Thursday Fifth Week Lent 2011: I Am Sayings

Mass readings for today are here

Gospel John 8 : 51 -59

Jesus said to the Jews:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word will never see death.” 

So the Jews said to him,
“Now we are sure that you are possessed.

Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say,
‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’
Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?
Or the prophets, who died?
Who do you make yourself out to be?” 

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’

You do not know him, but I know him.
And if I should say that I do not know him,
I would be like you a liar.

But I do know him and I keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day;
he saw it and was glad.” 

So the Jews said to him,
“You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”

So they picked up stones to throw at him;
but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.

There are seven occasions where Jesus uses the term  “I Am” to emphasise who He is in the person and ministry of Christ.  Referring to Himself, Jesus says:

“I Am” the Bread of Life
“I Am” the Light of the World
“I Am” the Door
“I Am” the Good Shepherd 
“I Am” the Resurrection and the Life 
“I Am” the Way and the Truth and the Life 
 “I Am” the True Vine 

Reflections :

When Jesus talked about being the Bread of Life, it troubled some people...Many of His
disciples left Him - prompting Jesus to ask the twelve left "Do you also want to go away?"

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 

They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" 

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

I suppose there comes a time for all of us when we have to make a choice about who Jesus really is and whether we want to follow. That choice is sometimes one we have to renew daily or even hourly !

Jesus himself had to go into the desert for 40 days to prepare Himself for the final days of His ministry.

We are told that He set His face like flint to go to Jerusalem where he knew he would be betrayed and abandoned by those closest to Him and then crucified.

But Jesus was human and even his committment to the task ahead wavered and faltered in the final agonising hours in the Garden of Gethesemane.

In a secular world and one that seems at every corner to hound us with the cries of God is Dead and God doesn't exist and Jesus wasn't who he said He was etc etc I often find myself these days speechless because I know that I can't explain and I haven't got all the answers.  

That is why the actions of the disciples in Holy Week speak volumes about how even the strongest will can be severely challenged and there is no doubt that we fail time and time again to do what is right in God's eyes. 

The gospel during Holy Week always profoundly challenges the core of my beliefs and asks hard questions BUT ... all I can do is set my face like flint and try and persevere. I have to let go of my insecurities ..

As Simon Peter said "To whom shall we go, Lord ?-  You have the words of everlasting life."
Thomas Merton said : 
"He who hears the voice of God must recognise that he is called to an adventure whose ending he cannot foresee because it is in the hands of God. That is the risk and the challenge ....: we surrender our lives into the hands of God and never take them back."
Thomas Merton.
In the book The Holy Longing Ronald Rolheiser has this to say about coming to church, especially to our Catholic Church.
“To be in Church is not necessary to be with others with whom we agree, with whom we are emotionally, ideologically or otherwise compatible. 
Rather it is to stand shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand (which is why we have the sign of peace) precisely with people who are very different from ourselves and with them to hear common words, say a common creed, share a common bread, and offer a mutual forgiveness so as in that way to breach our differences and become a common heart.”

 Accapella singing "To Whom Shall We Go ?"

Further Reading

A few fine reflections on the Gospel  I AM from here and here

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