Did Jesus love us more than God
Reading: 2 Chr 36, 14-21 Gospel: Joh 3, 14-21
Sisters and brothers in Christ!
When peoples are at war with one another, there has been an entirely unnecessary course of action through the centuries. In order to humiliate the opponent, the cultural monuments are deliberately destroyed. In the last days of the Second World War, bombs were deliberately dropped on St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. The landmark of our country burned out and Austria's most famous bell - the Pummerin - smashed into several parts on the church floor.
The Book of Chronicles from the Old Testament describes this common way of waging war today. This very interesting text of the Bible brings the history of the people of Israel to paper: The Chaldeans burned the house of God. They tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set fire to all of its palaces and destroyed all valuable equipment. (2 Chr 36:19) Numerous people who survived this catastrophe were captured and taken to a foreign land.
The temple of Jerusalem gave the land and the inhabitants their identity. Without this building - so many believed - the faith could not exist. In those seventy years of captivity, the prophets pondered this calamity for a long time. They come to the realization that God is present everywhere and they call for inner conversion. The time of animal and burnt sacrifices is over, God calls people full of love and wants them to change from within. The prophet Ezekiel has a great comparison for this further development: Thus says the Lord God: I take the heart of stone out of your breast and give you a heart of flesh. (Ez 36.26)
We are all addressed with this figurative word, because we are often hard as a stone and numb. With the mysterious power of love, every heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh. God loved us first and we must respond to this love.
The Evangelist John also asks himself many questions today. He ponders why the incomprehensible God became man in Jesus Christ. He comes to an important realization: God loved the world so much that he gave his Son for us so that the world might be saved through him. (Jn 3:16) Jesus dies for us so that we may have life. He gives his life for his friends.
A terrorist attack rocked America around three weeks ago. A young student wreaked havoc in a school when he was shooting wildly with a machine gun. A teacher stood protectively in front of his students. The pedagogue was shot. He died so that his disciples might have life. He gave his life for his friends.
Our churches are the successors to the temple in Jerusalem. They are artfully furnished and yet remain a stone house. Even if the presence of God is particularly tangible here, our faith does not depend on these buildings but on the Lord's message that wants to transform us from within. This positive change needs our free will and our constancy.
Sometimes there are vegetable gardens that are no longer cultivated. The splendor of flowers and the variety of fruits of earlier years have been saved in the back of the mind. When such a garden goes wild, plants immediately nestle which are known as weeds. Here and there a daffodil may still bloom, but the beauty of the garden is history.
In order that one's own belief is not overgrown and not displaced by things that want to spread very quickly in our lives, inner constancy and perseverance are required. The buildings of our religion, like the Temple of Jerusalem, are only stones. God wants to give all of us hearts of flesh so that, like a vegetable garden, we may bear abundant fruit. He invites us to respond to his love, because God loved us first. Amen
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