02 April, 2020. Thursday of Week 5 of Lent

St. Francis of Paola, hermit (Opt. Memorial)

1st Reading: Genesis 17:3-9

Abraham believe in God’s promises, despite delays and disappointments

Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.”
God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.”

Responsorial: from Psalm 105

Response: The Lord remembers his covenant for ever

Look to the Lord in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the marvellous 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

The mysterious relationship between Jesus and Abraham

Jesus said, “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.
During the Global Pandemic, O Lord, may your words be on our lips, and in our hearts. May they give us courage and hope – and draw us nearer to you.

Abraham’s world-wide family

God’s famous promise to Abraham reach forward into the future, even into our present age. It anticipates a day when all the nations of the world will be united as members of one great family, like relatives, all of them related to Abraham, our father in faith. What unites earth’s different races will not be common genealogy or shared DNA. It will be sharing the same faith in one all-wise and all-powerful God, and in a way of salvation where no one travels alone, where all have a fair share of earth’s riches, and the dignity of all is respected.
The promises to Abraham advise us to think big, to respond generously, to seek and dream the divine ideal of one world, one people.
The critics of Jesus objected to his claim to give them true freedom. Angrily they muttered, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. How can you set us free?” (John 8:33). They scorned his extraordinary claim, “Before Abraham was, I am.” But in truth the origins of Jesus go back to eternity. “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.” By this phrase, I am, Jesus relates himself with Yahweh. The name for this mysterious, ever-present God was very special and sacred to Israel. In the Hebrew language it means He-who-is-always-present.
Jesus means even more to us than Abraham “our father in faith”. He is the Son who was with the Father before the universe was made, and who directed world history so that Abraham eventually emerged as an icon for all people of faith. As sharing in the great I AM, Jesus is Lord of history. His hopes and plans will remain unfulfilled until all human beings feel themselves united as one family. This ideal is echoed in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “There is no longer among you Jew or Greek, slave or free person, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, you are the descendants of Abraham, which means you inherit all that was promised.” (Gal 3:27-29)

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