Jesus said to the Jews, «Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never experience death». The Jews replied, «Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died and the prophets as well, but you say: ‘Whoever keeps my word will never experience death’. Who do you claim to be? Do you claim to be greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets also died». Then Jesus said, «If I were to praise myself, it would count for nothing. But he who gives glory to me is the Father, the very one you claim as your God, although you don't know him. I know him and if I were to say that I don't know him, I would be a liar like you. But I know him and I keep his word. As for Abraham, your ancestor, he looked forward to the day when I would come; and he rejoiced when he saw it». The Jews then said to him, «You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?». And Jesus said «Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.». They then picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.
“I AM” is the name that God has given to Himself and today Jesus is reminding us that He and the Father are ONE. The Lenten season is there to help us to understand God and respond to Him positively to His call to holiness. The way to be holy is, by accomplishing the divine will.
Why should we do it? It’s because we are the people of covenant, alliance. By changing the name of Abram to Abraham, God has made him as a multitude and through him, He has made alliance with this multitude. According to Jesus, we are part of this covenant people.
God has promised, not to any people, but to a chosen generation, and holy people. This search God and remain faithful to His commandment of love. If Abraham is our father, then we should search this God, listen to what He has to say, and put all our energy to accomplish this divine Will.
Just like the people of Jesus’ time, we too may not understand the divine mysteries. When we don’t understand, we should approach Jesus, who knows everything, with humility and openness. Once the promised ‘Time’ arrives, we will understand it better.
«As for Abraham, your ancestor, he looked forward to the day when I would come; and he rejoiced when he saw it»
Fr. Enric CASES i Martín
Today, Saint John places us before Jesus' revelation in the Temple. Our Savior reveals something unknown to the Jews: that Abraham looked forward and rejoiced when he saw Jesus' day. They all knew God had made a promise to Abraham, by assuring him of great promises of salvation for his seed. However, they were unaware of how far God's light could reach. Christ reveals them that Abraham did see the Messiah in the day of Yahweh, which Jesus calls my day.
In this revelation, Jesus appears as having God's eternal vision. But, above all, He appears as someone preexistent and present in Abraham's time. Later, in the heat of the discussion, when the Jews said to Jesus that He is not yet fifty years old, He tells them: «Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am» (Jn 8:58). This is a notorious statement of his divinity, which they could perfectly understand, and which they could have also believed, had they better known the Father. The expression “I am” is part of the holy tetragram Yahweh revealed to Moses in mount Sinai.
Christianism is much more than a collection of high moral norms, as can be perfect love, or even, forgiveness. Christianism is faith in one person. Jesus Christ is True God and True Man. «Perfect God and Perfect Man», says the Athanasian Symbol. Saint Hilary of Poitiers writes in a beautiful prayer: «Give us, therefore, a way to express ourselves in an adequate and dignified manner, to enlighten our intelligence, and make also our words to express our faith, that is, that we, who, through the prophets and the Apostles, had come to know You God Father and the unique Lord Jesus Christ, may also celebrate You as our God, in which there is no unicity of person and confess your Son, in everything equal to You».