Memory of the Church

Share On

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 8, 51-59

In all truth I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.

The Jews said, 'Now we know that you are possessed. Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead, and yet you say, "Whoever keeps my word will never know the taste of death."

Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? The prophets are dead too. Who are you claiming to be?'

Jesus answered: If I were to seek my own glory my glory would be worth nothing; in fact, my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, 'He is our God,'

although you do not know him. But I know him, and if I were to say, 'I do not know him,' I should be a liar, as you yourselves are. But I do know him, and I keep his word.

Your father Abraham rejoiced to think that he would see my Day; he saw it and was glad.

The Jews then said, 'You are not fifty yet, and you have seen Abraham!'

Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, before Abraham ever was, I am.

At this they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death. These words that open today’s Gospel passage speak clearly of the liberating power of the Word of God. Jesus had already said, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life (Jn 5:24). Jesus’ insistence on the importance of listening to and keeping the Gospel shows the disciples what to do in order to be free from the many kinds of slavery of this world, starting with death. And yet, in front of such clear words, like the Jews back then, we often raise many objections. It is truly strange that even though the Lord wants to give us a full life, that is, a life that does not end with death, we resist and oppose him. Indeed we often prefer a life subjected to the harsh law of death - a life enslaved to our love for ourselves - rather than disturb the tranquil normalcy of our days. The Lord is offering each one of us a different life - a more human and meaningful life - and many of us look at him with diffidence and hostility, rejecting such great love. Sometimes we would accept the Gospel, but only if it were a little less demanding, if it would not disturb us too much, or if it would not ask us to change our lives and our habits too much. This is what the words spoken by the Jews questioning Jesus’ authority mean. How often do we join in their critique: Are you greater than Abraham? The not-so-hidden point is to flatten the Gospel, to empty it of its power, and to lower it to the world’s way of thinking. Who do you think you are? They ask him brazenly. Indeed, only God can conquer death. This is the Gospel, the good news, that Jesus came to bring into the world. Consequently, if the Gospel loses its prophetic voice, if it stops being foreign to the world, if it does not point to the goal of heaven, it is as if we have killed it. Once again, Jesus responds by saying that he does not exalt himself. His words come from his direct knowledge of the Father who is in heaven. He is the one who sent him. And Jesus is the first one who listens and obeys. We could say that Jesus clearly professes his faith when he says: If I were to 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. It is a reference to the vision God gave Abraham, which he accepted with joyful faith. Choosing to follow the Gospel requires us to stop living bent over ourselves and to joyfully welcome God’s vision, God’s plan of love, in which he calls us to participate. If instead we give in to our selfishness, we will be like those listeners who bitterly criticize Jesus and then pick up stones to throw at him. The stones are like our feelings and behaviours which impede the Gospel and its strength. The Lord is looking for disciples who know how to listen to him and welcome the Father’s loving plan for the salvation of all.