Weekly reflection for March 14, fourth Sunday of Lent: How do we choose to love?

Gospel: John 3:14-21

This year’s Lenten campaign brings us back to basics: Share Lent is about sharing our love with others.

It is a simple message but on this long journey, where enthusiasm can fade and the path is difficult, this week’s Gospel reading invites us to find a source of new energy and encouragement.

The Gospel of John was written for a community that was newly defining itself, with lots of talk of insiders and outsiders, and who they were as a community of disciples. Creating a new Christian community almost sounds fun, with bursts of energy and invitations to friends and neighbors to join. I imagine there were a very large number of meetings to reflect and discern the voice of the Spirit guiding them. They would have spent a lot of time comparing themselves to the dominant culture of the time, and this would have included naming the truth, posing the question of who possessed it and who did not. It was a community distinguishing itself. As for the question of truth… why not define a community by comparing it to what it is not? It is the “not” in the Gospel reading today that speaks to me.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

Jesus came not to condemn but to offer love. In a world weighted down by selfishness and failure, we need to know, really know, that Jesus came from the Father not to condemn but to bring reconciliation and life. It is beyond beautiful that Jesus took on the full human nature and experience so that our entire human reality could be healed.

In this way, God loved the world. In what way will we choose to love the world? How can we be a part of this breakthrough of love? How can we portray a “YES” that shines so brightly that others can see in us the image of Christ?

During Lent, we ask our friends and family, our fellow parishioners and our non-Catholic neighbors to donate. We do this because THIS is how we love the world, and because sharing means lifting each other up. We invite others to mobilize and become donors because we want them to experience the fullness of our community. We want Catholics and non-Catholics, registered members or unregistered volunteers, to be welcome and to participate in this radical project of sharing love. Thanks to you, we now have your neighbor as a new Share Year-Round donor. Thanks to your gestures, new Share Year-Round donors give us the opportunity to have stable funding to support our partners. Thanks to you, we are a community of lay people and clergy, with partners around the world, secular partners and Catholic partners, participating in the breakthrough of love.

Jesus came not to condemn but to share love. In what way will you follow his example?