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제목 I believe in everlasting life - Easter (2023-04-09)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2023-04-17


I believe in everlasting life. (Easter 2023-04-09)

My dear brethren,
I believe in everlasting life.
 This the last article of our Creed is manifested today. Death is not the end of life. It is only the end of this life. But our soul, our mind, continues to exist afterwards and will be reunited with our body at the end of the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ promised everlasting life many times in the Holy Gospel, and today by His glorious Resurrection He has proven that He can deliver His promise!

Death is a challenge to any philosophy of life: what is the purpose of our life on earth? Any joy that passes away is somehow empty, deceiving. We would like it to remain for ever, yet we know it is impossible. Earthly joys cannot last for ever, and very often they end up even before our own death. Worldly people conclude: therefore, let us enjoy these earthly pleasures as much as we can now, because tomorrow we won’t be able. They say what attristed so much the prophet: “behold joy and gladness, killing calves, and slaying rams, eating flesh, and drinking wine: Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die” (Isa. 22:13).

 And this worldly attitude is foolishness: at the very moment when they throw themselves on earthly pleasures like animals, the very fact that these are passing attrists them, and moreover they are gathering for themselves a burden of sin: “And the voice of the Lord of hosts was revealed in my ears: Surely this iniquity shall not be forgiven you till you die, saith the Lord God of hosts” (Isa. 22:14).

 Those who rush to enjoy earthly things without any moderation are often cut off in their foolishness, as our Lord told the Pharisees: “The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to store up my fruits? And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater ones; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods. And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer. But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” (Lk. 12:16-20). We know not the day nor the hour when our death shall come!

 For others, they search for earthly joy and it always flees from them; the more they thirst for these passing joys, the faster they flee away. Such life also is foolishness, and wasted!

 The wise man said: “Remember that death is not slow” ( Eccle 14:12): it is not slow to come: i.e. it will come soon, sooner than we expect!

 Solomon, who was rich and powerful, close to the end of his life reflected and concluded: “Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes vanity of vanities, and all is vanity” (Eccle. 1:2). “I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold all is vanity, and vexation of spirit” (Eccle. 1:14). “I said in my heart: I will go, and abound with delights, and enjoy good things. And I saw that this also was vanity” (Eccle. 2:1). It is vain, it is empty, it is deceiving, it is not worth living for.

Any time passed away from the friendship with God is lost for eternity.

 God did not make us to stay for ever on earth, but rather to merit here below an eternal joy in Heaven with Him. True joy here below is in walking in the pursuit of this heavenly joy, as St Paul says: “Rejoicing in hope” (Rom. 12:12). This is the true joy on earth, the joy of walking with Christ on the path to Heaven – and the Way is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself: He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). This is the joy of the friendship with God, true beginning of eternal life.

 The promise of eternal life is already given in the Old Testament to the penitent who truly repents for his sins and lives a good and holy life: “if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die… Because he considereth and turneth away himself from all his iniquities which he hath wrought, he shall surely live, and not die” (Ez. 18:21, 28). “If that wicked [but penitent] man restore the pledge, and render what he had robbed, and walk in the commandments of life, and do no unjust thing: he shall surely live, and shall not die” (Ez. 33:15). And Isaias says: “the eye hath not seen, O God, besides thee, what things thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee” (Isa. 64:4). And David already sang: “O how great is the multitude of thy sweetness, O Lord, which thou hast hidden for them that fear thee! Which thou hast wrought for them that hope in thee, in the sight of the sons of men” (Ps. 30:20). And also: “let all them be glad that hope in thee: they shall rejoice for ever, and thou shalt dwell in them. And all they that love thy name shall glory in thee:” (Ps. 5:12).

 But it is in the New Testament that this promise is so much clearer. You find the expression “eternal life” four times in the Old Testament, but 41 times in the New Testament! Three times in his discourse announcing the Holy Eucharist, our Lord Jesus Christ promises everlasting life and the resurrection of the body: “this is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day” (Jn. 6:40). “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day” (Jn. 6:44). “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day” (Jn. 6:55).

 Note attentively the words of our Lord: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life” already now he has a beginning of that everlasting life – in the soul – “and I will raise him up in the last day”: so there are clearly TWO lives, the life of the body and the life of the soul. The soul already has a beginning of everlasting life here below when living in the state of grace, and the body will rise again at the end of the world and – for those who have done good – will then enjoy everlasting life. (those who have died in the state of sin will rise again “unto the resurrection of judgement”, i.e. of condemnation, paying the penalty of their sins for ever in hell).

 The body lives when it is united with the soul; the soul lives when it is united with God. At death, the soul so living in the state of grace continues to be united with God, and this life is no longer hindered by the body and thus blossoms into the beatific vision (either directly if one is perfectly ready or after a sojourn in Purgatory to clean up the last small stains of venial sin and pay the remaining debt if there was such).

 That promise of everlasting life was also given by our Lord in many other passages: “Every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting” (Mt. 19:29). “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting. For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (Jn. 3:14-16). “My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:27-28). Our Lord Jesus Christ concludes the Last Judgement by these words: “and these [the wicked ones] shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting” (Mt. 25:46).

 And St Paul says: “The just judgment of God … will render to every man according to his works. To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life:” (Rom. 2:5-7). “Now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting” (Rom. 6:22). “He that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:8). And to Timothy he says: “Fight the good fight of faith: lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art called” (1 Tim. 6:12).

 To conclude, St John is most clear: “And this is the promise which he hath promised us, life everlasting” (1 Jn. 2:25). “And this is the testimony, that God hath given to us eternal life. And this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life. He that hath not the Son, hath not life. These things I write to you, that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5:11-13).

 My most dear brethren, strengthened with all these marvellous promises, let us courageously – enthusiastically – go forward on the path to heaven! Let us cut off all the bonds of sin, let us “amass a treasure in heaven” (Mt. 6:20), let us practice virtue with joy because there is a reward for virtue, an infinite reward: life everlasting!

 The early Christians understood that so well that they did not fear torture and death: they willingly offered their life to give testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that He would reward them with everlasting life! This was the Faith of St Andrew Kim and of all the Korean Martyrs.

 All this is the fruit of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: He helps us to cut off sin, to repent truly and change our life; He helps us practice virtue and strengthens us; He is our model, our Redeemer, our King, our Good Shepherd leading us on the path to the waters of life. And He will be our joy in heaven. 

 Indeed that everlasting life will consists in the beatific Vision of God, in the Light of glory: “O Lord, thy mercy is in heaven, and thy truth reacheth, even to the clouds. Thy justice is as the mountains of God, thy judgments are a great deep. … O how hast thou multiplied thy mercy, O God! But the children of men shall put their trust under the covert of thy wings. They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure. For with thee is the fountain of life; and in thy Light we shall see the Light” (Ps. 35:6-10).

 St John again describes it thus: “Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him. Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is. And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy” (1 Jn. 3:1-3).

 May the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints in Heaven, who are already enjoying this eternal life, help us by their prayers and examples, to walk resolutely on the path of Heaven, having the eyes fixed on our Lord Jesus Christ gloriously reigning there, the Author and consummator of our Faith! Amen.

Father François Laisney