“If you believe what you like in the Gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.” ~ Saint Augustine
Monday, November 2, 2015 ~ Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
Holy Gospel: John 6:37-40 Jesus said to the crowds: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”
Meditation: Jesus made a promise to his disciples then as he does so today, and a claim which only God can make and deliver: “…that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day” (John 6:40). How can we see Jesus? The Lord makes his presence known to us in the reading of his words of teaching in sacred scripture (John 14:23), in the Eucharist, and in his church – the mystical body of Christ. The Lord Jesus reveals himself in many countless ways to those who seek him with eyes of faith (Hebrews 12:2, 11:27). When we read the word of God in the Bible Jesus speaks to us and he reveals to us the mind and heart of our heavenly Father. When we approach the table of the Lord, Jesus offers himself as spiritual food – his sacred body and blood – which produces the very life of Christ within us (I am the bread of life, John 6:35). Jesus promises that he will never break the bonds of fellowship with us and freedom from the fear of being forsaken or cut off from everlasting life with God – conversely, out of love for God, we should not break this bond from our end of the relationship, or cut ourselves off from God through sin. Jesus also offers us the hope of sharing in his resurrection – abundant life without end. Believing him means following him – doing as he has taught us, imitating him in thought, word and deed, living our lives in faithful witness to him. To say “I believe in Jesus” but not to live our lives according to his way shows a disconnect that exists of our own making, our own choosing, and therefore a wake-up call to conversion of mind and heart to align our minds to his, our hearts to his, so that we may life a life of love of God above all things, and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do this we will turn away from sin simply because we love God above all things and we would not want to sin against him, and by loving our neighbor we would not sin against them. We all have the capacity to live our lives in witness to Christ, who wants us to share eternity with him in heaven. The saints did it – they are human beings just like you and I. So let’s raise the bar and strive for eternal life with Christ, instead of settling for the ways of the world which lead us nowhere. For as someone once said: “those who walk with Christ always reach their destination.”
Prayer: Listen kindly to our prayers, O Lord, and, as our faith in your Son, raised from the dead, is deepened, so may our hope of resurrection for your departed servants also find new strength. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: All of us want to spend eternity with Christ in heaven. The question is: What are each of us doing to get there? Out of love God created us. And out of greater love God sent his son, Jesus Christ, into the world to shepherd and guide us as the one and only savior on the one and only path which leads to eternal life. Out of love for us Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sake, then rose on the third say opening up the opportunity to spend eternity with him in heaven. Jesus invites all of humanity to follow him – and does so 23 times in sacred scripture: Matthew 4:19, 8:22, 9:9, 10:38, 16:24, 19:21, 19:28; Mark 1:17, 2:14, 8:34, 10:21; Luke 5:27, 9:23, 9:59, 14:27, 18:22; and John 1:43, 8:12, 10:27, 12:26, 13:36, 21:19, 21:22. Take some time to read over these passages and contemplate Christ’s invitation. Do not forsake him, but instead follow him! And when we stray from following him and, thus, sin, seek his love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation – not just once, but as many times as necessary. And not just during Advent or Lent, but any time you find yourself in a state of serious sin.