Genesis 17:3-9; Ps 105 The Lord remembers his covenant; John 8:51-59
Just an interesting note on today's first reading. We get the reading of the promise and covenant to Abraham. Abram's names get changed to Abraham. His name gets bigger and so does God's promise to him that he will now be a father of nations. And what I find interesting is that the land Abraham is to take over is the whole land of Canaan.
Now this may not seem like much. But in the story of Noah, Canaan is the son of Ham and it is Canann who is cursed by Noah because his father Ham uncovers the nakedness of Noah or as scripture reads Ham saw his father's nakedness.
There is much debate over what this means. Some scholars suggest that there is more going on here than Ham peeping at his father's naked body. There is more here than voyeurism.
Some suggest that this phrase "seeing the nakedness of your father" is really about incest. Ham actually takes advantage of Noah being drunk by having sexual intercourse with his own mother, thus seeking to usurp the authority of his father. And the same scholars suggest that Canaan is the child conceived in this incest between Ham and his mother, Noah's wife.
If you go to Leviticus 18:6, God warns the Israelites not to do what the people of Canaan do, do not conform to their customs. Incest is part of their customs. One of these customs is disgracing your Father by having intercourse with your mother or as the biblical hebrew suggest, "uncover the nakedness of your Father."
Unfortunately while Ham commits the crime it is Canaan the child that is cursed and punished. Sounds familiar doesn't it. How often are children punished because of the the sexual act that leads to conception. How often do we kill the pre born because the child is conceived outside of wedlock or by rape or incest or any other reason. Why punish the child?
In the first reading for the day we discover that it is the land of Canaan the becomes the promised land. There is a reversal of fortune. The curse of Canaan is lifted and the land of his descendent in become part of God's promise to Abraham.
This sounds all to familiar. We are the ones who are cursed by the sin of Adam and Eve. It is through the act of Christ we experience a reversal of fortune. The curse is lifted and we share in the blessings and favor of God through the act of Jesus on the cross.
Now lets go to the gospel briefly. There is something unique in the gospel of John that often gets overlooked. This is real evident in chapter 8 of John's gospel. On the lips of Jesus are pressed these words , "I AM".
Now this may not seem like a big deal. But whenever Jesus says it, the jews want to pick up stones and kill him. At first glance we think wow they are very sensitive. But when we think about the phrase in proper context it begins to make sense.
When Jesus says this phrase, "I AM" he is referring back to the story of Moses and the burning bush. It is in this story in exodus chapter 3 that God reveals his name to Moses. When Moses ask God who shall he say sent him, God responds with the following, "I am who am" sent you.
God's name is the great "I AM". When Jesus states this phrase time and time again in the gospel of John, he is actually taking upon himself the very identity of God. This is why the Jews want to stone him because they consider it blasphemous: Jesus a man claiming to be one with God. Yowsah!
The name of God was only said once a year in the temple on the day of atonement. Jesus says it through out his public ministry because he will be the source of atonement and reconciliation. God becomes man to reverse the curse.
That little phrase "I AM" means so much. Jesus is claiming to be one with God. In his act on the cross, God himself dies that the curse may be lift and we too may now share in the promise of God in Abraham where all the world will be blessed through him and his descendants in particular the one descendent, the God man Jesus Christ.
Now you know the rest of the story!