16 Mar WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FREE?
Homily for March 16, 2016. Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent
For some days now, our Gospel passages have been rather dramatic. Jesus is not having it easy with the Jews and they are prepared for a show down with him. One by one they present to him the issues for which they feel he deserves to die and Jesus responds to them giving them the reasons behind his utterances and actions.
And there is nothing that Jesus would say that would convince them. They are determined that Jesus must die and Jesus himself knew it but that does not stop him from attempting to explain the truth to them. From one perspective, it seems Jesus is trying to fight for his dear life. He is trying to make them see reasons why they should accept him. As we read in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus said to them: “If God were your father, you would love me… for I came not of my own accord but he sent me.” Since Jesus knew he came to this world to die, why did he still try to talk sense to them? Why didn’t he just say: “Alright, come and kill me, I am ready to die?”
This shows that so long as one is fully human, love for life is one’s greatest instinct. No matter how painful life on earth may be, no normal human being wants to die. No one will see death and start smiling. Jesus, in his fully human nature tried to preserve his life to the best of his ability. His death was not suicide. Even Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego did not want to die, they too loved their lives. However, there is an extent to which our natural love for life becomes a form of captivity. That is, we could actually become SLAVES of evil, SLAVES of fear, SLAVES of other gods all because of our instinct for self-preservation.
Unless we have found a reason for which we are prepared to die, the world as a whole virtually becomes one large prison wherein we are under the control of powers that be, or under the control of sinful desires. Just as slaves follow the command of their master, we could find ourselves following the rules of the world around us for fear that we could die if we refuse to follow the crowd. Even when the world commands that we go against what God says, we gladly obey the world first hoping that God himself would understand. Most times, our obedience to God happens only in our hearts. Our actions betray our faith in God or our belief in his commandments.
So we gladly indulge in sin out of fear as slaves forgetting that God has the power to save us from dying if we say “No” or assuming that God is too busy to take note. Unlike Shedrach, Meshach and Abegnego we bow to the gods of flesh, we bow to the gods of money, we bow to the gods of power and so on because we are really slaves. Jesus says it all: “Truly, Truly, anyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
True freedom is living above fear. True freedom is being able to distinguish oneself from the rest of the world. True freedom is being able to do what is right at all times regardless of what anyone would think or say. True freedom is to be prepared to die if that is what is needed to do the right thing. The words of Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego are words of people who have found true freedom: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3, 16 to 18.
Even if God decides to do nothing and allow us suffer, we would continue to serve him. Even if our life itself that we love so much is under threat, we would not allow love for life prevent us from standing by what is right. About those who will enter heaven, the book of Revelation states clearly: “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12, 11.
Let us Pray:
Lord Jesus, I declare that I am no more a slave to sin, give me the grace to conquer sin as Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego did. Amen.
God bless you. Good morning. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you.