Sunday, June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday: For God So Loved the World

For God So Loved the World

As we celebrate this wonderful Feast of Trinity, this absolute mystery that's at the core of our faith, this one God who is three persons -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- what I'd like to focus on is the Gospel. I want to focus simply on three words, and those three words are: Love, gave, and save. So, how God loved the world, he gave his only son, and he saved us through his only son.

So first of all, love. I just want to focus on the first word of the Gospel because it's so powerful, and I don't think it's something that I ever noticed before. We often hear this. This is the classic John 3:16 that you see at all the sporting events and that the people hold up the sign. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son." Good, you might be familiar with that.

But I think the part that I never realized was this first phrase: For God so loved what? The world. God so loved the world. God loves the world. He loves it. His creation that he created, he absolutely loves. And if God loves the world, ought we not love the world as well? Ought we not come to discover and find God in our world? And so as I was reflecting on this, I was reminded by a book that I read years ago, and I pulled it back out. And it was a book by Pierre de Chardin. And the book is "The Devine Milieu." So it's all about how this world that we live in, this new milieu that we live in is constantly re-enforcing God's love. We're experiencing God's love because he so loved the world.
So he dedicates the book, and the phrase he says in latin is sic deus dilexit mundum. He says he dedicates it for those who loved the world. So he dedicates it to all the people who loved the world, and he dedicates it especially to people who have loved the world to the negligent of God. So scientists that believe that they have come to this wonderful scientific truth, so much they can't believe in God any longer, he dedicates this book to them because he believes, and we believe, that you can't separate truth from love. You can't separate this world and all the discoveries of this world from God, who created it.
So, first of all, love. God so loved the world.

We hear in the beginning from the book of Genesis, "Then God said, 'Let there be light.'" When the earth was a formless wasteland, he said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. The light was good, and everything he went on to create from them, it was good. He loved the world that he created. He delights in his creation. So I just want you to think about that first of all. What is your perspective on the world? Do you love this world that he has given to you? When you look at the world, do you see beauty and do you see goodness and do you see God working, or do you have a more pessimistic view of the world? Because God loved the world. He loved it so much that he gave his only son into the world. So I'm just going to read an excerpt from "The Divine Milieu." "To have access to the divine milieu is to have found the one thing needful: Him who burns by setting fire to everything that we love badly or not enough; him who calms by eclipsing with his blaze everything that we would love too much; him who consoles by gathering up everything that has been snatched away from our love or has never been given to it. To reach those priceless layers is to experience, with equal truth, that one has need of everything, and that one has need of nothing. Everything is needed because the world will never be large enough to provide for our taste for action with the means of grasping God. No matter how much we get in this world, no matter how much beauty we take in, it's never enough for us. We always want and we seek more. And yet nothing is needed; for as the only reality which can satisfy us lies beyond the transparencies in which it is mirrored, everything that fades away and dies between us will only serve to give reality back to us with greater purity."

So sometimes we despair and we look at the world we look at nature because everything dies, right? Everything ultimately dies, and we ultimately die. But through Christ, throughout Incarnation, everything lives. And everything that we have experienced and touched and loved in this world, lifts us up more closely to the love of God. God so loved the world. And if we love this world that we are in, it's going to lift us up to the love of God. So I just ask you that question. Do you love the world around you? Do you love creation? Do you delight in this beautiful sunny day in June? Do you love God's nature that he has provided for us? Do you see the goodness in people? Do you love what God loves?
And then the question is, are there things in the world that you are too attached to? Because, ultimately, this world is only to be like a stepping block for us to God. Are the things that you are too attached to, things that you know you may be called to let go of so that you can receive more of Gods love more purely.

