Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Easter
Discourse with Nicodemus
A priest, during his homily, said that John 3:16 is the summary of the Gospel. It is because there are some words in this gospel text that begin with each letter of the word GOSPEL, like: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only begotten Son that everyone who believes in Him might not Perish but might have Eternal Life.”
John 3:16 is probably the most quoted biblical text in the entire Bible. And I remember also that this gospel verse was the theme of the World Youth Day held in the Philippines last 1995 and its song was sung by Trina Beramide. The song says: “For God so loved the world; he gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ, Our Savior, His most precious One. He has sent us His message of love to bring the message to everyone in a voice loud and clear.”
All of us know that a true lover holds nothing back but gives the best that he/she can offer even the best possession that he/she has for the beloved. God proves His love for us by giving us the best that He has, His only begotten Son, who freely gives Himself as an offering to God for our sake and for the atoning sacrifice of our sin and the sin of the world. His love is not an exclusive one, that is, for just a few or a single nation but a redemptive love that embraces all of us and the whole world. He does not rest until we, his wandering children, returns home to Him.
Upon reflecting these words of Jesus, I remember this true story about a heroic father named John Griffith. In 1937 he worked in Minnesota as an operator of drawbridge, a bridge that can be raised, lowered or drawn aside. For a ship to pass through John had to raise the bridge; for a train to go through, he had to lower it to ground level.
One day when he went to work and he brought along his eight-year-old son. The boy enjoyed playing around the father’s workplace. Then John saw a ship coming. Immediately, he raised the bridge to let the ship pass through. Suddenly he realized that his son was not by his side. He frantically looked for him.
Finally he saw the boy climbing the gears of the bridge! He felt a chill run through his body. He hurried to rescue his son but just then, he heard the hooting of an approaching train. He was caught in a dilemma! If he took time to rescue his son, the fast-running train would crash, killing all 400 passengers aboard; if he lowered the bridge, he would sacrifice his son. He made a horrible decision: he pulled the lever of the bridge! The train went by with the passengers unaware what a great sacrifice John had made for their behalf.
‘Why God allows this to happen’ we ask. And there are many people also question God’s goodness that if He is good, why He permitted such as this? But what does our faith teach us? Our faith teaches us that God loves us and the world that He sent us His only Son. The problem is that the evil in the world is real and present and such evil things show that many people and even the nature herself cooperates with the power of death. This power of death is broken through the cross which becomes the source of eternal life for us all.
At the end let us reflect this story too. A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.” As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.