Rollen was there usually with "John 3:16" stamped on the front of his tee shirt, the universal message of the salvation offered by Christ to all, "God so loved the world that he sent his only Son for us who believe in Him so that we shall have everlasting life."
I remember knowing this biblical citation because of Rollen's overexposure and I remember looking it up. I remember being amazed that he was at all of these great sporting events. Rollen was everywhere and always in perfect camera view. You could not miss him. What a phenomena!
What is so important about this message that drove this man, this child of God to such great lengths to spread the message of salvation? In fact Jn 3:16 is the summary of Christ's salvific purpose, of God's intention for his human children.
God has made the ultimate sacrifice in sacrificing his Son for the salvation of the world. A great price but an incredible action of Love. Nothing compares nor comes close to what God would do to get us back. In fact we remember the story of just a few weeks ago about Abraham and Isaac. God would not allow Abraham to sacrifice his son but in the fullness of time God allows it for His only Son as the supreme act of redemption.
Abraham attempts to sacrifice Isaac but God provides the sacrifice: a ram caught in the thicket.
What does that say about our God? What does this teach us about His infinite mercy? What does this teach us about His infinite love for we, His creatures and how much he wants us back?
The story did not turn out so well for Rollen Stewart, thus far. In the 1990s he was convicted for kidnapping and was sentenced to three life terms in prison. Jealous over the loss of his former wife and their divorce and in a drug induced and crazed furor, he succumbed to evil temptation and now has to repay society for his crimes.
It is not enough to profess the faith. Believing in what Jn 3:16 says is the key.
Believing requires turning away from sin and listening to the Gospel. Believing requires a certain "imitation of Christ". We as Catholics recognize that the journey will have its peaks and valleys. We recognize the infinite mercy of God but also know that we must turn toward His light to be empowered by its effects: grace.
For some would rather choose darkness over light. As the end of our Gospel passage today says:
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Come forward, Children of the Light, recognizing God's mercy and His call to repentance, to conversion. Amen!