The Great and Precious Promises, and the Inheritance of the Eternal Life
During the first two Sundays the soil and its various forms were discussed. The discussion throughout the third Sunday was about the essential spiritual work and how to prepare the soil for welcoming God’s word. In addition, it speaks to preparing the soul for welcoming Christ through the mystery of the incarnation. As for the readings of the fourth Sunday, they are about the word of God and the inheritance of the eternal life.
We are walking on the path to Bethlehem. The discussion is about the fruitfulness of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus in regards to the great and precious promises, which St. Peter the Apostle mentions in the catholic Epistle, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-8)
The great and precious promises were fulfilled in the mystery of the incarnation, so that we may become partakers in the Divine nature, as the Lord Christ took our human nature and became the Son of man so that man could become a son for God. Christ has made us aware of His gifts, so what is our role in acknowledging those gifts? The question is presented by the matins psalm, “Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.” (Psalm 142:8) The liturgy’s gospel echoes the same question, “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17) The answer to the question is, “You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother." And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth." (Mark 10:19-20) The commandment represents the seed in the parable of the sower. St. Peter the Apostle clarifies in the Catholic epistle, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We notice that in His answer, the Lord Christ presented the last commandments out of the Ten Commandments (the commandments of the second tablet), which are related to human relations, yet he did not present the commandments that pertain to God’s love, which are the more important ones. Many people fulfill the commandments, not out of their love for God, but rather out of the aim for inheriting the eternal life just like the earthly inheritance, similar to gathering money in the world for themselves, without thinking about God’s love. The final aim of the commandment is the great and precious promise, that is, the fellowship, “…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
Christ reveals Himself to us through the commandments, so that we can have fellowship with Him, “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." …but he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Thus, Christ inflicted him with pain at the source of his weakness, not to hinder him, but to alert him to the first few commandments that he did not learn, for he worshiped the idol of money, thus breaking the second commandment. The fulfilment of the commandment without reaching the goal, yields a defect. Christ clarified that one of the reasons for this, was the love for money, or the love of anything that dominates over a person, thus hindering the fellowship and Christ’s love. And to confirm the readings of the past three Sundays, the love of money represents the thorns that choke the seed, so that it does not bear fruit in righteousness,
Even the disciples, when they heard Christ’s words, they marvelled, “And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” (Mark 10:26) However, when Peter tried to apply those words to himself, “Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” (Mark 10:28) He discovered that he and the disciples had left everything and followed Christ, not out of compulsion or under pressure, nor out of greed for the eternal life, but rather because of their captivation by God’s love, therefore, Christ answered, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospels, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecution sand in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."