In today’s Gospel from Saint John, the Pharisees ask Jesus: “Who are You?” (Io 8, 25). It’s a question that never seems to go away. Books have been written, documentaries have been made, and motion pictures have all tackled that question. Jesus has been defined by the various forms of media as the Messiah, the Son of God, the Second Person in the Most Holy Trinity, a Prophet, a mystic, an exceptionally good Person, a crackpot, a magician, a myth, and certainly other descriptions both positive and negative have defined Who Jesus is.
In the Old Testament on the mountain of Horeb, God told Moses His Name: “Ego Sum Qui Sum” – “I Am Who Am” (Ex 3, 14); id est, the unfathomable Ego Sum – I Am.
Jesus expounded on that many times in the Gospels: I Am meek and humble of Heart (Mt 11, 29).
I Am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Mt 22, 32).
I Am with you all days (Mt 28, 20).
I Am – and you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right Hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven (Mc 14, 62).
I Am come to cast fire on the earth (Lc 12, 49).
I Am in the midst of you as he that serves (Lc 22, 27).
I Am He, Who is speaking with you (Io 4, 26).
I Am come in the Name of My Father (Io 5, 43).
I Am the Bread of Life; he that comes to Me shall not hunger; and he that believes in Me shall never thirst (Io 6, 35).
I Am the living Bread which came down from heaven (Io 6, 51).
I Am from Him and He has sent Me (Io 7, 29).
I Am the Light of the world; he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness (Io 8, 12).
I Am One Who gives testimony of Myself; and the Father that sent Me gives testimony of Me (Io 8, 48).
I Am from above; you are of this world – I Am not of this world (Io 8, 23).
I Am – before Abraham was made (cf Io 8, 58).
I Am come into this world that they who do not see may see, and they who see may become blind (Io 9, 39).
I Am the Door of the sheep (Io 10, 7).
I Am come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly (Io 10, 10).
I Am the Good Shepherd (Io 10, 11).
I Am the Son of God (Io 10, 36). I Am the Resurrection and the Life (Io 11, 25).
I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (Io 14, 6).
I Am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you (Io 14, 20).
I Am the true Vine (Io 15, 1).
I Am not alone because the Father is with Me (Io 16, 32).
It’s not surprising that the bulk of these come from Saint John, a mystic and the beloved disciple. Beyond the Gospels, in the New Testament, there are the words which our Savior spoke to Saul, and upon further examination of our own consciences, He speaks to us as well: “I Am Jesus Who you persecute” (Act 9, 5). And the Apocalypse also has its fair share of verses containing “I Am”.
Our faith is constantly challenged by all these things about Jesus; and He knew it would be, hence the question to each of us: Who do you say that I am?
Jesus continues in today’s Gospel: “If you do not believe that I Am He, you shall die in your sins” (Io 8:24). Jesus then says: “When you shall lift up the Son of Man, then you shall know that I Am He (Io 8, 28). Coming to the Cross is a most difficult thing for us to do; in fact, what we usually do is try to run from it. The fall from grace suggests that we are the creators of that Cross and perhaps that’s why we find it so difficult to face the music. But as love compelled Jesus to do everything He did, love must compel us to come to the Cross. We never have to bear it alone, Jesus is there with us. And when we find that courage, then we will hear those beautiful words in our hearts: “Behold your Mother” (Io 19, 27). And: Mother, behold your son/daughter; that is to say: Behold him/her whose love compels him/her to be with us. That’s what saints are made of!