“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’”
Many Scriptural studies in recent years have focused on the notion of “covenant” as a key to interpreting the whole of the Bible. Throughout the Old Testament the Lord makes covenants with several figures, including Abram. In today’s First Reading God changes his name to “Abraham” as a reflection of their covenant.
The name “Abraham” signifies that God is making him “the father of a host of nations”. Their covenant also concerns “the whole land of Canaan” which the Lord gives “as a permanent possession” of that “host of nations”. The Lord promises to maintain this covenant “throughout the ages as an everlasting pact”. Yet for their part, Abraham and his descendants also must keep the Lord’s “covenant throughout the ages.”
We might ask how Jesus would have thought of this covenant in light of His own mission. At the beginning of today’s Gospel passage, “Jesus said to the Jews: ‘…whoever keeps my word will never see death.” Interpret these words in light of the Lord’s covenant with Abraham. Abraham’s name signifies his endurance through his progeny. Yet in covenant with Jesus, it’s not one’s progeny but oneself who perdures by never seeing death. Abraham and his descendants must keep their covenant with the Lord, while to live in Christ is to keep His word. Realize the gifts that come from entering into the covenant that Jesus established at His Last Supper.