How do you introduce yourself when meeting someone for the first time? There are usually pieces of information that we relay, our name, where we are from and what we do or have done if we are retired. But what if you heard from your new acquaintance the words, “I am who I am.”
This is what Moses heard when he encountered God as we read in Exodus 3:13-14. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and told him to go to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery. In response, Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’
When God identified Himself as in such a cryptic manner, God’s-self stated that no matter when or where, God is there. It is similar to the New Testament expression in Revelation 1:8, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” This is true of God for all time, but it would have been especially appropriate for a message in Moses’ day to a people in slavery and who could see no way out. I AM was promising to free them, and they could count on the Almighty!
In the New Testament Jesus gives substance to this I Am with John reporting the Christ is the Bread of life, the Good Shepherd, the Door, the Light of the World, the Resurrection and the Life, the way the Truth and the Life and the true Vine.
In the last of these descriptive titles we find something profound. Where we are invited to recognise our close relationship with Jesus, which he compares to the relationship between a vine and the branches that grow on it. What does it mean for our lives that the life of Jesus flows into us? What does it mean for us personally to know that we are as much a part of Jesus as the branch is a part of the vine? Are there things in our lives that would be different if we consciously realised this? What are they? We reflect on these things, we talk to Jesus about them and we ask the Holy Spirit to guide and enlighten us. Just consider for a moment that we are included in the great I AM and enabled to profess, “I am” abiding in the great I AM - Christ Jesus.
“A beautiful question for us Christians is this: do I abide in Jesus or am I far from Jesus? Am I united to the vine that gives me life or am I a dead branch, that is incapable of bearing fruit, giving witness?” (Pope Francis).
Teach me, Lord Jesus, what it is to live in you, and for you to live in me. Amen