Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter – Jn 17:1-11a
In today’s Gospel, Jesus begins what’s called His “high priestly prayer.” This is because He looks up to heaven, and “speaks as intercessor, with words addressed directly to the Father and not to the disciples, who supposedly only overhear.” In this intimate prayer with God, there are a number of profound statements that stand out, but we can consider just one: Christ says, “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”
On one hand, this certainly refers to heaven, as Saint Thomas Aquinas says, where, in the beatific vision, we’ll see God face-to-face; eternal life consists of the perpetual vision of God’s essence, when we contemplate Him as He is, without need for anything else or any intermediary. However, on the other hand, this statement also refers to this life, to here and now. It should strike us that eternal life consists in knowledge, or, rather, the pursuit of knowledge, since the verb is in the present tense meaning it is a continuance, a progressive perception of God in Christ, a developing familiarity with Him. In this life, then, as we come to know Christ better, we are experiencing a foretaste of eternal life, a sort of preview of what heaven will be like.
Likewise, the word Jesus uses for know means to know especially through personal experience or through a first-hand acquaintance. An abstract faith in Jesus Christ, one that studies Him like a scientist studies samples in a museum, doesn’t save; that isn’t eternal life, but rather a stagnant pond. The eternal life that comes from knowledge of Christ is a life that begins here, by fully living out our faith, and giving ourselves entirely to Christ.
We can ask ourselves: are we trying to live heaven here on earth by knowing and loving Jesus? Do we strive for a deeper relationship with Him in all that we do? Do our daily activities bring us nearer to Him, or push us away? Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Risen Lord, let us ask for the grace to really know Christ, and thus start living heaven here on earth.