HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 5TH WEEK OF LENT.
THEME: CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM AND FRIENDS OF CHRIST!
BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr)
*Gen 17: 3 – 9, Jn 8: 51 – 59.
Jesus was somehow controversial in today’s gospel; making very weird and quite provocative statements about his divinity and immortality and sounding almost like an eccentric. He enters on a very sensitive topic and detonates the truth in a most unpalatable way. Harsh truths are sometimes too bitter to swallow at once and I would honestly not blame the Jews too much at this point for picking up stones to throw at him. For them, he made two exaggerated statements/ claims; the first was to say: ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death’. When they challenged this claim citing Abraham as the greatest authority who obeyed the Word of God and yet died, he now released the second statement: ‘ Before Abraham was I am’. They couldn’t take that one and went for the stones.
Abraham is the original ancestor of faith and foundation for blessings of prosperity for the world’s three strongest religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. He was the father of a multitude of nations; Ishmaelites (descendants of Ishmael), Edomites (descendants of Esau), and Israelites (descendants of Jacob). God’s covenant with Abraham was a unilateral covenant – unconditional and everlasting. He was to be a source of blessings to the future generations. Ishmael and Isaac were the illegitimate and legitimate sons of Abraham respectively. Isaac produced 2 waring nations; Esau and Jacob that has remained in enemity like we find between Islam and Christianity – all claiming rights of authenticcity through their legitimate connection to Abraham. Isaac is the legitimate son of Abraham. Christians see Muslims more like the descendants of Esau, Ishmael and the embittered and embattled descendants of Abraham with all the appurtenances of war, terrorism and brutality that is associated with their forebears. Christianity sees Isaac as the Old Testament image of the Child of God – the prototype of Jesus Christ the lamb of God – the only Son of God destined to be sacrificed on the Cross for the redemption of mankind. Islam and Christianity now part ways at the point of their perception of Mohammed and Jesus Christ respectively. While Muslims follow the words of Mohammed as their true prophet, Christians follow the words of Jesus Christ as the reedemer of mankind. He says in today’s gospel that anyone who listens to his words will not taste death.
Abraham listened to God at a most critical time of his life. Jesus also did the same. But according to John Rose, ‘Abraham was great but his greatest glory is being the father of the Messiah. While Abraham was born as a creature of God, Jesus Christ is unborn and uncreated. Abraham is the father of faith and as such is an example of faith, but Jesus Christ is the object of faith. While Abraham founded many nations, Jesus Christ founded and inaugurated the eternal kingdom of God. Abraham was a great leader, but Jesus Christ is the great Saviour. Between Abraham and Jesus Christ, there is the vast difference of a creature and the creator’. That is the reason why Jesus, our Lord said, “Before Abraham was, I am”. We Christians, therefore are not merely the children of Abraham but friends of Christ – who must be firmly configured to the words of Christ as our saviour. Only this firm connection to his Word gives us the mandate of divinity and immortality as Jesus affirms in today’s gospel. May God bless you today!
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