By Fr. Roy Cimagala
CHRIST said it very clearly. “This is eternal life,” he said, “that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (Jn 17,3) Of course, we have to clarify that knowing God and knowing Christ can only take place if also love God and love Christ.
With God, knowing and loving always go together. One cannot be without the other. This is what is involved when we say we believe in God. We have to know and love him. Both are needed for us to achieve that union and identification with him so that we can share that eternal life that only God can give and share with us.
As we have clarified before, the process of knowing makes the knower (us) have the known (God) in him. But in loving, the lover (us) is brought to the beloved (God). In both these processes, the union and identification are made complete.
This union and identification with God is necessary for us since we are his image and likeness, meant to share in the very life and nature of God. We are not mere copies of God that can exist on our own independently of God, the original. We are meant always to live our life intimately with God, the original from whom we are the image and likeness.
That is why we can also say that while all creatures of God have a certain connaturality with him since every creature shares something with God the Creator, our connaturality with him as his image and likeness enjoys the highest degree.
That’s because while all creatures come and belong to God, we of all creatures come and belong to him in the most intimate way, since we are supposed to share in God’s very own life and nature. The other creatures do not have this kind of dignity. In fact, they are there to serve us who in the end and always should love and serve God through Christ in the Holy Spirit.
This is a truth of our Christian faith that we need to understand very well so that we can act on it and live it as best that we can. It is obviously something that we consider incredible. We certainly feel awkward about it, if not skeptical.
But we just have to level up our understanding of who we really are and start to feel confident that we can live up to that dignity because insofar as God is concerned, he has given us everything that we need to achieve our real identity.
That God has to become man to save us from our self-inflicted alienation from him due to our sin, and that this God-man, Jesus Christ, has to offer his life as a ransom for our sins, can only mean we are so special to him. Thus, a psalm expresses that amazement by saying, “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps 8,4)
Besides, that Christ had to offer himself as Bread of Life to be eaten by us so we can achieve even in a material way our union with him while here on earth, can only show that we are truly meant to be united and identified with Christ.
That is why, saints and theologians have described us to be “another Christ” if not “Christ himself.” And since Christ lives in eternity, transcending the limitations of time and space, then we too, if we unite ourselves with him, can live in eternal life, even while we are still here on earth!