4th Sunday of Lent

2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23 Eph 2:4-10 Jn 3:14-21 (32)

One day a little girl asked her father, “Daddy, what is God like?” The question sounded innocent enough–until the father actually tried to put his answer into language that a five-year- old could relate to. Finally, he gave the answer for which fathers are famous: “Go ask your mother.” She went to her mother with the question, “Mother, what is God like?” The mother soon realized that she had no adequate answer for her daughter either. She said, “Honey, why don’t you ask your Sunday school teacher?” The little girl went to her Sunday school teacher with the same question, “What is God like?” The teacher said simply, “Why don’t you ask your father or mother?” The little girl thought to herself as she left, “If I had lived with God as long as my father and mother and Sunday school teacher, I think I would be able to tell a little girl what He is like.”

Actually, any one of us should be able to answer the question posed by the little girl in this story. The liturgy of the Word today reveals to us what God is like? The first reading explains us, God’s Love and compassion for the people of Israel in spite of their infidelity. Second reading tells us that “God is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ…” (Eph 2:4) and the Gospel says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life”.

So the predominant picture that we get from today’s scripture readings about God is that God is love. God’s love includes faithfulness to the promise, protection from dangers, and help in times of need, admonition when we go astray, punishment in extreme cases, etc.

Where there is love, there is patience. And the first reading of today portrays the patience of God. He did not punish Israel even when they involved themselves with shameful activities and were unfaithful to Him, but send them messenger after messenger to correct them so that they come back to Him. But the people ridiculed the messengers and despised their message. Hence, the extreme step of punishment followed. They became exiles in Babylon. This tragedy was meant only to bring the people to their senses. The zenith of God’s love is found in the sending of his only Son Jesus.

A little four year old girl was dying of a very rare disease. Her one hope was in having a blood transfusion, and the only possible person who could give matching blood was her six year old brother. The pediatrician handling the case talked very sensitively to the little boy. “Your little sister is very sick” she said, “and we think that if we can take out some of your blood and put it into her it might make her better. Would you be willing to let us take it?” The little boy paused for a moment and then nodded his head in consent. A few days later when the little boy came back with his parents to visit his sister they met the pediatrician. She said to him, “It is so wonderful! Your blood saved your sister; she is going to be all right now.” But the little boy’s eyes filled with tears and he burst out crying. The doctor asked him what was wrong ? “When” he asked her, “am I going to die?” All the time he had believed that he himself was going to die in giving his blood for his little sister but he had been willing to do it!

Today’s Gospel tells us of this kind of love, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life.” God’s love is agape or sacrificial love. That is one big difference between God and us: God gives and forgives, we get and forget. Giving is a sign of agapē. This is the kind of love God has for us. This is the kind of love we should have for one another. This is the kind of love that is lived in heaven. And where this kind of love is absent, what you get is hell.

God loves each and every one of us, so much so that He gave us His only son. Today we are invited to say yes to God’s love.

It is sometimes hard to believe that God loves even me, but I believe it because I know that God loves unconditionally; no ifs, no buts. All that we can do today is to enter into a love relationship with God and radiate the joy of His love. We shall learn to share God’s love with those around us. Then we shall learn to give to God and to one another, just as God gave us.

Jesus’ offer of salvation will be ours if only we respond to him. We must respond to him by believing and accepting Him and His message. Belief and acceptance should lead us to actual practice of the way of life offered by Jesus—a life of love.