APRIL 3, 2009 – JOHN 10: 31-42


 

WHILE YOU ARE A MAN, YOU MAKE OUT THAT YOU ARE GOD. These words, pronounced as they are by Jews who were Jesus’ contemporaries, are among the most weighty testimonies to our Lord’s personal identity. St. John’s gospel sets out a series of statements that make the same claim in different circumstances. In a certain respect, the meaning that a reader assigns to the gospel as a whole, and even to the whole of the Bible, is radically determined by the acceptance of this claim that the man Jesus is God in the flesh, while being truly man. In this passage so definite was this claim made that a number of those who heard it considered it such flagrant blasphemy as to deserve immediate execution. The same claim was asserted on other occasions by our Lord. A similar strong reaction inevitably followed.

 

Who can realize what this assertion involves and not react intensely? If it is true and fully justified what fact of existence could have more significant consequences, not only for the immediate audience, but as well for all of human history? All of life changes in its import if God himself has appeared among us as a man and brought a crucial message as to life’s meaning and the way to succeed in realizing its possibilities. The very significance of this planet earth receives an increment of value that raises it above all the other material bodies that constitute the cosmos. Earth as a material reality has a minimal role in the workings of the innumerable galaxies. However, as the place where the Creator through whom all matter was brought into existence, has assumed a material body, the earth possess a unique distinction that raises it in dignity far beyond all planets and stars.

 

Earlier the evangelist already made the point that in Jesus God himself was intervening in his creation and in human history with the purpose of sharing his eternal life with us. “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, not to judge the world, but that the world might have life eternal.” (3:16 ff) In another passage John was at pains to show that Jesus has power to give life, a divine attribute. Our Lord stressed the fact that he exercised this power in union with the Father: “I do nothing of my own initiative.” He it is who brings within our reach the possibility of sharing in the same life that he lives in union with the Father of all.  By the obedience of faith in his person and in the reconciliation he effected through his passion and death that we commemorate in these final days of Lent, we are made participants in his glorious life even now in a partial manner.

 

Our Eucharist is a pledge that we are to have a share in the resurrection that brought it about that the body of Jesus came to life in that world where God is all in all. By fidelity to his teaching and the loving mercy of his example let us strive daily to arrive at the fervent purity of love that alone is worthy of the children of God.&


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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