Sunday, 22 April 2018

ST. JOHN 5:24-30


                                                               

We have just entered the fourth week of the Holy Season of Easter: in the West it is Good Shepherd Sunday, in the East Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women.

The Church, breathing with both lungs, of the Orthodox in the East, the Roman in the west, celebrates the central grace of faith: CHRIST IS RISEN.

In the Roman liturgy we pray for eight days this IS the day, while in the Eastern liturgy reference is made to the days as ‘bright’, for example: Bright Tuesday.

This illumination of all creation, this divine brightness, is because the very one teaching us here in St. John chapter 5, is the same Jesus who beforehand suffered, died and was buried for us and is now Risen from the dead.

It is critical we keep in mind that we are not simply reading the recorded words of some historical figure, even though Jesus was, born, lived, taught, suffered, died, rose at a particular time, in history – we are factually ‘hearing’ in this moment the spoken to us words of Jesus Risen.

Vs.24/25=Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in the One who sent Me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

We, in the 21st century, who have been baptized, experience the reality of what Jesus says, teaches, here, for we have been plunged in the waters of baptism into oneness with Him, by Divine Mercy, in His death, and lifted from the waters into, by the Holy Spirit, oneness with Him in His Glorious and Holy Resurrection.

But, what of those who know of Jesus, but have not accepted Him, are not baptized? What of those who do not know of Him?

Not everyone is given the vocation to be a missionary in the classic sense of one who goes where evangelization is urgently needed by the presence of missionary-priests, religious, lay people in a country not our own, or even within regions of our own country which desperately need re-evangelization.

For many their prime vocation may well be priesthood, religious life, the consecrated lay apostolate, with a specific pastoral mission such as being a parish priest, serving the poor, etc.; while others have as prime vocation sacramental marriage and parenthood, which often entails careers demanding much of their time, in order to be able to properly feed, cloth, house, see to the education of the family, preparing their children to become courageous witnesses to Christ in an anti-Christ world.

Nonetheless, everyone of we the baptized has the overarching vocation to evangelize by the witness of our lives, living with courage amid a virulently anti-Christian society, the Gospel with our lives without compromise, because Baptism makes us participants in Christ’s own priestly, kingly, prophetic mission.

[The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraphs 871 & 897-913, elaborates this truth in detail.]

We live amid a human family filled with anxiety, millions suffering the ravages of hatred, war, unemployment, lack of clean water, famine, lack of adequate housing, proper medical care, the list is much longer that what is mentioned here.

We need only look up, look around, with the eyes of Christ, sees the faces of our own spouse, children, neighbours, co-workers, strangers, not pass by the homeless, or an elderly person who seems lost or confused – yes just check the world news from time to time, to find where love, in this moment, where prayer in this moment, where charity/love in action in imitation of Jesus, is needed for us to be true proclaimers of the Gospel of Life.

Vs. 26/27=For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He gave to His Son the possession of life in Himself. And He gave Him power to exercise judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

There are verses, such as these in St. John’s account of the life and teachings of Jesus, where, to have the words of Jesus fully penetrate our hearts, we should go back and hear the Prologue once more.

This great mystery-truth, that Jesus is true God and true man, is beyond the ability of the intellect to comprehend, but the heart gets it because the heart loves, and the Incarnation is the Father’s love for us.

Jesus loves us, thus we can be sure and trust, when He exercises the mandate given by the Father to judge, He will do so with judgement illuminated by Divine Mercy.

Judgement is necessary because we are endowed with free will and The Trinity does not, Jesus Himself does not interfere with our free will, our freedom to choose.

The choice is always between love and hate, light and darkness, good and evil, life and death.

…..I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live…..[Deut.30:19].

Hell exists.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that God does NOT predestine anyone to go to hell [para.1037].

Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire," and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!" [para.1034].

Hell, being eternal separation from the Most Holy Trinity, hell the abode of satan and his minions, surely is not where we would choose to spend eternity – but if we refuse to choose Christ, to live aware we need to be converted to Him anew each day, then we may well choose step by step those free-willed choices which, ultimately, means it is highly probable we will die unrepentant in the state of mortal sin.

It will be we who then have tipped the scales, have in a sense forced the hand of Jesus who will point to us among those on His left and utter the terrible words: Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’  And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” {Mt.25:45/46}

Here in this chapter of the Holy Gospel, Jesus is absolutely clear about death, judgement, resurrection.

V.28-30=Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation. “I cannot do anything on My own; I judge as I hear, and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the One who sent Me.