Jesus said to the crowds: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (John 6: 37-40)
From the moment we are born, promises play a major role in our lives. They may begin when a mother whispers in a baby’s ear, “I promise to always take care of you.” It may be when a person falls in love and softly promises to always love another. It may be at the saddest part of a person’s life when a dear friend or family member promises to walk with us through the difficulty. Promises mean something to human kind.
But nothing can surpass the promise in today’s gospel passage.
Jesus made an incredible promise to his disciples and a claim which only God can make and deliver: Whoever sees and believes in Jesus, the Son of God, shall have everlasting life and be raised up at the last day. He promises unbroken fellowship and freedom from the fear of ever being forsaken or cut off from everlasting life with God. And he offers us the hope of sharing in his resurrection – being raised again with him to abundant life that will never end.
While physical death claims each of us at the appointed time, God gives us something which death cannot touch – his own divine life and sustaining power. God does not abandon us to the realm of the dead. Our hope in eternal life is utterly based on the paternal love of the Father who has the power to raise us in the same way that he raised Jesus from the tomb.
While that promise is enduring, it is always that which lies within that promise that should give us great comfort. In Christ everyone, every single person, is loved, called by name, and claimed as a beloved child. Jesus is the one for whom difference makes no difference. “I will never drive away anyone who comes to me,” Jesus says.
That promise comforts us when we lose a person we love. That promise reminds us that our loved ones are not behind us in history, but ahead of us. They have crossed the threshold to the true destination of our lives. They live within the eternal love of our Father, freed from every physical pain and distraction.
That promise was given in the greatest love of all when Jesus bore human suffering and death so that we could know His Father’s love. But true love doesn’t compel! The choice is ours!
He gave us life and wants us to have eternal life. But he cannot compel us to follow him and have life. But it is not a choice that is focused solely on the future. It is the choice to accept God as my Father today. Once we begin to live this daily relationship with God, trusting in his paternal life-giving nature, then we look towards the future with hope. And we become confident that we will see our dear departed in the future. God loves each of his creatures and he will hold them in the palm of his hand until we meet them again.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, your death and resurrection brought life and hope where there was once only despair and defeat. Give me unwavering faith, unshakeable hope, and the fire of your unquenchable love that I may know you fully and serve you joyfully now and for ever in your everlasting kingdom.”
Belief in God’s promise of eternal life is not simply a focus on the future, on what comes “after”. It always involves an acceptance in this moment of a relationship with God that guarantees what will come after. If today I experience that God is a paternal being who generates life in me, who stands always on my side and recreates constantly, then I will naturally gaze towards the future with hope, confident that my dear departed are not lost but are waiting for me. They are in the hands of God, and God does not allow his dear creatures to fall through his hands easily.