- John 8:31-42
- Jesus and Abraham
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from 365 Days With The Lord
31 Jesus… said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. 36 So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. 37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. 38 I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.”
39 They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. 40 But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. 41 You are doing the works of your father!” [So] they said to him, “We are not illegitimate. We have one Father, God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
2007 Today’s gospel reading contains an important teaching of Jesus concerning sin. It is this. In the words of Jesus, “everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” Now, these words of His can perhaps surprise some Christians who rather identify sin not with slavery but with pleasure. From their point of view, the statement of Jesus makes no sense. “How could pleasure,” they ask, “be a slavery? Slavery is painful, the very opposite of pleasure. To be the slave of pleasure is a contradiction in terms!” Unfortunately for these Christians, their notion of sin is defective. Sin is not at all what they think it is. Here author John Guest can help to clarify their notion of sin:
“Can we get quite clear in our minds,” he writes, “what we mean by sin? Christians use the word all the time, and as a result it begins to lose some of its impact. The secular world uses the word, too, but often in a mocking way. Magazines advertise chocolate cakes that are ‘sinfully rich.’ Friends jokingly plan to go out on Saturday night and ‘do a little innocent sinning’ together.
“But there is nothing innocent or cute about sin. Do you know what sin looks like? (…)
“Sin is children starving to death in Ethiopia. Sin is people being tortured in the Russian Gulag. Sin is drunk drivers slaughtering innocent motorists. Sin is a family ripped apart by an alcoholic mother. Sin is a husband methodically poisoning his relationship with his wife by running around on the side with another woman (Knowing You Are Loved. What It Means to Know with Certainty that God Loves You, Ann Arbor: pp. 52:53).
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: email@example.com; Website: stpauls.ph.
2008 The Jews took complaisant pride in their being the descendants of Abraham (v. 33) and in stating that they had never been enslaved to anyone. They wouldn’t be so impudent as to deny that Israel had been enslaved by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Macedonians, and was now vassal to the Romans. What they meant was that, whatever their past sad history, since their return from Babylon they had never bowed before strange gods.
Jesus corrected them (vv. 34-36) on two points. First, despite what they said, they were in reality sinners and the slaves of sin. This was the implication of even their precious Mosaic Law with its unending rites of purification. Secondly, said Jesus, although they were physical descendants of Abraham, true faith isn’t in the genes.
Then Jesus tore the veil from what they had kept hidden, by telling them twice the truth. They were trying to kill him. While still claiming Abraham as their father, they denied that Jesus was doing the works of the heavenly Father. Jesus (v. 41) in turn accused them of doing the works of their father, the devil.
Over and over Jesus offers us real truth and true freedom. We can lose freedom by way of habits, prejudices, sins, and illusions. Being reared as a Catholic isn’t our whole story. At some point, we have to make an adult act of faith. Lent is a time to examine how deeply we have made that faith our own, along with its foundations of truth, freedom, and independence.
SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: stpauls.ph.
2009 True freedom: Jesus is addressing the Jews who believe in Him. He invites them to remain in His word and become truly His disciples. This discipleship will lead them to knowledge of the truth that will set them free. This truth is no other than Jesus Himself. To know Him is to experience intimacy with Him and to share in His own intimacy with the Father. Attachment to Jesus means experiencing the freedom of the children of God (Jn 1:12; Rom 8:12).
But the Jews find Jesus’ words unacceptable. They appeal to their status as descendants of Abraham and deny their unfreedom.
In so doing, they prove their lack of freedom. Their confidence in being Abraham’s children makes them close their hearts to the truth that Jesus is sharing with them: His own experience of God as Father. Their lack of faith and murderous intent toward Jesus contradict their claim to be children of Abraham. They involve themselves in deeper self-contradiction when they claim God to be their father while harboring hatred. Their true identity is exposed by their refusal to listen to Jesus. They are, therefore, not of the truth but are living in falsehood.
Source: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.)
2010 ABRAHAM’S CHILDRENThe Jews have always insisted on the purity of their descent from Abraham. On this rests their claim that they are God’s chosen ones, inheritors of God’s promises and blessings (Gn 22:17-18). Jesus reminds the Jews that a sense of responsibility accompanies this status. Jesus glorifies and gives testimony to his Father from whom he traces his origin and mission (Jn 5:19-30). The Jews, in their actions, must also show themselves worthy of Abraham, their father. In the face of divine messages which at times seemed hard to believe, Abraham manifested not violent reactions but a lowly spirit and humble mind (Gn 12:4; 15:1-6). The true children of Abraham then are not only the Israelites who come from his flesh and blood. Everyone who accepts God’s promises and words in faith is a child of Abraham (Rom 4:16-25).
2012 Descendants of Abraham. The Jews claim that they are descendants of Abraham. They call Abraham their father. But Jesus answers to remind them that, if they are indeed Abraham’s children, they should be doing the works of Abraham. Abraham was known for his obedience to God’s will. He listened to God. He followed God’s will to the point of sacrificing his only son Isaac.
The Pharisees cannot be imitating Abraham. They harbor hatred, entertain evil thoughts, and plan murder—all this is unbecoming of the sons of Abraham. To think of doing harm to someone is to be slaves to sin.
As Christians, we claim that we are brothers and sisters of Jesus. We proclaim that we are children of God. To prove our claims, we must be Christlike and godly in our words and actions. We cannot be children of God if we reject God’s commandments and refuse God’s will for us. We cannot be brothers and sisters of Jesus if we hurt our fellow men and women by sarcasm and indifference.
What does it mean for you to be a child of God?
2013 Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. The truth in Jesus’ words is illustrated by the apostle Paul who writes, “I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Then he adds, “Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?” But he also gives the answer, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:19, 24-25a).
Jesus gives the same answer in different words: “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.”
The truth is no other than Jesus Christ. If we know him and are united to him by remaining in his word, we will become sons and daughters of God and no longer slaves of sin. Those who follow their own desires remain slaves of sin. Instead, no one is as free as the saints, like St. Francis of Assisi.
To follow Christ is to be free.
2014 A Slave of Sin. Not many people realize that sin enslaves the sinner. Slavery is not pleasurable. No one would want to be a slave of anyone or anything. Everyone wants to be free, that is, to do as one pleases and not to be coerced or forced by anyone or anything. But that is exactly what happens when people sin.
Unfortunately, people are not aware of it. They are so focused on the pleasure sin brings that they do not notice that the lure of pleasure is like a noose tightening around the neck. Sin is seen not as harmful but as pleasurable and so desirable. Before they know it, people are so caught up in sin that they are trapped in a quicksand—the more they try to wiggle out, the faster and deeper they sink.
Jesus shows us the 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.”
“For what is it to continue in God’s word, but to yield to no temptations. Without labor, the reward would be gratis;
2016 IF YOU REMAIN IN MY WORD. Jesus now addresses the Jews who have believed in him. For them to become his disciples, they have to remain, be with him, and accept his word. But these Jews cannot understand Jesus when he speaks to them about the truth that will set them free. They believe they are free because they are descendants of Abraham. But Jesus is referring to freedom from sin. Sin in this context is the refusal to accept Jesus as the Son of God. The Jews cannot accept the truth that Jesus comes from the Father, that he is divine. The paradox in the Gospel is that it starts with the Jews believing in Jesus but concludes with unbelief: they want to kill Jesus (v 40). Our faith in Jesus must grow from being a “dormant faith” to an “active faith”; we can do this only by remaining in Jesus’ word, being faithful to his teachings. Accepting the salvation offered by Jesus will free us from our enslavement to self-righteousness and self-centeredness; then we will experience the joy of being his true disciples.
Freedom does not mean we can do whatever we like. 7 True freedom is manifested in doing what pleases God.
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2018 THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE Continuing his discourse, Jesus declares, “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” (vv 31-32). Faith leads to discipleship; discipleship, to truth; and truth, to freedom. Truth (alētheia in Greek) is to be without cover, not to be hidden, thus, to be in the open, to be in the light. To be false is to hide, to be in darkness.
Veritas liberabit vos. The truth will set you free. How true it is in daily life. When we lie, we tend to hide, and to hide implies fear and inquietude. On the other hand, when we are in the truth, we are not afraid to speak, to come out in the open, to come out into the light; we have genuine inner peace, even in the face of evil or threat.
Nowadays, so much falsehood is manufactured especially in the realm of social media. There is even a new term that is coined, a pretentious term, “post-truth” or “alternative truth.” This is nothing but deception and evil. Truth cannot expire; truth is forever. Let us not be deceived by contemporary distortions and rejection of the truth.
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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2017,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: stpauls.ph.
2020 Every Jew takes pride in being a descendant of Abraham, a “friend of God” through whom the peoples of the earth receive blessings. But Jesus tells the “Jews”—the religious authorities who seek to kill him—that their intent makes them not children of Abraham but rather offspring of the devil. The description of the devil as “murderer” and “father of lies” from the beginning harks back to the works of the “serpent” in Genesis. The devil “lies in wait at the door” urging Cain to kill his brother Abel (cf Gn 4:7). The devil is first to invent “fake news.”
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