about the 12 Step process (not himself), said to me at dinner, “I can’t support you in your anguish over my doing drugs, because I need you to support me because I do drugs.” My friend said that was classic addict talk. My comment was, “My mind is blown”. I had never heard our modern society diagnosed so sharply. From the left and the right we hear variations on the same sentence: I can’t support you in your pain over X because I need you to support me in my doing X. We have become a culture of Toxicomanes Sans Programmes, of Addicts Without Programs.
We do not love but, rather, we want to be loved (and to be lovable) by others. That we are loved, already, does not occur to us. That we are already loved so much as to have had someone die for us, to have someone give his entire life for us, for each one of us is an idea too rich for consideration. Who, we wonder, would love us? Especially if we’re not doing something to be loved (and we all know a least some thing we do that should make us unlovable). Who are we to be loved like that?
And yet we are also to love like that: to love not counting the cost, no matter what others say or do to us or about us. Yet we Christians often become infected with the current vogue of I love everyone except those who disagree with me.
Now, certainly, this love which would die for us is not a sentimental thing. Neither is it an easy thing. I don’t love you because you are my type or because we agree on things. I love you because God loves you and commands me to love what he loves. To love means to will the good of the other: and there is only one thing good, as Jesus says, and that is God. So to love you is to draw you into this Dance, to reconcile you with God that, in turn, you might take your place in the ministry of reconciliation, making the world whole, one heart at a time.