Gospel: Jn 8:51-59
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 who 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.
At first glance, the claims of Jesus seem fantastic and a product of an impressive imagination. We cannot blame the Jews of His time for not believing Him immediately. They want Him to perform signs of wonder and clarify the seeming impossibility of His claim. After all, Abraham and the prophets are already part of their faith journey. Jesus is an upstart who asks for their faith allegiance without the backings of history.
But this is precisely the kind of mentality that blocked the hearts and minds of the Jews during the time of Jesus to see the truth of His words. They look to the past for assurances while the present wonder of Jesus’ words and actions reinforcing each other were brushed aside and ignored. They could not discern the reign of God slowly dawning on earth when the blind saw, when the limp walked and when sins were forgiven so that a new beginning in life could push through. When you are not mindful of the present and is hostage to the comforts of the past, your eyes will never see, and your ears will never hear.