In preparation for the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross, on the Sunday before the Feast the Gospel lesson is John 3:13-17 .
The Lord said, “ No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Alexandre Kalomiros writes:
“God is love. If we really believe this truth, we know that God never hates, never punishes, never takes vengeance. As Abba Ammonas says,
‘Love never hates anyone, never reproves anyone, never condemns anyone, never grieves anyone, never abhors anyone, neither faithful nor infidel nor stranger nor sinner nor fornicator, nor anyone impure, but instead it is precisely sinners, and weak and negligent souls that it loves more, and feels pain for them and grieves and laments, and it feels sympathy for the wicked and sinners, more than for the good, imitating Christ Who called sinners, and ate and drank with them. For this reason, showing what real love is, He taught saying, “Become good and merciful like your Father in Heaven,” and as He rains on bad and good and makes the sun to rise on just and unjust alike, so also is the one who has real love, and has compassion and prays for all.’ ”
(The Ikon as Scripture, p 109)