Thursday, March 17, 2016

Liturgical Year C, Cycle II

First Reading: Genesis 17:3-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 105:4-9
Gospel: John 8:51-59

Saint Patrick, bishop - Commemoration

The Luminous Mysteries

First Reading: Genesis 17:3-9

3 Abram fell flat on his face.

4 And God said to him: I AM, and my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

5 Neither shall thy name be called any more Abram: but thou shalt be called Abraham: because I have made thee a father of many nations.

6 And I will make thee increase, exceedingly, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and between thy seed after thee in their generations, by a perpetual covenant: to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee.

8 And I will give to thee, and to thy seed, the land of thy sojournment, all the land of Chanaan for a perpetual possession, and I will be their God.

9 Again God said to Abraham: And thou therefore shalt keep my covenant, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 105:4-9

God’s Faithfulness to Israel

4 Remember us, O Lord, in the favour of thy people: visit us with thy salvation.

5 That we may see the good of thy chosen, that we may rejoice in the joy of thy nation: that thou mayst be praised with thy inheritance.

6 We have sinned with our fathers: we have acted unjustly, we have wrought iniquity.

7 Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt: they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies: And they provoked to wrath going up to the sea, even the Red Sea.

8 And he saved them for his own name's sake: that he might make his power known.

9 And he rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up: and he led them through the depths, as in a wilderness.

Gospel: John 8:51-59

51 Amen, amen I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever.

52 The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever.

53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself?

54 Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God.

55 And you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word.

56 Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad.

57 The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

58 Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.

59 They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

"Before Abraham was, I am"

Do you listen to Jesus' words as if your life depended on it? Jesus made a claim which only God can make - "if any one keeps my word, he will never see death." St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), explains this verse from John 8:51:

"It means nothing less than he saw another death from which he came to free us - the second death, eternal death, the death of hell, the death of the damned, which is shared with the devil and his angels! This is the real death; the other kind of death is only a passage" (Tractates on the Gospel of John 43.10-11).
When God established a relationship with Abraham, he offered him an unbreakable "everlasting covenant" (Genesis 17:7). Jesus came to fulfill that covenant so that we could know the living God and be united with him both now and for all eternity. God made us to know him and to be united with him and he gives us the gift of faith and understanding so that we may grow in the knowledge of what he has accomplished for us through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus challenged the people of Israel to accept his word as the very revelation of God himself. His claim challenged the very foundation of their belief and understanding of God. Jesus made a series of claims which are the very foundation of his life and mission. What are these claims? First, Jesus claims unique knowledge of God as the only begotten Son of the Father in heaven. Since he claims to be in direct personal communion with his Father in heaven, he knows everything about the Father. Jesus claims that the only way to full knowledge of the mind and heart of God is through himself. Jesus also claims unique obedience to God the Father. He thinks, lives and acts in the knowledge of his Father's word. To look at his life is to "see how God wishes me to live." In Jesus alone we see what God wants us to know and what he wants us to be.

When the Jewish authorities asked Jesus who do you claim to be? he answered, "before Abraham was, I am." Jesus claims to be timeless and there is only one in the universe who is timeless, namely God. Scripture tells us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus was not just a man who came, lived, died, and then rose again. He is the immortal timeless One, who always was and always will be. In Jesus we see the eternal God in visible flesh. He is God who became a man for our sake and for our salvation. His death and resurrection make it possible for us to share in his immortality. Do you believe the words of Jesus and obey them with all your heart, mind, and strength?

"Lord Jesus, let your word be on my lips and in my heart that I may walk in the freedom of your everlasting love, truth and goodness."

Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

I pray that your Lent experience thus far in 2016 has been a special time to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus!  If not, the good news is that there is still time and Jesus is lovingly waiting.

I oftentimes feel like the readings I am given to reflect and write on have been especially chosen just for me at a specific time in my life.  Today’s readings are no different.  This past week, I found myself reflecting on whether or not I would have believed Jesus if I had physically been there on that day with Him when He responded to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.”  John 8:58.  Would I have been part of the crowd that picked up a stone to throw at Jesus?  Tears came to my eyes just thinking about it, but in the Jews' defense, I believe they truly felt they were honoring God in their actions.  They were in the temple area and were convinced they had just heard Jesus claiming to be God.  Blasphemy!

I then experienced the overwhelming sense that the throwing of stones wasn’t something that just happened that day at that particular time in history.  It is forall of us today, two thousand years later.  We can choose to pick up stones to throw at Jesus or we can choose to believe what Jesus continues to say to all of us:“Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” John 8:58

Jesus, I believe you and am thankful for this gift of faith.  My continued prayer for all of us can be found in today’s readings, the verse before the Gospel: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Psalm 95:8

by Jan Schnack
Creighton University's Nursing Dean's Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
Bible Story illustrations by publishing.com 

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