Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Lent Week 5 Wednesday

Readings: Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Daniel 3:52-56; John 8:31-42

Today we have another set of readings which relativise human structures of power, authority and justice. The three young men in the fiery furnace are one more 'type' of Christ, saved as they are by divine intervention because they are servants of the true God and refuse to worship any other god. They are at odds with Nebuchadnezzar and with his system of power, authority and justice, just like so many thousands of martyrs across the centuries who gave their lives rather than serve or worship gods other than the Lord, the God of Israel and the Father of Jesus, the one God who is living and true.

One of the most often quoted statements of the gospel is found in Jesus' comments about this same matter: 'the truth will set you free'. In his life of Saint Dominic the English Dominican Bede Jarrett (who died on St Patrick's Day in 1935) shows how Dominic confirmed for his first followers the truth of this gospel principle: by seeking the truth in the way Dominic taught them (and in this he is simply 'dominicus', the Lord's man), the first Dominicans did not 'find' the truth (since who can contain God?) but they did become free, they found a new freedom of joy and love in their service of the Word of God which is the truth.

It is important to quote the full statement of Jesus: 'If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'. This freedom that comes from the truth is found by remaining in the word of Jesus. It means by living as his disciples, following his way, living out in our own lives the way of loving the Father and the world which is the heart of Jesus's life and mission.

We have seen Jesus appealing to Moses, teaching his interlocutors that fidelity to Moses should lead them to faith in him. Now he appeals to Abraham, teaching them that fidelity to Abraham should lead them to faith in him. It is not on the basis of some esoteric exegesis that he argues in this way with them but simply on the basis of the Father's presence in the life of Moses and in the life of Abraham. Is Moses your father? Is Abraham your father? There is one who is 'the Father', Jesus says, the Father of Moses and the Father of Abraham, and my Father too, the one who sent me and because of whom I am here.

Jesus is struggling to convince them to lift their eyes beyond Moses and beyond Abraham, beyond their own traditions and laws, beyond their own structures of power, authority and justice, to look up and beyond and within to the One who sustains all things, who confirms all goodness, who establishes all truth. It is He, 'First Truth' as Thomas Aquinas will call him, who sets free, who draws our minds and hearts through the contingent and passing concerns of this world, to rest in Him, in his power, his authority, his justice - the reality we will see revealed in the greatest of the Son's works, his glorious resurrection from the dead. There is the truth waiting to be revealed. There is the place of true freedom.

Let us remain with Jesus, living as his disciples, so that we will know this truth and enter already into the freedom which comes with our thirst for it.

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