11Apr Thursday of Week 5 of Lent

11 April 2019.

1st Reading: Genesis 17:3-9

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

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 Abraam, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.”

Responsorial: 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. (R./)

You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the Lord, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail. (R./)

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. (R./)

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 whomyou 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.


Enduring Promises to Abraham

The promises to Abraham shed light forward into the future, even into centuries beyond our present age. They promise an era when all races and nations will feel united as though they were blood-relatives, all descended from one father, Abraham. In biological fact, the different races of planet earth have not this spiritual, fraternal bond through blood descent. It only comes into being by sharing a respectful faith in one God, the Father of all, and a willingness to fairly share this earth’s riches, and recognise the dignity of all human beings.

The promises to Abraham, when compared to the later exodus from Egypt under Moses, have a universal sweep. They are reflected in the kingdom of David, when Israel opened diplomatic relations with other nations and absorbed many of their neighbouring peoples’ customs and values .. with God’s blessing. The promises to Abraham advise us to think big, to seek and dream the divine ideal of one world, one people.

The words of Jesus reach back not only to the age of the great patriarch (1850 B.C.) but even further back, to that first day in Israel’s history to the eternal day before creation. “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.” In this evocative phrase, Jesus identifies himself with Yahweh. This name for God, very special and sacred to Israel, means in the Hebrew language “He who is always there.”

The 4th Gospel presents Jesus as more than the fulfilment of Abraham’s faith and hope. He was one with God who planned before the universe was created. St John understands that God was leading Israel’s history forward to the day when the eternal Word became incarnate as Jesus, son of Mary. For Christians, Jesus is the Lord of our history. His hopes and plans will remain at least partially unfulfilled until all nations are united as one faith and family. This is echoed by Paul’s statement: “All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with him. There is no longer among you Jew or Greek, slave or free person, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus. Furthermore, if you belong to Christ, you are the descendants of Abraham, which means you inherit all that was promised” (Gal 3:27-29).


Saint Stanislaus, bishop and martyr

Stanislaw of Szczepanow (1030-1079), from 1072 bishop of Krakow, Poland, excommunicated the Polish king Boleslaw “the Bold” (in a conflict like that between King Henry II and Thomas a Becket in 1170). Boleslaw had Stanislaw murdered,in 1079. The cult of Saint Stanislaw the martyr began immediately upon his death.

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