Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent

John 8:31-42

Jesus and Abraham


“Everyone who lives in sin is a slave of sin.” The image is that of slavery. Slavery as a social institution was more familiar with the contemporaries of Jesus than it is to us. But slavery in its basic meaning is not lost on our present generation.

A more important dimension of slavery is spiritual. We call it spiritual slavery. The real evil of slavery is the loss of one’s psychological freedom and moral integrity. It is in that sense, especially, that sin is slavery.

A habit of sin means that the grip of sin is so light that one cannot, without supreme effort, shake if off. A person can allow a sinful attitude – pride, greed, lust and sloth to dominate him/her personality. And to allow oneself to be dominated by sin is to be a slave of sin.

How do I get out of my sinful situation? How do I attain freedom from sin? Jesus gives us a clue, “If you live according to my teaching, you are truly my disciples; that you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus assures us that freedom from the slavery of sin is possible.

In a manner of speaking, the Lenten season is a “freedom journey.” Freedom is never easily won. But freedom is worth the effort. The journey is a difficult one because the chains that hold us in slavery are strong. Thank God we do not take the journey alone. “If God is with us, who can be against us,” (Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


“Our father is Abraham.” There is something chilling about that response to Jesus. What they are really saying is, “We have certainty on our side and have the Scriptures to prove it, why should we listen to you.” The reality is that Jesus was ridiculed, humiliated and executed by men of great faith. It would be easier to understand if they were atheists or people of another religion. No, they were people of His own nationality, religion and faith.

The problem two thousand years ago remains the problem of today. The most dangerous people in the world are those whose belief system is deeply entrenched but totally closed to any further development. Today we call them fundamentalists. These are still the most dangerous people in the world whether they are Jewish fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists or Christian fundamentalists. They profess a deep faith in God and have the certainty that their position is right and cannot tolerate anyone who might differ from them, even to the extent of invoking God’s will in destroying the opposition.

The gospel text shows this process in all its ugliness. Here is God incarnate standing before them, explaining His position to them and they see Him as opposing God and therefore He must be exterminated. This is risk we all run into, if our faith is a closed shop. We must always have a living faith that allows for the possibility of God’s continued revelation. We must be attentive and be ready to read the signs of the times. What is God saying to me here and now is the demand of living faith. To be open to possibility and to prayerfully discern what God is saying in the signs of the times is the challenge of today. (Fr. Brian Byrne, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


Did you take part in an interview today? Well,  if you took part in any of these activities like talking to your professor about your grade, taking part in a performance review with your boss, giving a direction to a stranger, and consulting a physician about a painful knee, then you took part in an interview. Rarely does a day pass without being involved in a variety of interviews because such activities are the most common forms of purposeful and planned communication. Interviews range from formal to informal, unstructured to structured, simplistic to sophisticated, from supporting to threatening, a few minutes to a few hours. During interviews you may get or give information, counsel or being counselled, persuaded or be persuaded. Your relationship maybe business-like or intimate, competitor or team player and superior or subordinate.

In today’s gospel, Jesus is involved in a similar situation he is being interviewed by the Jews regarding certain truths. He points out that discipleship is not by kinship, but by adhering to the truth. Truth is said to be reliable, trustworthy, faithful, sure, genuine and sincere. It is God’s revelation of Himself to us. Truth is the reality that God has chosen to reveal to us.

There is some sort of a gap between the truth and us. To make sure that we are in the side of truth, we side with Christ. His words are true. He is the Truth and the truth will set us free. (Fr. Nestor Sibug, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


The Jewish people suffered violent persecution during the second century before Jesus. The Syrian tyrant Antiochus IV forced them to give up their religion and worship false gods. In anguish they cried to God: “How long will your anger burn like fire…? Where are the promises you made to David,” (Ps 89:46, 49). It was in this crisis that the author of the Book of Daniel exhorted the suffering Jews to remain steadfast and faithful under trial. The Book of Daniel consisting of inspirational stories and visions gives the persecuted Jews the assurance that God sees their suffering and will soon save them.

In today’s gospel Jesus talks about living in truth and freedom. It has often been said that some truths can be verified as being truthful only by living them out. I think Jesus has something like this in mind when He said, “Keep my word and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The truth of what Jesus says, in other words, will be discovered in the process of living it out.

