Scripture: 1st Reading: Gen17,3-9; Resp. Psalm: Ps105,4-9; Gosp. Accl.: Ps95,7-8; Gospel: Jn8,51-59
Our Lord today makes categorical claims about His origin, His divinity, His power to grant eternal life to those who believe Him, His power to cancel the ancient curse of sin that led to eternal death. He claimed by this to be the new Adam who would cancel the penalty for sin incurred by the first Adam.
Our Lord claimed that He had a glory that is not earth originated and not earth bound. The glory was from the Father, His Father. He stated that God, the God who made covenant with Abraham and the Israelites and who adopted Israel as His people, was His own real, biological Father. As Son, He claimed to know His Father well.
As Son, He claimed that to deny His knowledge of the Father was tantamount to lying. He knew the Father and kept the Father's word. Today, our Lord also claimed pre-existence before Abraham. Our Lord said that Abraham rejoiced "that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad." The implication here was clear: our Lord was saying that He pre-existed in eternity before His historical appearance on earth. If this was not so, Abraham would not have rejoiced to see His day.
Our Lord stated that He would give eternal life to anyone who keeps His word. The Jews interpreted this to mean freedom from bodily, corporeal death. That was why they made reference to Abraham who, though righteous, had already paid the wages of sin hundreds of years before. Abraham was already dead. But our Lord was not talking of corporeal death. He too was going to die, not as a wage of any sin, but to cancel the wage of that sin for all humankind.
Our Lord could make this promise because of His divine nature. Only God could give life. He promised life because He was of the same divine nature with His Father. In His words, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
These words of our Lord were intolerable to the ears of the Jews. They had at first charged Him of being insane and of belonging to the despised Samaritan race. Now, with His claim to divinity with the Father, the took up stones in the temple today stone Him but He hid Himself and went out of the temple.
Our Lord today says to us that eternal, everlasting, limitless life belongs to us if we keep His word. He had made a new covenant on our behalf with the Father. His covenant was greater than that which God made with Abraham in today's first reading because it was made in His own blood. Having made it in His blood, God His Father would remain faithful to His commitment till the end of time.
On this Lenten day, we see that the stakes are being raised higher and higher against our Lord. The enemies were strategizing now. The oppositions to Him were mounting. His words were being examined to see how to catch Him. This however did not deter our Lord from stating the truth about who He was, where He came from and what His mission was.
As we follow the events of the coming days, let us immerse ourselves in the mind of Jesus. Let us appreciate His sacrifice on our behalf. Let us thank Him by living lives worthy of the Christian name that we bear.
Let us pray: "Be near, O Lord, to those who plead before you, and look kindly on those who place their hope in your mercy, that, cleansed from the stain of their sins, they may persevere in holy living and be made full heirs of your promise." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.