Sister Lynn Marie Welbig
Fourth Sunday of Lent
“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:15
Our Lenten journey was launched with the same word that Jesus’ public ministry was launched…with this proclamation by Jesus: “The reign of God is at hand! Reform your lives and believe in the gospel.”
Too often the gospel, the “Good News”, is focused ONLY on Jesus’ crucifixion: Jesus died to save us; Jesus saved us from our sins by his death on the cross. God’s design for how God’s people would live in loving relationship must contain more for us than Jesus’ crucifixion.
God laid out the format for a ‘saved’ world, (the “reign of God“) in Jesus’ human life and ministry. Jesus proclaimed the “reign of God is at hand, the Kingdom of God is among you” etc. Then he walked that reign, made present that Kingdom, one day at a time, by listening, healing, challenging, and touching, especially the least deserving…the outcasts, his world’s worthless, Gentiles, refugees, the condemned, and all manner of sinners. And Jesus was fully human in all but sin, the scriptures tell us, so his divinity supposedly was on hold. His insight into the shape of God’s reign must have come from his own contemplation, his own listening, his own prayer, such that God’s unconditional love, the shape of “God’s reign,” penetrated his heart and mind. That shape did not align with much of Israel’s religious attitudes.
Jesus’ life and ministry is the template for Avera’s value of compassion. Compassionate caring is expressed through sensitive listening and responding, understanding, support, patience, and healing touch. The reign of God is here, already begun in Jesus, but not yet, since it is to be fulfilled in us, and in Avera.
Lent is a good time to come to each new day with, how will the reign of God be present in me, my attitudes and my activities today. Since we have Jesus’ Spirit, we can repent and be a gospel people. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” and through those whom God sends.
God of compassion, open our minds and transform our hearts such that your compassion will obviate the reign of God here in this time and place.