In today’s Gospel reading, we hear what could be the most famous passage in the Bible, thanks to televised sporting events. There isn’t a sporting event that goes by where at least one person is not holding up a large poster for the TV cameras which reads, “John 3.16” which is a rich blessing to proclaim how much God loves us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (You can read the entire passage for today below)
It is unfortunate that many do not recall the next verse. We are still enjoying the Light of Pascha as we wish each other Christ is Risen – Truly He is Risen! We can still remember the exhilaration we felt at midnight when the Priest invited us to “Come receive the Light.” The warm glow of candle light spread throughout the Church and, hopefully, our hearts. For that moment there was no darkness.
Then we went home, many of us following the blessed tradition of bringing the Light to our home and blessing our home with the Light of Pascha. For some, the light has already been extinguished. The Light has gone out, not because we were unable to keep it going, but because we didn’t give it the attention it needed. The oil needed filling and the wick need trimming if the Light was going to continue. It takes effort to keep the Light glowing in our lives, and we had more important things to do with our day.
For many of us, we don’t tend the Light because we are enraptured with the darkness of the world. We would rather spend the extra few minutes watching sports on TV rather than tending to the oil lamps or saying our prayers. We would rather work an extra shift rather than attend Divine Liturgy on the Sunday after Pascha. We rationalize our current lack of attention by saying, “I was in Church during all those nights for Holy Week. I need to spend some time on other things right now and get caught up.” Caught up with what!?
Today’s Gospel should be a loving reminder of God’s love. If we believe, we are not condemned. But belief requires action! If we believe, we will come to the Light. Our actions will always reflect what we believe. If we believe in the Light, then we will love the Light. If we love the darkness, we will ignore the Light, lest our deeds be exposed.
The Lord said to his disciples: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God." – John 3.16-21