“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.”
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.” John 8:34-36
Jesus wants to set you free, but do you want to be set free? On an intellectual level this should be an easy question to answer. Of course you want your freedom! Who wouldn’t? But on a practical level this question is harder to answer. Practically speaking, many people are very comfortable living in sin. Sin offers a deceptive satisfaction that can be hard to turn away from. Sin can make you “feel” good in the moment, even though the long-term effects are that it strips your freedom and joy. But so often that momentary “satisfaction” is enough for many people to keep coming back.
So what about you? Do you want to be free so as to live as a son or daughter of the Most High God? If you answer “Yes” then be prepared for this to be painful, but in a delightful way. Overcoming sin requires purification. The process of “letting go” of sin requires true sacrifice and commitment. It requires you to turn to the Lord in absolute trust and abandon. In doing so you experience a sort of death to yourself, to your passions and to your own selfish will. This hurts, at least on the level of your fallen human nature. But it’s like a surgery that has the goal of removing cancer or some infection. The surgery itself may hurt, but it’s the only way to be freed of the malady you have. The Son is the Divine Surgeon and the way He sets you free is through His own suffering and death. Jesus’ Crucifixion and death brought life into the world. His death destroyed the disease of sin, and our willing acceptance of the remedy of His death means we must let Him destroy the disease of sin within us through His death. It must be “cut out” so to speak and removed by our Lord.
Lent is a time, more than any, in which you must honestly focus on your sin for the reason of identifying those things that keep you bound, so that you can invite the Divine Physician to enter your wounds and heal you. Do not let Lent go by without honestly examining your conscience thoroughly, and repenting of your sins with all your heart. The Lord wants you to be free! Desire it yourself and enter the process of purification so that you will be relieved of your heavy burdens.
Reflect, today, upon your attitude toward your own personal sins. First, can you humbly admit to your sin? Don’t rationalize them away or blame another. Face them and accept them as your own. Second, confess your sins. Reflect upon your attitude toward the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is the Sacrament of freedom. It is so very easy. Just go in, admit all your sins, express sorrow and be set free. If you find this difficult then you are trusting your own feelings of fear rather than the truth. Third, rejoice in the freedom that the Son of God offers you. It’s a gift beyond anything we deserve. Reflect on these three things today and for the rest of Lent, and your Easter will be one of true thanksgiving!
Lord, I do desire to be set free from all sin so that I may live in the freedom of being Your child. Help me, dear Lord, to face my sin with honesty and openness. Give me the courage I need to admit my sin in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that I may rejoice in all that You have bestowed upon me through Your suffering and death. Jesus, I trust in You.
April 10, 2019
|As I write this reflection, we are in the midst of a busy time on campus. Students are registering for next semester classes and we are closing in on the end of the spring semester. Registration time typically brings lots of questions from students and planning meetings for future endeavors. Wrapping up another semester usually includes a sense of urgency and anxiousness with looming class projects, papers and final exams. Combined with the usual busyness of everyday life, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed.
There is one particular sentence from today’s readings that grabbed my attention and I couldn’t seem to let it go. Interestingly, it did not come from the first reading, responsorial psalm or the Gospel passage. It in the single sentence in the “Verse Before The Gospel” from Luke 8:15 that held my attention. It reads, “Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.”
Recently, I have been meeting with various groups to educate them about chronic stress and to decrease what many call “burnout” or “low resiliency.” My work in this area has made me realize that the prevalence of these feelings are more common in society than any of us probably realize. Most of us feel daily stress, and these feelings appear to be having detrimental effects on our ability to work, play, and have quality relationships. Interestingly, however, one of the important characteristics that I have found among people who demonstrate high “resilience” is that they have a quality relationship with God. “Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.” How fitting. I feel like Luke is trying to tell us something here about our relationship with God and our ability to live with the stressors of day-to-day life. “Keeping the word” means to me that we keep God on the forefront of our thoughts and actions and to do so with a “generous heart”, or a readiness to give our best selves. If we can do this, then we will “persevere” or be resilient in a way that helps the world (and ourselves) by “yielding a harvest.” But the single word that grabs my attention the most, is “blessed”. Not only will we persevere, we will be blessed by and through our actions. To me, this means that we will not just survive through our days, but we will thrive. Generously keeping the word in our daily lives allows us to thrive in our daily lives. This changes our perspective from one of “getting through the day” to one of joyfully being present in the day – being blessed! Isn’t it interesting to think that stress management was taught to us long ago by Jesus and many others with all the strategies we need supplied for us in the Gospel readings? Have a blessed day through your generous heart.