The Gospel according to John (8:31-42)
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
Opening Prayer: Enlighten, O God of compassion, the hearts of your children, sanctified by penance, and in your kindness grant those you stir to a sense of devotion a gracious hearing when they cry out to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
Do the Right Thing: Cynics say that there is no purely selfless act- that we are always motivated by the hope of reward. We may act to garner praise or so others will think we are virtuous. We might even do it to make a point or to make others feel inferior. It’s natural to hope that good deeds will be rewarded, that hard work will pay off and that our sacrifices will be worthwhile. In reality, though, we may suffer for our choices. We may be insulted, persecuted or left behind- thrown into the metaphorical fiery furnace.
Discipleship compels us to do what is right anyway, simply because, it is right. God asks us to live as the people he made us to be. Therefore, we act in faith and hope, trusting in his promise that our reward will be great in heaven. Or, what we sometimes call ‘Heaven Dollars’.
Encountering Christ: Christ was speaking with those Jews who believed he was the Messiah. He was teaching them that his word is truth and has the power to set them free from sin. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Christ reaches through time and space to us, his modern disciples, with the same message. He invites us to read the word, meditate on it, memorize it, and internalize it. “Then, you will be free.” What an outstanding promise he makes to us! Christ has taken the initiative to share with us the true meaning of life and to reconcile us with God the Father.
Blocked by Pride: As Christ was inviting them into a closer encounter with himself, the Jews were getting annoyed.” We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved,” they said. They had obviously forgotten certain parts of their history—Egypt and Babylon, for example. They were stuck in their pride and wedded to their own point of view. When Christ enters into our life he completely changes the way we view the world and the way we view ourselves. He invites us to see the world from his perspective, and understand that behaviors will truly bring about freedom, the freedom of our souls.
Closing Prayer: Attend, Almighty God, to the prayers of your people, and, as you endow them with confident hope in your compassion, let them feel as ever the effects of your mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
Meditation: Some of the greatest truth tellers of our time were courageous enough to speak the truth even at the risk of their own lives. They spoke out without any hatred or hostility. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “ Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” What is the truth that you must speak? Jesus tells us that we can speak the truth without fear or hatred, and with courage and love; and this shall set you free!