The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
August 12, 2018 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 6:41-51
One of the largest (and scariest) questions asked by those who are in their later years is this: Is most of my life behind me or ahead of me? To be personal for a moment, I will be celebrating my 80th birthday this year. I don’t have to be a whiz at math to calculate that my life here on earth is mostly behind me. But is there another way of thinking about this? Today’s gospel says there is.
It presents a new way of thinking about one’s lifespan. First though, I want to suggest that this new way of thinking flies in the face of what’s called secularism. Secularism claims that personal life has a beginning and an end. It ends with our biological death. Death signifies the end of our game of life. Once dead, we are no longer able to enjoy the benefits of life here on earth. No more TV. No more Super Bowls. No more birthdays. Or to name some negatives: No more waiting in long lines. No more chronic back ache. No more watching commercials for home owner’s insurance. It’s all over. People might comment on our life after we die, “She was a wonderful friend” or “He was one heck of a guy.” Notice the use of the verb, “was.”
To all of this, Jesus says, “Whoever believes has eternal life.” Again, notice that he doesn’t say “will have” or “will be rewarded with” or “after death will be given.” He is saying that right now, today, in this life, we already possess God’s gift of eternal life. Our life forever with God has already begun, and, according to Jesus, will not end. Ever!
So now let’s go back to that earlier question: Is most of our life behind us or ahead of us?” Might it be possible that 99.99% of our life, no matter what our age in earth, is still ahead of us? I am not saying that therefore, forget about this life or that this life here on earth is worthless or insignificant. Not at all. And that’s because there is a direct connection between this life here and its continuance after. That’s captured in that phrase, “Whoever believes.” Believes in what? Believes in the truth and value of all that Jesus taught. And lives in accord with all that he did in his earthly life, especially in his intensely loving life, loving others and loving God.
The show has begun. The game is on. The clock is running. We use many phrases to indicate that what’s happening now counts. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that will grow and grow and grow. Each day and each moment counts. For those in the game (as we all are) the final whistle will never blow. Game on, so play on … forever.
©David M. Thomas, PhD