29th November

Today’s first reading at Mass was Apoc 22:1-7

The angel showed me, John, the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb andJesus life flowing crystal-clear down the middle of the city street. On either side of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the pagans.

The ban will be lifted. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in its place in the city; his servants will worship him, they will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign for ever and ever.

The angel said to me, ‘All that you have written is sure and will come true: the Lord God who gives the spirit to the prophets has sent his angel to reveal to his servants what is soon to take place. Very soon now, I shall be with you again.’ Happy are those who treasure the prophetic message of this book.

In my few words after the gospel, I spoke about the expression “So and so had a very full ‘life’” that one can hear or see in print after somebody dies. This usually means that they had a long life in years, were successful in their vocation, made a lot of money, had many exciting adventures and holidays, had lots of friends, were the ‘heart and soul’ of parties, etc

Jesus in John 10:10 promises “I came that you may have life and have it to the full.” This alternative life is hinted at in the first reading. Firstly it is abundant life like the quantity of water a thirsty man finds in a river. It is fruitful like the trees on its bank that produce fruit each month of the year. It brings healing to the human spirit like the medicinal leaves growing on the trees. It produces a light that never dims, an eternal light. It bestows dignity so that those who possess it are lifted up to reign with God.

What is this ‘life’ promised to us by Jesus? Somebody once said that Jesus’ ‘Life’ is an acronym that spells ‘Love Is For Ever’. Only this fulfils the deepest thirsts of the human soul. It is this eternal love that we pray for our departed loved ones when we say: ‘Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them.’

Garfield’s take on ‘life’ is somewhat different!