Reflection-Week 10

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
 
This week, we reflect on these words spoken by Jesus Christ in His priestly prayer. After His long farewell discourse, He prayed for different intentions. This prayer makes us reflect on the aspect of eternal life as it is clear from this that there is eternal life and it consists of knowing God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
 
The big question is: who thinks about eternal life these days? Do people really engage in any reflection on eternal life? Is our life today motivated by a reflection on such life? Since we are deeply immersed in our daily life and in the matters of this world, it is very likely that we forget about a life after death or heavenly life or even about our eternal destiny. But, as a matter of fact, a reflection on eternal life can enthuse our spiritual life and energise all our actions in daily life.
 
Is there a life after death or eternal life? Yes, indeed there is. It is a clear teaching of the Church and of the Bible. Everyday in the Apostle’s Creed we recite “I believe in the life everlasting”. If we look at the Bible, we also come across many references.
 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). 
 
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
 
"Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal” (John 6:27).   
 
"For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:6-7).
 
What is this eternal life?  
Jesus is very clear about this. It is knowing God and Jesus Christ himself.
 
How do we know God?
Well, let's think about relationships in general. How do we come to know anyone? Not a moment of revelation, certainly. It is a process, not an event.
 
So how do we become close to another person – a colleague or a friend? It's fairly straightforward, right? By choosing to spend significant time together - doing things, talking, each being a part of the life of the other, shaping a life together. But notice it doesn't happen by accident. There is an element of intentionality: we choose to know and be known by another person.
 
It's really that simple! If we want to know someone, we have to spend time with that person. Not just passing time, but interacting, being there for each other. Knowing is a process that comes with living life together. And it works more effectively when that living includes ‘tough times’ together.
 
Knowing God is no different. God is a person and reveals Himself to us so that we can know Him much like any other person. So how do we live life together with God? A couple of thoughts come to my mind.
 
First, read the Bible.
Read it often. The Bible is our primary source of revelation from God and the measure by which we can evaluate the validity of everything else. But don't simply read for getting information or collecting data. Read to know His personality and character. What do the stories say about this person we call God? What do His own words say about Him? Who is He?
 
As we read between the lines, we can get an idea of the person the stories reveal to us. We get some clarity from the text itself, but we can add to that by looking beyond the text. What does the text imply and what does it assume?
 
Then, talk to God.
Like any other relationship, we have to spend time together, talking and doing things. There is no substitute for shared time. Talk, talk, talk. Talk to God about anything and everything that pops into your mind. And now and then, stop to let Him talk. It's only polite, you know.
 
By investing more time carefully reading and talking, the relationship will grow and over time, we will come to know God more and more.
 
As we spend time with God, we begin to take on His characteristics: we start to act like Him. We become, as some might say, a ‘chip off the old block’. And over time, we come to know Him well enough that we can actually predict how He might act in a given situation. We begin to hear and recognise His voice.
 
We can know God - that's clear from the Bible. We cannot know Him totally but we can certainly know Him well enough to share and enjoy an intimate relationship. And that's the longing of His heart.
 
How do we know Jesus Christ?
I have one practical suggestion. It is only through prayer that we get to know Him.
 
I would like to end with what a friend taught me with regard to saying the prayer of the ‘Soul of Christ’: “Immerse yourself into His wounds, concentrate on every word with intensity until you feel their meaning and your closeness to Him and His suffering”.
 
Soul of Christ, be my sanctification;
Body of Christ, be my salvation;
Blood of Christ, fill all my veins;
Water of Christ's side, wash out my stains;
Passion of Christ, my comfort be;
O good Jesus, listen to me;
In Thy wounds, I fain would hide;
Ne'er to be parted from Thy side;
Guard me, should the foe assail me;
Call me when my life shall fail me;
Bid me come to Thee above,
With Thy Saints to sing Thy love,
World without end.
Amen.
 
Rev. Fr. Sebastian Arikat
Birmingham, UK  

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