But What is Eternal Life?

But What is Eternal Life?

In these readings (Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58) there is an invitation extended to all of us to capitalize on today’s feast of Corpus Christi so that our personal and communal bond with Jesus Christ may become stronger and bear good fruit. They focus on the “New Manna” that comes down from heaven and sustains us in our perilous journey through the desert of life.

Now, one thing that I do not need to prove to you is that our life journey is tested by afflictions and trials. The older we get the more serious and more challenging the afflictions and the trials can be. Therefore, to meet our need for the heavenly Manna is essential.

Today, we believers are reminded that we cannot live by common bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. (Deuteronomy 8:3) We need Jesus as the New Manna, as the Bread of life that guides us with his words of life and satisfies our spiritual hunger in Holy Communion.

Since Vatican II, the Church has insisted that we should line up as often as we are in a state of grace and, representing our journey through the desert of life, we walk symbolically to the front of our church to be nourished, most devoutly. Thus, we signify that Holy Communion doesn’t allow us to fall to the ground from exhaustion, or to give up in our fight against sin, or to settle for any alluring stopover short of the heavenly destination in our Father’s home.

What I would like to submit to you now is that, if this need to feed on the Body and Blood of Christ is essential, visceral awareness of it is bound to show itself also on the outside, in the way we long for it, we dress, we walk, we sing, we conduct ourselves. Hence, to truly appreciate what Jesus desires to do to us in Holy Communion, we should start our preparation days before with openness to the words of life which he will be feeding us here at the Table of the Word, and by docile willingness to work with the Holy Spirit to become more and more Christ-like with every reception of the Eucharist. Then, before leaving home for church, we should ask ourselves some pressing questions: “Do the clothes I wear and the way I am about to be wholly engaged in this the most solemn action I can perform as a believer on this earth, show clearly that I am truly excited about becoming one with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and yet am I filled with trepidation due to painful consciousness of my unworthiness, of my sins, of the many ways in which I failed to live up to my Christian calling?” 

My dear fellow travelers on the path to the Kingdom of heaven, to prove to ourselves the sincerity of our preparation for the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, we should pause and find out which events and celebrations might find us filled with more eagerness and displaying more decorum and proper behavior than the Eucharist, the Gift of Jesus Christ himself. 

Obviously, we do not display eagerness to be one with Jesus if we are habitually late for Holy Mass. We do not express sufficient appreciation for the Gift that Christ is making of himself if there are several important persons who command more respect and more decorum than Jesus does in our encounter with him.

The more we feel the need to be reenergized by the Bread of Life, the more people around us are bound to realize that we cannot wait to be fed. Therefore, let me share with you, once again, the reasons for displaying on the outside what should be stirring in our minds and hearts.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. (John 6:54-57)

We are walking up to the front of this church to secure for ourselves nothing less than eternal life! Can you think of anything or anyone, more valuable, more desirable, more worth sacrificing all for?

But what is eternal life?

Our biological life began at conception and continues in the present and will go on until our physical death. As our biological life unfolds one day at the time, we find ourselves living lives of relationships. For example: our life together with our parents, siblings, extended family. Another one would be our life with our friends; still another with our classmates, co-workers, fellow parishioners, and so on. At a certain point, all these lives of relations were incorporated and given new significance by eternal life: Through Baptism and Holy Communion, our Heavenly Father decreed to create a most unique, unbreakable bond of love with each one of us in his Son Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

This is eternal life! It is a bond of love that continues into eternity. Physical death will simply seal eternal life into eternity. Nothing however great, however desirable, however part of our wildest dreams comes close to eternal life.

May our love-filled Lord, who is offering us eternal life in such a very accessible fashion, inspire us to do all we can to improve our inner attitude and to show on the outside how much we long to be fed by him his very Body and Blood.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin