I have come that you may have life -- and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
In him was life, and the life was the light of humans. (John 1:4)
The glory of God is a human being fully alive. (Irenaeus)
Extravagant abundance and astonishing generosity -- these are hallmarks of Jesus’ gifts to all of us. His birth announced new, wholehearted life; his teaching and healing ministry connected people to a larger sense of aliveness; his resurrection brought reconnection to the power for life.
Jesus came for one central purpose. He said it clearly: “I have come that you may have life -- abundantly.”
What did he mean by “abundant life”? Life is composed of energy and vitality. That’s the gift Jesus brought to people. In the stories of Jesus’ encounters, when he entered a room, people woke up to a new sense of life -- an emergence of life-love energy.
As Bruno Barnhart, one of my monk friends, wrote, “Jesus awakens in me that which lies at the core of my own being.”
I believe that to be “saved” means to receive the gift of full aliveness. This gift of awakening comes as we see Jesus -- and follow him -- as a center of life-love energy.
For me, this gift involves four major dimensions, which have become a four-part prayer for abundant life. These are four petitions that I pray daily as an anchor and reminder.
“May we be rooted and grounded in love.”
God is love, and Jesus embodied that unconditional love for all of us. That which lies at the core of my being and your being is love.
This then becomes our life task: we are sent here to learn to love, to see what love can do as we reach out to love our neighbors across race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other distinctions. Love means that we all belong together in boundless belonging. Thus, the energy of abundant life is generated as we engage each other in authentic community.
“May we be focused on our mission today.”
Every day, we have opportunities to live out our calling to be loving humans -- in our work-life, family or social contexts. May we use our gifts and skills to be channels of love and justice, including economic justice for our friends who have meager resources.
“May we make good judgments about our health and well-being.”
We all need to attend to our personal and community health; we all need rest, nutrition, exercise and vital nurture from trusted friends. As someone said to me, “You can’t pour out of a pitcher what’s not in it.” Replenishment is essential. It’s an ongoing process, in which we ask, “God, remove the deadness. Make me fully alive.”
Abundant life also includes the health and well-being of our wider community, especially for those who live below the poverty line and those who suffer from oppression because of race or immigrant status. Well-being includes economic health for all citizens.
“May we always enjoy our friends.”
Isolation is deadening. Enjoyment of each other is refreshing, rejuvenating and life-giving. It’s good to “make much over each other,” affirming and celebrating each other. Occasions such as birthdays provide rituals of affirmation, but we need to bask in each other’s presence throughout the year. Life is short, and we need to be loving, kind and generous. Jesus embodied this enjoyment at all those meals he ate with his disciples, whom he called “friends.”
The enjoyment must go beyond our usual comfort zone as we move out to get to know, respect and listen to our neighbors who live in other ZIP codes.
Abundant life is the gift Jesus extends to all of us. Our job is to accept the gift and live with abundant aliveness.