Jesus went on to say to the Jews who believed in him: «You will be my true disciples if you keep my word. Then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free». They answered him, «We are the descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves of anyone. What do you mean by saying: ‘You will be free?’». Jesus answered them, «Truly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave. But the slave doesn't stay in the house forever; the son stays forever. So, if the Son makes you free, you will be really free. I know that you are the descendants of Abraham; yet you want to kill me because my word finds no place in you. For my part I speak of what I have seen in the Father's presence, but you do what you have learned from your father».
They answered him, «Our father is Abraham». Then Jesus said, «If you were Abraham's children, you would do as Abraham did. But now you want to kill me, the one who tells you the truth —the truth that I have learned from God. That is not what Abraham did; what you are doing are the works of your father». The Jews said to him, «We are not illegitimate children; we have one Father, God». Jesus replied, «If God were your Father you would love me, for I came forth from God, and I am here. And I didn't come by my own decision, but it was he himself who sent me».
It is not what we say and what we do is important before God, but what we are. People think that the acts reveal what we are. Though it is true, it is not always a total truth, because I can do a good act with a bad intention, or with an impure intention. Today Jesus clarifies the notion of ‘freedom’ and the notion of ‘children’ of Abraham.
Freedom comes from God and a man of freedom will with pleasure surrender his freedom before God, in his own liberty. This surrendering is possible, only if we know the truth, the truth of our identity, the identity as children of God. Jesus is reminding us that we have our origin in God and asks us to act accordingly.
It is in this pure act of love and compassion that others will identify through us, the true divine presence in this world. These pure acts give a living witness of God’s love. Jesus came to show us through His death and resurrection, how to possess and live this divine love and compassion, expressed in forgiveness and reconciliation. If we recognise our divine identity and live it to its fullness, then we can rightly say that we are children of God. The question is, whether God is our Father? Do our works give witness that we are His children?
«If God were your Father you would love me»
Fr. Givanildo dos SANTOS Ferreira
Today, the Lord directs harsh words to the Jews. Not to some Jews, but precisely to those who embraced the faith: Jesus said «to the Jews who had believed him» (Jn 8:31). This dialogue of Jesus reflects, without any doubt, the beginning of those difficulties caused by the Jewish Christians in the first hours of the Church.
As they were descendants of Abraham according to their kinship, such Jesus’ disciples considered themselves superior not only to Gentiles who lived away from the faith, but also better than any non-Jewish disciples of the same faith. They said: «We are Abraham’s descendants» (Jn 8:33); «Abraham is our father» (v.39); «The only Father we have is God himself.”» (v.41)
Despite being disciples of Jesus, we have the impression that Jesus meant nothing for them, nothing that could improve whom they already owned. But it is there where they all made a big mistake. True sons are not those by physical descent but the heirs of the promise, that is, those who believe (cf. Rom 9:6-8). Without faith in Jesus it is not possible for anyone to reach Abraham’s promise. That being so, among the disciples, "there is neither Jews nor Greeks; neither slave nor free; nor is there man and woman", for they are all brothers because of Baptism (cf. Gal 3:27-28). Let us not be seduced by spiritual pride. Jewish considered themselves superior to other Christians. It is not necessary to speak, here, of separated brethren. But let us rather think of us. How often some Catholics consider themselves better than other Catholics just because they follow this or that movement, or because they observe this or that discipline, they abide by this or to that liturgical trend. Some, because they are rich; others, because they studied more. Some, because they hold important positions; others, because they come from noble families. «« I would like that each one should feel the joy of being Christian.... «God guides his Church, He sustains it always, especially at times of difficulty» (Benedict XVI).
«Then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free»
Fr. Iñaki BALLBÉ i Turu
(Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, when we are only a few days from the Holy Week, our Lord is asking us to fight to live some very specific things, small, but at times, not very easy. We shall explain them throughout this commentary: basically, it is a matter of persisting with his word. How important it is to always refer our life to the Gospel! Let's ask us: What would Jesus do in this situation I have to face now? How would He treat this person which I find so specially difficult to treat? Which would be his reaction before this circumstance? A Christian must be —according to Saint Paul— “another Christ”: «I no longer live, but Christ lives in me» (Gal 2:20). How is it, our Lord's reflection, on our daily life? Am I his mirror?
Our Lord assures us that, if we persist in his word, we shall know the truth, and the truth will make us free (cf. Jn 8:32). To be truthful is not always easy. How often do we tell small lies, how often do we pretend, how often do “we act dumb”? We cannot deceive God. He sees us, He contemplates us. He loves us and follows us, in our day-to-day routine. The eight Commandment teaches us not to bear false witness nor not to tell lies, no matter how small, even if they look trivial to us. “White lies” are not permitted either. Jesus Christ tells us in another moment: «Let your statement be, `Yes, yes' or `No, no’» (Mt 5:37). That trend to do good, which is freedom, is very much related to truth. Sometimes, we are not free enough because there is a double bottom in our life, we are not clear. We must be convincing! The sin of lie enslaves us.
Our Lord says «If God were your Father you would love me» (Jn 8:42). How can we make it come true our daily desire to get to know the Master? With what kind of devotion do we read the Gospel, even though we may have little time at our disposal? Which sediment will it leave in my life, in my day? When looking at me can it be said, that I read Christ's life?