Jesus reminding the Jews that even before Abraham lived “I am” recalls God telling Moses the divine name: “I am who I am”.
How wise of the divine not to give a simple and safe name in answer to a “who are you” question. Given our tendency to create and prefer a God made in our own image, to our own designs, the simple name “I AM” gives us all the information we need to begin deepening our relationship with the divine without allowing us to create a compartment in our lives for God.
Let’s consider this for a moment.
We tend to think of God as being distant, living in the heavens and accessible to those who are good enough. But this is not what the scriptures teach us about God.
Then we consider Jesus to be the one who lived and suffered and died two thousand years ago, that is, a long long time ago.
But Jesus is not “I WAS.”
In Jesus, God is present. God is I AM. Note the present tense.
Some months ago the 14 across Press crossword clue was ““It’s a gift to be in the here and now.”
I like the way that we use the word present to mean both the here and now and gift.
However very often the circumstances that we find ourselves in feel like anything but a gift. Who would ever give a gift that brings anxiety, worry or challenges that we are convinced are beyond our abilities?
I find the encouragement of great friend of God Luigi Giussani very encouraging:
“The circumstances through which God has us pass are an essential and not a secondary factor of the mission to which He calls us. If Christianity is the announcement of the fact that that Mystery has become flesh in a human, the circumstance in which one takes a position about this in front of the whole world is important for the very definition of witness”
“Life is a dialogue. “Life is not a tragedy. Tragedy is what makes everything amount to nothing. Yes, life is a drama. It is dramatic because it is the relationship between our I and the You of God, our I that walks the path which God indicates”
It is this Presence, this You that makes circumstances change, because without this You everything would be nothing, everything would be a step toward an ever darker tragedy. But precisely because this You exists, circumstances call us to him. It is he who calls us through them. It is he who calls us to destiny through everything that happens.”
I find this deeply encouraging: The circumstances that I find myself in are simply the present reality where God is dwelling with me, a God who today is not “I was” or “I will be” but I AM.
Therefore there is nothing I need fear.
The temptation is to live in the past or the future, but the fact is the only moment I have is this present moment, and the reality of the moment. These present moments are a gift since they are the only place where I can truly live.
People who focus on the past or the future usually miss the gift of the present – and that pun is (I am sure) by divine design.