God is a world lover!

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(Scriptures for today's liturgy)
Audio for homily

Many folks believe that our faith teaches us
that God is good, the world is bad
and that to love God we have to learn to hate the world.

It’s an interesting proposition -- but it isn’t Christian.

Many folks believe that our faith teaches us
that since Jesus loves and forgives everyone,
we should be accepting of everyone and everything they do
and never be judgmental of others or their actions.

It’s an interesting proposition, too – but it isn’t Christian.

God didn’t only make the world – God loves the world.
God is a world-lover, not a world-hater.
(I didn’t make that up: it says so right in the bible,
right here in the gospel we just heard.)

In fact, God so loves the world he made -- that he gave his only Son,
so that we might not perish but have eternal life.
And this (turn to the Crucifix) is how much God loves -- the world.

So, God gave his only Son so that we might not perish...  How is it that we might perish?  From what do we need to be saved?  We need to be saved from our sins: things we do, or fail to do,  things that warrant God’s judgment on us.

Judgment? Yes.

Though Jesus did not come to condemn the world – he came to save it:  to be a light for us, to help us see in the darkness of sin,
to help us judge between what’s right and what’s wrong, between what’s good and evil.

Is there darkness, is there sin, is there evil in the world?
You bet! Examples?

Terrorism. Child abuse. Unjust war. Prejudice.
Pornography. Greed. Lust. Bullying. Gossip. Jealousy.
Lying. Abuse of power. Oppression of the poor.
All kinds of injustice.
Infidelity, selfishness and carelessness
in marriages, in families, in parishes and in the clergy.

Jesus came as a light to help us see in the darkness of sins,
to help us see what is done in the darkness.

He calls us to prefer the light to the darkness,
to love the light and reject the darkness,
to live in the light so that we might see how good is the world,
the world God made, the world God loves.

The love and forgiveness of Jesus are not without judgment.
The judgment has been made and, as we heard in today’s gospel:
“This is the verdict: that the light of God has come into the world”

God’s judgment on the world is Jesus.
God’s verdict on the world is Jesus.
And the verdict is mercy
on those who prefer the light of Christ to the darkness of sin.

The world is a gift to us from God
who loves us more than we can imagine.

But we live in a broken world:
a world broken by our hands…
broken by our will…
broken by our sin.

You and I are called to ask God’s mercy on our own brokenness
and to speak the truth when we find the brokenness in one another
and to heal and mend the brokenness we find.

But if we believe the world is something to be hated,
we’ll see no need to tend to its healing.

And if we believe that no one and nothing should be judged as broken,
how will we know what’s in need of mending?

Some would flee the world rather than engage its
powerful, magnificent, diverse and many splendored glory.

Others refrain from any judgment rather than engage a truth
larger than ourselves, greater than our own wisdom
a truth whose verdict falls upon us and on our neighbors alike,
for none of us is free of the world’s brokenness.

Lent is a time for remembering what we believe.
It’s a time for loving what God loves, for loving as God loves.
It’s a time for inviting the light of Christ to shine
on ourselves and our own sins
and on the brokenness of those around us,
in which we all share.

And Lent is a time to welcome the healing mercy of God
into our hearts, into our relationships
into the world God loves so much.

For our healing and for the mending of the world,
Christ allowed himself to be broken on the Cross
that we might not be condemned, might not perish
but rather be forgiven and saved.

And now, at this table,
his Body is broken for us again as bread
and his Blood poured out for us again
in the cup of the Eucharist,
because God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son
that we might have eternal life.


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