The readings for this weekend include both the story of the Man born blind (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/bible/john/9:1 ) and the famous citation John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/bible/john/3:14 ) Both these gospel selections address two things sight and light – two things that are intimately related. Without light, there is no sight and without sight, there is no light.
I remember as a small child that I was fearful of God because I was told (by well-meaning people) that if I were bad I would go to Hell. Were you told this? Let me let you into a little-known truth – God doesn’t send anyone to Hell! If you don’t believe me look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (1037)
In John’s first letter it is written that “anyone who says he is not a sinner, he is a liar!” (1 John 1:8) So if we are all sinners what is to become of us? How will we be judged? “This is the verdict, that the light came into the world,” and “whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that our works may be clearly seen as done in God.” (John 3: 19 & 21) This is the meaning of salvation. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17) So how do we live the truth and bring light to the world? What light do we bring and to whom do we bring this light?
First of all, we need to realize that we are often blind – not unlike the man in the story of the man born blind. (John 9:1-49) We look but do not see. I realize that I have been blind for much of my life. I looked, but I did not see. Until I spent time working at the Justa Center, a homeless resource facility in downtown Phoenix, I did not see the men & women at the end of our freeway exit ramps as anything but bums and addicts Now I see them as God’s lost, but beloved children. Until I took a trip to Haiti, I was ready to believe that Haiti was just another “shit-hole country.” Since I just returned yesterday from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage, I can tell you that Haiti is a beautiful country and the children of the orphanage we have supported for several years, are lovely children who have a lot of hope, faith, and love. I was shocked by their joy in the midst of grinding poverty and the lack of parents.
What do they have? They have nothing, but they have hope. They have nothing, but they have faith. They have nothing but they have love. They love you, because of the missionaries you send to them that tell by their presence that they are not alone in the world. You have given the means for an education so they have hope for a better tomorrow. They have faith in you because you have not abandoned them.
There will be a second collection today for Grow Haiti’s Children. GHC is the 501C3 (tax-deductible nonprofit) that supports the OLPH Orphanage in Jeremie, Haiti. It will be the only collection for this all year, so I ask you to be generous. If you do donate today, please stop by the table outside church today to pick up a gift from us – a chance to win a basket of cheer made up of $250.00 of adult beverages I purchased from the mini-mart that the orphanage runs outside their facility to make a little money for the upkeep of the orphanage. If you make a contribution of $50.00 or more today you will receive a hand-made and embroidered apron made by the teenage girls of the orphanage. There are only 50 aprons so this may be your only chance to get one of these and it is a free gift as a thank you for your donation.
Now I have a 1-minute 45-second video greeting from Fr. Gary who operates the orphanage along with 11 staff members as part of his parish of St. Helen in Jeremie. https://vimeo.com/259449344/9e85642861
Catechism of the Catholic Church
1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”
1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”616
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death, the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”618
1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”: