2nd Sunday of Easter – April 11, 2021

East2B21.     Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35.   “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.”  Those resources “were distributed to each according to their need.”  It is my understanding that they were expecting Jesus to come relatively soon and so they were preparing for that coming by living in common without personal possessions. (Please read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.)  What stands out is their great faith in Jesus.

John 20:19-31.   “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”   As Jesus calls upon his disciples to be witnesses to who Jesus is and what Jesus had accomplished, so too the gospels were written to be witness to him and to call us to the faith that will give us eternal life.  Jesus gives his disciples the Holy Spirit who will enable them to bring to people a faith in Jesus.  In receiving the Holy Spirit the disciples are given the power to aid the Holy Spirit in his work of the sanctification of humanity through the power to forgive sins so to turn people from sin so to become the holy children of God.  Thomas, who represents the ordinary down to earth people who have to learn to rise up to heaven even as they walk on the dirt of this earth, rejects the idea of resurrection from the dead as lacking in any commonsense.  Confronting Thomas, Jesus calls upon him and all of us to put our faith in what is divine and not earthly: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”

1 John 5:1-6.  John the evangelist wrote, “Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God?”  Followers of Jesus live in the world but do not put our faith in a world that only believes in a life that is from cradle to grave.  The Holy Spirit, who is Jesus’ gift to us, enables us to live in the truth, the eternal reality.  “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments,” that is, we are obedient to his will which is far more than the Ten Commandments.  The struggle to be submissive to his will is the cross that is love.  Jesus showed by his death on the cross that true love comes at a great sacrificial cost.

2nd Sunday of Easter – 2018

East2B18.   Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35.   “The community of believers was of one heart and mind.”  Their oneness was out of their unity in the one Lord Jesus over them.  “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”  This scene occurs after the Pentecost when they received the Holy Spirit who gave them great power to help them bring others to believe in Jesus as their Lord.

John 20:19-31.  In this gospel there is a study of contrasts or opposites.  Jesus comes to bring peace to those who locked the doors in fear of the Jewish authorities, who had put Jesus to death and who might put them to death too.  Alone behind those locked doors they were powerless against the powers of this earth but Jesus came to empower them with a heavenly power to forgive sins and to go into the world to bring others to Christ.  Thomas came to believe because he saw with his own eyes the physical presence of the risen Lord; to which Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  Belief is the central message of this gospel which ends with the words: “But these (words) are written you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”  Not physical evidence but rather words that testify to the resurrection are given us that through the power of the Holy Spirit that we may have the belief that gives us life in his name.

Jesus says in this Gospel: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  Jesus in his public ministry made it clear that it made no sense to give the fullness of life to the body yet leave the soul sick in sin.  After having lowered a man on a stretcher through the roof since they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd around him, Luke 5:20 reads: When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you your sins are forgiven.”  In Luke 5:24, Jesus continues, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” His forgiveness of us through the sacrament of Reconciliation gives spiritual health to a sick soul so that we “may have life in his name.”  As it says in psalm 118:2, “Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”

John 5:1-6.  This epistle begins, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God.”  Belief in Jesus requires that we are no longer people of the ways of this world but rather of the ways of heaven.  In John 3:6, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the spirit is spirit.” Jesus continues in John 3:7b, “You must be born from above.” In today’s epistle, John continues, “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.”  Being born of the Father, as his sons and daughters, demands that we love no only God but also his love for us which is expressed in his loving will and direction over us.  Since Jesus Christ is Lord over us, we are subjects of Jesus and not this world.  “The victory that conquers the world is our faith,” that Jesus is Lord and not this world.  Jesus came through the water of his baptism to begin his work of redemption and then through the blood of his cross to complete our redemption.  We do not have to see with our eyes the actual physically risen body of Christ because we have the Spirit who is “the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.”  We have the faith that is given to us by the Spirit and not by sight.  In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul wrote, “We are always courageous, although we know that while we are home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

 

 

Easter Sunday – April 4, 2021

EastB21.    Easter Vigil – Mark 16:1-7.  The three devoted women arrived at the tomb just as the sun had risen to anoint Jesus’ body to find that the very large stone at the entrance had been rolled back.  A young man dressed in white, traditionally understood to be an angel, said to them, “Do not be amazed!  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been raised; he is not here.”  The angel tells them to tell Jesus’ disciples and Peter that the risen Jesus will go to see them in Galilee.

