In our gospel today (John 8:21-39) Jesus speaks urgently again in the temple area during the Feast of Tabernacles to those opposing him. The time is short; the Light guiding the world has appeared, but he “is going away” and those who reject him will die in their sins.
Are we detached observers listening to this gospel, watching others challenged long ago? We’re challenged now to answer the question: Who is Jesus Christ?
He is “I AM,” a divine title his enemies find blasphemous, but believers find true. In Hebrew it means “He who is always there.” Later in John’s gospel, Thomas bows before Jesus and says “My Lord and my God,” as he recognizes that the One lifted up on the cross is indeed “I AM.”
Our graphic above presents the Cross as a place of healing. In our first reading for today Moses places a serpent on a pole to heal the people on their desert journey.We reverence the One lifted up on the Cross.. He is “I AM,” true God, sent by the Father, “who so loved the world that he sent his only Son.” He was lifted up on a Cross and will always be there as a sign God is with us in our woundedness, our suffering and death..
In an early letter to Bishop Count Peter Garangi, who worked to establish the Passionists as a new congregation in the church, St. Paul of the Cross emphasized the importance of the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus as a revelation of God.
“So many believers live in forgetfulness of how much our Divine Savior did and suffered; they sleep in a swamp of evil. We need zealous workers to awaken them from their sleep in darkness and the shadow of death by the trumpet of God’s word and by meditating on the Passion of Jesus Christ, so that God be glorified by many who will be converted and pray and lead a holy life.” (Letter 266)
Do we live in forgetfulness?
Lord Jesus Christ,
Draw me to your cross
And show me your wounds, your bitter death, your triumph over the tomb.
God with us, always there,
God who shares our humanity,
God who loves us so much
help me keep you in mind,
save me from forgetfulness.