Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus told some Jews who had believed in Jesus previously, “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 responded, “We have never been slaves to anyone.” That was not the response that was expected. They must have been following different premises than Jesus. They must have heard something different from what Jesus had said to them.
It is something like those cartoons in which one picture shows someone speaking, with his words in one of those “balloons” that portray cartoon speech. Underneath that picture we read the words, “What he said.” In the next picture it shows another person with a similar balloon containing very different words, and underneath are the words, “what was heard.”
Jesus spoke to those Jews about “truth” and “being made free.” When we hear the responses of those people to Jesus’ words, we can see that those words meant something very different to them from what Jesus intended.
For one thing those people seem to have forgotten that the Israelites led by Moses to freedom out of slavery were also descendents of Abraham. They also missed another point that Jesus made. It was freedom from a different kind of slavery; slavery to sin.
There was another misunderstanding. Those people failed to realize that it was God, his Father that Jesus was speaking about; our Heavenly Father. As in many similar cases the more they failed to understand what Jesus meant, the more heated they became, and the less clear their logic became.
Today is the monthly Community retreat day for those of us who are members of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist.
For us, and for those in the Monastery Guest House on retreat, there is an opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ words from today’s Gospel. Those who have come from outside can take those words and reflect on them in your own prayer time at home.
What did Jesus mean by these words in today’s Gospel? “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” What do the words “disciple” (learner) and “truth” and “free” (freedom) mean to you? Think about them, pray about them.
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