passion3The Heart of the Gospel Message – love and heroic sacrifice go together.  This past Sunday’s Gospel from John Chapter 3 reminds me of a truth that is sometimes forgotten in Religious Education Circles.  Love is the obvious foundation to the Gospel message, but love it not isolated from suffering, sacrifice and demands.  God the Father not only sent His Son, who is also God, to take on human flesh so He could raise us up to new life, but he also planned in the fullness of time to redeem the world, more specifically you and I so that we could have life and not die but have eternal life.  Without this love, love incarnate dying and suffering we could not have life with God.  Wow.  Now that’s Amazing Love!

Sometimes in our Religious Education Programs we hear parents and catechists talk about how we should show our students only love and reveal to them the depths of God’s love.  When we are labeled as requiring too much when we expect more than the minimum.  When we seek to discuss why a child is not doing any of the necessary activities/homework the Religious Education program is labeled as demanding.  Even catechists share that they focus more on the kindness, joy and love of Jesus but don’t really like to discuss the strong teachings of Jesus like taking up your cross to follow Jesus. 

grunewads-the-cruficixionThe greatest, St. Paul says, “is love”.  However, love this deep requires something; it demands a response that is not lukewarm or divided – it requires sacrifice and a committed response.  Without that Jesus would have not been able to make it to the end – to Calvary and be sacrificed, disgraced, beaten, naked and nailed on the cross.  

Our Religious Education efforts have requirements and our message in the classroom should as well so that the Gospel may not only be conveyed as a nice, pleasant and comforting story.  It must also help us be liberated from mediocrity, from expecting only a teddy bear Jesus to be encountered.  

May the heroic love and sacrifice of Christ compel us to respond to God’s invitation to commit our whole lives to Christ and His will for the students we teach and all those handing on the deposit of faith.