BEFORE ABRAHAM CAME TO BE, I AM.  Of the many statements Jesus made in his lifetime, this is surely the one most full of implications for all of us.  As his audience well recognized, by his choice of words in making this claim our Lord affirmed he was equal to God. For the words “I Am” -“Ani hu” in Hebrew - are used by Isaiah to designate God. (43:13).   The Septuagint adds a phrase that makes the assertion even more clearly an extraordinary claim: “I am He from eternity.” This present declaration of our Lord is one of a number of passages in John's writings that reveal the same truth. St. John obviously intends the whole of his depiction of the Savior in the Gospel account to be understood in light of his eternal, divine personality. In the opening words of his writing he states that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Other texts in Scripture, such as St. Peter's First Epistle, and the Epistle to the Hebrews, proclaim him to be a divine person.


When Jesus makes his claim to be God he uses the original expression and words that Isaiah had employed in the name of God. Of all the statements uttered by our Lord's lips, this one is arguably the most significant. When Jesus identifies himself as being God he opens for us a whole fresh dimension of life in his person. That he is not only a human being but a divine person give a transcendent meaning to his very existence as well as to all his actions and words. Since in him it is God himself who speaks and acts to encounter his words and to meet him by faith in his acts place us in relation to another world. The words and actions belong to our familiar world of time only at one level; at the same time they come from the world where God is all in all and open out into infinity. There is a transforming potential in every encounter with our Lord, his actions, his words. His every utterance is an invitation to enter, by faith and loving trust, into the world of eternity that is a state of our spirit that we are destined for by virtue of our being created and recreated in the likeness of God himself.


The Liturgy in these last days preceding the Passion of Jesus confronts us with texts from the fourth Gospel, written by the one man who stood at the cross as our Lord gave his life for his followers. Today's scene and especially the strong declaration of Jesus that identifies him as divine and so One in Being with the Father in the Spirit invites us to enter the deepest center of our self and live our life from the power of grace we find there in the person of our God and Savior. We ask for this grace at our liturgy this evening and at the same time, we give thanks to our God and Father for the gift of communion with him through the Body and Blood of his Son who gives his very self for us and to us in this holy Eucharist.?   

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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