The context of John 6 will be clear later this summer as we take our triennial sojourn into what is known as the Bread of Life Discourse. Jesus feeds the multitudes (1-15). And it surely impressed the crowds, as they head off in search of the Lord (22-25). They do find him at the end of their pilgrimage, but Jesus seems to put them off. Are they just looking for food? Are they seeking more spectacle? The crowd asks him directly for the bread from heaven (verse 34) about which he has told them (26-27, 29, 32-33). He states (as every Catholic knows) that he is the Bread of Life. And he tells them a bit more:
Jesus said to the crowd:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise them on the last day.”
And so the seekers are invited to move from curiosity to faith. Christ is open to “anyone who comes,” an apt reminder for those of us within the flock. And a good reminder for any mourners who may feel distanced from Christ or from the Church. The Father’s very will and desire is that all those who have come to Christ will be raised. It is only for us to accept this will, and cultivate faith according to our knowledge and abilities.
How do we come to eternal life, then? We see the Son and believe. My sense is that this is less an intellectual matter (though it could be, in part) and more one of cultivating a relationship. In John 6, it almost seems like a courtship. People pursue the Lord, and there’s a certain coy quality to these questions and answers, like two lovers-to-be figuring out what’s going on. The Lord comes right out and says it, eventually: Look for food that lasts. Nobody who comes will be rejected. Look for a relationship of faith, and eternal life will be yours.
This is a somewhat frequent choice for funerals. Not the most popular. But it does give a measure of hope for those who might in doubt about the state of the deceased’s soul? Was the person a true seeker? If so, we have the Lord’s will and his testimony that no one given to the Son will be lost. What do you think?