+ HOMILY +
Fourth Sunday of Lent
30 March 2003
FR. ROB HANKEE
ST. MALACHY CATHOLIC CHURCH

“For God Still Loves the World”

       Two weeks ago, I stood up here and said that to get to the Road to the Resurrection one must travel through the Road of Calvary. In the days that have sense passed and with the events that have transpired, this fact, this reality has become all too clear. Today, all of us find ourselves standing at the foot of the cross, whether we want to be there or not. The images and realities of war are simply too hard to ignore. We cannot look away. All of us are confronted with the reality of the evils of war and human suffering. As we are confronted by this reality, we find ourselves caught somewhere in the middle. Regardless of where we stand on this issue, “is it a just war—is it an unjust war”, we cannot ignore the reality that faces us. We acknowledge the evil of war, and at the same time we acknowledge the evils of an oppressive government. We are caught somewhere in the middle, and this can be a very confusing time. And so here we are, standing together at the foot of the cross wondering what to do, what to think. And in the midst of this confusion, we are greeted today with perhaps the most famous of all scripture passages:

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son...” — John 3:16

       This passage is filled with great joy, great amazement and awe. It is etched forever in our hearts and on our souls. It should move us with such wonder and fill us with great love that it continues to shape and mold us into the very person that God has made us to be — “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son...”. And as we stand at the foot of the cross and gaze on the one who hangs there, on the one who became sin and took on all human suffering, these words, “For God so loved the world...” greet us with great hope. As we look at Jesus on the cross, we know that no truer words have been spoken, “For God so loved the world...”. Yet, when we take our eyes off the cross and look around and see and hear what is taking place, the images and reports of war, these words, “For God so loved the world...”, are hard to hear. Perhaps, we begin to wonder, maybe even doubt. Maybe we even question what these words really mean. And so, we find ourselves standing together at the foot of the cross caught in the middle of the realities of war. What are we to do?

       The reality of where we find ourselves is also this: that God still loves the world. That God gave His only Son for each one of us. That Christ freely chose to become sin for us, to take on all human suffering that we all may know the joys of eternal life. We know how the story of Good Friday ends. We know that death did not defeat God’s only Son. We know that on the third day He rose from the dead and conquered death forever. We know the saving power of God and that it is He and He alone who brings about good. And God will do the same in our time. God still loves the world and will bring about Good from all this mess. That is who He is and what He does.

“For God still loves the world...”

       Today, as we stand before the cross, we find ourselves united regardless of our views on this war. We are united as children of God, as brothers and sisters in Christ, as people of faith, and we are united in prayer. We stand together at the foot of the cross. We keep one eye on the cross and the other focused on our daily lives. We go about living, sharing in the joys and sorrows that come with each new day. And along the way, we pray. We pray for the men and women who are fighting this war. We pray for our government and military leaders. We pray for the people of Iraq. We pray for ourselves and our world. And we pray for peace. Because in prayer, we acknowledge God as our creator and redeemer; and in asking for peace and wisdom we pray for the same thing that we have been praying for all along — that God may bring about good in this world. This is what we do — we live and we pray knowing that the Road to the Resurrection leads through the Road of Calvary:

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son.” +



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