The word of eternal life

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

“Whoever keeps my word will never see death.” (Jn 8,51)

That’s what Christ clearly said. Of course, these are words that have to be taken in faith. Otherwise, there is no way we can take them seriously, especially nowadays when there are just so many philosophies and ideologies that can sound more attractive and seductive, especially if they show and give some immediate advantages and conveniences.

Let’s hope that we can repeat St. Peter’s words: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (Jn 6,68)

We have to be wary of our tendency to be seduced by our worldly cultures and systems. Let’s listen to the warning given by St. Paul: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy…” (Col 2,8)

And he continues: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” (2,9) This means that the fullness of our humanity can only be achieved through our full identification with Christ who also made it possible for us to attain it.

How? Again St. Paul provides the answer: “In him (Christ) you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (2,11-12)

It would be good if we can meditate slowly on these words to let them sink in our mind and heart, and in our life in general. The Good News is that we are already given the key to eternal life while still here on earth.

Yes, it’s a matter of faith, because the reality that governs us is not simply of the rational and spiritual nature, much less, of our bodily and natural condition. The reality that governs us is, first of all, of the supernatural character, since whether we like it or not, God has wanted and created us in his image and likeness, sharers of his divine nature. (cfr. 2 Pt 1,4)

That is why in spite of our human limitations, we always harbor deep in our heart that desire for a life without end, a joy with no shade of sadness, etc. In other words, we desire a life that is not simply natural, space-and-time-bound.

It’s not that our philosophies, ideologies, our cultures and social, political and economic systems have no role to play in our life here on earth. They do. In fact, they play a tremendous role. It’s just that, as St. Paul said, “these are a shadow of the things that were to come. The reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Col 2,17)

With our worldly systems, what we have to do is to inspire them with the true spirit of Christ as best that we can. This would require of us authentic fidelity to Christ which is not simply a matter of parroting his words nor aping his behavior, but rather of deepening what Christ really wants to tell us today by discerning the promptings of the Holy Spirit who intervenes in our life all the time.

This fidelity means that we have to learn to adapt the teachings of Christ to the concrete needs of the people, not, of course, by changing those teachings but rather by applying Christ’s relevant teachings to the situation on hand.

Let’s remember that the word of Christ is eternal. It defies time and space. It defies change and death. It is applicable to all human conditions. It is always relevant and useful. As St. Paul said:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete for every good work…” (2 Tim 3,16-17)