Today’s gospel reading is from John. More specifically, Chapter 3 verses 14 through 21. I’m sure you guys already know where I’m going with this. Out of this gospel one famous line comes to mind, line 16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Back in 2009, this bible verse was made somewhat famous, thanks to a courageous football player by the name of Tim Tebow. I say famous because he wrote this verse below his eyes before a championship game and went on to play the entire game with this bible verse on his face. After that game, 94 million people Googled John 3:16. I find it staggering that 94 million people didn’t know this single verse. However, thanks to Mr. Tebow, those people now know what the heart of today’s gospel is: God’s eternal love.
In this gospel, Jesus is meeting with Nicodemus, a member of a social class that as a group opposed Jesus, but he later becomes one of Jesus’s most committed disciples. He was secretly drawn to Jesus and felt compelled to meet with him. If I were to take anything away from their exchange, I really want to stress the immenseness of God’s love for us. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” He sacrificed his only son for our eternal salvation. Jesus is saying that God’s only son is light for the world and I believe that our only appropriate response is for us to love others as Jesus loved and by becoming ourselves light for the world. A friend once told me that it is our responsibility to shine so bright and be such big beacons of God’s love, that we not just reflect the light but become mirrors so that it can bounce off us and immerse everyone around us in His love. Love is God’s very nature and it should be our nature too, as we are created in his image and likeness.
I know that some of you have felt drawn to Jesus despite the fact that you are surrounded by people who don’t share your beliefs and that maybe you fear that they might make you feel uncomfortable if you share your faith openly with them — you may even fear they will think less of you or make fun of you. I understand, because I was one of you. Like Nicodemus and Tim Tebow, we mustn’t be afraid to be beacons of God’s love, we must step into the light. As Pope Benedict XVI stated in the opening of his encyclical on love: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” And I believe that is an apt description for the season of lent: a transforming encounter with a person, the Son of God, who gives us life, direction, purpose. Our transformation shouldn’t only be during lent, but it’s an excellent place to start.