Reading 1, Acts 5:17-26
Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel, John 3:16-21
Today’s Gospel reading contains one of the most famous lines in scripture in John 3:16, but often lost is the seemingly contradictory statements that follow it. Jesus states that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, yet whoever does not believe has already been condemned. How are both of these true? If Jesus is not sent to condemn the world then why does He tell us that people have “already been condemned?”
When it comes to these passages about salvation, where Jesus explains God’s “chosen,” our reaction can be bitter and confusing. How could God condemn people for simply not believing in the name of Jesus? Doesn’t His forgiveness balance out any sin a human could ever commit?
It’s important to understand the root of the words here. The greek word used in this passage translates as both “to condemn” and “to judge”. Christ came to save us if we believe in Him (John 3:16), but this coming naturally brings about condemnation for those who don’t believe. This is a natural dichotomy because in the end, one either believes in Him, or they don’t.
In order to properly interpet Jesus’ teachings, we must follow the church’s guidance, instead of trying to establish a strict ‘salvation rule book’. Jesus gives us what we need with His words, and He also has gifted us the church and its tradition to help us interpret them. He may not give us clear rules to point our finger at our neighbor and say, “Hey you, you’re condemned,” but he gives us what we personally need to know.
In this passage, Jesus gives us what we need to know about salvation and His role. He came to offer us salvation, and in order for us to accept it, we must accept Him. We can read the passage and view it as a personalized message, finding clear instructions to follow. Then, we are left with a choice. Will we accept Jesus’ name and salvation?
If so, then let us take action like the Apostles in Acts 5, and “tell people everything about this life.” Because in Jesus’ name and salvation, we have found eternal life.