If someone asks you how far would you go for the person you love, how would you respond?
It will probably take you some time to figure out your answer but eventually, you will have to grapple with the question, and how you will respond will largely depend on your understanding of the Gospel.
Whether you are into regular Bible study or you open the Bible only when you have the time or maybe out of curiosity, it would help to know that the entire message of the Sacred Scriptures is centered on one Gospel passage which is about the immeasurable love of God. It declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
In order for us to fully understand this passage, we have to know the concept of love in the time of Jesus. Greek was the common language used in those days and the people generally accept that there are three different interpretations of love. One was “eros” love that refers to a romantic kind of love. The second was “philia” that applies to a fellowship type of love within a circle or a family. Third was the “agape,” a type of love considered as the highest form of love.
Of these three, it was agape love that God possessed and shared to the world that He created as it is a sacrificial kind of love. The sacrifice was so great that He gave not only his one and only Son but He gave us the best that he can offer. This is the kind of love that God has for us, and God expects us to have that kind of love for one another.
To appreciate this kind of love that God has for us, we should remember that after Adam sinned, God could have opened heaven once again even without the incarnation of his Son by simply forgiving and forgetting everything without need of reparation. But such would not be in keeping with his perfect brand of justice and his salvific plan for the world which was why reparation had to be done for Adam’s rejection of God, and God’s Grace had to be merited once again.
Because of his great love for the world He had created, God did not leave man in despair, and right at that moment when the original sin was committed, God promised a redeemer who will be borne of a woman and who will be the greatest opponent of Satan whose offspring will crush the devil’s head and will take away from the evil one the capacity to harm mankind (Gen 3:15).
The rest is history. Out of God’s infinite goodness, he not only gave us “his one and only Son” (v.16) but at the time of our own creation and through the Sacrament of Baptism God gave us our senses, our gift of speech and other gifts that he has conferred upon our souls. He gave us understanding, free will and memory. He continues to provide for our sustenance and has given us dominion over all that he has created in the sky, in the seas and on the earth.
His love for us is far greater than the love the fondest mother has for her child because God never for a moment vacillated in sending his Son as the perfect sacrifice to complete his salvific plan with his death on the cross. “Greater love no man has than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus had to endure his sacred passion and death in obedience to the Father’s will in order to prove His and God’s love for us.
God also “did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (v.17) This means that God manifests His love even to sinners and that He will confer graces and benefits upon sinners until the last moment of their life (Matt 5:44.)
We must look at God’s love as a magnet that draws iron to itself. At times there are so many obstacles that the piece of iron cannot reach the magnet but the magnet continues to draw it just the same.
During this Lenten Season, God is reminding us that salvation is offered as a gift to all and that no one is lost because of sin, but many are lost because they have committed one sin for which they will not repent. In other words, everyone who sinned, repented and has turned away from his sins is assured of salvation. In fact, the greater the sinner the more lovingly will God receive him if he is willing to amend his life.
The problem is that we have become recidivists or repeat offenders and this is the big difference between God and us. God gives and forgives. We, on the other hand, get and forget. As we observe Holy Week, let us be reminded always of the agape kind of love that God has for us. It is a love that cannot be measured. God expects us to love him back the same way, and one of the ways we can do this is to love those around us especially the people whom we find difficult to love.
Our character and true nature are reflected in what and whom we love. This Holy Week, let us ask ourselves: Do we love God over and above anything else in our life? Can we see God in our actions? How willing are we in offering our time, money and effort as a sacrifice to serve God by serving others?