The life that never comes to an end

The life that never comes to an end

Readings: Genesis 17:3-9, Ps. 105:4-9, John 8:51-59

“I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 17:7)

Abraham’s name figures heavily in all of today’s readings. In today’s First Reading, God established an eternal bond with Abraham despite the fact that he was childless at the time. Abraham’s unwavering faith in God continues to inspire us now. In our Gospel text, the Jews gathered stones to throw at Jesus after He stated that He was older than Abraham. What can we learn from today’s readings?

1. Power is in our names. Have you ever considered the significance of your name? Do you believe there is a link between your name and your destiny? Looking back on your life, has your name contributed favorably or badly to your current situation? The fact that God changed his name from Abram (“like a father” or “honorary father”) to Abraham (“father of multitude”) demonstrates that names are more than just a method of identification. Do not wait till everything is perfect before responding to the name. The more people call you by a new name, the more your life reflects or attracts the meaning of that name.

2. Our baptismal names indicate our covenants with God: Just as God gave Abram a new name when he made a covenant with him, we were all given new names on the day of our baptism to symbolize our rebirth. Baptism, like all other sacraments, is a covenant with God; some terms and conditions must be met for us to receive the gifts that come with it. Today’s First Reading includes God’s blessings for Abraham, as well as God’s expectations at the conclusion. Am I still aware of these expectations? Are I fulfilling my baptismal promises? How about my arrangements with God?

3. Through Faith, We Are Abraham’s Descendants: The word “multitude of nations” appears more than once in today’s First Reading. Because Abraham had just one kid, Isaac, after this promise was given, it seems clear that God did not mean Abraham’s biological offspring. The plurality of nations are those that unquestionably believe and practice God’s Word. Jesus addressed the Jews with the terrible truth: while being the descendants of Abraham, they were unable to receive Abraham’s benefits due to their wicked behavior.

4. The ultimate goal of our covenant with God is eternal life: In today’s Gospel text, Jesus states, “If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51). Jesus said something similar in another passage: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (John 6:51). In all cases, Jesus’ audience understood he was talking about worldly life. Today, many Christians believe that God’s benefits are confined to this life. They stress and panic when they do not have access to all of life’s comforts. When things do not go as well as they would want, they feel as if God has failed them. Jesus used the phrase ‘not tasting death’ to refer to the life that never ends, the life beyond the dead.

5. Jesus is God yesterday, today, and forever. Just as God revealed Himself to Moses as “I AM” in Exodus 3:14, Jesus reveals His identity today as “I AM.” Jesus did not say, “Before Abraham was, I was” (past tense), but rather, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” implying that He is and will be eternally. This was too much for the Jews to comprehend. They chose stones to throw at Jesus, believing that they were serving God. What an irony. How often do we choose stones to throw at those whom God has sent to aid us?

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, grant me the type of faith Abraham possessed. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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