Genesis 17:3-9; John 8:51-59
“Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
The well known “I AM.” The Jews knew that God used those words as a name when speaking to Moses. In today’s gospel John presents an insulting man from Nazareth using those same words to identify himself. “Surely he must be crazy” is a believable and likely response for the typical Jew expecting a triumphant savior. Instead the Jews get a lowly person who rebukes their religious practices and the structure they created for their followers. I like to believe that I would have recognized Jesus as the savior if I was alive during those times, but that is wishful thinking. More likely, I would have been like the many other Jews missing the true identity and teachings of Jesus. Do you think you would have embraced Jesus if you were present during his life? No matter what our answers are, we have opportunities to embrace the “I AM” in the midst of our daily lives.
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; John 8:31-42
Today’s scriptures are an incredible contrast in how people accept God’s guidance and do His will. From Daniel, the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (you gotta love those names). A story of incredible faith in the face of certain death. Three men whose love for God gives them the resolve to face the wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar (another great name). Even the king marvels that these men would rather die than worship another god. And in the Gospel of John, the story of proud, stiff-necked Jews who refuse to listen, let alone believe, when the Son of God stands in front of them. Jesus tries to advise and guide them, but they are so focused on themselves as descendants of Abraham that they refuse to see. I wonder where I am between these two groups.
Numbers 21:4-9; John 8:21-30
Today's readings show us as the Cranky People of God. In the first reading from Numbers, the Israelites are being led to safety and salvation, out of exile in Egypt and toward their homeland. The journey is long and frustrating. Their complaint? “We are disgusted with this wretched food!” Perhaps a little more gratitude would have been in order. But the Numbers reading reveals a wonderful story of healing. The people are being plagued by serpents who bite “and many of them died.” When Moses prays for the people, God tells him make an image of a serpent and mount it on a pole. Anyone who looked up at it would be healed. All they had to do was gaze upon it, to trust in God and they would be healed.
Daniel 13:41-62; John 8:1-11
From the Gospel of John, we hear this story of the Woman Found in Adultery, and this time, the woman is guilty as charged. She has been dragged in front of Jesus as the educated community leaders want to "have some charge to bring against him." A tool of the scribes and Pharisees, a condemned criminal on the equivalent of Death Row, she doesn't ask for forgiveness. She couldn't expect forgiveness. But Jesus quietly reminds those educated community leaders that each of them is imperfect -- perhaps guilty of hatred and anger, perhaps of other errors of judgment. Giving a wonderful sign that they have truly heard what Jesus has said, they leave. Further, anytime this story is used in teaching morality, it's pointed out that Jesus does not say her sin is OK. He doesn't say she's forgiven. He says "Neither do I condemn you." He tells her to leave, like her accusers, and to amend her life.
Ezekiel 37:12-14;Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45
The readings for today resonate with resurrection themes. The full passage from Ezekiel (I always find it hard to read the excerpts if they don't tell the full story) is a step-by-step process of raising the dead, from bleached bones to infusion of spirit, with the guiding hand of God present throughout. Paul certainly continues the theme in the excerpt from Romans, but Paul seems to emphasize more the presence of the spirit in the whole resurrection process. And the story of Lazarus is certainly one of hope for all who believe in Jesus - there will be a resurrection. And so at one level faith in the resurrection of the body at God's hand is central to today's readings.
Jeremiah 11:18-20; John 7:40-53
In the Gospel reading today (verses 40 to 53), there is the discussion among the people about who Jesus is, where he comes from and whether he is the Prophet, or the Messiah. Furthermore, the Pharisees think that the ones who believe in Jesus and think he is the Messiah are the “crowds who do not know the law,” and the guards who have also been “deceived” by him. The Pharisees had their own image of God and they knew the law so well that their hearts were closed to Jesus’ revelation of God.
“This Friday, March 27 at 6 p.m., I will preside over a moment of prayer outside of St. Peter's Basilica with the square empty. As now, I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the media,” Pope Francis said March 22 in his livestreamed Angelus address.
“Urbi et Orbi” means “To the City [of Rome] and to the World.” It is a special apostolic blessing given by the pope from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica every year on Easter Sunday, Christmas, and other special occasions.
Their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God. (Wisdom 2:21-22)
In today’s reading from Wisdom, we eavesdrop on a surly bunch. They are not troubled by their wicked deeds. They concede their corruption in a cynical way. After all, this is how the world runs. Get used to it. But one guy will not sit at their table. He does not play the game. Without fear, he calls them out. In his face they glimpse their diminished state. Such clear vision is offensive. He must be destroyed and all the rubbish about justice with him. Let his God save him.
Exodus 32:7-14 ; John 5:31-47
Today’s Gospel shows the struggle Jesus is having with the Jewish community. He wants them to take Him seriously. Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true….But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave to me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”