Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent - 2012
In a couple of recent homilies and reflections there were references to Jesus' use of the phrase "I AM THAT (or WHO) I AM." Today we encounter one of those "I AM" statements: "I AM the light of the world." Since there are seven such statements in the Matthew's gospel, and you are likely trying to recall others, let me list them at this point.
I AM the Bread of Life (6:34, 38)
I AM the Light of the World (8:12)
I AM the Gate (10:7)
I AM the Good Shepherd (10:11)
I AM the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)
I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)
I AM the true Vine (15:1)
The use of the phrase is meant to recall the name that God gave for himself to Moses when he encountered the burning bush. God was identifying himself for those who might inquire who He is. So Jesus likewise employs the same terminology to identify himself. In the other gospel option for today's liturgy, John's gospel, there are seven times that Jesus uses the I AM identification.
Back to "I AM the light of the world." What importance is there for us today, in this second day of the fifth week in Lent? You and I, we are called upon to be a reflection of that light of Jesus. We, sharing in the unique relationship we have with God, namely, the presence of God within our souls, we must make it our concern to walk in the light of Jesus so that we can indeed be that reflection. We are called to be not just a light but the light of the world. As one scholar wrote, "We are to be the moon to Jesus' sun."
A grace that we might pray for during these final days of the Lenten season is the grace to intensify our intimate knowledge of Jesus. Why? Because he is the way that leads us to the Father. What would we know of God without having first known his Son? Look at the historical events and words from Patriarchs and Prophets. How much more the Jewish people came to learn of God just as we have when then began to go beyond the knowledge of God simply as YAHWEH. It is the life of Jesus, his teachings and how he lived his life that have taught us what we know about the nature of God and, indeed, our own human nature that was God-Created.
To give greater value and breadth to our intimate knowledge of Jesus, we have been given two reliable sources: the writings of those inspired by the Holy Spirit to create for us the Old and New Testaments and the teachings in prayer that numerous saints and Jesus himself have handed on to us.
It is never to late to turn to the Scriptures to fortify our relationship with Jesus. God is always OPEN for the business of our prayer with him. Recall the words of Jesus "I AM the Gate." Let his graces open for each of us a more fruitful life of prayer.