Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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 50 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.
Introductory Prayer: Father, let the gift of your life continue to grow in us, drawing us from death to faith, hope and love. Keep us alive in Christ Jesus. Keep us watchful in prayer and true to his teaching till your glory is revealed in us. Grant this through the same Christ our Lord.
Petition: Lord, increase my faith and grant me your life that I may truly live.
1. Whoever keeps my word will never see death. The Church glories in her martyrs since they kept the word of God, even unto death. Christ tells his disciples that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies it remains just a grain of wheat.” Here he tells his listeners that by keeping his word they shall never taste death. Perhaps it is St. Paul who gives us the best insight into this paradoxical phrase. In his second letter to the Corinthians he refers to his sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel: “we are always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. …Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:10,16). Those who have seen Pope John Paul II in person in recent years have had a clear glimpse of this great man’s vigorous interior life contained within a frail body. His body grows older but his spirit is indomitable. He has kept the word faithfully and his example, his words, his eyes, his very person communicate life.
2. Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Abraham is dead, Moses is dead, David and Solomon are dead. Elijah was carried away in a chariot of fire. The crowd looks at Jesus and says, “Who do you think you are?”
First you tell us that we must eat your flesh and drink your blood or we will not have life. Now … now you claim that those who are faithful to you will never die. Who do you think you are, really? There are souls who want everything to be clear before they commit their lives to Christ. They listen to him much like those today who hear what the Church says but cannot grasp why it teaches what it teaches –– it simply is not practical, it is not popular, and above all it constricts my freedom and my personality…. Arguments do not convert these hearts. Personal encounters with Christ do. When Jesus announced the Eucharist in John’s sixth chapter many disciples walked with him no more. But the Twelve remained. Not because they understood the doctrine of the Eucharist, but because in their time spent with Jesus, they knew he could be trusted, that he would never deceive them. We trust the Church because we trust Christ.
3. Before Abraham came to be, I AM. Jesus Christ cannot be reduced to a moral teacher once he claims to be the Great I AM. Simply put, he is either God Almighty or he is a liar. In his discussion with his interlocutors he makes this very point. But to keep it from the level of appearing as personal aggrandizement or some form of deception, Jesus says to them, “if you will not believe my words then at least look at my works.” See the signs I perform! John the Baptist once sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he were “The One.” What does Jesus respond? The blind see, the dead are raised to life, cripples walk, the poor have the good news preached to them. He knows that in these works John will recognize the hand of God. And what about us – his disciples in contemporary society? We believe in the Resurrection, we believe he is fully present in the Eucharist. Jesus looks at us and asks, “By the way you live your life, who do you say that I am?”
Dialogue with Christ: Dear Lord, I believe in you. I do not always see clearly nor do I grasp all that you do in my life. I do not ask for comprehension. But I do ask for the grace to believe you above all things and to let my faith in you guide my thoughts and actions. Help me to live what I believe and help me to believe all that you ask of me. Mother of Purity, make my heart only for Jesus.
Resolution: Today I will make a visit to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to express my faith in his divine presence. There I will renew my baptismal promises by reciting the Apostles Creed and by rejecting sin, Satan and all his works.

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