Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
This reflection is part of an ongoing dialog between second century catechumen, Respecta, and her teacher, Petras.
Respecta sat weeping behind the building after hearing the reading from John’s gospel. Sobbing would be a better word.
“There you are, Respecta. What’s wrong?” Petras inquired.
“I can’t bear the teaching in John’s gospel today!” Respecta wailed.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Well, all of my family don’t know or believe in Jesus Christ. I don’t think I can consider becoming a Christian if the Christian faith believes that non-Christians are going to hell.”
Petras gasped. “Oh, Respecta, please stop crying. You have not understood John’s gospel correctly. Christianity does not believe that God sends all other people to hell.”
“Well, the evangelist wrote that ‘anyone who does not believe is condemned already.’”
“Yes, that is what John’s gospel says, but you are taking it literally. Let me explain what is behind that sentence. You see when John’s gospel was first started around fifty years after Jesus’ ascension, John’s little Christian community was beginning to find their identity as a new kind of faith tradition. Persecutions began to rock some of their member’s faith and some left the faith rather than surrender their lives as martyrs. Fear for their lives led them to apostasy. When John’s gospel was written, ‘anyone who does not believe’ referred to those who once had the faith but then left the faith in fear for their lives. They denied knowing Jesus and trusting Him for their lives. The early Christians were saying that those who knowingly deny Christ are condemned, not those who have never known Him.”
“So, my family can go to heaven?” Respecta asked.
“Yes, I think God has many ways to lead people to union with Him. God is infinite and has infinite ways to draw people to Himself. Who are we to tie God’s hands and say that there is only one way to be saved? We do not need to worry about that. Our place, rather, is to go gladly about announcing the Good News so that others can live more joyfully knowing God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ instead of living in darkness. Wouldn’t you be pleased if your family were to experience God’s love in Christ and live more peacefully and happily knowing God in Jesus?”
“Yes, I would, but they are not convinced that Jesus is God’s son. I guess I need to pray for the gift of faith for them instead of worrying.”
“Good for you, Respecta,” Petras replied. “Today’s feast of the Holy Trinity is one of the great mysteries that we celebrate in Christianity because it not only tells us who God is, but who we are meant to be also.”
“I heard the readings describe God in so many ways today. The reading from Exodus reminded me that God is always merciful and slow to anger, even if I fail to live up fully to Jesus’ teachings. The letter to the Corinthians actually touched me deeply when I heard the phrase, ‘The gift of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.”
“Why did that touch you, Respecta?”
“Well, first of all the gift of the Lord Jesus is so manifold. Not only is Jesus our Savior who has given all of us redemption, but He also shows me how to live more peacefully and happily according to God’s desires. Then the love of God the Father is shown in patience and mercy, and faithfulness to those who love Him. The communion of the Holy Spirit is the bond of complete love and unanimity between Father and Son. It seems to me that God desires all Christians to love and live with one heart and one mind together.”
“I agree with you, Respecta. The Feast of the Trinity is a reminder that we are created in the image of God whose life is total self-giving to one another in love. Whatever the Father knows and has, He freely gives to the Son from His heart. The Son, Jesus, loves the Father so much that He also shares everything that He knows and has, creating a bond of mutual self-giving love. Their gift of Self to one another is so complete that it is a third person, the Holy Spirit. Imagine how wonderful the Church would be if everyone had such great love for one another that we were of one mind and heart, sharing all we are and all we have in love. When the day comes that every Christian has such great love and respect for one another that we share everything in common, then we will reflect the image of God more completely in our lives. When that day comes, I suspect there will be no need to teach others the Good News because they will be able to read the gospel from our very lives!”
“God has such amazing desire that we become as the Trinity already is. I think this is a great honor, too. I mean, God respects our freedom while hoping that we will choose to become our very best selves, but He doesn’t force us to be as loving and giving as the Trinity is, Petras. I hope that I can become completely self-giving in love. I wonder where I could grow in love.”
“Well, maybe, you could start with that family of yours that you were worried about. If you are able to love as fully as God, perhaps the experience of being loved unconditionally will open their hearts to the Good News of Christ.”
“Oh, how I hope you’re right! Have a good week, Petras.”
The Green Nun's Favorite Links
- Audubon Society
- Carbon Footprint Calculator
- Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
- E Magazine
- Earth Literacy Masters Program at SMW College
- Environment California
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Forest Ethics
- Friends of the Earth
- Global Climate Change Report
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Ocean Conservancy
- Pacific Environment
- Sierra Club
- The Nature Conservancy
- Union of Concerned Scientists
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