Thursday - Lent Time
1) Opening prayer
in your son Jesus Christ
you have given us a new name,
the name of your Son himself.
May we live up to our new destiny,
to be people-for-others
who serve and commit ourselves
together with Jesus,
your Son and our Lord for ever.
2) Gospel Reading - John 8, 51-59
In all truth I tell you, whoever
keeps my word will never see death.
The Jews said, 'Now we know that
you are possessed. Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, and yet you say,
"Whoever keeps my word will never know the taste of death." Are you
greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The prophets are dead too. Who
are you claiming to be?'
Jesus answered: If I were to seek
my own glory my glory would be worth nothing; in fact, my glory is conferred by
the Father, by the one of whom you say, 'He is our God,' although you do not
know him. But I know him, and if I were to say, 'I do not know him,' I should
be a liar, as you yourselves are. But I do know him, and I keep his word. Your
father Abraham rejoiced to think that he would see my Day; he saw it and was
The Jews then said, 'You are not
fifty yet, and you have seen Abraham!'
Jesus replied: In all truth I tell
you, before Abraham ever was, I am.
At this they picked up stones to
throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.
Chapter 8 seems an exhibition of works of art, where it is possible to admire
and contemplate famous paintings, next to one another. Today’s Gospel presents
us a painting, and a dialogue between Jesus and the Jews. There is not too much
connection between one and the other painting. It is the spectator who, thanks
to his/her attentive and prayerful observation, succeeds to discover the invisible
thread that binds the paintings, the dialogues among themselves. Thus, we
penetrate into the divine mystery which envelops the person of Jesus.
John 8, 51: Whoever keeps the word of Jesus will not see death. Jesus
makes a solemn affirmation; the prophets said: Oracle of the Lord! Jesus
says: “Truly, I say to you!” And the solemn affirmation is the
following: “Whoever keeps my word will not see death!” This same theme
appears and reappears many times in the Gospel of John. These are words of a great
John 8, 52-53: Abraham and the prophets died. The reaction of the Jews
is immediate: “Now we know that you are out of your mind. Abraham died and the
prophets also died. And you say: “Whoever keeps my word will never see death”. Are
you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who are
you claiming to be?” They did not understand the importance and significance of
the affirmation of Jesus. It was a dialogue of the deaf.
John, 8, 54-56: I am glorified by my Father. Once again and as always
Jesus hits on the same key: He is so united to the Father that everything that
he says or does is his. Everything is the Father’s. And he says: “The one
who glorifies me is my Father, the one whom you say, ‘He is our God!” and you
do not know him. But I know him. And if I were to say, ‘I do not know him’, I
should be a liar, as you yourselves are. But I do know him and I observe his
word. Your father, Abraham, rejoiced to think that he would see my Day; he saw
it and was glad”. These words of Jesus must have been like a spade which
wounded the self esteem of the Jews. To tell the religious authority: “You do
not know the God whom you say you know. I know him and you do not know him!” It
is like accusing them of total ignorance exactly regarding the theme on which
they think they are specialized doctors. And the final word increases the
measure: “Abraham, your father, rejoiced in the hope of seeing my Day, he
saw it and was glad”.
John 8, 57-59: “You are not fifty yet, and you have seen Abraham! They
took everything literally, thus showing that they did not understand anything
of what Jesus was saying. And Jesus makes another solemn affirmation: "In
all truth I tell you: before Abraham ever was, I AM”.
those who believe in Jesus, here we reach the heart of the mystery of the
story. Once again they pick up stones to kill Jesus. But neither this time will
they succeed, because his hour has not as yet come. The one who determines the
hour is Jesus himself.
4) Personal questions
It is a dialogue with the deaf between Jesus and the Jews. Have you sometimes
had the experience of speaking with a person who thinks exactly the opposite of
what you think and is not aware of it?
How can we understand this phrase: “Abraham, your father, rejoiced in the hope
of seeing my Day, he saw it and was glad”?
5) Concluding Prayer
Seek Yahweh and his strength,
tirelessly seek his presence!
the marvels he has done,
his wonders, the judgements he has
spoken. (Ps 105,4-5)