5th Week of Lent, Wednesday, March 24
Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25, 28 / John 8:31-42
Jesus talks about his teaching; "Keep my word and you will know the truth. "
It has been said that some truths can be verified as being truthful only by living them out. Jesus has something like this in mind when he says in today's reading: "If you live according to my teaching…. then you will know the truth." In other words, the truth of what Jesus says will be discovered in the process of living it out. For example, by forgiving your enemy, you discover this is the right thing to do. By praying for those who wrong you, you discover this is the right thing to do. By not passing judgment on your neighbour, you discover this is the right thing to do.
Do our doubts about the teaching of Jesus arise from our failure to live out his teaching? "If you wish to be convinced of eternal truths, do not augment your arguments, but weed out your passions." Blaise Pascal
On July 10, 1970 Communist China released Bishop James Walsh from prison, reportedly because of advanced age and ill health. The bishop had been arrested in 1958 and held incommunicado for almost two years before he was sentenced to twenty years in prison on charges of spying for the United States and the Vatican. When his brother was allowed to visit him in 1960, the bishop told him, "While no one likes to be confined, I am not unhappy here and I leave the future entirely in the hands of God." He had found that "four walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage." During those long years in a small cell of a prison on the outskirts of Shanghai, Bishop Walsh did not enjoy freedom in the ordinary sense, but he did learn the meaning of the words of Jesus, "If you live according to my teaching, you are truly my disciples; then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."
Jesus taught that cells and prisons do not destroy freedom; sin does that. Sin makes us slaves. It chains the human spirit and restricts us from living in such a way as to achieve the real happiness for which we all yearn. Freedom is the liberty not to do whatever we want, but to do whatever we must in order to fulfill our spiritual destiny. Living a life of sin is like choosing to confine oneself within a rundown one room hovel and pretending that is pleasure, when one could live in a magnificent mansion forever.
If we live according to the teaching of Jesus as his disciples, his truth will set us free—free from sin with the liberty to pursue the true purpose of life.
Persons who trust in God fight enslavement to sin. In the face of abuse of authority, persecution or coercion of any kind, even of tradition or of the law, they retain their inner freedom. When they hear and keep God’s Word, they make a decision for freedom. The liberating word of Christ sets us free and makes us sons and daughters. God’s children are born to be free. The three young men at the king’s court were willing to lay down their lives for their faith. Like the faith of Abraham, our faith in Jesus should be deep and unconditional.
Lord our God, you call us to be free people. Help us to give you always a response of freedom. Set free by Christ’s liberating word and death, may we never again shackle ourselves with self-made chains, of selfish sin and false attachments. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen