Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

(Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36)

We should note who the speaker of today’s gospel passage is. He sounds like much like Jesus in yesterday’s reading saying to Nicodemus, “’God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” A supermarket shelf comparison will note just about everything the same except the pedigree when today’s speaker proclaims, “’Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life...’” That speaker, however, is not Jesus but John, whom we (and not the text) call “the Baptist.”

The reading does not give us the context of John’s testimony, but we can easily find it by referring to the whole gospel. Jesus has left Jerusalem and gone into the country of Judea where John is baptizing. The text shows Jesus baptizing many people and John’s disciples worried that he is encroaching on John’s turf. But John -- the true prophet that he is – does not protest but submits. “He (Jesus) must increase;” John famously says, “I must decrease.”

Today’s gospel bids us to question the meaning of eternal life. How does it compare to the many ways we gratify ourselves? Is it more wonderful a vacation cruise or more comfortable than central air and heating? Perhaps more to the point, can we be assured of eternal life as much as many modern comforts are affordable to most of us? Our celebration of Easter emboldens us to respond to these questions with both good sense and conviction. Eternal life is companionship with the risen one. It far exceeds anything the world has to offer because it provides a joy not limited to time and space. Just as surely as Jesus rose from the dead, we will experience eternal life when we, like John, submit to him.