Today we read the Gospel of John’s most famous passage, called God’s love letter: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son….,’ given so that all who believe may have eternal life. How uplifting for a Sunday in Lent, a day of respite from solemnity!
And there is a larger theme: familyhood: the Son redeems the world; God calls Abram to a new family, Israel. Nicodemus comes furtively at night, to hear that we must be born again from above. And the Psalm makes us smile, remembering our teen dating years: “…. he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” Neither did our parents, waiting up for us, as God waits, for whenever we come home.
In a modern parable of Jesus in heaven after the Crucifixion, his Father says, “Oh, Son, was it terrible, the pain of those nails….”
Jesus replies, “No, Dad, it wasn’t the nails. It was the kiss.” Judas’ kiss, betraying Jesus who had loved him, a pain only love can produce, too familiar to many of us.
Family love can be heaven’s gift, or a burden of sadness. Emotions run so deep that every hurt is magnified. If we did not love so much, we would not hurt so much. Family can evoke the best and worst in us, self-sacrifice, and bitter grudges. We are tortured, even embittered, over the sibling who was the favorite, the one who got the money, whose faults were ignored.
Lenten reflection on his can bring us peace. The grace we ask is that we learn to love our love, more than we love our hate. We pray to embrace love, and leave the ‘justice’ we believe we should have, to God’s own hand. The Readings for Sunday, March 12, 2017