Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Pilgrimage – 5th Week of Lent – Thursday – John 8:51-59
Challenged by Christ’s miracles and preaching in Jerusalem, the Jewish leadership failed multiple times to discredit and arrest Christ. Responding to their public harassment, Christ engaged the Jewish leaders, condemning them and revealing that their father is not Abraham or God the Father, but Satan. After accusing Christ of being possessed by a demon, Christ mercifully confirms that those who keep His word shall not die; Christ, not of this world, refers the eternal life He gives those who repent from sin.
Lacking the grace to grasp the profound truth of eternal spiritual life that Christ offers, the Jewish leadership continue to focus on bodily death; rather than seek understanding, they desperately debate, stating that human death is obvious (Abraham and the prophets died) and accuse Christ of falsely making Himself greater than Abraham and the prophets. Frustrated, they ask, “Who do you claim to be?”
Before directly confirming His divine identity, Christ reveals that the Father glorifies Him, the Father who the Jewish leaders claim to honor but do not. After Christ reveals that Abraham rejoiced at meeting Him, the Jewish leaders scornfully ask how Abraham (who lived 2000 years earlier) could have met Christ. Christ forcefully responds, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Realizing that Christ has claimed to be the same God who Moses met in the burning bush (“I AM”; Ex 3:14), they attempt to stone Christ to death for blasphemy. Mysteriously, Christ conceals Himself and leaves the Temple.
1) Despite the bias to violence of the Jewish leadership and their desire to kill Christ, marvel at how Christ fearlessly challenges and condemns them as liars.
2) Christ repeatedly reveals that He keeps the Father’s word and that men must keep Christ’s word. During Lent, renew your commitment to know Christ’s word in Sacred Scripture (CCC 131-137; 162, 1177, 1785) and pray that He help you to know and keep His word.
3) Like the Jewish leadership who denied Christ, many Catholic men deny Christ today by ignoring or denying key truths of the Catholic faith (e.g. Precepts, teachings on sexual sin, etc.). During Lent, recommit yourself to the Obedience of Faith (CCC 2087-2089), rigorously identify areas in which you are in denial of key Catholic teachings and pray for Christ to help bring you to obedience.