No Freedom Without Holiness

Wednesday of Week 5 in Lent

Dan. 3:14-20, 24-25, 28 & Jn. 8:31-42

What is freedom? Does it mean doing whatever we wish, going wherever we please, having everything we want? Today's readings tell us that we can only find true freedom when our lives are centred, not on ourselves, but on the one true God.

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, was a powerful ruler who had seized control of Jerusalem. He chose as his servants three young Israelites who were given positions of responsibility, but in return he demanded complete obedience from them. They must never forget they were his slaves. The three young men were prepared to do the work they were given, but when it came to a matter of conscience they defied the king. They believed in God and refused to worship a golden statue, even though the penalty for refusal was death by fire.

The three friends had such faith in God that they were willing to trust in Him, whatever the outcome of the dispute. “If our God is able to save us from the fiery furnace, He will save us," they said. "And even if He does not, we will not worship your god." King Nebuchadnezzar held them as slaves, but he had no power over their souls. They had given their allegiance to God, and so they were free. If they had given their allegiance to a false God they would have lost their freedom to worship the one true God.

This was the kind of freedom Jesus was describing when He said, "If you make My word your home you will learn the truth, and the truth will make you free." The Jews protested that as descendants of Abraham they were already free, and slaves to no-one. But Jesus did not agree because, like all men, they were enslaved by sin and only Jesus could set them free.

Some people we know may choose to drink or smoke too much, and find themselves enslaved by their habit. Others may choose to dally with an illicit relationship and become trapped in a sinful situation. In both these cases they have lost their freedom. What about a husband who spends the whole weekend on the sports field and gives no time to his wife and children? He is using his freedom but harming his marriage. He has enslaved himself to sport.

When self is the only consideration, and there is no thought of God or of others, we enslave ourselves to sin and lose our freedom. If we want to be free we must make God the centre of our lives. As St. Augustine says, "Love God and do as you please."

Holy Spirit, may I never have a selfish attitude to life. May I always do what the Lord Jesus desires. Only then will I be truly free.