Gospel Reflection – Wednesday, March 20, 2024 – John 8:31-42 – Catholic Bible

First Reading (Dn 3,14-20,24,49a,91-92,95)

Reading of Daniel’s Prophecy.

In those days, King Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said: ‘Is it true, Sidrac, Misac and Abdenago, that you do not worship my gods and do not worship the golden statue that I ordered to be erected? And now, when you hear the playing of the trumpet, flute, zither, harp, psaltery and pipes, and all kinds of instruments, are you ready to fall down and worship the statue that I ordered to be made? But if you do not worship, you will immediately be thrown into the fiery furnace; and what god can deliver you from my hands?

Sidrac, Misac and Abdenago answered King Nebuchadnezzar: ‘There is no need for us to answer you about this: if our God, whom we worship, can deliver us from the fiery furnace, he will also be able to deliver us from your hand, King. But if he does not want to free us, know, O king, that we will not worship your gods nor will we worship the golden statue that you ordered to be made.’

At these words, Nebuchadnezzar was filled with anger against Sidrac, Misach and Abdênago, to the point that the expression on his face changed; he gave the order to light the furnace with seven times as much fire as usual; and he charged the strongest soldiers in the army to bind Sidrac, Misac, and Adbenago and throw them into the fiery furnace.

The three young people walked back and forth in the middle of the flames, singing hymns to God and blessing the Lord. But the angel of the Lord had simultaneously descended into the furnace to Azariah and his companions.

King Nebuchadnezzar, struck with astonishment, rose hastily, and asked his ministers, ‘Did we not throw three men tightly bound into the midst of the fire?’ They replied to the king: ‘It is true, O king’. He said: ‘But I see four men walking freely in the midst of the fire, without suffering any harm, and the appearance of the fourth man is like that of a son of God.’

Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed: ‘Blessed be the God of Sidrac, Misach and Abdenago, who sent his angel and freed his servants, who put their trust in him and transgressed the king’s decree, preferring to give their lives rather than serve and worship any other God than your God.

– Word of the Lord.

– Thank God.

Gospel (John 8,31-42)

— PROCLAMATION of the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John.

— Glory to you, Lord.

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him: ‘If you continue in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They replied: ‘We are descendants of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be free’?’ Jesus replied, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in a family forever, but the child remains in it forever. Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you will be truly free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham, however, you seek to kill me, because my word is not accepted by you. I speak what I saw with the Father; and you do what you heard from your father.’ Then they answered, ‘Our father is Abraham.’

Jesus said to them, ‘If you are Abraham’s children, do the works of Abraham! But now you seek to kill me, who told you the truth that I heard from God. This, Abraham did not do. You do the works of your father.’ They then said to him: ‘We were not born of adultery, we have one father: God.’

Jesus answered them: ‘If God were your Father, you would certainly love me, because I came from God and came. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.

— Word of Salvation.

— Glory to you, Lord.

Reflecting the Word of God

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, I want to start our reflection with a question: have you ever felt trapped? Stuck in a monotonous routine, stuck in a toxic relationship, stuck in a meaningless job? We have all experienced times when we feel trapped, limited, and hopeless. But, the good news is that today’s Scriptures bring us a message of liberation and true freedom in Christ.

In the first reading, from the book of Daniel, we find the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three young men who refused to worship the king’s idols. They were thrown into a fiery furnace because of their faithfulness to God. But, to everyone’s surprise, they came out of the furnace unharmed, because God was with them.

This story reminds us that even in the most desperate situations, God is with us. He is the God who frees us from the fiery furnaces of life. He is the God who gives us courage to face the challenges and pressures of the world. He is the God who calls us to be faithful to Him, even when it means going against the grain.

But how can we experience this true freedom in our daily lives? The Gospel of John offers us an answer. Jesus says: “If you continue in my word, you will be my true disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Jesus invites us to abide in His word, to delve into His truth.

Staying in the word of Jesus means more than just hearing or reading God’s words. It means living by those words. It means letting God’s truth penetrate our hearts and transform our lives. When we abide in the word of Jesus, we are freed from the lies and illusions of the world. We are freed from selfishness, sin, and the search for meaning outside of God.

Imagine a bird in a cage. The cage represents all the limitations and prisons we experience in our lives. But Jesus is the key that frees us from this cage. He invites us to spread our wings and fly to freedom. And this freedom is not just an abstraction, but a tangible reality in our lives.

When we abide in the word of Jesus, we experience the freedom to live in communion with God and others. We experience the freedom to love unconditionally, to forgive generously, and to serve humbly. This freedom enables us to face life’s adversities with courage and hope, knowing that God is with us at all times.

Dear brothers and sisters, freedom in Christ is not a license to do what we want, but a call to live fully according to God’s will. It is a freedom that enables us to choose the good, to seek justice and to live in harmony with the Lord’s commandments.

How can we apply these truths to our daily lives? Allow me to share a story with you. There was a woman who was trapped in a cycle of anger and resentment. She held a grudge against a friend who had hurt her deeply. This anger consumed her and kept her a prisoner of her own negative emotions.

But one day, she heard a message about God’s forgiveness. She realized that carrying this anger only hurt her, not her friend. She decided to sincerely forgive the one who had hurt her. It was a difficult process, but as she forgave, she felt a burden being lifted from her shoulders. She experienced the freedom to forgive and the peace that comes with it.

Dear brothers and sisters, each of us has our own prisons, our own chains that bind us. But the good news is that God invites us to experience true freedom in Christ. He invites us to remain in his word, to know the truth and to be transformed by it.

So how can we apply these truths to our daily lives? Here are some practical guidelines:

Make God’s Word a central part of your life: Set aside time each day to read the Bible and meditate on its truths. Let God’s words sink into your heart and shape your mind.

Seek the truth in all areas of your life: Don’t settle for the lies and illusions of the world. Seek the truth in your relationships, in your choices and decisions, in your ethical conduct. God’s truth frees us from deception and guides us on the right path.

Practice forgiveness: Forgiveness is one of the most powerful ways to experience freedom in Christ. Forgive those who have hurt you and let God’s love and mercy flow through you. Remember the words of Jesus: “If you forgive one another’s trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Mt 6:14).

Live in communion with others: True freedom is not found in isolation, but in communion with others. Seek healthy, uplifting relationships. Serve others with love and generosity. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Have courage to be faithful to God: Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we face challenges and pressures to compromise our faith. But when we remain faithful to God, He gives us courage and frees us from fear. Trust God and follow his path, even when it is difficult.

Dear brothers and sisters, today God invites us to experience true freedom in Christ. He calls us to abide in His word, to know the truth and to live by it. He frees us from the prisons that imprison us and empowers us to live a full and meaningful life.

May we respond to this call with courage and determination. May we spread our wings and fly into the freedom that God offers us. May we live as true disciples of Jesus, knowing the truth and being transformed by it.

May God’s grace be with us on this journey of freedom and may we experience the fullness of life in Christ. Amen.