Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent, March 24
Let Us Pray for the Grace to Always Remain Strong in Light of the Many Temptations We Face in Life, So That God’s Truth May Truly Set Us Free.
Many years ago, I was working at a client’s office whose female employee was an African-American. Over the course of time, we had become friends, and every once in a while we would talk about the topic of racism in our country (the United States), and how this terrible scourge had affected her family – for her great-grandparents were slaves during the Civil War.
Even though her ancestors were children when slavery was abolished in 1865, she had mentioned the factors which had helped many of them to endure this terrible plague which infected our country since the 1600’s. And the most predominant factor was an enduring hope, a hope which prevailed through their spirituality – a spirituality which helped to set them free from the burdens of enslavement and oppression.
Our Lord tells us 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.”
It is this Truth which prevailed in the hearts of many of the slaves in our country’s history. And it is this Truth which also prevailed in the hearts of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, about whom we read in the Book of the Prophet Daniel today. Refusing to give worship to a false god at the command of King Nebuchadnezzar during the Babylonian Exile, they relied on their faith that the God of Israel would protect them.
But if not, they would neither profane themselves nor their God by worshiping a false god. And it was this freedom which filled their hearts, which prompted them to continuously give praise to God for all His goodness – words of praise which came from inside of the fiery furnace, and which we repeat in today’s Responsorial Psalm –
– words which speak of their great faith and the deep love they held for the God of their ancestors. And they were rewarded for their faith. It was not unlike, what is referred to as, the old “Negro Spirituals” which were sung to uplift the hearts of all those enslaved in our country.
And it is our faith today which teaches us that, no matter how difficult life may become, no matter how heavy the cross we may be called to bear at times, no matter how deeply we may be burdened with trials and tribulations on this side of eternity, we, as His faithful children, are never alone – we are NEVER abandoned by a God of unfathomable Love and limitless Mercy!
Jesus came to live among us so that we may come to know His Father as our Father – a Father who is compassionate, a Father who is merciful, a Father who truly understands the human condition – for our Father is a God of Love.
It is only when our hearts are closed, it is only when we refuse to embrace His Love that we fail to recognize the freedom which God’s Love offers us – a freedom which saves us from sin, a freedom which gives us a lasting and enduring hope.
How many people today are like the Jewish authorities we read about in today’s Gospel? How many people turn their backs on God’s invitation to be in a loving and holy relationship with their Creator and Savior?
It is when people continue in their obstinacy, refusing to open their hearts and their minds, that our Lord’s words then become directed towards them, “You are doing the works of your father!” Here, Jesus is implying that their father is Satan, for He earlier said that “…everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.”
And this reminds us of yesterday’s Gospel Reading, when Jesus said to these same people, “For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”
Jesus is telling us that belief in Him and His teachings will fill our hearts with His Truth, and, by embracing His Truth, it will set us free from all that is not of God.
For people of faith, for both you and me, Jesus is the only Truth we need, for it is His Truth which feeds and nourishes our souls. It is His Truth which will ultimately give us eternal life, eternal peace and eternal happiness.
For it is in Christ Jesus that the fullness of God’s Truth has been made manifest. And those who choose to follow Him live in the Spirit of Truth, whom the Father sends as His Gift to His faithful children.
It is when we do not follow Jesus, it is when we reject His Truth for our own brand of truth that we begin to become enslaved. And sadly, this enslavement can take many forms – pride, greed, immorality, addictions to alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography, and so much more! There are so many social illnesses which confront us in today’s culture! And for those who are weak, they can easily become enslaved or addicted to them.
Many fail to realize that freedom and God’s Truth are intertwined, and when we abuse freedom, we no longer embrace Truth. When we are a slave to sin, we can never truly be free.
During this time of our Lenten journey, let us reach out in prayer to our Lord, asking that He may continue to bless us with the grace to remain strong in the face of so many temptations which seem to confront us on a daily basis.
Let us pray for all of our loved ones, and all our brothers and sisters in Christ, that they may find the strength, with the help of His grace, to overcome the seductions of the world which enslaves God’s children.
And finally, let us pray for the virtue of selfless love – as Christ loves each of us – so that we may become a living example of what our faith is truly all about, so that we may become His instrument of love, mercy and compassion here on Earth in our relationships with all those around us –
– so that His Truth may truly set each and every one of us free! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “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.’” (John 8:31-32)
- “For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins…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.” (John 8:24b, 34-35)
- “In the fire Azariah stood up and prayed aloud… ‘we have sinned and transgressed by departing from you, and we have done every kind of evil. Your commandments we have not heeded or observed, nor have we done as you ordered us for our good…For your name’s sake, do not deliver us up forever, or make void your covenant. Do not take away your mercy from us…But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received’” (Daniel 3:25, 29-30, 34-35a, 39)
- “Then these three in the furnace with one voice sang, glorifying and blessing God: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; and blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.’” (Daniel 3:51-52)
- “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
- “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1-3)
- “With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.” (Ephesians 6:18)
- “Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 21-23)
- “To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory, to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)
Prayer for the Day
as Your child, I seek Your help and guidance.
Do not let me succumb to the temptations in life,
so as to fall into error and separate myself from You.
“Lord Jesus Christ,
You died for me so that I may be saved from sin.
Strengthen me through Your Love,
so that, by Your grace, I may always be one with You.
“Most Holy Spirit,
open my heart to all that destroys the soul.
Turn me away from sin and all the snares of the evil one,
who is Satan and who deceives my mind and fills my soul with lies.
“Almighty and Eternal God,
grant me the grace to love only what comes from You.
Strengthen me to resist the seductions of evil,
so that my life may always praise the glory of Your Most Holy Name. Amen.”