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April 07, 2022

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DG BookGospel: John 8:51-59
Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never experience death.” The Jews replied, “Now we know that
you have a demon. Abraham died and the prophets as well, but you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never experience
death.’ Who do you claim to be? Do you claim to be greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets who

also died?” Then Jesus said, “If I were to praise myself, it would count for nothing. But he who gives glory to me is the Father, the
very one you claim as your God, although you don’t know him. I know him, and if I were to say that I don’t know him, I would be a liar
like you. But I know him and I keep his word. As for Abraham, your ancestor, he looked forward to the day when I would come; and he
rejoiced when he saw it.” The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” And Jesus said, “Truly,
I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” They then picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and left the temple.




The conflict now reaches the flashpoint and boils over when
Jesus claims ontological priority and eternal existence before
Abraham, by appropriating the name of God to himself: “Before
Abraham was, I am.” At the Feast of the Tabernacles where
God’s Name was invoked, it was easier for people to associate
Jesus’ self-referential, present tense use of “I am” with the “I
am” in Exodus (3:14) and Isaiah (43:13). Ironically, the very same
crowd that denied knowledge of anyone wanting to kill Jesus
(cf. Jn 7:20), now takes up stones to kill him by the prescribed
penalty for blasphemy (cf. Lev. 24: 16, 23). In doing so, they
prove Jesus right: that they were descendants of Abraham only in
flesh, but not in spirit. For, in the First Reading, we find Abraham
prostrating before Yahweh acknowledging Him as his God,
whereas his descendants take up stones to kill the same God.



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