Thursday of the Fifth Week

A sketch of a painting showing Jesus in the synagogue.

Daily Offering

Lord I offer you my temper. Replace it with your patience. Let me see those who anger me as my brothers and sisters.    Chris Brolly SJ

Entering into prayer

Awareness of your body:  Beginning at the top of your head and passing down through the body to the feet be attentive to each part of the body in turn. Gently focus in turn on each part … head … face … eyes …neck ... shoulders etc. For each part, allow a few moments to become aware of what is being felt, without making judgement upon it. Move on in turn until you have given attention to your whole body. Then consider your whole self …. you as a person made in God’s likeness … you in whom God chooses to dwell...

Today's Scripture (John 8:51-59)
‘Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.’ The Jews said to him, ‘Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, “Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.” Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, “He is our God”, though you do not know him. But I know him; if I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ Then the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Food for thought

As his death approaches Jesus prepares his disciples for the reality of resurrection but the other Jews are infuriated. If even Abraham had to die, how can Jesus claim that ordinary folk like us will not? Does Jesus think he is better than Abraham? Well, the short answer to that is ‘Yes’. ‘Who do you think you are’, they ask. The answer is devastating.

Jesus does not claim his authority directly:

‘If I were to seek my own glory that would be no glory at all’

Does the child of the headmaster strut about telling everyone who his dad is? I think a lot of children in that position would rather their friends did not know. Jesus has repeatedly stated that God is his father, but that reality is unthinkable for people who claim authority for themselves.

Suggestions for prayer

Try to sit comfortably. Listen to the sounds outside and accept them. Listen to your body from toes to top of head. Are you feeling stressed? Pay attention to your breathing: breathe in the love of God, breathe out your love of the world…

Quietly review the story so far: the woman who was not condemned, but told to sin no more, Jesus who knows where he comes from, and where he is going, the possibility of joining Jesus in the kingdom of heaven, the protection of God the Father. What matters most to you?

Now ask yourself how you felt as the conversation progressed. Did you feel the heat? Like the heat of the blacksmith’s furnace, the assertions of Jesus landing like hammer blows on white hot metal. Now he makes the statement from which there is no hiding place:

“Before Abraham ever was, I Am”

In God there is no flow of time, past and future are absorbed into an eternal present.

The Jews picked up stones to throw at him. What use are stones against the armour of faith, forged in the fire of love?

Try to stay completely still and let thoughts drift away. Let God reveal himself.

How are you going to respond today?

Listen to some music you find gives you energy; a rousing favourite hymn, Beethoven’s 9th, Verdi’s ‘Dies Irae’, or whatever lifts you out of the daily grind.

Image for the day

A sketch of a painting showing Jesus in the synagogue.

  • What do you see in this image? (It’s a sketch so may be a bit blurry!)
  • Do you find this image helpful? Do other images come to mind?
  • What does today’s gospel passage or this picture remind you of? Talk to Jesus about the conflict in his life or yours.

Examen (review of prayer)

In your examen today you might find it helpful to think of times of anger, conflict or disagreement in your life, but if this feels too uncomfortable give these thoughts to God to look after. Sit for a while with Jesus.

Going Deeper

Being honest to God in prayer

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