Precisely as was the case with the Lord at the Burning Bush in Exodus, Jesus’ I Am! to his apostles at the end of Matthew has nothing abstract or other-worldly about it. In both instances the context and the language make it clear that the divine I Am!, far from being a philosophical revelation of essence, is inseparable from the prepositions with or for, indicating a necessary relationship of intense care and interest between God and his creatures. Jesus never merely “is”, in a standoffish and static mode of existence. Rather Jesus always is-with and is-for. We could in fact paraphrase the declaration I am with you!, both by the Lord of Israel in Exodus and here by Jesus in Matthew as, ‘Everything that I am is for you’ or ‘My place is always at your side’. What could be a more irresistible declaration of unconditional love? All the reciprocal intimacy and boundless, heart-ravishing trust that this confidence—I EXIST FOR YOU!—established between God and Moses, Jesus now bestows on the group of the Eleven, that is to say on the Church and, implicitly, on all humanity. And he daily awaits our response.
Photograph by Brother Brian. Meditation by Father Simeon.