A Scot, an Irishman and a Pole – three men of different age, life experience and from different backgrounds. Each one has been ordained by different bishops in different places, but all for the same purpose: to serve God and people in the Catholic Church. Their purpose is the same, but the range of duties and means are different. All of them are members of clergy, but each one of them in his own way. I suppose you’ve already guessed who I am talking about: Fr Colin, Deacon Vincent and myself. Three persons in one parish. Three men doing different thing for the same reason and the same purpose.
What’s the reason and what’s the purpose? Both are presented in today’s gospel. I’d say this short passage is the shortest and fullest definition of Christianity. Let’s listen to it again: ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life’. Love is the reason, life eternal is the purpose. There’s no other driving force pushing God towards us and there’s no other offer from him for our lives. His ultimate love pushes him to offer ultimate gift for each and every one of us.
Although this is the best definition of God’s attitude, it is also a definition of a perfect life of a human being; as we read in the book of Genesis: ‘God created human in the image of himself’. But this likeness doesn’t regard appearance as God is the spirit. Our resemblance to God concerns reason and will. We are able to recognize good and evil and we are able to choose the first one and reject the latter. Consequently each one of us is called to act because of a selfless love and to seek an ultimate good of others. But as for God this is something obvious and natural, for us this is a real task. The problem is a general inclination to looking for our own convenience, susceptibility to follow bad feelings, and – first of all – selfishness.
It simply means that we can’t love others unconditionally like God loves every one of us. It simply means that each one of us has to find their own way of implementing love in their lives. Parents’ love changes along growing up their children; lovers’ love changes as they mature in their relation. Because we live in dynamic, ever changing reality and because we are ever changing human beings – love is never something given once for all. Love always happens as a result of my personal choices – or it vanishes for exactly the same reason.