Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE."


Homily for March 16th, 2016. John 8:31-42.

          “Everyone one who commits sin is a slave of sin,” Jesus says. What does that mean, “a slave of sin?” To answer that question we must start with temptation. Where does it come from? From Satan. His name means “the Tempter.” Jesus calls him “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). 
          Satan lied to Jesus in the second of the three temptations during Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. “Then the devil … showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. He said to him, ‘I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms: the power has been given to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Prostrate yourself in homage before me, and it shall all be yours” (Luke 4:5ff). That was a lie. Jesus recognized the lie at once, and rejected the temptation with a scriptural quote: “You shall do homage to the Lord your God; him alone shall you adore” (Deut. 6:13).

          We all experience temptation, all the time. ‘Go ahead. Do it. Why not? It will make you feel good. You’ll be happy. Everybody does it.’ Every one of those statements is a lie. So we say, ‘Well, just this once.’ And then we find that it’s not just this once. Having yielded to Satan’s lies, we yield again – and again, until we find that we’ve acquired a habit, which soon has us in its grip. Over time we discover that we are slaves of sin, as Jesus says in today’s gospel. Breaking the habit is very difficult.

          But not impossible. “If you remain in my word,” Jesus says, “you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” What is this truth that will set us free? It is knowing that when the Lord God set his mark on us at baptism, he made us his sons and daughters, sisters and brothers of his Son, Jesus. As long as we stay close to him, we are happy; yes, and we are also free. And when we wander off, as all of us do at times, he is ready to forgive us and to restore us to his friendship. He does that in the sacrament of penance, or confession.  

More than once Pope Francis has heard confessions at St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. A video made on one such occasion, and which soon went viral on the Internet, shows the Pope kneeling in another confessional to confess his own sins, before he goes to the confessional assigned to him. I have an appointment with my own confessor next week. If you have not celebrated this sacrament recently, I hope you will do so before Easter. It’s not something unpleasant like going to the dentist, It is a personal encounter with One whose love will never let you go. He wants to set you free. His name is Jesus Christ.