Posted by: fvbcdm | March 30, 2012

Feast of Saint Berthold (29 Mar 2012)

In the gospel for today’s Mass, Our Lord makes the sweeping statement: Before Abraham came to be, I AM!

Now, Abraham came from what we call Iraq to the Holy Land (Canaan, Palestine, Israel) in about the year 1850 before Christ. That means that Abraham lived approximately during the century of 1900 to 1800 B.C. So, what can Jesus have meant when he said: before Abraham came to be, I AM?  It is a very important statement, and by it, he intends to show us that he exists in a totally different dimension from our own.  

God does not exist in time, but rather in eternity.  Does God begin? Will he ever end? Does he grow older?  How old is God? These questions cannot be answered since they betray a failure to understand the nature of God.  When Our Lord says “before Abraham came to be” he is speaking of time. And when he says “I AM” he is speaking of his own eternity.  We may recall that when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, Moses asked him: what is your name?  When Pharaoh asks me who is sending me to him, how shall I answer?  And God answered “I am who am. Tell him I AM sent you.”  I suspect that when Pharaoh heard that, he might have thought of the great pyramids which he could probably see from his windows.  How old were they?  An Egyptian might have answered: they are not old or young.  They are forever, like the sun or the moon.

Our Lord could correctly have said, “I am eternal”; “I am divine,” “I am God.”  But who would believe those statements?  Some of the bystanders probably remembered Jesus when he was a baby, a child, a beardless youth.  And they had seen him hungry and eating; thirsty and drinking, tired and going to sleep. Who ever heard of a god doing things like that?  They might have known that Mary was his mother.  How can an eternal being have a mother?  Since the people of that time did not understand concepts like “nature” or “person,” Our Lord couldn’t use those words to them.  He couldn’t expect them to understand that he was only ONE person but had TWO natures, the divine and the human.  So he spoke as he did, and allowed his words to form the basis of Christian theology in the years to come. 

We can rightly say to this Lord of ours: I love you, my human friend.  I adore you, my divine savior.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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