In forgiving your enemy, you discover that this is the right thing to do. In praying for those who wrong you, you realize that this is the best thing to do. But not passing judgment on your neighbour, you chose the best option possible. Living in truth leads us to freedom from being enslaved by our bad habits, prejudice, impatience and ignorance. In this season of Lent, the gospel reminds us of our own enslavement to sin – this subtle form of slavery from which Jesus wishes to set us free. Blaise Pascal once said, “If you wish to be convinced of eternal truths, do not augment your arguments but weed out your passions.” Let not our doubts about the teaching of Jesus surpass our faith in him. (Fr. Jerry Perocho, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


March 16, 2016 Wednesday

Erik Erikson, a 20th century American psychologist, noted: “In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.”

The focal point of the tension in today’s gospel is the issue of identity. The Jews believe that their sense of identity comes from the position they continue to enjoy as the chosen people. Being descendants of Abraham, they claim that they have never been slaves to anyone. Furthermore, they invoke the Fatherhood of God to legitimize their identity. For Jesus, however, his sense of identity simply comes from his being sent by His Father – the Son of the Father. And so, for him, the Jews’ rejection of his word and impending attempt to kill him contradict their claim of the same Fatherhood; and that unless they would love him, their claim of the Fatherhood of God has no sense at all.

In such a tension, Jesus teaches that by failing to accept and love him, the Jews’ claim of divine inheritance is not authentic. In our case, it does not suffice that we can trace our spiritual fatherhood of God through membership in the Church. The gospel reminds us that an authentic claim to such a divine heritage lies in our capacity to accept the words of Jesus. It lies in our openness to listen to Him, though at times it may really hit and even break us. Acceptance of Jesus calls us to get rid of our superficial and false sense of identity like that of a Jews whose superficial sense of identity deprived them to see the newness and richness of Jesus’ words and person.

The post-modern world has created a culture of hegemony that tends to ruin our sense of identity as individuals or as a community of persons. This is where Christian identity can offer a counter culture. Our sense of identity in Christ, when fully lived by us who are called Christians – not only by name but by our very life – can become a powerful means to dispel the power of unbelief and indifference that pervade the world. And so the gospel today invites us to examine the false sense of identity that we have imposed on ourselves, or that we have allowed the world to impose on us.

How can they become means to enslave us? How do they hinder us in our search for freedom and peace in our lives? May this Lenten season give us the grace to break off from them and therefore once again, let the Christ in us grow and shine forth to the people around us. (Fr. Samuel Agcaracar, SVD Rome, Italy Bible Diary 2016)


ONLY GOD: the story of Shadrack, Meschah and Abednego, the story of three young men whom the king wanted burned but were delivered from furnace, is a story of faithfulness. These men refused to bow down and worship an idol. They were threatened with death. But they stood by their principles and would only worship God. As a result, God rescued them for their faithfulness.

In the gospel, the scribes and the Pharisees were also faithful but what did they receive? While the three young men were rewarded for their faithfulness, the scribes and the Pharisees were condemned for their faithfulness.

What was the difference? The three young men who were to be burned at the furnace were being rewarded for their faithfulness to God. The scribes and the Pharisees were being condemned because of the rigidities and faithfulness to rules.

Rules cannot save us. Only God can save us. The three young men saw that, while the scribes and the Pharisees failed to see it.

What about us, dear brothers and sisters? Do we realize that it is only God whom we should follow and serve? It is only God who can save us. The EDSA Shrine, as a place, cannot save us, only God can. No formula of reading material can save us, only God can save us.

Yet, isn’t it true that we are not very far from what the scribes and Pharisees did, because we allow our hearts and eyes to be set, for example, our priest, places, rules and reading materials? We go to Mass because of a priest. We go to a Church because we find it beautiful. We pray because we like what we’re reading and it makes us feel good.

Brothers and sisters let us open our eyes to reality. Fr. Soc, Fr. Henry, Cardinal Sin and not even the Pope can save us. Only God can save us. No people, books, formulas, rituals can save us. They can only save us in relation to God. Let us not allow any of these people or things to stand between us and God. Can you see beyond the people, the rituals, the reading materials, and see the face of God. (Socrates Villegas, Jesus Loves You, pp. 54-55)


Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent (A): John 8:31-42. Are we free or slaves? The Jews were confident in saying, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.” But, Jesus said to them, “I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” We don’t easily understand that sin enslaves the sinner. Sin can give us pleasure, but it can also enslave us. Often, we are so focused on the pleasure that goes with sinning, but we fail to notice the hand of the evil one whose only wish is to bring us harm. We don’t like to be controlled or forced by anyone. But that is what the devil is doing to us by getting us into the habit of sinning. Jesus offers us a way out: “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.” (Abet Uy)


My Reflection for Wednesday April 9, Fifth Week of Lent, John 8:31-42

Reflection: What will happen to us if we give space for the words of Jesus in our hearts? Of course we will start to build that special relationship with Jesus. We will start to trust Jesus more than we trust ourselves and we will also become averse with sin.

