Jesus went on to say to the Jews who believed in him, “You will be my true disciples, if you keep my word. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are the descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves of anyone. What do you mean by saying: You will be free?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave. But the slave doesn’t stay in the house forever; the son stays forever. So, if the Son makes you free, you will be really free.
I know that you are the descendants of Abraham; yet you want to kill me because my word finds no place in you. For my part, I speak of what I have seen in my Father’s presence, but you do what you have learned from your father.”
They answered him, “Our father is Abraham.” Then Jesus said, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do as Abraham did. But now you want to kill me, the one who tells you the truth—the truth that I have learned from God. That is not what Abraham did; what you are doing are the works of your father.”
The Jews said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one Father, God.” Jesus replied, “If God were your Father you would love me, for I came forth from God, and I am here. And I didn’t come by my own decision, but it was he himself who sent me.
In today’s gospel reading Jesus utters a very deep truth, but a truth which is not evident at first sight. He says. “Whoever commits sin is a slave.” And, of course, the implied counterpart of this statement is that, “Whoever obeys God is free.”
Now many Christians secretly believe, on the contrary, that God’s commandments are obstacles to freedom. “You shall not… you shall not” does sound somewhat restrictive of our freedom. But what does a loving parent say to a two-year-old ten times a day? “Don’t cross the street… Don’t play with that snake… don’t put that dirty rag into your mouth, etc.” Those “don’ts”, far from restricting a child’s freedom, enable the child to become really free—of danger! The Commandments of God are really a protecting fence keeping us in a zone of safety.
All this is confirmed when we study the people who indulge their every whim because “it’s fun” to overeat, do drugs, be sexually promiscuous, live for money, loaf all day long… Yet, these are the people who end up sick or suicidal. Obedience to God is the royal road to freedom. “I run in the way of your commands” (Ps 119:32), says the soul in love with God.
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