Ultimately, God loves the world, and he loves us in and through the world, and we come to love God through this world that he has placed us in. So the only way to get to love God is by loving him in this world. By loving him through the things of this world and the people of this world and this entire creation, this divine milieu is our way to love God.
So the second point is gave. God so loved the world that he gave his only son. So God gave his son to this world because he loved it so much; that he wanted to place his son into this world so that we might know him and love him. So I just want you to think about that. Do you allow God to give himself to you? And in just a few moments we're going to receive the Eucharist, and God is going to give himself to you body, soul, divinity in the Eucharist. Do you truly take him in? Do you allow God to give himself to you in love?
The second question is, do you give yourself to the world? Do you freely give yourself in service to each other and to the world for the building up of the kingdom of God?
So here is a quote from "The Divine Milieu." "God obviously has no need of the products of your busy activity, since he could give himself everything without you. The only thing that concerns him, the only thing he desires intensely, is for your faithful use of your freedom, and that you give yourself in and through him. Try to grasp this, he says. The things which are given to you on earth are give you purely as an exercise, a blank sheet on which you make your own mind and heart."

And he says, "May the time come when men, having been awakened to the sense of the close bond linking all the movements of this world in the single, all-embracing work of the Incarnation, shall be unable to give themselves to any one of their tasks without first illuminating it with the clear vision that their work – however elementary it may be – is received and put to good use by the Center of the universe who is Christ."
So it doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter how minute your work is, if you think your job is monotonous, it doesn't matter what you do; but if you are doing that work in and through Christ, if you are giving yourself to that job or to your family or to the world, if you are doing that through Christ, all of a sudden you become part of the transformation of the world. The world becomes a better place because of you, because of your giving, because of actually allowing yourself to be Christ given to the world today. So I just invite you to think about that. Are you giving yourself in Christ to the world?

Finally, the third point and final point is saved. Why did God love the world so much and give himself to the world for us? So that we might be saved. So that we might be saved through him. Because we all know the world is not a pretty place sometimes. The world has been, you know, hampered by sins, but ultimately we have been saved.
So Chardin says, "How could we be deserters or skeptical about the future of our tangible world?" So how can we be doubters about the goodness of the world? How can we be doubters about the salvation of ourselves and of everyone and everything in the world? Some people will ask me, you know, "Father, is it getting better? Do you think the world is getting better, or is it getting worse?" If you read this book, you will see it is getting better. God is continually bringing about his salvific plan.

So how could we be repelled by this? How little you know. You suspect us of not sharing your concerns and your hopes and your excitement as you penetrate the mystery and conquer the forces of nature, feelings of this kind you say can only be shared by men struggling side by side for existence; whereas, you Christians profess you are saved already. Well, as Christians, we do profess that we are saved. We are saved in our baptism, but we also participate in salvation. So as we go about and interact with this world, as we take the light in this world, as we work within and through Christ, we actually take part in the salvation, not only of our own souls, but in the salvation of the entire world. So I just want you to think about that for a second. Are you skeptical about salvation? Do you find yourself saying this world is doomed, this world is already doomed? Because it's not. Salvation has already been given to us and it's being unfolded for us.
Are you sure about your own salvation? Do you doubt or question your own salvation? Because you don't have to. You've been baptized. If you've been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and you believe in Jesus, you're saved and you're participating in the salvation. You don't ever have to doubt that. You don't ever have to fear that.

And finally, there's always the question about others. Well, what about the people that aren't Catholic? What about the people that don't believe in Christ? What about people that don't know him? Jesus has the ability to reach each and every soul. He has created all of creation, and all of creation is being saved and encompassed in this divine milieu. He is bringing all of into fulfillment and into salvation. So we have no need for deaths, we have no need for fear, we have no need to ever question the salvation that is happening.
So I ask you: 

 Do you love the world as God loves it? 

                 I hope that you do. 

 I ask you: Do you give yourself to the world as God gives himself to you? 
                 I hope that you do. 

 And finally, do you ultimately trust and believe and have faith in salvation and the reality that we have been saved and the world is being saved? 
                 I hope you. 

 Because God so loved the world, that he gave his only son so that we may come to believe and have light and be saved in him.

The Divine Milieu

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