Those listening to Jesus in the temple area claim to be “descendants of Abraham.” (John 8,31-42) They’re children of Abraham. They have a splendid temple to worship in and ancient traditions to live by, and so they ask: “ Why should we listen to this man? We have Abraham.”
But “If you were the children of Abraham you would be doing the works of Abraham,” Jesus says. Abraham was a nomad who found God’s promises revealed from place to place. He discovered God’s plan in time. So must we.
John’s gospel was written well after the temple and Jerusalem itself were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Jews and Jewish Christians at this time, “descendants of Abraham”, were in a time of radical transition. Many may have longed for the restoration of ancient structures now gone and the surety they found in them.
Jesus reminds them, and us, that Abraham, “our father in faith,” ventured on paths unknown.
Does their time sound like ours ? We’re called to have Abraham’s faith, a mystic faith. In our first reading today from the Book of Daniel three children thrown into the fiery furnace in Babylon, their land of exile, sing in the flames.
Is God telling us to do that today? Sing in the flames and God will lead us on.
Two centuries ago, St. Paul of the Cross urged those who sought his advice to hold on to the Unchanging One we meet “in spirit and truth.” God will be our guide..
“Jesus will teach you. I don’t want you to indulge in vain imagery over this. Freely take flight and rest in the Supreme Good, in God’s consuming fire. Rest in God’s divine perfections, especially in the Infinite Goodness which made itself so small within our humanity.” (Letter 18)
O God, you are my God,
For you I long.
My body pines for you,
Like a dry, weary land without water. (Ps 63)
You guide our steps into the unknown. Lead us on.
Nothing automatically done for me shows that God respects my free will. God waits and wants my response.
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“Sing in the flames!”
It’s a melody of hope
That I need to vocalize
When negativity creeps in,
making me falter,
deaf to One who is wise.