Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
(Genesis 17:3-9; John 8:51-59)
St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain, a vast area that included Gaul and Scotland. Since his native country was Christian, he was baptized at an early age. He was taken by pagan raiders of his homeland to Ireland as a slave. Eventually he escaped his captors, returned to Britain, and became a priest and bishop. He returned to Ireland as a missionary working to convert the native pagans. Like the Jews in today’s gospel, many resisted Patrick’s efforts.
Reading the gospels, one has difficulty distinguishing the setting. It may be the Judea at the time of Jesus or perhaps the situation when the evangelists were writing. The fierce opposition of the Jews toward Jesus in today’s passage reflects a time after the resurrection. The Jews are reacting to Christian claims not only of Jesus’ divinity but also of the need to modify their established customs. They believe that Christians are wavering from the path that Abraham set. Meanwhile, Christians claim that Jesus transcends Abraham because he exists as the eternal Son of God.
We have thrown our lot with Christ. This means that we “keep his word” as we hear today. We are to love our enemies as sisters and brothers of the same Father in heaven. Often love requires patience, even toleration. It is not easy, but it is the way of the cross beside our blessed Lord.