16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3"16)
I’ve watched too many football games with “John 3:16” cards held aloft — so often that the passage is beginning to lose meaning .
To bring it back to life, today try focusing on just one “key” word: gave. God loved the world so much that he didn’t just “send” his Son; he gave his Son! He was given as a gift to us. This gift is so incredible and wonderful that all we need to do is accept the gift, which means to believe in him.
There is more. That precious gift of Jesus Christ has a purpose. If we truly believe in him, then the consequence of that gift is our salvation. If we refuse to believe in him, we have chosen to reject this gift. Such a choice, to reject Jesus, is to condemn ourselves.
How can this possibly be, you ask? How can we condemn ourselves? Again, we need to look at the consequences of our choices. To ‘believe’ in Jesus is to follow him, to become his disciple, and to live the moral life of unselfish love that he exemplified. Our good deeds flow from our discipleship, which in turn flows from “believing.” The Most Holy Trinity comes to dwell within us and strengthen us through the Sacraments instituted by Christ.
One who chooses to ‘reject’ Jesus, on the other hand, will not have the benefit of the indwelling Spirit to help him, and may not be challenged to live a morally sound life. Thus, by choosing independence from Jesus he has chosen a path strewn with obstacles that might become insurmountable. A life that begins with sanctifying grace (baptism) is not an option for such an individual because of his fundamental choice to be a disciple of some thing or someone other than Jesus.
God gave; will you accept the gift and follow the example of Jesus?
The most precious gift that God could give to us is his only Son. Jesus came so that the world might know God’s love for us.
--Rev. Deacon Joseph Pasquella