Saturday, April 16, 2011

Daily Lenten inspiration, April 14, 2011 (Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

Transcript of homily recorded on Thursday, April 14, 2011

By Father Tim McGowan

The people listening to Jesus that day were confused because they could not grasp the depth of his word. They were simply living their lives on a physical plane not a spiritual plane.

Most of us are inclined to think of eternal life as something reserved for the other side of the grave. But here in the New Testament, and frequently throughout the New Testament, Jesus speaks of eternal life as a present possession — something we have here and now.

For example, in his first letter, Saint John said, "We know we have passed from death unto life because we love our brothers." Now, note the verb tense John uses: have passed. He's speaking of something that has already happened. John and all those who have followed Christ's principle of love have moved from an experience of physical life here to a quality of life that has eternity stamped on it — a quality of life that not even death can touch.

When Jesus speaks of eternal life he's not talking about quantity, like numbers of days. He's talking about quality of life, quality of this day, this day of life that you and I possess. Because if we believe in eternity — and we do — then we have the opportunity to experience it this day, not reserved for something after we die.

But Jesus would say that the kingdom of God is a present reality; it is among you. Can we live this day with a a sense that what we do this day has eternal significance in God's plan is a part of eternity, because of the quality of our life, not the quantity of our years.

This is what Jesus meant when he said at the beginning of the Gospel, "If one is true to my word, he shall never see death." Obviously, he's not talking here about the avoidance of physical death, because even he did not avoid that. Jesus himself experienced a physical death. He's talking about a quality of life that is so rich, so radiant, so real, that it will last forever. Not even death can destroy it. And you and I possess that. When we here, at this table, receive the bread of eternal life and the cup of our salvation we are acknowledging that we possess eternal life now.

The practical significance of this is evident: it teaches us that we should quit postponing eternal life. We ought to be living it right now, this day. We don't have to wait until we get to heaven. We can bring a little bit of heaven here to earth and into our relationships this day. We can live with an eternal quality starting today.

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