IF THE SON MAKES YOU FREE – JN 8:31-42
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“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.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
“We are not slaves!” we cry,
afraid to confront, in ourselves,
the regions of darkness that we bear within.
It is so much easier to rely on our strength,
to cling to the appearance of power and control.
These wounds, these fears, these scars of sin,
we prefer to cloak over, to hide,
from the radiant Light of Truth.
To come to the Light is too painful,
too vulnerable, too difficult…and why?
Perhaps because I feel that there
I will lose the authentic self whom I am,
the unique personal mystery that I bear within,
or that in this place
my darkness will be condemned,
rejected, and cast aside by the light,
and in the process my identity will be effaced.
But the mystery that occurs in this place
is really the opposite of what I fear.
I live each day grasping for control,
for possession, for comprehension, for security,
and yet you await me, loving God,
in the place of poverty and dependency,
in the heart of my utter powerlessness.
You touch me in my place of deepest woundedness,
and this touch is healing and consoling.
Indeed, I sit in the darkness,
nursing my wounds, afraid, alone,
listening to my breath in the stillness—
but then I hear the breathing of another,
sitting close by my side.
Another person, and yet the breath
is raspy, filled with anguish and with pain.
A flash of compassion fills my heart,
and from my own suffering I reach out
to console another in the midst of theirs.
I reach out a hand to touch the other,
and my hand feels a bare shoulder,
a should that is damp with blood,
lacerated with wounds,
wounds not unlike my own.
Ah yes, like me, suffering and isolated!
But, then again, we are alone together now.
I run my hands up, and touch the other’s face,
which is also covered in blood, torn with wounds.
But then a hand grips my own—
two hands, holding mine in their grasp.
And the other draws my hand down,
down the lacerated neck and chest,
and stops, stops at his side,
pressing my hand against his ribs.
And here there is a gaping wound,
flowing steadily with blood…
with life and light.
A flood of feeling washes over me,
and it is as if this wound is sheltering me,
protecting me, enveloping me in itself,
in the Heart of the One who,
in this darkness, in this woundedness,
has taken me wholly into himself.
And in the same instant I feel
that the Other is penetrating into my wounds,
touching me there in my most vulnerable place,
and it is the touch of a Healer, a Consoler,
of a Friend and a Lover who understands.
In this place I experience the truth
of who I really am, deeper than my wounds,
and yet alive within them, burning purely:
I experience the love of this Other,
the love he has for me in my uniqueness,
a love that is so passionate, so full of tenderness,
that it has become one with me in my suffering,
and yet has transformed it in a mysterious joy.
And now I spontaneously live in him,
in the One who is my Center, my All,
attentive to him, loving him, seeking him,
and welcoming the gift that comes to me,
from his loving hands and Heart, unceasingly.
And this very living for and in the Other
allows him to live his own life in me.
Yes, Father, to lose myself in Christ and for Christ,
to lose myself, in Christ, for my brothers and sisters,
is to find myself in the embrace of your love—
this love that has first loved me,
drawing near and sheltering me in my inmost truth,
in the embrace that already holds me
unceasingly in each moment.
Yes, to be a little one, to be a child,
to be free and, liberated, to be always playful,
to be receptive to the gift of your love
and of each thing within your love
and to let myself be a gift in return.
To be in each moment the gift that I am from you,
broken by my sin and the fragmentation of this world,
and yet infinitely loved, redeemed,
and radiant in the light of your own eternal gaze.
This gaze which, penetrating into me
and bestowing on me unceasingly
the gratuitous gift of existence—of all things!—
opens me to see gift in all,
the gift of each one of my brothers and sisters,
and to welcome them with open arms and open heart…
as we are all bathed in the light of the One who has drawn near,
who has enveloped us all within his tender embrace.