Today’s reflection is a podcast reflection on today’s gospel that you can jump to a little further down the page, but if you have the time I’ll share a story about today’s first reading…
My first appointment as a priest was to the parish of Greymouth where I spent three wonderful years. Every weekday morning Mass was celebrated and we would nab someone as they arrived to get them to read the first reading and psalm. No problem since people who agree to read at the last minute have no problem reading most readings well.
This day, the people sat for the Liturgy of the Word and the reader came forward I suddenly realised that she was in for a challenge she was not expecting since the first reading began “King Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, is it true that you do not serve my gods?”
The reader bravely stumbled through the pronunciation of these four unpronounceable names then realised a second later that these four names appear half a dozen times in the short reading. The second time her exasperation was evident and for the rest of the readings she switched to referring to them as “the king and his boys!”
But this Old Testament reading is well worth reading again as a powerful example of people who are able to live so freely they are more attached to God even than to earthly life.
Now to the podcast reflection on today’s gospel reading.
Transcript of podcast:
If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free….everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin… If the Son frees you, then you will be truly free.
In the living of the Christian life we want to hear from people who can encourage us.
One of the encouragements or challenges that we are often given is from people who tell us that the Christian life is about letting go and they are right. But often their understanding of what it means to let go might be unhelpful.
Let’s take the example of the rich young man who comes to Jesus. We know that he is a good young man because he asks “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus says to him keep the commandments. He responds I’ve done this always! What more what more must I do?
Jesus looks at him and loves him and says “there’s only one thing you lack. Let go of all you possess and come follow me.”
Let go. Jesus says to him.
Once I heard an encouraging speaker give an example of what it is to let go. He said: Imagine the man that falls from the cliff on the way down he reaches out as he is falling towards the ground and grasps hold of a branch. Now he’s hanging there. It’s a long way up. It’s a long way down.
He calls out “God save me” And he hears a voice come from below. “Let go. I will catch you.”
Well I don’t like the story because if I were that man I wouldn’t be able to let go. I would hold on for dear life.
Perhaps it’s more helpful to think of this image.: a newborn child perhaps a week or two old. I take the child in my arms and I hold the child . The child without thinking reaches out and grasps hold of maybe a finger and holds on. Perhaps they are thinking that if they hold on they will be more secure?
If they let go that’s fine too. The fact is that something much bigger is holding onto the child. I am embracing the child I will never let the child go.
In the Christian life when we think about letting go let’s not think of the man hanging from the branch. But let’s think of being embraced in the tender loving embrace of God. If we hold onto things , well that’s a game that we can play but much better if we relax and know that God is holding us in tender loving embrace always, and we have nothing to fear.
- Take a moment now to relax, perhaps with a couple of deep breaths, and to know that you are held in the loving embrace of God. In this embrace you are aware of the ultimate truth, you are loved by God, and in Jesus God is with you in every anxiety you carry today. This truth is setting you free.
- We have decided to continue these daily reflections (originally intended only for Lent) for the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown. Your feedback comments have been the encouragement we needed. Thanks for your support and please share the sign-up link with others www.foodforfaith.org.nz. John & Jason