JESUS CAME NOT TO CONDEMN BUT TO SAVE
God sent his only Son into the world to save us. Salvation. Do we need salvation? We have become so self-sufficient and proud of our human achievements that we often think that salvation belongs to another world – not ours. But when in our sober moments, we sit down and reflect, we have to face deeper realities: which achievements? For what? Have they made us happier? Have we made the world a better place to live in? And then, we realize that we cannot do it alone. We need salvation – from ourselves, from our achievements, from our so-called progress. And then, we become grateful for Jesus, not merely a person-for-others, but God’s Son, who is with us and who can still get us out of the mess we are often making.
Lord, our God,
you loved the world – that is us – so much
that you gave us your only Son
to save us from ourselves
and to give us eternal life.
Do not condemn us Lord,
do not leave us to ourselves
and to our little schemes,
but give us your Son now to stay with us
and to make love, justice and peace
ever new realities among us,
your people reborn in your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
2 Reading: ACTS 5:17-26
The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the jail to have them brought in. But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison, so they came back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked and the guards stationed outside the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to. Then someone came in and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.” Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them, but without force, because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor. or: Alleluia.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad. R.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears. R.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him. R.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him. R.
Alleluia: JOHN 3:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: JOHN 3:16-21
At that time: Jesus said to Nicodemus, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-Begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-Begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Many people consider John 3:16 to be one of the greatest verses in the Bible. Not without reason. For, it sums up succinctly God’s “Project is Human.” God wants everyone to come to know and believe in Him through Jesus Christ so that everyone merits eternal life. For this purpose He sent His only Son. It is important to note that this project of God involves only blessing and salvation, not condemnation. It is not God’s desire to split the human race into good ones and bad ones. It is not God who judges, but we receive judgment on ourselves by the kind of choices we make. God comes into the world as its light, but we can choose to love darkness and hide from God’s light thereby heaping up condemnation on ourselves, a condemnation which is a natural consequence of our choice. God does not discriminate, but we do—by our choices. Observe the choices you are inclined to make today: do they tend towards light or darkness?
– That like God, the Church may love the world so as to make Jesus known to all and him to all peoples far and near, we pray:
– That those who cannot believe in God because life is very hard to them, may see God’s love reflected in good people, we pray:
– That we may not condemn anyone, but accept people the way God accepts us, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God,
as your Son, Jesus Christ, is present here
and shares himself with us at his table,
may he also be present in our lives
and be the meaning of all we do.
May we learn from him
to do what we are incapable of when left to ourselves:
to forget injuries and to pardon enemies,
to be patient with those who do not understand,
to bring freedom to those who do not appreciate it.
Let Jesus work all this in us,
for he is our Lord for ever. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord, you hear the cry of the poor,
you sent your Son into the world
not to condemn it but to save it.
Give us the strength not to condemn
but to build up,
not to judge, but to heal and help,
not to curse, but to bless.
And when our clumsy efforts fail us,
remind us that your Son stays with us
and that he can do better, even through us,
than we could ever dare to expect.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn it. With Jesus and through him, we are part of that plan. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!