A man once asked an atheist do you believe in eternal life?” The atheist responded ”for the fact that I see myself living, I do not think that eternal life is real. I will not talk about what I do not see. Until then we can talk about that. For the present, eternity is only in the world of a dreamer”.
This type of thought is what many of us believe in our minds. We believe that as long as we are living and enjoying life, thinking about eternal life is a waste of time.
Today, the hunger for eternal life has gone extinct. We seem not to have time to think of where our soul will rest after this life. But when it becomes obvious to us that eternal life is real, is always at the deathbed, then it is too late.
As we struggle to achieve success in life, let us also have the hunger for eternal life at the end.
St Francis of Assisi says “Those who are solely interested in the present life now, get disappointed at the end, they pray for a long life but later discover that earthly life is not long”.
“ I never knew the end of life can be like this” exclaimed Marden Smith at his deathbed. Truly man does not know what awaits Him at the end of his life until He comes face to face with death. As we fight to make it in this world, let us not forget that eternal life is real. There should be a hunger for eternal life.
The Approach to Jesus.
Today a man approaches Jesus and asks him, ”Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?”
One good thing about this question is that at least, we can see that the man is thinking of his soul. The man knows his life is limited. He knows that eternal life is real. He now comes to Jesus to seek a way to achieve this. So, his major concern is how to achieve eternal life at the end of his life.
Can we also spend time and think about the type of life we are living now? Will the type of life I am living now lead me to eternal life? Do we sincerely have the hunger for eternal life? Where our souls will be at the end of our earthly existence should also worry us every time.
Obedience to God’s Commands.
The first response that Jesus gives to him is “if you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments” Jesus then enumerates some of the contents of the ten commandments.
Jesus says if you want to enter into eternal life, keep the commandments.’ The young man asks Jesus, ‘Which of them?’
Jesus replies ‘You must not kill. You must not commit adultery. You must not bring a false witness. Honour your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbour as yourself.’
The use of the conditional statement “if you want to” is a pointer that keeping God’s commands is also a condition for Him to achieve eternal life. It is a conditio sine qua non that we must truly aspire to be with God at the end of our lives.
So, If we have the hunger for eternal life, we have to obey God at all costs. We have to refuse what is bad and do what is good.
The point here is that our life here on earth must surely come to an end one day. The man who asks Jesus these questions feels he does all these and needs more. He replies to Jesus “‘I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?”
In this man, we see someone who is hungry for more. Eternal life seems to be more important to him than any other desire. What more do I need to do, showcases a man who is ever willing to do anything to achieve eternal life. Though he disappoints at last by walking away sad at least we see someone who approaches Jesus, seeking to spend eternal life with Him.
The questions today are; what are we doing to save our souls? Do we truly have that inner hunger to achieve the salvation of our souls? Do we have the hunger for eternal life?
Detach to Attach.
When we have the hunger for eternal life, we will live a life of detachment. By then, we know full well that our life on earth has an expiring date.
So, when Our beloved Jesus, saw how insistent this man was, now responded to him “if you wish to be perfect, go and sell all you possess and give the money to the poor and you will become the owner of a treasure in heaven. Secondly, “Come back and follow me”. On hearing this He went away very sad. The few glaring points here are :
1. The man has earthly possessions already and probably has been using that to help people, and he is also in need of eternity. The questioning is a sign he is surely in need of eternity but going away sad is an indication he values his possession more.
He allows his possession to possess Him instead of allowing the hunger for God to possess him. Hence, what this shows is that we must detach from many things that may keep us away from God and attach to God wholeheartedly that nothing can keep us away from Him.
This is why many today do not have time to think about their life. We are already content with earthly life. We value our earthly life and can do anything to become the highest, best, famous, important, best positioned etc in this world. Hence, we hardly do little for eternity.
Many people can even deny themselves sleep, comfortability etc to get what they want. We can go to any extent to prove to somebody how much we love him/her but we hardly do little to show that we love God.
In fact, nothing shows that we have the hunger to remain with God even after our earthly journey. If we long to be with God God at last. We must detach to attach to God wholeheartedly.
2. We can also say that the attitude of this man today is a sign He values His possession more than He values eternity. He is unwilling to detach himself from them and attach himself to the kingdom of God.
In essence, whatever we are unwilling to detach from for the sake of following Jesus or for the sake of God and eternity is what is truly our prime importance. If we are truly serious about eternity, if we have the hunger for eternal life, we can also be willing to do anything to get it.
In essence, we live to detach ourselves from those things that keep us away from God.
3. In today’s gospel, Jesus gave him options to choose: your possessions or follow me. Instead of making a choice, he went away. An indication that His possessions take the first position in His life and can truly distance Him away from God. If we have a hunger for eternity, then God should take the first place in our lives.
4. Whatever can make us sad if such is removed from our lives is truly one of the things we love most. Can being away from God also make us sad? Can our sinful lives keep us so much in worry that we can go to any extent to come close to God again?
Also, whatever that also makes us happy when we have them is what we love most. Can our closeness with God make us happy to the extent, we do everything to keep to it? Until we reach this extent in our spirituality, we have a very long way to go.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to continually come close to Him. Amen