Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s Gospel concludes the sad dialogue begun yesterday between Jesus and the “Jews who had believed in him.” Jesus promises, “whoever keeps my word will never see death,” and they try to stone him.
These people took Jesus seriously. Jesus is God’s word or he is not. He must be followed or rejected.
Are we half as serious? How would a faithful person react when God offers something so good as eternal life?
Jesus cites Abraham’s “rejoicing” at the prospect of Jesus. In Jewish tradition “Abraham rejoicing” referred to Abraham’s reaction in Genesis, at age 99, when God promises him that he will father a son and many nations. Abraham falls on his face and laughs. When God finishes talking, Abraham immediately rises to obey God by circumcising himself and his household. (Gn 17:17, 23-24)
Eternal life! Fall, laugh, and rejoice. Then rise and follow him.
—Deacon Gerald Nora works as a hospital chaplain and gives spiritual direction at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.
Lord, come to us;
free us from the stain of our sins.
Help us to rejoice and to follow your word and to live a holy way of life.
Guide us into the eternal life you have promised us
through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
—Adapted from today’s Mass collect and closing prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours by Deacon Gerald NoraPlease share the Good Word with your friends!