Eternal life consists essentially in knowing God as he is. We cannot attain this knowledge on our own, nor can another human person instruct us in it. Rather, only God can give it to us. A problem is that our human minds are complex, whereas God is simple. We can only approach simple realities by means of our complex experiences, and, even then, we only understand simple realities within the context of a complex, conceptual framework.
According to his infinite love, then, God became man. God now has a full humanity, and this humanity expresses the divine. When we touch Jesus and see him, we touch and see the Father in him. When he speaks to us, the Father speaks to us. For Jesus and the Father are one. They share a life.
When we speak, we hope to share our inner life, our thoughts and desires, with another person. Though others might guess at our inner life from what we do, speaking gives this inner life an exactness that prevents false interpretation. Speaking puts our inner life before others as a common object, an invitation to have them think and desire along with us. Should they accept this invitation, our hope is that we would achieve with them a unity of mind and heart. So Jesus speaks to us of his internal life, wherein he is united with the Father through vision and love, and he invites us to share in this life.
Another problem, however, here arises. Usually when we speak to others with a hope of achieving a unity of mind and heart, our hope is based on our minds ability to see certain things clearly and on our heart’s ability to orient itself towards what we clearly see as worthy. When Jesus speaks to us in human words of his life shared with the Father, however, our minds cannot clearly see what he sees and so cannot set it before our hearts as something worthy of love.
According to his infinite love, therefore, God prompts our hearts to entrust our minds to his words in an act of faith. Should we accept this invitation, we begin to glimpse darkly what Jesus sees clearly, namely, God himself. Consequently, what Jesus loves with his whole self, we begin to love, and we conceive a hope that one day we shall see clearly what Jesus sees, and love with our whole selves what Jesus loves with his whole self.
Jesus’ words and those of none other, then, are words of eternal life.
Br. John Peter Anderson, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE