All School Mass at Marian 3/20/13
Today in the gospel Jesus sets up a contrast, on the one hand there is freedom, and on the other there is slavery. Now, if I asked every one of you which you would prefer, slavery or freedom, you would all surely pick freedom I would think. I don’t think anyone would want to be a slave. Nothing could be more harmful to the human spirit than to be enslaved by another.
But, as is often the case, Christ is talking about deeper concepts of freedom and slavery. In fact, he is talking about the freedom and slavery of the spirit. If you remain in my word you will be my disciples, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. The people Jesus was speaking to in the gospel immediately bristled at this concept: they remarked, we are slaves of no one. Jesus replies, anyone who sins is a slave to sin. This is a huge contrast to what our culture thinks about slavery and freedom. Today in our world, freedom is the ability to do what you want whenever you want it. Slavery, on the other hand, is listening to other people. Freedom is getting to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong, slavery is accepting objective moral truths. The Catholic Church has been in the news a great deal over the last couple of weeks, and I just find it amazing how wrong people can be about truth and freedom. I have read a number of articles in newspapers, websites, and blogs wondering if the new pope will change church teaching on sex, marriage, contraception, homosexuality, celibacy, abortion, and on and on. The articles always go the same way, “people are calling for the church to update its teachings on a number of issues…” Our culture has got it exactly wrong, freedom is not doing whatever you want, freedom can only come from truth, we learn the truth by being disciples of Jesus, we become disciples of Jesus by listening to his word.
And what is Jesus’ word? Remember that Jesus did not come to accuse us, to push us down, to discourage us, Jesus came to liberate us. Come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest. God sent his only begotten Son so that all those who believe in him might not perish but might have eternal life. Over and again, Jesus reaches out to us to lift us up, to help us, to inspire us. He came to bring us the truth, and this truth will set us free. Don’t you want that, don’t you want to be free?
My friends, there is no other way around it. Sin is terrible. It will kill us. There is only one pathway to life, happiness, holiness, and the eternal life of heaven, and it is Jesus.
The election of Pope Francis has caused me to reflect upon the office of the Pope, and even upon the Church itself. Who is the pope? What is the Church? This is an important question that we should ask ourselves. The Church is something that the secular media just doesn’t understand. They think of the Church as some kind of democratic club or organization. But, that is not what the church is; rather, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is guided and directed by God. Its main mission is simple. Jesus said remain in my word, become my disciples, and you will know the truth. That is what the Church is: the Church spreads the word of God, it is the union of Jesus’ disciples, it is where we find the truth.
In our first reading we hear about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, these three men were enslaved by Nebuchadnezzar. But inside they were free. They knew God, the trusted in him, and no matter what the pagan king told them, they did what was right. Can we say the same thing in our own lives? Do we know God, are our hearts free, are we able to reject the lies of our world and hold fast to the truth? If so we will experience a freedom unlike anything the world can offer us. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.