August 26, 2012

The Words of Everlasting Life: John 6:60-69

Jesus Christ is the Word of the Father, the Word made flesh spoken to us that we might live.  If we believe the Word, if we cling to Christ with all our heart, even though we die, we live forever.  The Word Himself declares, "My words are Spirit and Life."

Yet when we hear the Word whisper in our hearts, something hostile to Him reacts in us.  The words of the Word, echoing in the Holy Bible and in the Tradition of the Church, make their demands on our nature.  He always orients us beyond what makes us feel comfortable, satisfied and secure.  The Word confounds us when we encounter Him.  Whatever we think we understand in this Word of the Father, there is always something greater we do not understand.  Against a mystery we cannot control or manipulate, we want to go back to our old way of life, the way we lived before we heard the heart piercing voice that first brought us into existence.

The One who humbled Himself unto death on the Cross evokes a humility and adoration at which our capacity to be clever balks.  The Word imposes Himself on us so that we know if we follow Him we can no longer live a self-satisfied existence.  Instead, we must pick up our Cross and follow our Crucified Master.  This is the pathway to life to the full.

The Word Himself tells us that we can only "come" to Him if the Father grants it and the Rock of the Church responds "We have come to believe."  For those who accept the mystery of the Church in their lives, they cannot go back to their former way of life.  Though they have the freedom to do so and may even lapse for a time, divine love compels them otherwise.  Such is the gravity of the Church's living faith revealed by Peter.

A beatitude this world cannot contain is given those who have resisted the temptation to return to their former way of life.  The martyrs who have lost earthly home, family, treasure, reputation and even their lives to witness to the Word, to become "words" of the Word for our time, how much we owe them, and how much more does God delight in them. They make us ponder the love of God so peculiar to a culture of death: He allows those He most loves to suffer rejection, persecution and ever kind of hardship so that those who are hostile to Him might not perish but might know the fullness of life.

And Father - How much He trusts us!   He gives us His only Begotten Son, the One whom He has loved from before the foundation of the world.  He entrusts to us the One He most treasures knowing full well the hostility we have towards Him.  Yet the generous love of the Father is undaunted by our rejection, and the mystery of a love stronger than death is revealed in all those who come to believe in Christ to the amazed astonishment of the world.