3.22.18 Thurs. Wk 5 – Lent (II)
Genesis 17: 3 – 9
Gospel of 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. The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Union of Wills
†Jesus tells those incredulous Jewish people around Him: “It is my Father who glorifies me”. (Jn.8:54) What is the proof that †Jesus is glorified by the Father? †Jesus Himself said: “I know Him and I keep His Word”. (Jn.8:56) There is this deep intimacy between the Father and the Son, and it is founded on more than intellectual knowledge; assent. There is a union of wills between the Father and the Son. The will of the Father is the will of the Son; they are of the same substance.
When those arguing with †Jesus in the Gospel, brought up Abraham, †Jesus replied: “Abraham, your father rejoiced to see my day, he saw it and was glad”. (Jn.8:56) Now this really confused the crowd. They were thinking in terms of linear time – temporal time – chronos. Logically, they were right. How could Abraham and †Jesus ever meet? Abraham lived 1800 years before †Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Because these people did not possess an intimate knowledge, intimate union with God, they just could not understand. Abraham knew the eternal Son of God, because he enjoyed a union of wills with God. The Father and the Son are of one will. Abraham and the Father were of one will, that’s why he is called: “our father in faith”. He was always obedient to the Father therefore, Abraham and †Jesus were of one will, because remember, our God is – One God – three divine Persons. So – if Abraham knew the Father intimately, because he was united with His will – he also knew the Son intimately, and that is what †Jesus is trying to say here. Abraham knew †Jesus because, just like †Jesus, he kept the Father’s word. He was obedient!
Do we know †Jesus? He placed His Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit, the most intimate part of †Jesus, of His being, He has poured into our hearts. The Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah: “I will place my law within them, I will write it upon their hearts, I will be their God and they will be my people”. (Jer.31:33) And then after the resurrection, †Jesus (we read in the Gospel of John) “Breathed on the apostles and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”. Each one here has received the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. We have received the Holy Spirit, the most intimate part of †Jesus, into our heart and soul. Yet, many of us complain: “We don’t feel close to God”; even though the most intimate part of God dwells within us. One reason we don’t feel close to God is because, possibly we’re not in union with His will – the will of the Father. Instead, we are willful – we want to do what we want. We are not docile to what the Lord wants. If we listen and keep His word, then we will ‘know Him’.
For many years, I have not felt God at all in my senses; I haven’t for several years. But I know He is with me; I know He guides me. I’m not perfect; I still go to confession regularly. I’m a sinner like everyone else; I’m nothing special. But because I try to conform my will to God’s will – I know Him, and I know the direction He’s leading me. When I have to discern a decision, I have a good idea where He is leading me. Not because I feel Him, or because I’m perfect, but because I strive to make my will – His will and be obedient and docile to Him. The knowledge He offers us is far beyond intellectual assent – it is a deep intimacy that comes from being of one mind and one heart with †Jesus – living our life directed by the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God. We don’t have to feel †Jesus, or feel close to †Jesus on the sense level. That’s not important. If our heart is directed by His Holy Spirit, that’s where the knowledge comes from. That is what †Jesus is trying to say to these people. This is a huge challenge for all of us, because our free will prevents us from uniting our will with the will of God. This is because we tend to live in a way that is counter to the Holy Spirit.
Before we conclude a little word about those people around †Jesus. We have to give this crowd around †Jesus a bit of a break. They did not possess what we possess. †Jesus had not yet died and been raised from the dead, He had not sent His Holy Spirit. So, we can understand why they are skeptical about all this. We are given the grace of the Holy Spirit. Every sacrament we receive – the Holy Spirit enters into our heart. When you receive the Eucharist today, the Holy Spirit will be poured into your heart. Now, you may not feel any different, but the truth is – it has happened. In fact – we have so much of the Holy Spirit in us – it should be coming out of our ears. .
Like Abraham, let us keep God’s Word and not push the Holy Spirit aside. Let us grow in true knowledge of the Lord. Then the Father will glorify us. †Jesus promises: “Whoever keeps my word, will never see death”. (Jn.8:51) St. Augustine explains this promise: “It means nothing less than he saw another death from which He came to free us – the second death, eternal death, the death of hell, the death of the damned which is shared with the devil and his angels! This is the real death; the other death is only a passage” (St. Augustine of Hippo; Tractates on the Gospel of John 43:10-11).
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.