Homily (Reflection) for Seventh Sunday of Easter, (A) (28th May, 2017) on the Gospel
Acts 1:12-14;Ps 26:1.4.7-8 (R.V.13)
One day a preacher asked his audience in the course of his preaching: “Who wants eternal life?” Before he could finish, every hand was up and their faces very bright. He then changed the question to, “Who wants to die?” On hearing these words, every hand was not just down but seemed too weak to move and faces gloomy.
Topic: Eternal Life Explained.
One of the topics that attract people’s attention more than any other today is any that concerns life. This however is not novel to our generation. Even during the time of Jesus, one of the questions that were repeatedly asked Jesus is on the issue of life. In the gospel according to Matthew a rich young man asked Jesus about eternal life, cf. Matt 19:16. Lawyers and rulers were not left out of the quest to understand and to inherit this eternal life, cf. Lk 10:25; 18:18. They were all aware that achieving eternal life involves work.
Jesus defined what eternal life is in today’s gospel, “… this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). He again told us that it is the knowledge of the truth that will make one free (cf. Jn 8:32) but it is important to note that knowledge alone is not enough. We must believe (have faith) in what we know. Jesus also declared in the gospel according to John:
...just 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, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (Jn 3:14-16; cf. Jn 5:24; 6:40, 47).
This seems like the fulfilment of the prophesy made by Isaiah and quoted in the New Testament by both Saint Paul and Saint Peter: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Rom 9:33, cf. 1Pt 2:6; Rom 10:11; Is 28:16).
Jesus further said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him” (Jn 3:36). Knowledge and faith need obedience for one to enter eternal life. Saint James emphasized this in his letter thus, “… faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (Jas 2:17). Again, Jesus also declared, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21).
Eternal life is a promise that God has made but one must hold firm to the teachings of Jesus Christ, cf. 1Jn 2:24-25. Peter and other apostles had earlier discovered this. Hence when many disciples left Jesus because of difficult teaching they did not and even when Jesus asked them whether they would go with them they replied “… Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). Jesus referred to these words of eternal life as water that turns into spring of water in whoever takes it, cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38. But sad enough, many do not want to take this water just like the Jews who first refused it, cf. Acts 13:46.
It is important to note that for anyone to have eternal life the person must work for it. We read in the gospel, “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal” (Jn 6:27). Again, “… he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal 6:8). The love of oneself in this present life has made many forfeit the life that will be eternal. The words of Jesus are “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12:25). The eternal life that has been promised to us is in the Son – his words and sacraments especially his body and blood, cf. 1Jn 5:11. We read “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:54). Do you still care for these?
Remember that it is only those who worked for eternal life in this present can say with Jesus on the last day: “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your presence ….” (Jn 17:4-5). And if one cannot say these words with Jesus, there is a problem. Prepare for the eternal life now before it is too late.
Bible Reading: Matt 7:21-23; 19:16-30; 25:31-46; Jn 5:19-29; 8:31-38; Jas 2:14-26.
Thought for today: Do you really want to enter into eternal life?
Let us pray: Father, give us every grace that will enable us make eternal life at the end of this pilgrim here on earth and the strength to make the best use of them – Amen.
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