Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent, April 2
As a Christian People, May We Always Embrace the Blessed Hope of the New Covenantal Promise Made to Each of Us from the Depths of Divine Love, for We Are Each Invited to Become Co-heirs with Christ in His Kingdom.
“If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me…”
And it is this glory which the Eternal Father gives to His Son which calls each of us to open our hearts and experience the unfathomable Love which drew our Lord to the glory of the Cross, despising its shame and humiliation – all because of the infinite and unfathomable Love which He holds for each and every one of us, a Love which is beyond human description.
Today, our Scripture Readings invite us into the mind and the heart of God, in which we experience the beginning of the covenantal promise made with Abraham, a promise in which God would be with His children for all generations to come – a Covenant which reaches its ultimate fulfillment in the Birth, Death and Resurrection of the Eternal Word made flesh for our salvation!
For as Jesus explained to the Jewish authorities in today’s Gospel, “Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” – a promise which began with the birth of Isaac, a promise in which Abraham’s seed, and all the generations which ultimately followed, would become God’s special children, a promise in which you and I have become heirs today – heirs of the New Covenant as a fulfillment of the Old, and co-heirs with Christ.
In our Responsorial Psalm, we are praying a song of praise and thanksgiving, recalling the covenantal relationship which God established so long ago, “He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations, which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac.”
And in today’s Gospel, Jesus is continuing to affirm His identity to the Jewish authorities, especially when He invokes the phrase, “I AM” – an expression which God spoke to Moses, which we find in the Book of Exodus, when He commissioned Moses to lead the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt, a declaration which Jesus uses in today’s Reading, making Himself equal to God!
We can see within our Gospel Readings over the past few days a progression which is leading us ever closer to the Paschal Mystery, wherein Jesus will be arrested, tried and ultimately crucified.
But this is all in fulfillment of the prophesies laid out for us throughout much of the Old Testament, beginning with the Book of Genesis itself, when God declared “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” – for it is this particular passage that can be understood as the first promise of a Redeemer, a Savior for fallen mankind.
When God created His Covenant with Abraham, it was the first time that God made a loving promise, an agreement, to always remain with His children. And as this relationship matured throughout the passage of time between God and His Chosen People, God began revealing more of the elements of this Covenant, until we finally read – within the various Books of Biblical History and the Books of the Prophets – the various prophesies concerning the promised Messiah, the Christ.
This Covenant, which God established with Abraham, who was the first of the great Patriarchs of the Old Testament, was a testimonial of God’s loving care for His children, and a precursor of the New Covenant in which the Eternal Good Shepherd would watch over and care for His flock. And later in John’s Gospel, we will be reading about Jesus calling Himself the “good shepherd” who “lays down his life” for His sheep.
Jesus, in His continuing dialogue with the Jewish authorities, was teaching them about His fulfillment of all that was written about Him in the Old Covenant. But in their continued obstinacy of heart, they remained spiritually blind. As we have read in John’s account of the Gospel over the past few days, unless they recognized Jesus as “I AM” and accepted His teachings, they would remain spiritually dead.
As we reflect upon the First Reading and the covenant God created with Abraham and His descendants, Jesus, in today’s Gospel, is also creating a covenantal promise, a promise with each and every one of us – that, if we remain true to His words, we shall “never taste death.”
It is the very act of the Paschal Mystery itself – Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection, and culminating with His Ascension into Heaven – which gives us an enduring hope! For it is this Paschal Mystery of our Lord’s Cross and Resurrection which stands at the very center of the Good News which the Apostles, and the Church following them, proclaimed to the world – a message of redemption, a message of eternal salvation!
And the acclamation of our belief in this Good News is found in the words expressed in the celebration of the Holy Mass, “We proclaim Your Death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection until You come again.”
As a Christian people, it is this blessed hope – our restored life and God’s invitation to each of us to become co-heirs of His Kingdom – for which we deeply long and earnestly pray. May we always remember Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel – a new covenantal promise made to each and every one of us from the very depths of Divine Love:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death”! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “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.’” (John 8:54-55a)
- “‘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.’” (John 8:56-58)
- “God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)
- “He remembers forever his covenant, the word he commanded for a thousand generations, Which he entered into with Abraham and swore to Isaac.” (Psalm 105:8-9)
- “The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33bc)
- “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.’” (Luke 22:20)
- “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
- “For this reason [Christ] is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15)
- “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:16-17)
- “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” (John 8:51)
Prayer for the Day
“You are God: we praise You;
You are the Lord: we acclaim You;
You are the Eternal Father: all creation worships You.
“…Throughout the world, the Holy Church acclaims You:
Father, of Majesty unbounded,
Your True and Only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, Advocate and Guide.
“You, Christ, are the King of glory,
the Eternal Son of the Father.
When You became man to set us free,
You did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.
“You overcame the sting of death,
and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in Glory.
We believe that You will come and be our Judge.
“Come then, Lord, and help your people,Te Deum (“To You, O God” – a hymn of praise)
bought with the price of Your own Blood,
and bring us with Your saints to glory everlasting. Amen.”