With the gifts of scripture and hindsight, we know the answer to the question the Jews are asking Jesus in today’s Gospel. He is the Son of God, the visible countenance of the Triune God, sacrifice and savior, kin and king. He is I AM — and because the Holy Spirit has removed the scales from our eyes, we understand what the questioning Jews could not.
For us, the challenge of the passage is this phrase: “Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.” What a promise! It’s so important, Jesus repeats it twice. Of course, He is speaking of everlasting life, not just our finite journey through time here on earth — and that is reassuring.
Reassuring, provided we can move beyond our very human fear of the death we must face in order to attain the everlasting life for which we long. Keeping our (now open) eyes on Jesus helps soften those fears. (Jesus, I trust in You …)
Meanwhile, we must live out our days here, which brings us to a question: How do we keep the words of Jesus?
In His words, love. Love our neighbor as ourselves. Love our enemies. Practical love, not ethereal, philosophical love. We find concrete ways of expressing Jesus’ love in scripture and tradition:
Corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, and bury the dead.
Spiritual works of mercy: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners (gently, encouraging growth in faith), comfort the afflicted, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses, and pray for the living and the dead.
Develop virtues: prudence, temperance, justice, courage, faith, hope, and charity.
And when this life’s small death comes, we will be prepared to never taste death, in God’s eternal Kingdom.
Holy Spirit, please open my eyes to the opportunities for showing mercy and grace today.
What corporal or spiritual works of mercy can I do today? Which virtues can I exercise today? Will thinking about the coming hours through this prism affect how I live them?
Copyright 2018 Leslie Lynch
About the author: Leslie Lynch lives near Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and a rescued feral-turned-sweetheart cat. She’s written three full-length novels: Hijacked, Unholy Bonds, and Opal’s Jubilee; and two novellas: Christmas Hope and Christmas Grace. She is an occasional contributor to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’s newspaper, The Criterion. Connect with her at LeslieLynch.com and on Facebook at Leslie Lynch Writes.