Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.”
Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s Gospel those gathered to hear Jesus accuse him of claiming to be greater than Abraham. Jesus replies by echoing the words of God to Moses: “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.” Utter blasphemy to a 1st-century Jew.
Lent is a time to free ourselves of disordered attachments so that we can begin to see Jesus for who he truly is – the God-man, the Messiah. This Lent, ask yourself: “Is my fasting increasing my dependence on the Word of God? Is my prayer strengthening my faith in Jesus, in the fullness of who he is and what he has done? Is my almsgiving merely a task or is it conforming me to Christ?” As we await the joyful promises of Easter, let us pray for the grace to freely respond to Jesus, not with hearts of stone and stones in hand, but with humble hearts and hands outstretched.
—Sam McGrath is a Theology teacher at Verbum Dei High School, Los Angeles, CA.
O Lord, take away my heart of stone;
give me a new heart, a heart of flesh, a clean heart!
You are the image of all beauty holiness.
Renew my heart in your image
and seal my heart in your mercy. Amen.
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