Grace to you!
We come to the apex of Jesus’ revelation of his mission and through it, his identity. On this revelation lies the point of division or unity among many. Also, upon it lies the victory over death.
Sometimes, are you worried because of declining health condition? Are you afraid that death may be imminent for a member of your family or a friend? Is the fear of death troubling you? This aspect of the revelation of Jesus’ identity and mission should be a consolation. The Lord reveals it in the context of the discussion of the temporary end of all life.
If death is the worst of human fears, this revelation is the best of human hope. As St. Paul said, “As death came through one man, so does life come through one man.” In Christ, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54; see also Isaiah 25:8). Death loses its pungent stench and torturous pain.
Victory over death is victory over what death represents—eternal loss. Eternal loss is a situation where one loses the very essence of his or her spiritual destiny and suffer the perpetual pain of being outside of it. There the soul wanders, like the myth of Sisyphus, under the burden of regrets for missed opportunities.
The medieval mystic writer, Dante’s inferno, and many other mystics have portrayed in symbolic ways the hopelessness and excruciating condition of hell. Biblical imageries of that condition are nothing short of unimaginable loss.
Victory over death is the state of the soul finally home—home where the true love of the soul is. Victory over death is victory over eternal loss. It is the summa cum laude (highest praise) of victory for humans. This is what Jesus guarantees us when he says; “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (Jn 8:51).
Many won’t accept this declaration today, as many during the time of Jesus didn’t accept it either. The Lord Jesus doesn’t back down though. Instead, he connects this life after death with the climax of his revelation about himself. He declares: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn 8:58).
By so doing, he uses the very name (concept) which, in his religious and social setting, could not be pronounced by anybody except the high priest once a year in the Jewish temple. The name is, permit me to use it, Y[a]hw[e]h. It’s the biblical, proper name and identity of God.
Who then is Jesus? He is the I Am as the Father is the I Am. Before him, and in him, death is crushed. Death is crushed because through the Life-Giver, the Ever Present, the I Am—Christ the Lord, death is swallowed up in victory.
In the I Am, it’s all life and no death. In Christ, the I Am, life is assured, and eternal death overcome. The I Am is the ever present—literarily the word is the verb to be. God is. Those in God, those in Christ, will never die, because He Lives. They too live.
Pray with me: Lord, lead me to the life which you are, so that victory over death is assured. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday, Lent, Week 5: Gn 17:3-9; Jn 8:51-59]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.