In this Wednesday’s Gospel (Jn 5: 17-30), my Lord invites me to enter into the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The way to do this is through faith, and the wonderful reward is the gift of Love that is eternal life.
At the Pool of Bethesda, Jesus has just healed a man who had been suffering for 38 years of his life. Our compassionate Lord had decided not to let this man wait for another day to find relief, even if this day happened to be the sabbath. And so:
Jesus answered the Jews: “My father is at work until now, so I am at work.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him, because He not only broke the sabbath but He also called God His own father, making Himself equal to God. Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what He sees the Father doing; for what He does, the Son will do also. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything that He Himself does, and He will show Him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed.For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever He wishes.”
And our Lord goes on to say: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.” Jesus goes on to talk about the resurrection of the dead and the final Judgement, of which both He and the Father are to be the authors.
One of the things that the Lord says calls out to me: “For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He gave the Son the possession of life in Himself.”
This is Divine Life that Jesus is talking about. God is alive with it!
In his book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Pope Benedict XVI explains how the Gospel of John uses the Greek word “zoe” to name this supernatural “fullness of life,” different from “bios,” which is our biological life. Pope Benedict writes: “Eternal life(zoe) is not – as the the modern reader might immediately assume – life after death in contrast to this present life, which is transient and not eternal. ‘Eternal life’ is life itself, real life, which can be lived in the present age and is no longer challenged by physical death. This is the point: to seize ‘life’ here and now, real life that can no longer be destroyed by anything or anyone.” The disciple of Jesus “lives beyond the mere fact of existing, he has found the REAL life that everyone is seeking…..life itself, full and, hence, indestructible life.” (Part II, p. 82)
Wow, this is how I want to live! But how? Providing this life for us is the “work” that Jesus shares with His Father, all week long, even in the sabbath. How is it given to us? Is it like the water we need to live? Jesus tells the Samaritan woman,,”The water I shall give will become [in you] like a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Is it like His Breath, the wind, the Spirit that renews the face of the earth, that gave life to Adam and Eve? Like his last, dying breath, saving all of us? This life(zoe) given to us freely, seems to be God Himself: the Holy Spirit.
Richard Rohr offers the image of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, giving of themselves fully to each other, in constant unity, relationship, and movement in a circular dance, to which we are invited, all of us. In my prayer, I imagine this Holy Dance, not as a flat circle,but as a sideways figure-eight: infinity, eternity, eternal life.
How could I try to become part of this dance? First, by believing in Jesus, the Inviter…..In today’s Gospel He says, “Whoever hears my word and believes in the One who sent Me has eternal life.” Then by knowing(recognizing). In His High-Priestly prayer Jesus says, “This is Eternal Life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Then, by loving. Pope Benedict goes on to say,”It is clear that the recognition of Him who is Himself Love leads in turn to love, with all that it gives and all that it demands.”
Every sensation of joyful or painful love that I have felt in my life, for my parents, wife, son, grandchildren, friends, strangers, the beauty of creation, of art…..it all comes from that Circle of Eternal Love…..This is the source and end of the best possible life that I can live, and surrender to, and invite others to, with every act of self-giving. So come, come dance with us! This feast is forever.