Easter Day – John 20:1-9.  Mary of Magdala tells Peter and John that it appears that some unknown people have taken Jesus’ body away to some unknown place.  Peter and John run to find that indeed the tomb was empty; however, “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”  Only later when they see the glory of the risen Lord do they come to a full realization of what had happened.

Vigil Night – Romans 6:3-11.  “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” Easter time is the time to remember our baptism and renew our baptismal vows.  This image of baptism comes from the baptism of emersion where one is submerged beneath the waters as a symbol of death to then rise up from the waters as a symbol of resurrection.  “Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living to God in Christ Jesus.”  Easter Day – Colossians 3:1-4.   “Brothers and sisters:  If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Our whole mindset and our inner emotional being is geared by the world we are immersed in and the material bodies that we live in, to act, think and be creatures of the natural world and not people who are on our way to heaven, our real and eternal home.  The Holy Spirit enables us to breathe a spiritual life, even while our material bodies breathe the life of this world.  God empowers those who choose to live spiritually in him to live heavenly, holy lives, even while we still live in a natural, material world.

Easter Day – Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43. The Apostles were loyal to Jesus but the crucifixion shook their faith to the core.  Jesus’ appearance after the resurrection and the inflowing of the Holy Spirit into their lives moved them from people of this world with one foot planted in this world and one foot planted in God’s world to being people with both feet  planted in God’s world.  By the Spirit’s grace they were moved to becoming God’s people for whom their lives were based on God living in them.  They belonged to nothing else but the Lord.  They became witnesses to the salvation God brings to all humanity.  May we be the same!

Easter Sunday – 2018

EastB18.   This Easter I would like to bring together ideas in the Vigil Epistle & Gospel and the ‘Mass During the Day’ readings.  In Romans 6:3-11, the immersion that occurs in adult baptism is understood to be symbolic of one’s going down into the grave as a sign of death to sin to rise out of the water as a sign of rising out of the grave to a new life in Christ.  In baptism we are joined to Christ’s death and resurrection so that “we too might live in the newness of life,” that was given to Christ and also to us by the glorious power of God the Father.  “If, then, we have died with Christ,” that is to say that “our old self” that was enslaved to sin “was crucified with him,” “we believe that we shall also live with him,” as his holy people in heaven.  We no longer belong to a body that death will conquer and put into a grave or tomb forever.  The tomb with the stone covering the entrance or mouth of the tomb represents the jaws of this earth that has swallowed up our lives; whereas the tomb with the stone removed or rounded back represents the fact that the physical forces of this earth are not able to block or restrain the almighty force of the eternally living God.  “As to his death, he died to sin once and for all (people); as to his life, he lives for God.  Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”

In Colossians 3:1-4, Paul writes, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”  To be a people who seek holiness our whole way of thinking must change.  Our whole perspective must change.  We ought to live in this world as if we are already people in heaven, “hidden with Christ in God.” This world is no longer our life; Christ is our life. We belong to something entirely different from this world.  “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”

In 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8, Paul writes, “Celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  We are the fresh batch of dough, unleavened, without the corruption or yeast of this world, made new in the newly risen Christ, recreated sinless and holy through his work of salvation in his sacrifice on the cross.

These Easter accounts do not agree or blend well together, not even within the same Gospel writer.  These remembrances were written much later after the fact, when the writers were much older.  However, the basic ideas agree.  He had arisen; he was no longer dead in the tomb.  Mary Magdalene, especially, had a great love and respect for Jesus, desiring to care for him even in death.  Through the gospels we have physical proof and heavenly proclamation that Jesus had arisen.  Jesus had often told his Apostles that he would die and three days later arise.  They did not get it.   Even after Peter and John were witnesses to the empty tomb, still “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”  Jesus understands our human condition and never stops working with us on our way to heaven.

Palm Sunday – March 28, 2021

PalmB21.    Isaiah 50:4-7.   I have been given to understand that this excerpt from Isaiah is a selection from what are called the “Servant-of-the Lord” or Suffering Servant oracles.  Their purpose was to call the Hebrews enslaved in Babylonia to maintain a firm resolve and confidence in the Lord despite the abuses that they were suffering.  The Hebrews were living in a situation where they were subject to great humiliation and degradation.  This reading is given to us this Palm Sunday when the Passion of Jesus is read to invite us see Jesus as the Suffering Servant of the Father, as one called by his Father to endure his suffering and humiliation with a deep resolve and faith because in the end the victory would belong to God.

