One of the saddest lines in scripture is found in the first chapter of St. John’s gospel; ‘he came unto his own and his own and his own received him not.’ We hear in today’s gospel ‘God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him’ and then we have another quote ‘The light has come into the world and the people loved the darkness rather than the light. ’These words echo John’s previous words, ’he came unto his own and his own received him not.’ Jesus knew the hurt and disappointment of rejected love. He came among us, not to condemn us but to reconcile us to God, to re-establish our friendship with God. Through the stories he told, like the story of the Prodigal Son, he showed us our God as a generous, loving and forgiving Father, not as some distant, unconcerned deity. Jesus showed us how to live as sons and daughters of God by living as God would have us live and loving as God would have us love.
The reality today’s scripture calls us to remember is that we are a blessed and gifted people.
In the second reading Paul tells us ‘for by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing, it is a gift of God…for we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works..’
Each one of us is a graced and gifted person, chosen by God before the world began to be his sons and daughters. We don’t have to jump through hoops to be saved, we are saved, it is not our own doing, and it is a gift of God. As we all know gifts can be accepted and gifts can be rejected or just taken for granted. How often do we take our gift of life for granted? How often do we take the gifts of sight, hearing, mobility, awareness for granted? A stroke, a fall, a heart attack and these gifts could be gone. How often do we endanger our gift of life by a reckless life style of over eating, over drinking, reckless behavior? How often do we thank God that we can get out of bed in the morning and go to work? More importantly, how often do we say a prayer of thanks for the blessings of self and those we love?
We are gifted people; we are saved by the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the crucified Christ. How do we receive this gift? Do we accept it or do we take it for granted or just ignore it. There are good but thoughtless men and women who live their lives as if God does not exist. For them there are more important things in life than their relationship with God; careers, advancements, making money and party times. These are not bad people but they are men and women who have their priorities a bit messed up, men and women who take their giftedness for granted. How many grandparents and parents are saddened by the reality that the values of life and faith they passed on to their children are of little interest to them or have no impact in their lives.
He came unto his own and his own received him not. The light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light.
There is a song that goes ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, cut down the trees put up a parking lot.’ This is true of the gifts of nature, of life and of faith, gifts we are meant to treasure and share.
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing, it is a gift of God…for we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works.’
As men and women of faith, our major labor and effort is not to achieve our salvation. It is to entrust ourselves to our salvation. “God is rich in mercy; because of his great love for us he brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin. By this favor we were saved.” We are saved. We are called to live out our salvation by living Christ like lives. We are meant to accept and love all others as Christ loved and accepts us. We are to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. We are to reach out, as best we can, as Christ reached out to the men, women and children of his time who counted for nothing in society. Christ cared for each one of us. We are to be no part of the global indifference that diminishes our world today. Most of all we are to be grateful, as Christ was grateful, for all the blessing that enrich our lives and our relationship with God.
He came unto his own and his own received them not. May these sad words of John never be true of us. We are to embrace the example and the teaching of Jesus in such a way that the Father may see and love in us what he sees and loves in Christ. Let us pray for each other that our constant prayer be, ‘ thank you, thank you, thank you.