Monday in the Third Week of Easter
The crowd asked Jesus, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” A scholar of the law asked him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” A rich young man also said, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” A jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” In stories of the desert fathers, young disciples asked their elders, “How can I be saved?” It is the question the abbot asks of postulants when they are about to receive the monastic habit, “What do you seek?” And the postulant replies, “The mercy of God and of the Order,” because it is not what we do that saves us, but it’s the mercy of God’s saving love.
The question in all its various forms recognizes that eternal loss and eternal gain are at stake here. Many today do not even know the question much less the answer. They are not yet seeking Jesus who is God’s saving love. In the film “Forrest Gump” a friend says, “Gump, have you found Jesus yet?” Forrest replies, “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for Him.”
The crowd was seeking Jesus for food that perishes. At least they were seeking him. Jesus loves them for that, and he guides them to work for the food that endures for eternal life. Jesus, who is the Way, says, “Believe in the one [the Father has] sent.” So also, Paul and Silas tell the jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, you and your whole household. … Then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.” Believing in the mercy of God is the beginning of salvation. After receiving God’s saving love in Baptism, all our works, everything we do with a good heart will just be an expression of our gratitude all the way to heaven.