Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.
At the start of this new month, with the world in continuing crisis, our Lord Jesus gives us words of great hope. I pray that we all pay heed to them because they contain a wonderful promise, a promise of freedom. “If you continue in my word,” Jesus tells us, “you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Many of us imagine that freedom is the ability to do whatever we want. It is what the prodigal son thought as he claimed his share of the inheritance and left the safety and comfort of his father’s home to go and “do his own thing.” But he soon discovered, as I am sure that many of us have, that the “freedom” he believed he had was actually “slavery”.
Believing he had the freedom to drink and have sex as he wanted, he soon found himself enslaved to them, because they kept him going. And soon he couldn’t do without them. Then, as always happens, he started sliding down a slippery slope until he was deposited in a pig sty. How many of us have experienced the same? Waking up in the morning loathing our lives, only to return to wallowing in the mud again?
Jesus says it needn’t be like this. He offers true freedom, where we are able to be what we were meant to be. Unencumbered by the chains of this world we soar like ages. There is no worry, no anxiety, no fear. Just total and complete peace. The world can collapse around us (much like it is doing now) but it won’t faze us at all, because we are over it, above it.
But to experience freedom like this, we have to obey our Lord’s word, doing the things he asks us to do. This is not difficult. On the contrary, it is the easiest thing to do, if we are yoked to him. This is the key, and the ease with which we live our faith is an indicator of how closely we are yoked to Christ. If we find it difficult, we are not with him, no matter what we might claim. So let us be with him.
Today is the start of a new month. Let it serve to be a new beginning. Let us be free.