One of the best homilies of my life happened on a weekday morning mass at St. Matthew’s in DC.
It was several months ago now, so I don’t remember all of the details, but it had such a profound effect on me that it must have been the Holy Spirit speaking through the priest that day.
I don’t even remember whether the gospel reading was the Bread of Life discourse from John, or the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, or something else.
What I do remember is that the priest was talking about eternal life.
Here’s where my whole perspective on my daily living was changed.
What is eternal life?
Pure, unnatural, overwhelming joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding.
When we say that Jesus offers us eternal life, we think this refers to when we die and go to heaven. Yes, it means that, but it’s more than that. Eternal life starts NOW.
Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He is life. This gift of eternal life is the gift of Himself. And He is love, peace, and JOY.
What does it mean to be joyful? Does it mean we’re always stupidly happy no matter what happens, even in the midst of tragedy? No, that’s not what joy means. There are times when we grieve, there are times of suffering and many, many tears. But this doesn’t mean we lose our joy.
Joy is the peaceful assurance and hope that God loves us and reigns over all. We know in the depth of our being that we are LOVED.
Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s a grace, a sign of His life within you. It’s the only real comfort in the midst of suffering. It comes from the faith that God loves you, rescues you, and works all things for your good.
Eternal life isn’t something I have to wait for. I have it now.
And I have never felt so free.