Mark 14:1-15:47.   This gospel reading is titled as the Passion of the Lord.  The word ‘Passion’ here is to be understood as to what had been done to the Jesus by others.  It is the noun that refers to the passive voice in grammar where the action is done by others to Jesus.  He was viciously humiliated, tortured and killed and yet maintained his resolve to fulfill his Father‘s will for him.  Jesus had surrendered himself to be the sacrifice that would redeem the human race from our sins: past, present and future.  His self-sacrifice or submitting himself to the Passion satisfied the debt we had accumulated and will accumulate by our sins.  1 John 4:10 reads: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”  The Old Testament Law required a continuous line of sacrificing animals or offering up cereal offerings.  With Jesus’ Passion all that was done away with once and for all. (Hebrews 10:1-10)

Love means many things in this world; however, for the followers of Christ, the crucifix is our definition of love.  Jesus went to Gethsemane with Peter, James and John.   He “began to be troubled and distressed.  Then he said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful even to death.’”  Realizing the horror he was about to undergo, he was so extremely distraught that he thought he was going to die then.   Jesus “prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, ’Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.  Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.’”  The savagery of Jesus’ passion was real but so was his love for his Father and what his Father wanted of him.  The whole purpose of divinity taking on human presence in this world was to accomplish our redemption because of God’s love for us.  True love demands doing whatever it takes to be loving.   The old saying is that freedom isn’t free.  True love, more often than not, demands sacrifice, giving up what we want for ourselves so that others might have what they need.  John 3:16 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.”

Philippians 2:6-11.   Jesus humbled himself by rejecting any heavenly exemption from deprivation or suffering, “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  The love for us given to Jesus in his humanity by his divine Father enabled him to endure the horrific humiliation on his way to the cross and the cross itself.  “Because of this, God greatly exalted him” and so we adore him and worship him confessing “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Palm Sunday – 2018

PalmB18.   This Sunday I do not want to go from reading to reading but to connected ideas from all the readings.  For me the basic theme is that God was obedient or a servant to his own love for us.  He could not and cannot help do but what his own infinite love calls him to do.  God the Father had his own Son, come into our midst as a helpless baby, totally dependent on his mother’s care for him so to eventually submit to unspeakable horrors as a sacrifice to open the gates of heaven to us, his loved ones.  God’s almighty power is humble so to invite us to be love as he is love, never coercing or overwhelming us; otherwise we would never be able to be love as he is love.  How can infinite power be humble?  Infinite love settles for nothing else!  “He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave;” “He humbled himself, becoming obedient,” even to the point of death on the cross. John 3:16 reads: “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.”  In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was so “troubled and distressed,” praying “that if it were possible the hour” or time of horror “might pass by him that he said,” “Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.”

Although Jesus comes into a world that he himself has created, yet he now comes dependent on the love and generosity of others to accomplish his work.  As a baby he lived in someone else’s stable.  Though King of the universe, he must borrow someone’s donkey to ride into Jerusalem.  He was to be buried in a linen cloth and in a tomb that were all donations out of love for him and not belonging to him.  For his Passover supper he depends on someone else for the loan of an adequate room.  He chooses to depend on us to accept the gift of himself in Eucharist, to open up our hearts in love for him.

However, love can never be presumed.  Some choose to love; some do not.  Despite the fact that he came into this world to bring his love to the people he created so that they could live one day in the joy of heaven as the children of God the Father, they crucified him.  They rejected his love and in turn hated him.  He put his love, his very self, into the hands of those he loved and they murdered him for it.  In the end they destroyed themselves and not him.  Judas Iscariot, despite the fact that he saw all the miracles that Jesus generously worked for the good of people who so dearly needed them, blinded by his desire for material wealth, has no idea whom it is that he is betraying.  The Jewish authorities who so craftily engineer the crucifixion of Jesus to maintain their own position of authority over the Jews reject the authority of the God who established Judaism.  Pilate, despite the fact that he recognizes the innocence of Jesus, lets the threat of the mob overwhelm his sense of justice because it seems to him that Jesus is a ‘nobody’ who is not worth the threat of a riot to be worth saving.  Because love requires the call to lead others to love freely, without coercion, God’s love leads him to be vulnerable, to step back so that those who are loved might be filled with the love they have just received so they respond in love.  Those who love will quite often suffer because true love invites the one who receives the love to respond lovingly but cannot require that response forcibly.  It must be freely given.  That opens the one who initiates the love to suffer rejection, to receive or suffer a response that is not loving.  The response Jesus received after his many miracles to cure those who were in need and after coming into this world to bring all humanity to heaven was: The soldiers “clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.  They began to salute him with, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.  They knelt before him in homage.  And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him out to crucify him.”  He showed his love for them but they, in turn, showed their hate for him.

Jesus reflects outwardly the last temptation that he hears within himself from the devil, when he shouts out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In his deepest sufferings he rejects the devil’s temptation to despair, humbly dying obedient to the Father on the cross.  The victory was his!  The witness to that victory was the pagan Roman centurion, who stood facing Jesus and seeing “how he breathed his last,” said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”  When Jesus began his public ministry, he announced in Mark 1: 15, “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  The choice is ours to live out.  Live in Christ’s love daily so to live in God’s love forever.

5th Sunday of Lent – March 21, 2021

5LB21. Jeremiah 31:31-34. God’s Chosen People had chosen not to keep their covenant with their God. Because of their disobedience they were punished by being taken off as captives to Babylonia. However, God promises a new covenant that is no longer written on stone or scrolls as it was with their ancestors but now written “upon their hearts.” “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” He shall be and is Lord and Master over us as a loving Father; and we, His obedient and devoted sons and daughters.

John 12:20-33. Greeks come to speak to Jesus. Without listening to what they have to say, Jesus speaks to them as though they were people who represented the entire world throughout all the ages to come. Jesus says to them and us: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” To follow Jesus means to be obedient to the Father’s Will, as Jesus was obedient to the Father’s will. We are to no longer possess our lives as something that belongs to us as but rather as lives that belong to God because by the Holy Spirit’s grace within us we daily give our lives over to God.

Jesus was both truly divine and truly human. His divinity stood aside to the extent that it allowed his humanity to be truly human. Jesus, realizing the horrific suffering that he was going to have to endure, was deeply troubled and upset. God spoke to Jesus, as though in thunder, as a way of saying to all that, despite all that his Son must go through, God would be glorified. Remain faithful to Jesus in spite of his death on the cross. Jesus declares that “the ruler of this world” will be overwhelmed, since by his death on the cross, he says, “I will draw everyone to myself,” not just the Jews but all the people of the world.

Hebrew 5:7-9. “In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death.” In spite of his immense anguish at what he was to suffer, he was obedient to the Father. “He learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” Jesus surrendered himself to God’s will in spite of the fact that his human body and spirit was horrified by what it had to go through. By his total acceptance of his Father’s will, “he was made perfect” in holiness. That perfect holiness in his humanity enabled him to become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

5th Sunday of Lent – 2018

5LB18.   Jeremiah 31:31-34.  “I will make a new covenant.”  “It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers.”  “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.”  “No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord.  All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord.”  In this passage twice God uses the expression ‘to know him,’ the Lord.  I believe that the law that is placed within them and written upon their hearts, which they will have no need toteach one another, is the very presence of the Lord himself who, from within their hearts, will dictate to them the law, which is his will.    He announces to them that it is the internal presence of the Lord himself and not an external written document that is the law.  The Lord says to them, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people;” and not as so many of the Judaic leaders of the time of Jesus seem to have taken as their faith:  “The written law will be your god and you shall be the people of the written law.”

Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15.   The God, who dwells within us, enables us to be obedient to his will and so no longer be a sinful people.  His Holy Spirit guides us to follow his ways and leave our own behind us.

John 12:20-33.  The passage in this gospel: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life,” is reflective of Luke 14:26-7:  “If anyone comes to me without hating his father or mother, wife and children, brothers and sister, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”  I understand that these passages mean to say that we must first love God and out of our love for God we must love what God loves, and wants us to love, which is a supernatural motivation and not a natural one that says that we love our own self, families and friends because that is what comes to us naturally as creatures of this earth.  To be a follower of Christ we must love God and anyone or anything else out of a love for God.  In Matthew 22: 37-38, Jesus answering a Pharisee said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment.”  In John 13:34, Jesus, replacing the Old Testament second of the two greatest commandments says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”  The measure of loving your neighbor is not as you love yourself, as it was in the Old Testament, but as God loves us.  God is the measure of all things and God is the reason and motivation for all things.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever serves me must follow me and where I am there also will my servant be.  The Father will honor whoever serves me.”  To serve God means to be a servant to his will.  Remembering now what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24b that we must think as God thinks and not as human beings do.  We must daily, throughout each day, ask the Holy Spirit to put to death our natural, worldly ways and give us a life of holy, heavenly ways.  In Matthew 16: 24, “Then Jesus said to disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

