Today is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Servant of God Archbishop Óscar Romero. He died a martyr’s death while literally holding the precious body of Jesus in his hands held high.
Today’s reflection is about having a relationship with God.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession” ~St. Isidore of Seville†
Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “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.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you.
(NAB Jn 8:31-37)
This is an interesting gospel reading with some irony intertwined. Jesus is talking to the people around Him, most of which “believed in Him;” and then goes on to describe them as also trying to kill Him at a later time in this gospel reading. All I can think of is the old proverb, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
We need to put this reading into a historical and geographical perspective. Jesus is at the Temple at this time. He had just been tested and accused extensively by the Pharisees. They are not sure how to address this man that they cannot find fault with, but still want to kill Him! Jesus is a threat to the Temple priest’s livelihood and authority. He is talking about a new “covenant” with God that will surpass the power of the temple elders!
The Jewish people were enslaved almost continuously throughout their history. This verse, though seemingly ironic, is probably about them (and us) being slaves to sin. Sin traps us, and keeps from having a relationship with God. Sin has a terrible stench that makes us repulsive to God. We need to remove our sins through baptism, the refreshing spiritual washing away of sin through confession, and in Jesus’ body and blood of the Eucharist.
Amen translates to “let it be” or “so be it.” Whenever the phrase “Amen, Amen” is used in the bible; we should think of it as saying, “Hey listen; this is important!” So Jesus, in this reading, is saying, “Hey Listen Yahoos; don’t be a slave to sin. Be a son to my Father!”
“A slave . . . a son” may allude to the tradition of releasing slaves after six years of service (see Exodus 21:2 and Deut 15:12). I wonder if He meant that anyone that is a slave to sin can be released from their sins, and that a person in a good and sin-free relationship with God is assured a place at His table, for the final great feast.
Filled with ironies and twists, this gospel reading can be summarized in a simple sentence: “The Truth will free us from sin and death.” Knowing the truth found in being in relationship with God; following in the way of faith shown us by Jesus; and receiving all the sacraments as often as possible (especially the Eucharist), we can be assured of eternal life with Christ in heaven.
How can we go about having this relationship? Just start with a prayer life, and then build on this basic and important step. Prayer opens up the communication lines. The Rosary is a great weapon against the evil of sin; try it. Eucharistic adoration is awesome! Just sitting or kneeling in front of the precious body of Christ, meditating on why Jesus is there can be mind-opening.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is essential for all of us. No one will bite your head off, and no lightening will strike you if you enter a confessional. If you haven’t been to confession in a while, and are afraid of not knowing what to do: no problem. Just go in and tell the priest exactly that. He will be more than kind and helpful in guiding you through a great experience.
Finally, frequent attendance at Mass; and frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist is the top of the mountain of faith. And it’s an awesome view on top of the mountain. Jesus wants to share this view with everyone. Please, go up that mountain to Him.
“Lord, I am a sinner, but through you mercy, I can achieve eternity in your presence. I give myself to you entirely. Please be my advocate, my guide, and my all. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Bl. Ludovico of Casoria
Blessed Ludovico of Casoria was a man who saw the face of Christ in those around him. He was born in Naples in 1814, and became a priest when he was only twenty-three. In the Franciscan friary he served, he began a Pharmacy as an outreach to the poor, as well as in other places. Also, infirmaries, to assist the poor.
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #24:
To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.