Openness to salvation
April 11, 2019
Thursday, 5th Week of Lent
1st Reading: Gen 17:3–9
Gospel: Jn 8:51–59
Jesus said to the Jews, “Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never experience death.” The Jews replied, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died and the prophets as well, but you say: ‘Whoever keeps my word will never experience death.’ Who do you claim to be? Do you claim to be greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets also died.”
Then Jesus said, “If I were to praise myself, it would count for nothing. But he who gives glory to me is the Father, the very one you claim as your God, although you don’t know him. I know him and if I were to say that I don’t know him, I would be a liar like you. But I know him and I keep his word. As for Abraham, your ancestor, he looked forward to the day when I would come; and he rejoiced when he saw it.”
The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” And Jesus said “Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” They then picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
The Jews were angry when Jesus said he had personal knowledge of God. In Hebrew, to know is to experience; experience can develop into acceptance or even possession (J.L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible). Jesus’ claim was blasphemous for in saying he had knowledge of God he was implying possession of God. They also charged Jesus of disrespect for claiming that he existed before Abraham – the Patriarch who gave them their identity as God’s chosen people (Gen. 17:3-9). In their intense anger they stoned Jesus.
The intensity of anger that one receives is not always a reliable measure of his liability. “If you lose your temper, it is a sign that you have wrong on your side” (Chinese Proverb). The Jews should have given Jesus’ claim a second look in the light of his conduct as miracle worker. They did not. Something wrong was on their side. They had the chance to release their piled-up anger by shouting “Crucify him!” When the coward Pilate washed his hands they finally had him killed.
But Jesus rose up after three days. Who were the real losers? “Hate is like an acid,” wrote Ann Landers, “it does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to the object on which it is poured.” As the real losers they needed the fruits of the resurrection the most. But they didn’t “know” Jesus enough, and so they were not ready for the Easter gift of salvation. They reaped, instead, the fruits of their own fury. – (Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., D.M.
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