This section that begins, “I am troubled now.” is reflective of Jesus’ agony in the garden in Luke 22:42-44.  The voice or thunder from heaven was to show to the surrounding crowd the glory that Jesus was giving to the Father by being obedient to the Father’s will. At the end Jesus says, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”  Not only did he say that to indicate that he would die on the cross but also he was answering the question that he knew the Greeks want to ask him.  ‘In drawing everyone to himself,’ the salvation he was bringing was not only for the Jews but also for the whole world.

Hebrews 5:7-9.   Jesus prays that he be spared from this cup of suffering and death on the cross but he wants to do not his will but the Father.  “He learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”  Jesus, in his divinity is perfect and all-knowing, but in his humanity he learned obedience and was made perfectly holy.  This line recalls the passage from the Gospel that calls us to follow him in his obedience and so in our obedience be honored by God.

4th Sunday of Lent – March 14, 2021

4LB21.     2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23.  The people of Judah (province around Jerusalem) were not living as God’s People.  Because of their gross infidelity to the Lord, the Lord delivered them to be crushed by the Babylonian army and taken as enslaved captives to Babylonia.  Much later King Cyrus who defeated the Babylonians, inspired by the Lord freed the Jews and promoted the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.  With great joy they returned.

John 3:14-21.  Jesus establishes the theme of rest of this gospel when he says, “So must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”  Then John the Evangelist comments: “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.”  By offering himself up on the cross, Jesus is saying that he loves us so as to give us, who choose to live in his love now, life forever with God in God’s love for us.  This is the foundation of our faith.  To live in the darkness is to choose to live without God’s love and in disobedience to God’s Will.  Jesus is the Light of the world.  Without him we are saying we choose in the darkness of a lie.  To live in the light daily is to live in the light.  To believe in Jesus is to draw our daily life from his personal loving presence in us.  To live in his love means to draw life through our submission to his Will that is his expression of love for us.

Ephesians 2:4-10.

4th Sunday of Lent – 2018

4LB18.   2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23.  Judah with its capital at Jerusalem was completely unfaithful in keeping the covenant with God.  “The anger of the Lord was so inflamed” that he allowed the Babylonians to destroy Judah and take those were still alive as slaves to Babylon.  After seventy years Cyrus, king of Persia came to rule Babylonia and , inspired by the Lord, freed the captives and sent them back to rebuild the kingdom of Judah and, with it, Jerusalem and its temple.  In a sense God made the pagan King Cyrus the savior of his Chosen People.

John 3:14-21.  In Numbers 21:6-9, God punished his People by sending serpents to bit and kill some because they complained against him. Instructed by the Lord, Moses “made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole (which symbol we see on ambulances today), and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered. Jesus recalls that sign of healing to say that anyone who looks upon him on the cross and believes in him will be saved because by his dying on the cross he saved us all.   One of the most magnificence lines of Scripture appear in today’s Gospel: “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.”  We choose our own eternal verdict in choosing to believe or not to believe.  Jesus is the light that takes away the darkness that the enticements of this world envelope us in.  He shines on the truth that only he is, because he is the light.  The darkness of our own desire to believe that whatever we want or pleases us is truth or reality will condemn us.  Death is darkness; life is light.

Ephesians 2:4-10.  Jesus taught us to call God our Father because is pure love for us.  His mercy or love for us in having his Son offer up himself as a sacrifice to bring us back to life by overcoming the death brought about by our transgressions will “raise us up with” God and seat us with the Father “in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”  It is by the work of God the Father in his Jesus that the saints have come to the eternal joy of heaven. By our life of faith in Christ we are accepting the eternal salvation that God has given us.  “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus” “that we should live” through the good works of his suffering and death seated with Jesus in the heavens forever.  God makes saints; we, by cooperating with work of the Holy Spirit, become saints.