GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL
As the year 2017 winds down, different groups and individuals will be urgently pursuing their very varied priorities across our Latin American and Caribbean continent.
Businesses will be attempting to ignore political and social controversy and encourage shoppers to maximise spending, so crucial for the commercial sector in the final days of the year.
Families will be finalizing holiday preparations, decorating homes and making final Santa and other gift appointments.
But for Christians what are the fundamental priorities at this time, or for any other time of year?
Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopaedia, states that John 3:16 “is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Bible, and has been called the most famous Bible verse. It has also been called the ‘Gospel in a nutshell’, because it is considered a summary of the central theme of Christianity.”
The Mexican Tree of Life with the Christmas Crib)With our best wishes, hugs and kisses,María y Mike
The verse reads: “For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
The following verse adds: “For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.”
All the celebrations, the Church services, Novenas, carols, the Nativity scenes of mangers, shepherds, angels, stars on Christmas trees, kings, and yes, presents, are but expressions and consequences this fundamental priority of the all but incredible Love of God for humanity that his Son became one of us.
For Christians, the life and especially the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus which are celebrated in Holy Week and Easter constitute the full expression of that sacrificial Love of God for humanity.
The central priority in summaries, especially for Catholics, is what is termed the “Kerygma” the central message of the earliest preaching of Christianity by the Apostles and other disciples of Jesus after the Resurrection. The following is a typical summary in Acts 3:13-15 in one of the first documented messages of Peter to the Jewish leaders at the gates of the temple in Jerusalem following the Resurrection:
“It is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after he had given his verdict to release him.
It was you who accused the Holy and Upright One, you who demanded that a murderer should be released to you while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are witnesses;
Christmas and Holy Week are rightly considered the most important celebrations at the Heart of Christian Faith. As we do that last minute frantic shopping for those gifts for loved ones, it will do us no harm to reflect that this also an imitation of and response to that extraordinarily generous gift of His son by God to an often-ungrateful humanity, and that in a small way with our gifts and Christmas cards we are all responding to that greatest commandment of Jesus “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,” (Jn 13:34-35)