Saturday, January 8, 2011


"I AM sent me"

I had an experience this week of my morning meditation on scripture affecting my way of seeing and experiencing the world during the rest of the day. This past Wednesday morning I meditated on the gospel passage assigned for mass that day. Part of it read:

About the fourth watch of the night, [Jesus] came toward [the apostles] walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!" (Mark 6:48-50)

The translation “It is I” is quite correct, but the original Greek says “ego eimi,” (pronounced eh'-go eh-mee'), meaning “I am.” These two words are an echo of God’s powerful self-revelation in the episode of Moses and the burning bush: “But," said Moses to God, "when I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' if they ask me, 'What is his name?' what am I to tell them?" God replied, 'I am who am.' Then he added, 'This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.'" (Exod. 3:13-14)

This is a terribly difficult passage to interpret, but one good bet is that when Moses asks for God’s name, God’s reply is evasive; in the Hebrew world, to know a person’s name is to have power over them, and God was not about to give Moses or anyone else power over God. But the response reveals something of God’s essence, something like "I am who I am," or "I am who-causes-to be".

Mark’s gospel uses this powerful expression “I am” in two other places. In one, Jesus warns his followers that there will be false messiahs: “Many will come in my name saying, 'I am he,' [ego eimi] and they will deceive many” (13:6). Jesus is the only ego eimi.

The other instance of the expression in Mark occurs during Jesus’ trial before the high priest: “Again the high priest asked him and said to him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?’ Then Jesus answered, ‘I am [ego eimi]; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven'" (14:61-62). The high priest knew exactly what Jesus meant, and tore his own garments as a sign of his outrage at the blasphemy Jesus had uttering by saying "I AM" and thus making himself God.


I reflected on the powerful scene of Jesus walking on the water and calming his disciples with the words: “Don’t worry, ego eimi – the most powerful presence in the universe is right here with you to protect and save you.”

That afternoon I was sitting with a student and his two parents as all four of us grappled with his seeming inability to get himself to do his schoolwork. We talked, probably too much, trying to figure out how to help him. The details of the conversation are not important here, but at the end of the frustrating discussion I said to the three of them, “Listen, since we don’t seem able to come up with any solutions right now, would you like to pray right now and ask God to help us?” They jumped at the chance; we joined hands right there around the table and I prayed, asking the Lord to send on this young man and on his parents the Spirit's gifts of wisdom and fortitude and peace. As we were praying, suddenly I could sense the powerful presence of EGO EIMI in that room with us, the same presence that calmed the fearful apostles and told them not to be afraid.

As we shook hands at the door when they were leaving, I knew that EGO EIMI, the most powerful presence in the universe, had just joined in the struggle. I was no longer afraid for my student or his parents.


That same night at Vespers I started sensing the presence of EGO EIMI in every psalm, and the next day I encountered EGO EIMI a couple of times during potentially difficult situations.

As we come to the end of the Christmas season, the celebration of God-with-us, we now have to start looking for the many kinds of presence of God-still-with-us. Have you encountered the powerful presence of Christ as EGO EIMI in your life recently? If so, why not tell us about it in the comment section below?


  1. I think there are layers of resistance to recognizing the hand of providence. Ego, pride, rationalization and so on. If we strip it all away, and humbly assess the interplay of events I can see the presence or God as a catalyst and a coordinator. I have sensed at times to go and offer myself somewhere, but I was not sure why. Later reflection had shown a cause served.

    In times of trouble I have also been served. I am sure I have missed the call many times due to the aforementioned personal resistance. I pray for peace and receptivity.

    I was able to help a friend in need through the inspiration to buy a lottery ticket. I got the idea from reading of a similar circumstance in a biography of Padre Pio. The connections seemed too perfect to be chance.

  2. Multiple doctors told me that it would be difficult, if not impossible for me to have a baby. I started saying the rosary and conceived within the month. I clearly felt the presence of God. I still feel God when I look into the faces of my beautiful children.