READINGS: Acts 1:15–17, 20–26 / 1 John 4:11–16/ John 17:11–19
Theme: Eternal Life Assurance
7th Sunday of Easter
Beloved, Jesus did not leave us money as an inheritance, for it could be stolen or misused; he did not leave cars as our inheritance, for they could be involved in accidents; he did not leave houses for our inheritance, for they could be destroyed or their values could depreciate [especially in economic crisis]; he did not leave plots of land as our inheritance, for they could generate litigations; he left ETERNAL LIFE, AN EVERLASTING HAPPY LIFE IN HEAVEN as our inheritance!
And we could say that it was in his priestly prayer at the Last Supper (John 17, from which we took our gospel reading) that Jesus registered us on the ETERNAL LIFE ASSUURANCE POLICY (ELAP). Hence, the theme of this message is ‘ETERNAL LIFE ASSURANCE.’
Jesus, at the Last Supper, after eating with his disciples, washing their feet and giving them his farewell message, prayed what we call his ‘priestly prayer.’ In this prayer, he prayed for: (a) his glorification through the cross, (b) his disciples, and (c) all of us who would later come to believe in the Good News through the preaching of his disciples.
For what did he pray for us? He prayed to the Father to grant eternal life to the disciples and all of us who would believe in him (John 17:2-3), so that we would be with him happily forever in heaven, (John 17:24). Thus, even before his death and even when we were yet to be born, Jesus registered us on the ETERNAL LIFE ASSURANCE POLICY [ELAP].
When one registers with a LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY, he/she has to indicate the premium of his choice: the amount of money to be paid; how often to pay it [monthly, quarterly, annually, etc]; and, the mode of payment [by cash, cheque, bank order, etc]. Beloved, in our case, the amount Jesus paid is priceless, the frequency is ‘once and for all,’and the mode of payment is through his most precious blood.
PRICELESS: Beloved, if one has to pay a huge sum of money as premium for just the 10, 20 or 30 years after his/her retirement, then the premium sum for ETERNAL or EVERLASTING LIFE is certainly PRICELESS. It is an amount no human being can pay, but the Good News is Jesus has paid it for us!
FREQUENCY: He who is infinitely rich, he to whom the heavens and universe belong, does not waste time to pay the premium in bits [monthly, quarterly or annually]; he has paid it ONCE AND FOR ALL for all of us!
MODE OF PAYMENT: Jesus paid the premium for us, not by cash, nor by cheque nor by bank order, but by the blood he shed through his sacrificial death. O, how blessed we are to have the most priceless premium paid once and for all by the precious blood of Jesus!
Eternal happiness in heaven is the ultimate benefit we receive from the ELAP Jesus has registered us on and fully paid for us. Some people invest with a life assurance company, but they do not live long enough to enjoy their benefits [they die before retirement], but with ELAP death does not mean forfeiting the benefits, but the beginning of enjoying the ultimate benefit.
Others invest in earthly life assurance and they live long enough to enjoy the benefit, but depreciation sets in the longer they live on after retirement; but with what God is offering us through ELAP, the value remains the same for ever because nothing in heaven changes value [it is not like the Ghana Cedi, whose values was promised to be the same but we experience the contrary].
CLAIMING THE BENEFITS:
Beloved, though we are not expected to contribute towards the premium for eternal life, Jesus expects us to keep well the ‘certificate of registration.’ In today’s second reading St. John sums up how we can keep this certificate intact. He says, it’s by faith [‘Whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God’ (1 John 4:15)] and love [‘God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him’ (1 John 4:16)].
Beloved, we can lose this certificate if we act like Judas (first and gospel readings) who exchanged his certificate of the priceless eternal life with mere 30 silver pieces. In the priestly prayer of Jesus we get the hint that Judas lost his certificate: ‘Holy Father . . . I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost’ (John 17:12). And in the first reading St. Peter led the group of believers to pray and elect Matthias to replace Judas as the 12th apostle (Acts 1: 15-26).
Beloved, I pray that, enabled by the Holy Spirit, the CEO of ELAP – the most client-centred CEO we can ever think of – we will, unlike Judas, keep our certificates intact through an ever renewed faith in, love of, loyalty to the Lord, as well as a genuine repentance whenever we fall into sin.
And that St. Peter, who admitted St. Matthias to the group of 12 apostles and who has the keys of the kingdom, will promptly admit us to heaven as we present our certificates, amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis