This amazingly detailed teaching of Jesus, recorded by St. John, is striking in vs. 31,32 with both Jesus’ words of affirmation and promise: the affirmation - Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in Him, “If you remain in My word, you will truly be My disciples……
When we hear the word ‘remain’ most often it is heard meaning ‘to stay with’, when in fact the first meaning of the word is: continue to exist.
As St. Paul taught the Greeks about Jesus, referencing their own poets, the actual truth is it is in Jesus: we live and move and have our being. [cf. Acts 17:28]
The parameters of this indwelling, this remaining, as Jesus has just taught us, are His words.
When we seek to live primarily by the words of anyone else, or some national constitution, some philosophy etc., is when we diminish the fullness of our existence, when we step out of remaining indwelling in the Light of Christ and begin to become lost in the darkness of the culture of death.
31.cont.: ……and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
One of the deepest wounds within humanity, sourced in the lies from satan since the first lie told by the evil one to Adam and Eve, is that truth has been diminished from what is essentially true about truth: it is not information about something – such as it is the earth which circles the sun, not as was believed for millennia that the sun circled the earth. Nor is it subjective, that is dependant on personal interpretation.
When Pilate asked: “What is truth?” [18:38] he, perhaps unwittingly, betrayed the common error of reducing truth to information, which in our day is expressed in relativism, the deliberate refusal to embrace that which is objective truth, indeed, more accurately to be faithful to He Who is Truth.
When Jesus tells us we will come to know the truth and thus be set free, He is telling us when we come to know Him through communion of love with Him, which is to live the Gospel, then indeed we shall be imbued with truth, live in truth and thus be the free persons we have been created to be.
Jesus is the glory of the Father ‘full of grace and truth’ [1:14] and it is through Jesus that truth comes into all of creation, into each human being, [1:17], if we accept Jesus into our lives, not just when baptized: in every moment of our lives.
“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” [14:6], Jesus says of Himself.
Truth is a person: the Incarnate One, Jesus Christ.
Unless we embrace this, are guided by this, then we are easily seduced by the world’s notions about truth, are vulnerable to lies of all kinds.
Abiding in the words of Jesus, is to abide in Him, to live and move and have our being in Truth.
What the world does when making use of the word truth, declaring something to be true, is fundamentally an assessment of facts, information, persons.
The ‘truth’ about something: movement of the sun, a statement made to us by another about what is or is not, is never pure, always tainted by the interpretation made by the speaker, or the ‘recorder’ of facts or scientific conclusions.
The current debate about climate is a prime example of how ‘truth-facts’ are easily manipulated.
Christ who is Truth simply IS truth, speaks only what is true and amazingly invites us into this reality and once we are in communion with truth Himself, we become free.
This being free is to experience the grace of redemption, thus, to be free from the fears, the darkness, the lies of satan, from death.
Many will argue because of physical or emotional problems, painful life experiences, sins committed against us or by us, the burden of doubts, rejection by others, etc., etc., we cannot ever claim to be free.
This is reductionist thinking.
The freedom Christ promises us, in our lives in this moment, is not freedom from life’s struggles, it is the promise of all grace needed to live life, to have hope, to know we are beloved of the Holy Trinity, children of the Father, disciples of Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit.
Freedom is to be one with Christ, taking up our cross each day and following Him.
Freedom is that there is a redemptive dimension to our suffering, that Divine Mercy, for example in sacramental confession, is always available to us, and freedom is that in the Holy Trinity every moment is the moment of beginning again.
Freedom is not the illusions of ephemeral ‘happiness’, it is to have the Holy Spirit’s gift of joy, joy which no suffering, no lie, no disappointment can overcome.
Contingent on Christ’s assuring us truth will set us free is to embrace the connection between the Beatitudes and the Our Father.
The most pernicious, deep, dark, prison keeping us unfree, thus vulnerable to being easily hurt by the words/actions of others, prone to distrust that we are beloved of God, bound by the inner pain from the lie that prayer is anything but pointless, indeed so easily wounded by the trails and tribulations, disappointments of life, by the minor pricks or grievous harm done to us by others we become exhaustingly tangled in the dark web of hatred, is to slam shut by our own actions the prison door and ourselves to turn the key and imprison ourselves because we refuse to forgive.
Jesus assures us that the poor in spirit are blessed [cf.Mt.5:3] and to experience our sinfulness and need of forgiveness is the poverty of being human and to experience the seemingly unfairness of being the forgiver of others is the poverty of relinquishing the very human need to be in control, the ugly stepchild of pride.
When we forgive, which is to show mercy [cf. Mt.5:7] we are blessed with Divine Mercy being lavished upon us, for the Beatitudes are not promises of something in the distance but in the immediate.
These Beatitudes, as with the promise of freedom flowing from dwelling in Truth, that is to dwell in Christ, are not simply linked to but become operative every time we pray the Our Father, as Jesus teaches us: ……forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. [cf. Lk. 11:4].
Older translations have it as: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.
All sin committed against me, by myself, by someone against me or me against another, is to trespass into and upon the sacred ground of personhood.
In either translation the operative ask of the Father for forgiveness is our declaration that we are forgiving of others. Frankly self must be included in that, otherwise we go through life hobbled by guilt, which is the egotistical way to avoid true contrition.
Mercy/forgiveness given becomes mercy received and breaks the shackles, breaks the lock, smashes open the prison which has kept us from the freedom for which we have been created and redeemed.
“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.”
© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph