A friend (currently working in the area of Catholic social service) just asked me about the meaning of John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The question was how this “life” refers to the quality or justice of life here and now. I won’t go into that right here, that’s for another discussion.
We explored it a bit, and then I suggested, given the centrality of this verse to the whole of Christian faith and spirituality, that we look up and see how the Catechism uses it.
Guess what. It doesn’t. No use or reference to it whatsoever. Anywhere. Not even in a footnote.
Well, we gave the Compendium on Social Doctrine a go.
Guess what. Nothing there either.
But hold on a moment, surely Papa Benny said something about this in his latest encyclical “Spe Salvi”. After all, how could you say anything about the hope that the eschatological promise gives us for life here in the present without refering to this verse?
Then we hit pay-dirt. Paragraph 27:
from faith I await “eternal life”—the true life which, whole and unthreatened, in all its fullness, is simply life. Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”.
In fact, a google of “benedict XVI” and “john 10:10” turned up 2,270 results. Of course, the majority of these would be “repeat” hits of the same instances, but it is interesting to see how such a crucial verse – crucial also for the teaching of the present pope – is totally absent in the Catechism or the Compendium on Social Doctrine. Isn’t it?