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Eternal Life


God created everything in the universe for the sake of us, humans, whom he created in his own image and likeness with an immortal soul. Death in this world is the separation of soul from body. Though the body would decay, everyone will face a particular judgement followed by a stage of reward or punishment until the Second Coming of Christ when the Last Judgement will take place. This intermediate stage is clear from the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus and the words of Jesus to the good thief on the cross. “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgement that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven – through a purification or immediately, – or immediate and everlasting damnation” (CCC-1022).

At the Second Coming of Christ, all who have died will rise and will face the Last Judgement, as Jesus describes in Matthew 25:31-46. “In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection” (CCC-997).

Eternal life refers to a continued life after death without time constraint. The Apostles’ Creed includes belief in the body’s resurrection and life everlasting. “All the dead will rise, ‘those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgement’” (CCC-998). Jesus assured eternal life for those who hear his word and believe in God the Father who sent Jesus as the Messiah.

Though the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Mt 22:23) and the immortality of the soul, the Pharisees and the Scribes did believed in the same. A scholar of the law once asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lk 10:25). Jesus made him answer from the scripture, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself” (Lk 10:27). Jesus then presented the parable of the Good Samaritan as a role model for charity to inherit eternal life.

A rich young man asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” (Mt 19:16) Jesus asked him to keep the commandments. Then he added, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). Jesus told the apostles, “Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29).

Jesus established the Holy Eucharist as the food of eternal life. “This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (Jn 6:50-51).

At the death of Lazarus, Martha expressed her faith in the life after death, viz. resurrection: “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (Jn 11:24- 26). So, faith in Jesus and the life with him will lead us to a life of eternal joy even after our death.
There is no judgement for him because he has passed from death to life

Each listener of the word of God selects his or her own judgement based on their response to the Word – “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn 3:17-18).

We all are born spiritually dead because of Original Sin and sin causes death (Eph 2:1). Only through baptism do we pass from spiritual death to a new life. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:5-6). “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word’” (CCC-1213).

This passage from death to life is of one’s own voluntary choice and not out of compulsion on the part of anybody whatsoever. Jesus has opened the gates of heaven (CCC-637). It is the choice of each individual to listen to and obey Jesus, believe in the Father, and accept baptism in water and the Spirit. They enable us to pass from spiritual death to eternal life through the Church Jesus established.

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