COMMEMORATION OF ALL THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED
Thursday 2 November 2023
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day”.
Despite the presence of more verbs linked to seeing than to hearing, in the Bible, revelation is primarily entrusted to the act of listening. Just think of the central teaching of the Hebraic faith, the Shema Israel: ‘Listen Israel’. It is a listening intrinsically linked to obedience, to act according to the received command. The God of Israel reveals Himself in the Word, and Jesus Himself is the Word, the Word made flesh.
According to scholars, the verb ‘to see’ in verse 40 doesn’t really refer to sensory perception. Instead it refers to a visual testimony. Instead, it should be understood as an encounter, but with whom and with what? It is an encounter with Jesus Christ crucified, who offered Himself up for each of us in the scandal of the cross. It is a spiritual perception of that scandal. The Christian (to be a Christian) must have that encounter with the crucified and risen Christ, seeing Him not so much on a sensory or intellectual level, but definitely in a spiritual sense. So, it is seeing linked to faith, which points to the personal and existential character of our encounter with Jesus, the Son of God, icon of the Father and of His Love! This revelation through encounter pushes us into an inner conflict and arouses a decision: either we are scandalised by the Cross, or it becomes the power of God for us. So, the choice is between refusal or acceptance – believing, with a trusting (rather than dogmatic) faith. Because of this, we are no longer afraid of death. Death no longer has the final word. So, we already live the reality of eternal life here on earth. The death of Christ is my death, His resurrection is my resurrection! This is our faith and our hope!