“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2)
“It is my Father’s will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and that I should raise that person up on the last day” (John 6:40)
INTRODUCTION: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate proof of Eternal Life. In Jesus’ resurrection all the speculations about the immortality of the soul and life after death are answered, definitely, in the person of Jesus Christ. In the resurrection of Jesus we come to understand that a human being is “an eternal person,” with an everlasting destiny. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life….” (1 John 5:11-12). Stay close to Jesus.
1. The magnitude of these words of Father Garrigou-Lagrange: “In the preaching of Jesus everything is directed immediately toward Eternal Life.” The whole goal of the Christian life is the attainment of Eternal Life.
2. The incredible shortness of earthly life (death being so inevitable and the opportunity to do it well given only once).
3. The incredible length of Eternal Life. It will never end.
4. By the grace received in baptism we have already been introduced into this Eternal Life. “Through baptism we have already received the seed of eternal life, for through it we received sanctifying grace which is the radical principle of that life; and with sanctifying grace we received infused charity, which ought to last forever” (Father Garrigou-Lagrange). Mortal sin is the true enemy of this powerful life of grace we have within us.
5. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Eternal Life. Jesus proclaimed: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life….” (John 6:53-54).“Through the food of the Eucharist,” writes Saint John Paul II, “Christ’s eternal life penetrates and flows within human life. Therefore, as St. Thomas Aquinas writes, the Eucharist is ‘the culmination of the spiritual life and the goal of all the sacraments.’” Question: in light thereof, how devoted am I to the Holy Eucharist? “It [should] be every man’s trade, occupation, profession, leisure, and ambition, to worship the Blessed Sacrament” (F.W. Faber).
6. Jesus – by way of His resurrection appearances – gives us a profound glimpse at some of the amazing characteristics of a resurrected and glory-filled human body which has been raised to eternal life: it can no longer die; it no longer experiences pain or weariness; it is no longer bound by time or space; it has no need for sleep; it does not experience pain or illness (see pages 285-290 of Christ In His Mysteries by Blessed Columba Marmion). Jesus “by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21). How amazing it will be to have a risen, immortal body!
7. The Father is the source of Eternal Life for “as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (John 5:26). God has Eternal Life in Himself. In fact, Eternity is one of His Infinite perfections. Stunningly, he calls us to share in His Eternal Blessedness, to become partakers of His Divine nature, to share in His Eternal joy!
8. The consequences of missing out on Eternal Life would be unbearable.
9. The amazing graces we have already received from God to secure our salvation and entry into the Eternal Life of Heaven, where it cannot be lost.
10. “We must, must, must live forever….We cannot get out of the way of eternity: we cannot turn the corner of it. My Jesus, where shall we flee? Make friends with eternity. Oh, then, that God would send us an angel to tell us on what eternity a good eternity depends [Heaven or Hell]. Oh this eternity is a tremendous thing. Make up your minds that you will not go to hell. On your knees, look at the crucifix, now say with me aloud – Oh Jesus, mercy – now again once more, louder from your hearts – Oh Jesus, mercy!” (F.W. Faber, edited and modified).
Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.
References: I am relying prominently on Father Faber who often reflects on the shortness of life, the inevitability of death, the importance of preparation for death, and the great length of eternity. The quote in number 10 is from his notes on “Eternity” in Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects, Volume II, pages 340-342.
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There are two meanings of “eternal.” First, it’s one of the incommunicable attributes of God to ever be existing, the absence of a “time” in which God did not, has not, and will not exist. God is the “I am who am.” Thus, in this definition only God is eternal and the eternal life himself.
The second and last meaning is everlasting, that is, never ending or immortal. This is said of the “eternal life” believers would have in Jesus Christ. It has a beginning (time of the resurrection) and it will never end. The eternal life they will have in Jesus is a life of perfect happiness and bliss enjoying the beatific vision.
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My understanding is that we will participate in God’s eternal life, not just have an immortal life, and although we cannot really understand what that means, it will be considerably more than have never ending life.