Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Lent
(Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; John 8:31-42)
“Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage,” wrote poet Richard Lovelace in the seventeenth century. On a metaphysical level, at least, Lovelace is correct. True freedom is a condition of the soul more than the body. It is the capacity to tell the truth even when it is difficult like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the first reading. The Jews in today’s gospel, on the other hand, evidently see freedom as absence of physical coercion.
The Jews express their adherence to a physical notion of freedom when they say that they have “never been enslaved to anyone.” They fail to understand what Jesus as well as the prophets has told them about enslavement to sin. They cannot see that in their enmity toward Jesus they demonstrate how much jealousy and pride have manacled them.
Jesus offers to free us from internal binding by sending his Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables us to pursue what is good and to resist what is evil. It is the renewal our hearts readily accept as we complete our Lenten sacrifices.