Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 37
Thursday in Fifth Week of Lent
“Opens ears, open hearts.”
Although in today’s Genesis reading God promises to make Abraham a “father of a multitude of nations”, and to receive the Promised Land (Gen 17:4, 8), when Abraham dies, his only descendant is his son, Isaac—nowhere close to a multitude of nations; and his only land is his grave—not quite a country. In other words, God’s greatest promises are only fulfilled when we die, i.e.: eternal life. So, in today’s John reading, when Jesus says, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day” (Jn 8:56), Jesus means that Abraham found his blessings in God in the next life, not in the World in this life. Yet, notice how dull Jesus’ opponents’ ears are: Jesus says Abraham saw him; they ask Jesus, “Have you seen Abraham?” (Jn 8:57)! But this isn’t their first dull ear moment. Earlier, Jesus says, “if any one keeps my word, he will never see death” (Jn 8:51). They misquote him saying, “will never taste death” (Jn 8:52). Jesus meant not dying eternally; they thought Jesus meant not dying biologically. So, when Jesus says, “before Abraham was, I am” their dull ears are finally opened! They understand that Jesus is not just saying that before Abraham existed, Jesus always existed; he is also saying that he is “I AM”, the God who revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush (Ex 3:14). His words cry out, “I AM GOD!” And a few chapters later, this God dies for us. Likewise, as we wrestle with the dullness of our ears and hearts this lent, perhaps we need to see Jesus dying on the Cross for us, that our ears and hearts may be opened to his love and grace for us!
O God, who hast called us to be thy children, and hast promised that those who suffer with Christ will be heirs with him of thy glory: Arm us with such trust in him that we may ask no rest from his demands and have no fear in his service; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.