Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent
Scripture Readings: Gen 17:3-9; Jn 8:51-59
“Whoever keeps my word will never see or taste death.” St. Thomas Aquinas writes that Jesus is referring to spiritual death1, what the Book of Revelation calls the second death, or eternal separation from God.
The first death is separation of body and soul. The separation of what belongs together is normally painful, like severing an arm or a leg, or getting a divorce, or the death of one’s parent or child. But these are nothing compared to the unbearable agony of the second death, because we are made for eternal union with God. Jesus says that those who keep his word will not see or taste the second death.
But what about the first death, will it be inescapably painful? St. Augustine writes that death in the state of grace is a gift.2 To see and taste the joy of entering into eternal union with God is always a happy death. It is a grace we should ask St. Joseph for every day,
1. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John.
2. St. Augustine, The Gift of Perseverance.