Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word.
I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
In today’s gospel Jesus tells his disciples “the truth will set you free.” Have you ever asked yourself the question, “free for what and free from what?” It is appropriate we ask such basic questions during this holy season of Lent. It is a season of repentance. The Latin root of the word repent means to “rethink.”
In the Principle and Foundation, which begins the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius states that our deepest purpose in life is to be with God forever. Being with God is not only for eternity, but also here and now. By having the eyes to see and the ears to hear truth in our lives, we know this is what we are “free for.”
Ignatius goes on to say, God creates all things to bring us closer to him. Our attitude toward all things should be to embrace those that unite us to God and reject those that separate us from God. And so, we should be “free from” those things which keep us from the closest of relationships with God.
Our practice of giving something up for Lent should be informed by a consideration of what leads us away from God. Let us give up that which keeps us from God. Again, let us have the eyes to see and the ears to hear the truth about what keeps us away from the deepest relationship with God here and now.
What are some of the things I desire to be “free from” this season of Lent? Might I fast from gossip, undue anger, envy, greed, or selfishness? Ask God for the grace to see what keeps you from Him and for the courage and strength to be free from it.
—David McNulty, Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
Lord, let your truth bring light upon every falsehood that holds us bondage. Guide us to eliminate any deceptions that separate us from those we love and those we serve. Silence those voices that diminish our destiny to be our best selves. And strengthen our resolve to stand for the truth, particularly when we risk approval and recognition.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!