by Fr. Tommy Lane
If you know the truth, the truth will set you free. The three faithful Jews of our first reading (Dan 3) knew the truth, to worship God alone and not the golden idol set up by the king of Babylon. Because they knew the truth, they were free, so free that they did not fear persecution or torture. As they were being bound and cast into the furnace it might appear that they were enslaved and not free. But the opposite was the case. Since they did not fear persecution and torture they were totally free. If you know the truth, the truth will set you free. On the other hand, the king of Babylon was not free, he was enslaved to a golden idol. In the past few hundred years various people and their movements arose that believed their way was the only way such as Hitler and Lenin to mention just two. They invented idols, and we can call them idols because they expected sacrifices of one kind of another for their idol and in both modern times and in the Old Testament we see that wars started due to idols. Even those who consider themselves servants of God might really be practicing idolatry which is what we see in the Gospel today (John 8:31-42). Some of those who listened to Jesus were not free because they were enslaved to a certain way of understanding the Torah and had turned their way of understanding into an idol.
There is a way to be set free from idolatry, to be set free from slavery. Jesus gives us the remedy in today’s Gospel, “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.” (John 8:31-32) Jesus is the truth, he is the one who will set us free. As both the first reading and the Gospel today in one way or another concern idolatry, I think today’s readings are asking us to consider during Lent if we have any idols in our lives and if so to turn to Jesus, the truth, for healing and freedom. If we sacrifice ourselves, our time, our energy or other people to something or someone other than Jesus, then we have an idol and are in need of turning to Jesus to be set free. Jesus says, “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.” Remaining in the word of Jesus has the sense of dwelling in the word of Jesus, making Jesus’ words our house. The New Jerusalem Bible brings out that sense of remaining in the word of Jesus with its translation, “If you make my word your home you will indeed by my disciples.” Making Jesus’ word our home means daily contact with the word of God, daily reflection on the word of God. In this way we get to know the truth and are set free by the truth, and we allow ourselves to be transformed by the word of God to take on the mind of Christ. “If you make my word your home you will indeed by my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
© Fr. Tommy Lane 2016