Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 14, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

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.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In John’s theology, Jesus is the Word of the Father. The Prologue of John’s gospel calls Jesus “the Word,” and observes that the Word is pressed right up alongside God, and the Word itself is God. This term, “word,” is used twice in today’s passage, and there are clear ties between this passage and the Prologue. In today’s reading, which continues the exploration of Jesus’ identity, Jesus talks about the benefits to those who keep Jesus’ “word,” that is, Jesus’ instruction. Jesus says such persons will never see death. Why will this happen? Because Jesus, this passage tells us, knows the Father and keeps the Father’s word. Expressed in another way, Jesus has received instructions directly from God that Jesus, in turn, transmits to us, and this instruction, because it comes from God, leads to life: Jesus expresses what is on the Father’s mind–he is precisely the Father’s word to us.

Here, as in the Prologue, a very powerful claim is made concerning who Jesus is. Jesus uses the term “I AM” to characterize his identity. As we saw several days ago, the term, “I AM” is how the Jews understood God to describe Godself to Moses, and Jesus uses it here to explain his relationship to Abraham, who “came to be.” The Prologue similarly distinguishes the Word from “all that came to be.” In this passage, “came to be” again appears and once again distinguishes Jesus, the Word, from what is created. This is a powerful passage in John’s explanation of Jesus’ identity, and it leaves little room to understand Jesus as anything but divine.

Saint of the day: Marguerite d’Youville was born on October 15, 1701 in Quebec. She was the daughter of Christophe Dufrost de Lajemmerais, who died in Marguerite’s youth, and Renee de Varennes; niece of Laverendrye, who “discovered” the Rocky Mountains. Educated by the Ursulines, she married in 1722 at age 21 to an adulterous M. de Youville. Marguerite was the mother of three children. One of her children died, but both sons who survived to adulthood became priests. At the age of 29, she became a widow in 1730. To minister to those even poorer than herself, she took over the operation of a failing hospital and made it both a success, and became a beacon to those who were outcast. She founded the Sisters of Charity (the Grey Nuns) in 1737 from those who worked at the hospital; the congregation’s rule received diocesan approval in 1755. She was the director of the General Hospital in Montreal, which was taken over by the Grey Nuns. Today the sisters work throughout Canada, the United States, Africa, and South America. She died December 23, 1771 of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: You must be the change you wish to see in the world. (Mahatma Gandhi)

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