Abundant life, yep, abundant life. Life that is so full that it spills out over the edges and splashes on those around us. That kind of life. Life that can’t be contained or measured or exhausted. Life that just keeps on going and keeps on being full and joyous. That kind of life!
It’s just a dream, right? Just a pipe dream. That kind of life isn’t really possible, is it?
Well, before we get to that, let’s admit that each of us glimpses this kind of joy in stolen moments and flashes of insight. When I have my hand gripped tight by my precious daughter and she looks up at me with trusting eyes and says “I love you, daddy.” Moments when the day has just gone so well and I’m watching a beautiful sunset. Moments of sheer joy when the community is celebrating and we are at peace. So many moments that scream “This is the way life was meant to be!” It’s in these moments that it almost seems like an abundant life is possible. We all know moments like this and it’s in those moments that joy and peace kiss each other.
To be sure, some have more of these moments than others. And there certainly are dark times in life that also seem like they are going to last forever as well. But then joy comes and proves that all of life isn’t dark. And yet, I’ve met some who, even in the sad times of life seem to radiate peace and joy even in the face of such hardship. What makes this possible? And is abundant life really possible?
Let’s look at our Gospel Lesson today in John 10:9-16: The Lord said, “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”
The Lord makes clear that the abundant life that He is offering us is at the price of His own life. He lays down His life so that we can finally take up our true life in Him. This sharing of His life with me is meant to finally set me free from the false notion that it is my own strength, my own efforts that will finally and ultimately fulfill my life. The truth is a truly abundant life is only possible through the gift of His life given to me and for me. The abundant life Christ offers me is nothing less than my adoption of His life as my own. And I must also realize that the “thief” means only to take true life from me. That “thief” is easily identified as the devil, but there are other “thieves” that participate in the loss of true life for me. The “thief” of my own selfishness. The “thief” of revenge or anger or greed. All these thieves participate in the clouding of true life in my life.
Today, are you allowing “thieves” to steal abundant life from you? On this day when we remember St. John Chrysostom as a man who lived the angelic and abundant life of a man dedicated to embracing the full life of Christ, it’s time to reject the “thieves” that are stealing real life from you and embrace the abundant life shared with us every time we come to the Chalice and partake of the real life of Christ in the Eucharist. It’s time to really live and that is only possible through Jesus Christ.
P.S. Have you visited the Faith Encouraged website recently? You can read the daily devotions, hear our weekly homilies, keep up with special events and speaking engagements around the country, and stay informed about upcoming Faith Encouraged LIVE programming. plus a whole lot more. Go to faithencouraged.org and keep up with this growing ministry. Thanks for making all this possible and thanks be to God!