"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." John 8:31-32
In the infamous film, The Passion of Christ, Pontius Pilot asks a question which has for centuries confused and occupied the mind – WHAT IS TRUTH? For us as people living in a world of relativism, it is quite possible that we too have questioned the meaning of truth.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells the Jews that this truth will indeed set them free. However, the Jews believe they have missed something. They don’t believe that they have been bound by anything, much less able to be set free of it! They answer him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, 'You will become free'?" Little did they know that the very thing which they were denying bound them at that very moment – the power of sin. Jesus tells them that the moment sin is committed, we are bound by it, and it entraps us. We no longer can see the truth clearly but view a distorted version of it.
This reminds me of a particular dream of St. John Bosco which continues to resonate in my memory. One of his most vivid dreams is entitled, The Road to Hell where Fr. Bosco is led by a guide on a treacherous journey to the innermost pit of hell. Fr. Bosco recalls, “I was staring in bewilderment about me when a lad dashed out of a gate. Seemingly unaware of anything else, he emitted a most shrilling scream, like one who is about to fall into a cauldron of liquid bronze, and plummeted into the center of the cave. Instantly he too became incandescent and perfectly motionless, while the echo of his dying wail lingered for an instant more” (Prophetic Dream of St. John Bosco, 1868).
The lad did not know what he was doing. Why was he dashing into the innermost pit of horrible pain? Didn’t he know what he was doing and why didn’t he stop? This is what happens to us because of our sin. We are blinded by our own sinfulness and cannot see the truth of happiness and love. The hold of sin is so profound, that we cannot lift its power from our life. We are dashing just as the young lad was deeper in the innermost pit of hell seemingly without hope.
However, we have hope. A hope so great that it even conquered the most evil bindings of all – sin and death. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. We must hold that truth because only then will we be fully free. Jesus is waiting for us daily in the Eucharist fully embodying truth and present to rid us of sin in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us release ourselves of that which is restricting us, for if we do, we will not dash into darkness and despair, but rather will embrace freedom and complete liberty. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”