In the Gospel reading today, Jesus tells us why he came: I have come as light into the world so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. Jesus has brought light to the world and anyone who wants to move from darkness to light is free to make that decision. Jesus tells us what decision we have to make: I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. We are saved or condemned depending on our decision. Many ask why would a loving God send people to hell.
We see here, God does not send people to hell. People send themselves to hell by the choices they make. Jesus continues: The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge. The word of Jesus will judge us on the last day. It is therefore wrong to think that everyone is going to be saved, or that there is reasonable hope that everyone will be saved. This is an illusion that must be rejected. Jesus himself said it clearly: those who reject him and do not receive his word have a judge, because the word of Jesus will judge them.
What does it mean to reject Jesus and not receive his word? It is to hear his word, the proclamation of the Gospel message and still reject him. It is choosing to remain in darkness even when Jesus has already brought light to our life.
The First Reading is an example of a community choosing Jesus and receiving his word. They heard the message and they immediately sent Barnabas and Saul out to other communities. Receiving Jesus and the word he has spoken is not measured in the number of academic degrees a person has. Neither is it measured by the position one has in the Church. It is seen in one’s obedience and trust in what Jesus says.
How many people have we seen, with great academic credentials, several books to their name, that reject Jesus and his word by teaching the wrong thing? I just listening to an audio CD from a professor that taught about St Paul. It was a good lecture series until the professor said Paul’s teaching on gender, homosexuality are Paul’s own opinion and is used by conservatives to advanced their own agenda. If what Paul wrote on gender and homosexuality are Paul’s opinion and should not be taken seriously, then what other writings of Paul are his opinions and should not be taken seriously? Sad to say, the professor who taught this has injected his own opinion instead of accepting Scripture as it is. I can turn this question around, so which of the thing the professor taught are his own opinions and should not be taken seriously?
Lord, help us to receive you and your word as it is and a you are. Let me accept them without question, always according to the teaching of your Church throughout the centuries.