Scripture: 1st Reading: Daniel3,14-20,24-25,28; Resp. Psalm: Daniel 3,29-34; Gosp. Accl.: Lk8,15; Gospel: Jn8,31-42
Many times in our lives we feel insecure, sad, unsatisfied with everything, dejected, unloved, lethargic, and have a general sense of negative well being. All around us, there may be visible signs of what the world considers as success contentment, but deep within us, we know there is a void, an absence of something fundamental.
In those moments of life, there is a sickness within our being. The physical aspect of our lives appears to be well taken care of because we have the means to do so. But our sadness and dissatisfaction stem from the decadence in our immortal souls. That is what is impacting on our physical self and pulling us down. That decadence is occasioned by sin, the most horrible affliction of the soul.
Sin leads to imprisonment, bondage, decay, corruption, shame, dissatisfaction with life, sadness and death. We sin whenever we refuse to obey the truth. When we disobey the truth, we are not true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was the important lesson our Lord taught those who believed in Him today in the gospel passage.
Our Lord, teaching us into eternal life, says clearly that "every one who commits sin is a slave to sin." Slaves lose their place in the house because they may be resold into slavery. So they do not continue in the house forever. Their place is never secure. The son, on the other hand, stays forever in the house.
The Lord Jesus, the Son of the Living and true God, came to set us free from the bondage to sin and decay. This freedom will be realized in us if we do what He tells us, if we allow His words to find a place in us. We will live in freedom if we believe the truth He tells us from God His Father. We will live in freedom if we do the works He did, works which He learnt from His Father.
Those our Lord accused of wanting to kill Him in today's gospel passage did not understand any of these truths. They claimed to be Abraham's children, the epitome of listening obedience to the voice of God. Our Lord told them that if they were truly children of Abraham, they would do what Abraham did. If they had God as their Father, as they claimed, they would love our Lord because He proceeded from God and came not of His own accord but because He was sent by the Father.
The people in today's gospel had a different idea of God and what serving Him entailed. Shadrack, Meschach and Abednego had different but correct ideas of what serving God meant. For them, it was total loyalty and commitment: God and nothing else. To serve God was not a mere proclamation by words of mouth; it was to stand up and be counted even when it could lead to loss of one's life.
To serve God was to believe in His power in all circumstances of life, good, bad and ugly. To serve God was to have faith in His power to deliver one from the adversities of life. To serve God was never to share His place in the heart and soul with anyone. These three young men knew that serving the living God was the best option for them.
If God was not going to save them from the fiery furnace, then let Him call them to Himself through the furnace. Obedience to God, for them, was non negotiable. God did not disappoint their faith in His powers. He rescued them from Nebuchadnezzar and used their heroic faith to teach the despotic ruler that Yahweh's powers were incontestable.
On this Lenten day, the word challenges us to re commit ourselves to the truth of the gospel. The word challenges us to look into ourselves and distance ourselves from the terrible malaise of sin. We are taught that the cause of our discomfort and disconnectedness, dissatisfaction and void is sin. The Son wants to set us free. Are we ready to allow Him? O that today we listen to His voice, let us not harden our hearts.
Let us pray: "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." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.