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I Know Him
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
John 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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, life–particularly the spiritual life–can be confusing, and this can be frustrating, but because the struggle helps me to realize how very much I need you, it can also lead to a deeper sense of humility. I humbly ask for this grace: the gift of trust in your wisdom and understanding, particularly during times of confusion.
1. “Now We Are Sure That You Are Possessed”: Having the benefit of over two thousand years’ worth of twenty-twenty hindsight, we might wonder at the lack of faith shown by the Jews here. And yet, if we are honest, perhaps we have been as confused as they were by Jesus’s words. Jesus tried to lead them to the truth, but truth can be blinding to earthly eyes and hearts and minds. And sin–pride, vanity, sensuality–can prevent understanding from entering in. Are we really truth-seekers, or do we have a question about, or answer for, everything? Is our prayer one-way? Or do we stop to humbly listen to Jesus? He will always lead us to the truth.
2. “You Do Not Know Him”: For first-century Jews, the name of God was not spoken or even written, so referring to him with such familiarity was incredible blasphemy! In fact, the accusation of blasphemy was one of the primary reasons for Jesus’s death sentence. Jesus was trying to give the Jews the gift of knowing his Father. Too easily the words “Our Father” roll off our tongues, but the gift of a Father, an Abba, a Daddy, who also happens to be the Creator of the universe is Jesus’s gift to us as well. Jesus thought it was so important for us to know his Father that he was willing to die to reveal it to us. Let us fall to our knees and, with deep humility, thank him.
3. “He Saw It and Was Glad”: In the Garden, life was perfect; our parents enjoyed a beautiful relationship with the Father. But the serpent brought sin and pride to the scene and, to this day, the enemy continues to sow division in humanity’s relationship with the Father. Throughout salvation history, however, God has worked to restore our filial relationship with him. He sent his Son to accomplish redemption, which enables God’s people–all of his children–to enter into an intimate Eden-like relationship with him. So, yes, the prophets longed for and rejoiced to see Jesus’s “day.” May we rejoice as well, with hearts full of gratitude, for the gift of such a Father and such a Savior.
Conversing with Christ: Dear Lord, please forgive me for the times that I steamroll you in our prayer conversations. Forgive me for the times that I think I know better than you. I am in utter awe of your generosity toward me and, like the prophets, I am “very glad” that you are my Savior.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will imitate your beloved disciple John and, interiorly, put my head on your heart. As I do so, I will intercede for priests who may be far from you, your Father, and your tender love.
For Further Reflection: I will pray with Psalm 103, reflecting especially on verse 13: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”
written by Mary Wolff