April 2, 2009
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Jesus said to the Jews: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." So the Jews said to him, "Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, help me to gather together my thoughts and concerns and place them in your hands. This time of prayer is so important. Help me to pray well. Accept the offering of my spiritual effort for the souls of all those whom you have sent me to serve.
Petition: Lord Jesus, help me renew my faith in your promise, so that I will always stay true to you.
1. Jesus’ Promise.
Jesus’ opponents react harshly to his bold affirmation: “Whoever keeps my word will never see death.” For Jesus, the resurrection is the reliable promise he makes to those who trust him, yet sometimes our faith can be weak. Like Martha before the tomb of Lazarus, we balk at Christ’s command to remove the stone: “By now there will be a stench” (John 11:39). Keeping the word of Christ is above all trusting in him. We need to take the stone away and believe in him with all our hearts.
2. Keeping His Word.
“Never seeing death” seems like an attractive prospect. We do so much to avoid hastening our physical demise: exercise, eating right, annual checkups. All of that is good, but the Lord is referring more to death in the spiritual realm than the bodily. Do we do as much there? Are we “keeping his word”? Every step along the path of spiritual growth is a step towards preserving and enriching the divine life he has given us.
3. The Prophets Who Died.
Like Jesus’ opponents, we know many people who have died. They saw this as proof that Jesus’ words were those of a madman. But since we know that Jesus himself has risen from the dead, we know that he has the power to make good on his promise. The death of loved ones is a tough experience that is made so much more bearable by the awareness that heaven is waiting for us. Our faith needs to grab hold of Christ and never let him go.
Dialogue with Christ: Jesus, please strengthen my faith. Don’t allow me to ever stray from you.
Resolution: I will make a special sacrifice today for my departed loved ones.
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