Wednesday, April 22, 2009

He Does Not Ration His Gift

April 23, 2009

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

"We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him." Acts 5:29-32

Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. John 3:33-34


Look to God that you may be radiant with joy and your faces may not blush for shame. In my misfortune I called, the LORD heard and saved me from all distress. The angel of the LORD, who encamps with them, delivers all who fear God. Learn to savor how good the LORD is; happy are those who take refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you holy ones; nothing is lacking to those who fear him. The powerful grow poor and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Psalm 34:6-11


When reading John 3, it is hard not to think of the Parable of the Prodigal Family. “He does not ration his gift.” No matter what we do, even if we prefer darkness, He does not ration His gift. For everyone who does a wicked thing hates the light and does not come toward the light, yet He does not ration his gift.

Maybe that is why God is so hard to understand. God is NOT like us. He sent his only son to try to be like us for a while. After that great experiment in love, the Son went back to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to dwell among us but not in human form.

Most of our images of God and Jesus always have a body like ours. The finger of God reaches across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for Adam. The arms of Jesus reach across the old wooden cross to embrace us. Yet our images of the Spirit are more mystical – wind, fire, doves. Just like God does not ration his gift of love or his gift of his only son, God does not ration his gift of the Holy Spirit either. The wind blows where it will and we can only hope to enjoy the breeze.

John 3 also is intriguing because of the two co-stars who share center stage with Jesus and who both seek the Lord. First, Nicodemus encounters Jesus in John 3:1-21. He is a teacher who seeks but does not yet understand the fullness of the lessons Jesus teaches. Then John the Baptist encounters Jesus in John 3:23-30. The desert hermit grasps the significance of the Messiah before he hears Jesus utter a word. Although his disciples are jealous, John knows better. He knows the role he plays in our salvation to prepare the way of the Lord.

From-Nicodemus-to-John is the life path we seek to travel. Nicodemus desires in his heart to know Jesus. As the Psalmist writes, Nicodemus “sought the Lord, who answered me, delivered me from all my fears.” John goes beyond desire to live his yearning for the Lord, to fully rely on God.

"No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said (that) I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease." John 3:27-30


Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), welcomed the Obama Administration's decision to relax restrictions on Cuban-American travel and regulation in remittances to Cuba, calling the move "long overdue" and "an important change in U.S. policy towards Cuba."

In an April 15 letter to Daniel Restrepo, Senior Director of Western Hemisphere Affairs for the National Security Council, Bishop Hubbard wrote, "The USCCB has for many years called for relaxing the sanctions against Cuba. These policies have largely failed to promote greater freedom, democracy and respect for human rights in Cuba."

He added, "Improving the lives of the Cuban people and encouraging human rights in Cuba will best be advanced through more rather than less contact between the Cuban and American people."

Bishop Hubbard also urged the Administration to build on the President's action and work with Congress to remove travel restrictions to Cuba for all Americans, citing the "Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act" (H.R. 874 and S. 428) as welcome legislation. Join with Bishop Hubbard to encourage the Administration to work with Congress to pass this legislation and ask the President to sign it into law.

The full text of Bishop Hubbard's letter can be found online at:

No comments: