The first reading comes from Acts and it is very evident the Sanhedrin is enraged with the Apostles. It appears they did not follow the orders to stop teaching in Jesus’ name. Peter and the rest respond, “…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…We are witnesses of these things as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
God’s command to obey God before we obey humans is reiterated. Part of that obedience to God is repentance of what they may have done to Jesus. Yet, they seem to take a wait-and-see attitude. They certainly did not seem to be in any hurry to repent…
Do we see ourselves, sometimes, in that group? We may want to ponder on this, honestly.
The Gospel comes from John 3:31-36. …”For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gifts of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life but the wrath of God remains upon him.”
In the New Testament we see and hear much more about the love of God than the wrath. That is more of an Old Testament word. Yet, still valid!
I would like to focus on the Gift of the Spirit.
John is affirming the supremacy of Jesus, so if we want true information, we must go to Him. Jesus has witnessed God the Father and all the heavenly things, so He can tell us all about them. These facts are, then, the gospel!
John is saying we can believe what Jesus says because God poured on Him the Spirit in full measure, God held nothing back. We need to reflect on the tremendous gift of the Holy Spirit given to us, as well.
Even the Jews acknowledged that the prophets had received from God a “certain measure of the Spirit.” But, the full measure of Spirit was reserved for God’s own chosen one. According to the Hebrew understanding, if we are to acknowledge that the Spirit was on Jesus in the most complete way, this is to say that He perfectly knew and perfectly understood the truth of God. In other words, when we listen to Jesus, we are listening to the very voice of God.
Now, what about the eternal choice, life or death! John goes back to his favorite thought which is not God inflicting wrath upon mankind. What matters to him is humans’ reaction to Christ. If it is love, awe and longing, the individual will have life. If it is indifference or hostility, that individual will meet death. In other words, it is not that God sends his wrath upon humankind, it is that we bring that wrath upon oneself.
We have been filled with the Holy Spirit, we have been given all the tools to help us embrace God fully and to obey Him always. Hence, we also have the choice of life over death…What will it be???