Scripture: Lectionary 3/29/12. Genesis 17: 3-9. Psalm 105:4-5.6-7.8-9. John 8:51-59
During the closing days of this week we are more focused upon the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus (the Paschal Mysteries). Our prayers are more attentive to this mystery of our salvation. This is appropriate and helpful for our Lenten journey as we approach Holy Week and the most solemn days of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil). The liturgical readings are of great support in our reflections and prayers and they help us to be more united with Jesus who is now on his way to the cross.
The conflict Jesus faces with the religious leaders is that he is equating himself with God. We who know the full story of the Gospels can accept in faith that Jesus is one with the Father being divine. He is human from the historical event of his birth from Mary his mother. John already has framed his whole Gospel through verse 14 of chapter one: “And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us.” This theology of God is called Incarnational theology since it does tell us that Jesus is a real human person in the chronological history of humankind. He is one with God through his divinity and one with us through his humanity.
We come to such a belief in this mystery of our salvation through the faith that we received in the sacrament of Baptism which has been central to the season of Lent. This is the time when many are preparing for their entrance into the Church during the Easter Vigil. Our faith in this mystery is above all central to the readings of John’s Gospel. That is why they have been our Lenten readings for the past two weeks. We slowly become aware of the importance of the Scriptures as we grow in our faith through the beginnings stages of our human life. Both the Scriptures and the Sacraments become part of our ongoing formation in our Catholic faith. We are then able to understand the sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel since we have come to know the full story through those who have handed on the faith to us are our parents. Just as Jesus has a perfect loving relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit, we have a strong relationship and an intimate one through the Baptismal gifts of faith, hope, and love.
Today Jesus solemnly declares his divinity by using the sacred name of God given to Moses in the burning bush event. John translates this sacred name for Jesus as I AM. We grow in our faith by following the “I AM” statements that are unique to John’s Gospel. Sometimes we have a negative image of God as wrathful, judgmental over our wrong doings, and even jealous as we learn in Deuteronomy. God is jealous for our love. The I AM statements are for the Christian, a positive way of looking at God through the human face of Jesus and his living voice telling us: “I AM the Bread of Life, AM the door, I AM the Good Shepherd, I AM the Resurrection, I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I AM the true vine. The Book of Revelation sum up all of these I AM pronouncements with the statement, “I AM the Alpha and the Omega (first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), says the Lord God.” John has been inspired by the prophetic traditions of Deutero-Isaiah 43:10-11 in the Greek translation called the Septuagint. Only the Christian who believes in Jesus as the God-man is able to say these statements. Amen.
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