In our first reading, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted more on their faith in God than  obey the command of the king. They were being forced by king Nebuchadnezzar to worship his own God. But until the end the three did not follow the king’s order so they were thrown into the hot furnace yet they were not hurt because God was with them.

This is what will happen to us also if we faithfully follow Jesus, yes there would be instances of persecution. But if we remain faithful then our being persecuted is nothing compared to the glory that awaits us. If there’s glory for those who would remain faithful, why are we not faithful to Jesus? Why do we easily betray Him for the fleeting and sinful pleasures of this world?

This is so for the simple reason that we allow ourselves to succumb to the inducement of Satan. That’s how plain and simple it is, we give up Jesus for this world because we love this world more than we love Jesus.

As we approach the holiest of weeks let us reflect on how many times have we given up Jesus for the sinful pleasures of this world and what have we gained for giving up Jesus for this world? Nothing except the continuous pilling up of our problems.  This is what we gain for giving up Jesus for this world.

But there’s still hope for us all courtesy of that man on the cross. (Marino J. Dasmarinas)


DAILY SCRIPTURE TIME: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples…” – John 8:31

Many years ago, part of my spiritual practice was to read Scripture every day. Our community calls it “Scripture time,” which was separate from our “prayer time.”

But it’s been several years now that I’ve considered listening to the Gospel in my daily Masses as a substitute for Scripture time. Once in a while, I would write my reflections in my journal or Companion. And when inspired, I would spend extra time to read Scripture.

But in our weekly Divine Mercy/Marian prayer meeting, the year-end message we received was to read Scripture daily, faithfully. So, I made a New Year’s resolution to restore my Scripture time. It’s been a long time since I read the Bible from cover to cover. I decided it’s time to do that again.

True, it’s important to arm ourselves with the Word of God and faithfully live and serve as God’s disciples, especially with the many bad influences of the world in these “end times.” Cristy Galang (

Reflection: Do you spend time to read Scripture? Faithfully? Reflectively?

Lord Jesus, I ask for the grace to spend time reading Your Word regularly. And as I do so, please speak to me. Guide me, correct me, strengthen me and deepen my commitment to You. Amen.


1ST READING: These three men are unwilling to bow to the unjust demands of a pagan king, and so the king had them thrown in the fire. But lo and behold, they do not get consumed by the flames. They have a protector who preserves them from any harm. It is in living by the truth of the Gospel that we will be preserved from any harm due to sin. Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

GOSPEL: Jesus proclaims that truth gives us the greatest freedom. We live in a world that does not acknowledge this truth. We are constantly amazed by the lies of politicians and the corrupt practices of many business people. There are even lies from rewriting the understanding of our sexuality in ways that are contrary to its inherent meaning. John 8:31-42

think:  It is living out the truth of the Gospel that will preserve us from any harm due to sin.


CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM, CHILDREN OF PEACE! God promised the fatherhood of many nations to Abraham, and he is therefore claimed as the point of legitimacy by Jews and Muslims alike. The Jews call themselves children of Abraham through the son of promise, Isaac. The Muslims, on the other hand, call the patriarch “Ibrahim,” and they claim that they are also children of Abraham through Ishmael, his son by the Egyptian slave Hagar. Of course, we Christians honor Abraham as the great man of faith, whose attitude of willing and prompt obedience to God’s call we all ought to emulate (cf Romans 4:13-19).

Besides faith, Abraham is also known to be the patriarch who preferred to resolve conflicts by peaceful means. Though he enjoyed preeminence over his brother’s son, Lot, he allowed Lot to make the first and best choice during the partitioning of grazing grounds (cf Genesis 13:1-18). He tried to bargain for everything possible so that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah may be saved (cf Genesis 19). Further, he gained land through negotiation and purchase, rather than through conquest! (cf Genesis 23).

A sad reality that we then have to particularly pray and atone for is the global and local confrontation many times involving Muslims, Christians and Jews. To our shame before God and before one another, we easily identify ourselves as creatures of the One God, monotheists and followers of religious traditions and beliefs that trace their origins to Abraham. However, many of the present issues of armed conflicts are also perpetuated by us! Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP

REFLECTION QUESTION: How much have you imbibed in your own ways the basic truth: “The way of God is a way of faith and peace”? In your prayer time today, pray for peace among Christians, Jews and Muslims in various parts of the world.

Let there be true peace among us all, Lord — whether we are Christians, Jews or Muslims.


WHAT ENSLAVES YOU? – I saw an editorial cartoon that depicts the devil holding a rod with strings connected to a puppet below. It is actually a caricature of a marionette controlled from above using strings and is made to move as the puppeteer moves. The caption reads, “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast” (Proverbs 5:22).

This is a perfect image of what Jesus is trying to tell the Jews in today’s Gospel. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). He no longer does what he likes, but submits himself to the desires of the evil one. He does the things that sin tells him to. “A man can let a habit get such a grip of him that he cannot break it. A man can allow a pleasure to master him so completely that he cannot do without it. He can let some self-indulgence so dominate him that he is powerless to break away from it” (William Barclay).

A man cannot say, therefore, that he is free when what he does are born out of the promptings of sin, and not what he really likes. He becomes a slave to the bad habits, the wrong inclinations, the indulgences that satisfy not the real and deep longings of man’s being but the fleeting and superficial cravings of the self.

And so Jesus promises, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Man should allow himself to receive the freedom that the Lord provides, acquired through openness to God’s mercy and grace. Examine your life and see — what is it that enslaves you now? Are there sins that make regular appearance in your examen? Seek Jesus and His righteousness, and the freedom that you should rightfully enjoy shall be given unto you, and then all these other things taken together will be given you besides.Fr. Sandy V. Enhaynes

REFLECTION QUESTION: What sin enslaves you? Lift it up to the Lord today and open yourself to His healing grace.

Lord, heal my brokenness. Forgive me for my habitual sins. I accept Your grace to heal me and transform me back to Your original design for me. Amen.


WORD Today (Dan 3:14-20, 91-95; John 8:31-42): I 585BC, three men were forced to obey a government law that would lead them away from God. They said: “Know, O king, that we won’t serve your God or worship the golden statue which you set up.” Similarly, after Christ returned to heaven, Peter was forced to obey a government law to abandon Christ. He said: “We must obey God rather than men,” (Acts 5:29). The three men were placed in a burning oven but an angel set them free. Peter was put in jail but an angel freed him. They remained faithful to God and He saved them. Christ says: “If you remain in my Word, you’re truly my followers. You’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Christ is the Truth, the Way and the Life. Let us be faithful to Christ, not to human law like the RH Law and remain in His love (Fr. Iko Bajos – April 9, 2014).


Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent (A): John 8:31-42. Are we free or slaves? The Jews were confident in saying, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.” But, Jesus said to them, “I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” We don’t easily understand that sin enslaves the sinner. Sin can give us pleasure, but it can also enslave us. Often, we are so focused on the pleasure that goes with sinning, but we fail to notice the hand of the evil one whose only wish is to bring us harm. We don’t like to be controlled or forced by anyone. But that is what the devil is doing to us by getting us into the habit of sinning. Jesus offers us a way out: “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.” (Abet Uy)


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

WEDNESDAY OF THE 5TH WEEK OF LENT (YEAR C) – JUAN 8:31-42. GAWASNON KA BA O ULIPON? Diha sa ebanghelyo si Hesus nagtudlo nga ang tawo nga anaa sa kamatuoran gawasnon, pero ang makasasala ulipon sa sala. Pinasikad sa kasinatian, tinuod ang giingon ni Hesus. Ang tawo nga magpuyo sa kamatuoran walay kahadlokan. Masaligon siya nga maglakaw atubangan sa publiko ug wala siyay kaulawan. Makatulog siya og maayo tungod kay malinawon ang iyang konsensya. Sa laing bahin, ang tawo nga magpuyo diha sa sala kanunay’ng mabalisa. Madudahon siya kang bisan kinsa tungod kay mahadlok siya nga mahibaloan ang iyang binuhatan. Mura siya’g binilanggo tungod kay dili niya mapagawas ang iyang tinuod nga pagkatawo. Adunay nakasulat sa Billboard: “Freedom FROM sin, not Freedom TO sin.” Sakto. Ang atong gikinahanglan mao ang kagawasan gikan sa sala, dili kagawasan sa pagpakasala. Posted by Abet Uy


March 16, 2016

REFLECTION: 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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Commentary on John 8:31-42

The contentious dialogue between Jesus and the Jews continues. There are some sayings here which we would do well to reflect on deeply.

