Wednesday, March 21, 2018
1) Opening prayer
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.
2) Gospel Reading - John 8,31-42
To the Jews who believed in him Jesus said: If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples; you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free. They answered, 'We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone; what do you mean, "You will be set free?" '
Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now a slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it for ever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free. I know that you are descended from Abraham; but you want to kill me because my word finds no place in you. What I speak of is what I have seen at my Father's side, and you too put into action the lessons you have learnt from your father. They repeated, 'Our father is Abraham.'
Jesus said to them: If you are Abraham's children, do as Abraham did. As it is, you want to kill me, a man who has told you the truth as I have learnt it from God; that is not what Abraham did.
You are doing your father's work. They replied, 'We were not born illegitimate, the only father we have is God.'
Jesus answered: If God were your father, you would love me, since I have my origin in God and have come from him; I did not come of my own accord, but he sent me.
• The reflection on chapter 8 of the Gospel of John continues today. In the form of concentric circles, John deepens the mystery of God which envelopes the person of Jesus. It seems like a repetition, because he always goes back to speak of the same point. In reality, it is the same point, but every time at a more profound level. Today’s Gospel treats the theme of the relationship of Jesus with Abraham, the Father of the People of God. John tries to help the communities to understand how Jesus places himself within the whole history of the People of God. He helps them to perceive the difference that existed between Jesus and the Jews, and also the Jews and the others, all of us are sons and daughters of Abraham.
• John 8, 31-32: The liberty which comes from fidelity to the word of Jesus. Jesus affirms to the Jews: “If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples; 32 you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free”. To be a disciple of Jesus is the same as opening oneself to God. The words of Jesus are in reality words of God. They communicate the truth, because they make things known as they are in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of the Pharisees. Later, during the Last Supper, Jesus will teach the same thing to the disciples.
• John 8, 33.38: What is it to be a son or a daughter of Abraham? The reaction of the Jews is immediate: “We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone: what do you mean: You will be set free?” Jesus repeats and confirms making a distinction between son and slave and says: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave. The slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free”. Jesus is the son and remains in the house of the Father. The slave does not live in the house of the Father. To live outside the house, outside of God means to live in sin. If they would accept the word of Jesus they could become sons and attain liberty. They would no longer be slaves. And Jesus continues: “I know that you are descended from Abraham; but you want to kill me, because my word finds no place in you”. The distinction is immediately very clear: “What I speak of is what I have seen at my Father’s side, and you too put into action the lessons you have learnt from your father”. Jesus denies to them the right to say that they are sons of Abraham, because their works affirm the contrary.
• John 8, 39-41ª: A son of Abraham fulfils the works of Abraham. They insist in affirming: “Our father is Abraham!” as if they wanted to present to Jesus a document of their identity. Jesus repeats: “If you are sons of Abraham do the works of Abraham! 40 Now, instead you are seeking to kill me, because I have told you the truth heard from God; Abraham has not done this. 41 You do the works of your father”. Between the lines, he suggests that their father is Satan (Jn 8, 44). He suggests that they are sons of prostitution.
• John 8, 41b-42: If God was your Father, certainly, you would love me, because I have my origin in God and I come from Him; I did not come of my own accord, but he sent me”. Jesus repeats the same truth using diverse words: “Whoever comes from God listens to the words of God”. The origin of this affirmation is from Jeremiah who says: “Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I shall be their God and they will be my people. There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbour or brother, saying: ‘Learn to know Yahweh!’ No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind” (Jr 31, 33-34). But they will not open themselves to this new experience of God, and because of this they will not recognize Jesus as the one sent by the Father.
4) Personal questions
• Liberty which submits itself totally to the Father. Does something of this type exist in you? Do you know persons who are like that?
• Which is the deepest experience in me which leads me to recognize Jesus as the one sent by God?
5) Concluding Prayer
May you be blessed, Lord, God of our ancestors,
be praised and extolled for ever.
Blessed be your glorious and holy name,
praised and extolled for ever.
Blessed on the throne of your kingdom,
exalted above all, glorified for ever. (Dn 3,52.54)