Never see death

As we move toward Holy Week, the readings selected express not only the tension building between the Jewish religious leaders and Jesus, but why there is tension: the identity of Jesus.

The Old Testament passage presents the covenant God made with Abraham. This is the oldest story in the Bible. The psalm recalls that God remembers his covenant forever, even though, as the stories in the Bible —and our own lives— convey, his people fail and forget their part of the relationship. In the Gospel, Jesus clearly reveals his divinity, “I AM,” and the promise of the New Covenant: “whoever keeps my word will never see death.”

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament Covenant: Genesis 17:3–9

When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him: “My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations. No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations. I will render you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings shall stem from you. I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now staying, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.” God also said to Abraham: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”

Psalm: 105:4–5, 6–7, 8–9

Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.

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.

Gospel: 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.

Question of the Day

Do you dare to hope in the Lord and his promises?

Do you grapple with the identity of Jesus, and the mystery of his nature, which is both fully human and fully divine?

Collect for Mass

Be near, O Lord, to those who plead before you,
and look kindly on those who place their hope in your mercy,
that, cleansed from the stain of their sins,
they may persevere in holy living
and  be made full heirs of your promise.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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