The artist looks at his work with pride: It appears to be perfect in every way. He summons the teacher for an opinion. Inclined to encourage young artists, she gingerly opines, “It’s really good. But something is missing.” The student looks again carefully at his work. Quizzically he asks, “What’s missing?” Without hesitation the teacher replies, “It has no life.”
Jesus brings abundant life. For many of us in North America, abundance brings images of material prosperity: a lavish home, worldwide cruises, luxury cars, a lucrative career, surplus money in the bank, or winning the lottery. We imagine that this kind of prosperity would allow us to live life to the fullest. But for so many who enjoy “the good life,” something is still missing: life.
Abundant life does not consist of an abundance of material things. If that were the case, Jesus would have kept company with the wealthy and influential. But it’s just the opposite.
In today’s reading, the word abundantly connotes excessive, beyond measure, more, superfluous—a quantity so immeasurable that it is more than what one would expect or anticipate. This is the kind of life Jesus brings. It is more than we could ever imagine.
An abundant life is not necessarily a long life, but it is a full one. We get a glimpse of this fullness, this abundance, only by looking to the One who, being in the form of God, did not exploit his equality with God, but emptied himself. (See Philippians 2:5-7.) Jesus shares wisdom hidden from the robust and the clever: The last shall be first; the least shall hold pride of place; the littlest have much to offer the big and the strong; in weakness lies strength. In emptying himself, Jesus is able to give life abundant. By learning to live with less, in emptying ourselves, we can be filled with an abundance that will truly satisfy.
Jesus, Son of the Living God, give me the will this day to make enough room for the gifts of your Spirit that hold the seeds of the abundant life you promise. Amen.
The reading from Acts picks up the themes of mutual love and fellowship from last week’s readings and records that the display of these qualities captured the attention of the people in Jerusalem. When the church displays these qualities today, they still attract people to the Lord. The psalm and First Peter are linked by the theme of suffering. In Psalm 23, David is confident that God will stay with him even through the darkest valley. Peter encourages his audience to walk through that same valley, strengthened by the knowledge that God will never abandon them and that they are following the example of Christ. In John, Jesus declares that he is the way to safety for God’s sheep, so we should listen to his voice alone.
Read Acts 2:42-47. How do you see Good Time and Bad Time coexisting in your life or in your community?
Read Psalm 23. How do this psalm’s joys and comforts change when you consider the suffering of the psalmist in Psalm 22?
Read 1 Peter 2:19-25. When you have been caught in a struggle, how have your actions helped or worsened your situation?
Read John 10:1-10. How have you or someone you know attempted to enter God’s abundance by stealth? What does it mean for you to rectify this and enter through the gate?
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