Fr. Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: Preference

FR MICHAEL BIBLICAL IMAGERY

(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)

PREFERENCE

            Many people are of the opinion that life on the planet is dependent on love and it is because of love that the globe still spins. Have you ever been in love? How did it feel? Were you ready to do everything for your lover? Almost everyone has had some experience of love: loving and being loved. When you love someone, it is usually because you find some desirable qualities in that person. Maybe he or she has good looks or a keen intellect or is well spoken or well-connected or is kind and humane. In some extraordinary cases you might find someone loving another who has little or nothing to recommend him or her for such love. That would have been the case with a Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whose love was reserved for the most undesirable, least endowed lot of humanity. Not surprisingly, that kind of love has been described as heroic.

            That kind of love is but a reflection of God’s love for the world. According to St Paul in today’s second reading, God loved the world when it was at its most unlovable, “when we were dead through our sin.” Of course, when the Bible says “the world”, we must understand “humankind”, “us”. We are the ones that God loved “when we were dead through our sin”. St Paul also said that the proof of God’s love for us is that “Christ dies for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

            The supreme expression of God’s love for the world, for us, is that he sent his own Son into the world, so that we may not perish but have eternal life. That is the testimony the Son of God gave to Nicodemus, as we read in our gospel passage today. He also said that “God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.”

            Now, God’s love is for all the world, that is, all of us, all men and women. Some people might have difficulty believing that. They have given up on God’s love for them. They believe that they are so bad, so rotten that they are unlovable, even by God. Let them be reminded that “God loved us when we were dead through our sins”, that God sent his Son “not to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved”, and “Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” If they would just believe that and be convinced of it and return to the Father’s house, even they will be saved, because “no one who believes in him (the Son of God) will be condemned. It is rather unfortunate that some people did not believe in the words of Jesus to the extent that when they were offered love they preferred sinful ways.

            . In the latter part of today’s Gospel account, we read “…light came into the world but people preferred darkness to light because their deeds were evil.” Whenever the word preference is employed it calls for a choice to be made. God does not force his love on us; he freely gives it and it is up to us to accept it or reject it. The Gospel gives us a chance to revise our understanding of divine judgment during this time of repentance

            The decisive point is that whoever scorns God’s love condemns himself. God is not at all eager to condemn men. He is nothing but love, love that goes as far as the Father sacrificing his Son out of love for the world. There is nothing more for him to give us. The whole question is whether we accept God’s love so that it can prove effective and fruitful in us, or whether we cower in our darkness in order to evade the light of this love. In the latter instance, “we hate the light”, we hate true love, and we affirm our egoism in any form whatsoever (even purely sensual love is egoism). When that happens, we are “already condemned”, but by ourselves, not by God. God light has come to the world, it is up to you to accept it or reject it.

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