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My Dad loved to watch sports on TV.  Whenever he could, he would actually go to a football match but more often than not, particularly at weekends, the TV was switched to some sports channel.  From just football Dad became an expert on cycling, on American football as well as his own beloved golf.  And I remember a curious thing happening when we were watching some American sports event – at the critical put or the essential touchdown, there would be a man at the front of the crowd with a placard saying “John 3:16.”  At the time I wasn’t particularly aware of what that meant but, as the years went by, I realised it was a Bible quote and in fact it was the same passage as we read today: “For God loved the world so much that he gave His only Son so that all those who believe in Him may not be lost but may have eternal life.”




As I said, it didn’t mean much to me but I can now quote it without hesitation …. because it ended up being the pivotal passage for me on the 30-day retreat I did in north Wales when I was celebrating 10 years as a priest (some people go on holiday).  I just want to share with you today a few of the thoughts I had on that retreat – clearly almost 20 years ago but still vivid in my mind and in my heart.  For me there were four clear points to the one single verse we have just read:


-         God so loved the world: reminded me of God’s never ending love.  Before ever the world existed, there was God’s love.  On that retreat, I began to think of God’s love as like a waterfall that never ends;


-         All those who believe in Him: reminded me that we aren’t trying to memorize a set of rules from an over-bearing Church, not trying to learn by rote the commandments.  What I am trying to do here is to get to know a person, Jesus Christ, who loved me so much that He came on earth to be near me;


-         May not be lost: reminded me of those moments when I am lost, lost in my own self-worry, self-importance, lost in sin.  I know what they are meaning int eh Gospel, when they talk about darkness;


-         May have eternal life: I began to understand that God’s great desire is that I should have life, should find hope and love and peace.  Life with God is not a test but a chance to bask in His many gifts.




I give you those thoughts today – particularly the last two – that you might reflect on them for yourself.  What does “being lost” mean for you?  What is that worry, that self-importance, that sin that you sometimes let overtake you?  And what do you understand by “eternal life”?  We sometimes think of “eternal life” as being something we will get as a reward from God after death; but, if life with God is “eternal”, then it began before even you were born – in some ways, you can experience eternal life, life with God’s love even now.




In this season of Lent, think on those points – what it means to be lost, what it means to be found by God, how much love God has for you – and do what you said you would do at the beginning of Lent: REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS!!


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