Praised be Jesus Christ
Good morning Father Angelo, I am Catholic, I am happy about this site, because it explains us things that we couldn’t understand alone. I would like to understand what those words mean: “whoever believes in me has eternal life”. And what will happen to those who don’t believe?
Thank you in advance.
Answer from the priest
1. In Jn 6:47 we find the words of Jesus “Amen, amen, I say to you: whoever believes has eternal life”. In this circumstance the Lord is saying that he is the Bread of life and that he came down from Heaven to bring eternal life to men.
2. Eternal life is not simply the afterlife as any believer of any other religion may think. Eternal life is Jesus himself. “This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (Jn 17:3)
3. It should be noted that, in the Gospel of St John, the verb “to know” doesn’t simply mean “to see”, but “to possess”. Eternal life therefore consists of the possession of God, that is, the possession of Jesus Christ. Note also that in Jn 17:3 Jesus Christ associates himself to the Father and affirms His equality to the Father.
4. The first letter of St John also reminds us, with a beautiful statement, that Jesus Christ is eternal life: “We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true. And we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 Jn 5:20) Here is who Jesus Christ is: “He is the true God and eternal life“. He is the eternal life because He is the true God.
5. In order to possess Christ in you, it is necessary to believe in him. Here too, to believe means not only knowing him, but loving him, obeying him. This is why Saint Thomas says that whoever loves God, possesses God in his heart (qui diligit Deum, ipsum habet in se), in accordance with the words of Saint John: “whoever remains in love remains in God, and God in him” (1 Jn 4:16). And he adds: “We say that we have or possess only those things that we can use and enjoy as we please (“uti et frui ut volumus”). And in this way a divine Person can only be possessed by a creature endowed with reason and united to God” (Summa Theologiae, I, 38, 1).
6. In other words, Jesus says: whoever loves me, possesses me and can enjoy my presence and my gifts as he pleases. I don’t know if there can be a higher and more divine experience than this one. It is already an anticipation of Heaven, where all this will happen in a perfect, definitive and irreversible way.
7. On the contrary, whoever does not possess Christ in himself, not only does not enjoy him, but inevitably falls in the hands of his enemy, already in this life.
Hoping that you always have Jesus Christ, who is the true God and eternal life (1 Jn 5:20), in yourself, I assure you of my prayers and I bless you.