Thursday, April 10, 2014

“How many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit?”

“Those who meet Jesus always experience either joy or its opposites, either foretastes of Heaven or foretastes of Hell. Not everyone who meets Jesus is pleased, and not everyone is happy, but everyone is shocked.” - Peter Kreeft: Professor of philosophy at Boston College

Gospel Text: (JN 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.

Occasionally, someone says something just plain appalling. You catch your breath. You gape momentarily in astonishment. You probably don’t pick up stones to throw, although it’s possible you begin firing mental missiles: How dare he! What was he thinking! That’s something like the Jews’ outraged reaction—including actual stones—when Jesus announced, “Before Abraham came to be, I am.” Shocking!

Fortunately for us, two thousand years of revelation and teaching have given us an edge in understanding Jesus’ claim. So who is this “I am”?

I am your shepherd. I lead you and direct you in the way you should go. I provide for you along the way: rest and restoration, wisdom and understanding, goodness and mercy. I am your strength, both the strength of your life and the One who strengthens you when you feel weak. I deliver you from the bonds of sin, foolishness, and hopelessness. I heal your illnesses, addictions, rage, and bitterness. I have redeemed you, and you are mine. I have saved you, and daily I make you holy and fruitful.

I am love. I love you. I know you better than you know yourself, and still I love you. I am present everywhere you are, with you in your suffering, fear, and loneliness; in your joy, successes, and celebrations. I hear every prayer and every word you whisper.

I am your righteousness. What you could never earn or deserve—an intimate, ever-deepening relationship with me—I have made possible for you. And when your sin injures or breaks that relationship, I am still your righteousness, the way of reparation and restoration through the Sacrament of Reconcilaition.

I am the almighty God, everlasting Father, the One who was and is and is to come. I, the Most High God and sovereign Lord of all creation, come to you. I delight in you. I delight in speaking to you and hearing from you. I confer my power and authority on you. I fill you with my Holy Spirit, who gives you the energy to do the things I call you to do. The whole universe cannot contain me, yet I am dwelling in your heart.

I am Jesus, your Redeemer and Brother.

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