If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry (Colossians 3:1-5).
He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).
Jesus then 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” (John 8:31-36).
Even though we celebrate Easter once a year, it is not intended to be a once a year event in our lives. We should continue to reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection, and experience our own risen life in Christ on an ongoing basis (Colossians 3:1). Just think, we have been rescued from the powers of darkness and brought into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Our sins have been forgiven and we are now sharers of eternal life with Christ. (Colossians 1:14)
We know that Jesus is the only way to true freedom. He won that freedom for us by dying on the cross, putting to death sin and everything else that keeps us in bondage. But like the Jews in the reading above (John 8:32), we don’t always understand what it is that is enslaving us. Jesus, however, was very clear: “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).
Perhaps you live with a nagging sense of guilt, even when you’re trying to do your best and have no reason to feel guilty. Maybe a pervasive sense of fear or anxiety has gripped your life, keeping you up at night or afraid for the future. Or maybe you struggle with negative feelings about yourself. We can become so accustomed to these feelings that we start to believe they are part of us, and we can’t imagine living without them. But you don’t have to live with them. Jesus has set you free!
Maybe anger is so deeply buried in your heart that it clouds your relationships and your outlook on life. Know that you can bring this anger to the Lord and ask him to release you. You don’t have to hold on to resentment and unforgiveness. Jesus has set you free!
Maybe you are bound by an addiction to food, alcohol, drugs, pornography, or sexual sins. Even activities like watching television or surfing the Internet may be taking up too much of your time and energy. Jesus doesn’t want anything to control you. He is more than capable of satisfying your deepest needs. Jesus has set you free!
As you approach the Sacred Triduum of Holy Week, take steps to lay hold of the freedom that Jesus has won for you. Let the promises in the readings above give you hope: you have been raised to new life with Christ; you have been delivered from the power of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of his beloved Son; and you have been set free from sin and death by his cross and resurrection. Read these promises over and over again, letting them sink deeply into your soul. Then ask the Lord to help you detect anything that is binding you up.
Finally, exercise your faith by asking Jesus to free you. Be bold and persistent! You may want to go to Confessions, and you may even want to ask some trusted friends to pray with you. Remember: Jesus loves you so much that he laid down his life for you. He wants nothing less than for you to walk in his freedom, each and every day of your life.
“Jesus, open my eyes to the things that bind me up. Give me the faith and the courage to taste the freedom you have won for me.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
[Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- The article begins by saying that reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus is not intended to be just a once a year Easter thing. How frequently do you reflect on the fact that Jesus Christ is risen, and you are risen with him (Colossians 3:1)? What steps can you take to do it more often?
- What do you think Jesus meant when he said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34)? How has this Scripture been true in your own life?
- The article lists many things that can enslave us, including:
> a nagging sense of guilt
> a pervasive sense of fear
>resentment and unforgiveness
>spending too much time watching TV
>spending too much time surfing the Internet
Which of these are you struggling with right now? What steps can you take to be freed up from them?
- Take some time now to pray that the Lord would give you the grace to “walk in his freedom, each and every day of your life.” .Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.