Gospel Of Sunday 04 June: John 3, 16-18
Gospel Of Sunday, SS. Trinity A: John 3, 16-18
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).
Today I share with you a short meditation on the Gospel, with particular reference to the theme of mercy.
JOHN 3, 16-18: GOD JUDGE OR DEFENCE LAWYER?
Often in the Bible the literary genre of the “trial”, or rather of the “controversy”, is used with regard to Israel (Hos 4:1; 12:3; Is 3:13; Mi 6:2; Jer 2:9), other nations (Jer 25:31; 46-51), individuals (Jer 1-2).
In these proceedings, the part of accusation is often played by Satan, who is presented as the prosecutor who, in Scripture, accuses the guilty not so much out of hatred against them but, paradoxically, out of absolute fidelity to the traditional concept of divine justice.
The account in the book of Job is emblematic, when Satan wants to see whether this righteous man’s faith is a faith of convenience, motivated by the many benefits with which God has filled him, or whether it is instead a pure, disinterested faith, “for nothing” (Job 1:19).
Thus the prophet Zechariah says that beside the high priest Joshua there was “Satan at his right hand to accuse him” (Zech 3:1-2). The devil plays the part of the “assatan”, the accuser.
And just as for the accused the prosecutor, who sustains the accusation against him, is a hostile and negative figure, so the accuser is coloured by the hatred of the accused, and acquires negative valences, to the point that Satan becomes the very name of the devil, who takes the name “satan” (1 Chr 21:1).
But if the accusation is supported by the devil, a number of distinguished Advocates stand on the side of the sinner.
First of all, God Himself: Paul says this in his letter to the Romans: “Who will accuse God’s elect? God justifies” (Rom 8:33).
Then Jesus, the Son: “Who will condemn? Jesus Christ, who died, nay, who rose again, stands at the right hand of God and makes intercession for us?” (Rom 8:34); for “if anyone has sinned, we have an advocate with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); he “can perfectly save those who draw near to God through him, since he is always alive to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25); he “now stands before God on our behalf” (Heb 9:24).
Jesus is our great defence lawyer, and he demonstrates this also on the cross: “Jesus, on the cross, will use this power […] when he responds to the last provocations (“If you are Son of God, come down…”) with all the power of his Love: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
On the cross, Jesus testifies to all his infinite capacity for Love and all his “juridical” intelligence, even managing to find, before hell, the technical motivation for absolution: the accused – all men – must be absolved due to incapacity” (A. D’Ascanio).
The Holy Spirit is “another Paraclete” (Jn 14:16), another defence lawyer like Jesus.
The term “paràkletos” (Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:7) can have several meanings: as a passive of “parakalèin” it is the “called near”, the defence lawyer or the witness in favour in a trial; in its active form “parakalèin” is “the one who makes himself near”, the protector, the friend, the consoler; related to “paràklesis”, it is the one who exhorts, who encourages. It is no coincidence that Jerome, translating the Gospel into Latin in the so-called Vulgate, preferred to keep the simple transliteration from the Greek, “paracletus”, in order to retain all the meanings.
Finally, the great Christian tradition has always acclaimed Mary, in the “Salve Regina”, as “our advocate”, she who in the “Ave Maria” is invoked as the one who “prays for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”.
And with such a defensive college, victory is assured: hence Jesus “said: ‘I saw Satan falling from heaven like the thunderbolt'” (Lk 10:18): note how Satan here, as in the Old Testament, is not in hell, but in heaven, accusing men.
And John in the Apocalypse states: “I heard a great voice in heaven saying: <<Now is fulfilled the salvation, the power and the kingdom of our God and the might of his Christ, for the accuser of our brethren has been brought down, he who accused them before our God day and night>>” (Rev 12:10)….
On the “day of judgment” “we will not be in an earthly courtroom, at the mercy of judges looking for evidence to condemn or acquit, lost behind a written record of misdeeds committed by the accused.
We will be in the home of a Father and a Mother: Love will do everything in its power to find in us that in which we most resemble Him.
And its penetrating gaze, like a blade of light descending into our innermost being, will find in our vicissitudes that moment, that gesture, that feeling thanks to which it will save us.
For in the judgement God does not sit in the Judge’s seat, but will sit beside us and do everything to save us. He said: <<I am with you to save you>> (Jer 1:19).
As defence counsel. He does not accuse, but exonerates us. He does not condemn, but loves.
He is a Father and Mother in trepidation for the fate of their children.
Like that Father, who, as soon as he saw his son from afar returning home, ‘ran to him, embraced him, and began the feast in his honour to receive him as a son'” (Lk 15:20-24)” (A. Fontana).
This certainty animates an endless feast in the hearts of believers. John says: “That is why love has reached its perfection in us, so that we may trust in the day of judgement; for as he is, so are we in this world. In love there is no fear; on the contrary, perfect love casts out fear, because fear supposes a punishment, and he who fears is not perfect in love.
We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:17-19).
So that everyone can sing with Paul: “Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Perhaps tribulation, anguish, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, the sword…? But in all these things we are more than conquerors by virtue of him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35-39).
Good Mercy to all!
Anyone wishing to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org.