“If you make my word your home, you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free.” The Pharisees take umbrage at that statement. As descendants of Abraham they were never slaves to anyone. In fact, in the long history of their people, the Jews were almost continuously enslaved to invading powers. However, the slavery Jesus speaks about is the slavery of sin.

In responding to Jesus’ words, how many of us who want to be disciples of Christ have truly made his word our ‘home’? How many of us have to admit that we are not really very familiar with Jesus’ word in the New Testament? Yet we cannot truly follow him unless we are steeped in that word.

Again, how many of us really believe that the truth about life that is communicated to us through Jesus makes us genuinely free? How many of us experience our commitment to Christianity as a liberation? How many have left the Church because they felt suffocated and wanted to be free? What freedom were they looking for? For many being a Christian is sacrificing freedom in exchange for a promise of a future existence of pure happiness. We can say with confidence that, if we do not find being a Christian a liberating experience here and now, we do not really understand the true nature of our Christian faith.

“If God were your father, you would love me, since I have come from God.” To know Jesus, to love Jesus, to follow Jesus is the way to God and it is in God and only in God that we will find true happiness, freedom, and peace. But the only way to know the truth of that statement is to experience it personally.

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Wednesday, March 16

Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; John 8:31-42

The Truth Will Make You Free

The truth shall make you free – is the subject of the two readings today. That legendary story of Daniel illustrates the four freedoms that men cherish: freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want in the bold answers given by Daniel to the king.

The Jewish people were proud of their freedom – the freedom to serve only the Lord by obeying the covenant. But in this scene Jesus is offering them freedom implying the need for liberation. As ‘descendant of Abraham’ they find it offensive. They assume that being children of Abraham automatically makes them children of God. John has already written: To be a child of god is not a matter of physical descent. It is a matter of receiving God’s Word and believing in him (Jn 1:12-12). Here are reminded that we would not become authentic Christians just through baptism nor become genuine consecrated persons just by professing evangelical counsels.

‘The truth will make you free’ is, however, a hard medicine. The worst type of slavery is not the external but being slaves into ourselves. It takes different forms. The blind observance of manmade statutes at the cost of His will, love and mercy and leading a life according to the flesh generating bad habits in us enslave us. Jesus wishes to free us from this kind of slavery by walking in his light. This is a hard way since we have to carry our own daily crosses in the manner Jesus carried his cross totally surrendering to the Will of the Father, but Jesus adds my yoke is easy and burden is light.

We would, however, prefer to be free by an easier method by escaping the harder realities. We have multiplied and varied the means of escape in the modern world. Many of our technical advances are means of escaping not only from the past but also from the present. However, the inner healing in psychotherapy depends on a return to the truth of ourselves. The principle is that it is not by escaping a question that we come to the answer, but by going deeply into it; it is not by escaping a problem that we solve it, but by staying with it. If I am running away from the problem I will be unhappy and frightened resulting in more problems for us and others. It takes a lot of living to finally discover that each of us is in bondage to ourselves. It is our desires, angers and arrogance that enslave us, not anyone else.  Ultimately it is only truth that sets us free.

In our spiritual life, the truth that we are children of God can liberate us from the seductive attractions of this world. The truth that we are guilty of sin can make us humble and lead us back into the forgiving arms of God and sensitivity towards the fellowmen. The truth that we all belong to God’s household can inspire us to live like brothers and sisters in love, concern and unity. The truth that Jesus is Risen gives us great hope and energy to lead a fullness of life.

For the followers of Jesus true freedom is the power to know and live what is right, true and good. Jesus offers his disciples true freedom – freedom from fear, selfishness, prejudice, self-righteousness.  The good news sets us free from these obstacles. True freedom is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to those of goodwill who lead a life in accordance with own conscience. Dr. Fr. John Ollukaran CMI


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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