5th Week of Lent, Wednesday, Apr 1st

Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25, 28 / John 8:31-42 
Jesus talks about his teaching: “Keep my word and you will know the truth.”

It has been said that some truths can be verified as being truthful only by living them out. Jesus has something like this in mind when he says in today’s reading: “If you live according to my teaching ... then you will know the truth.” In other words, the truth of what Jesus says will be discovered in the process of living it out. For example, by forgiving your enemy, you discover this is the right thing to do. By praying for those who wrong you, you discover this is the right thing to do. By not passing judgment on your neighbor, you discover this is the right thing to do.
Do our doubts about the teaching of Jesus arise from our failure to live out his teaching? “If you wish to be convinced of eternal truths, do not augment your arguments, but weed out your passions.” Blaise Pascal
The fiery furnace of tribulation is something we will come across in our lives. Not just once, but many times. It is in this fiery furnace that our faith in God is tested, our faith in prayer is tested, our faith in others is tested, and our faith in ourselves is tested. The fiery furnace comes in all forms: the loss of a job, the hurt form a broken or painful relationship, ill-treatment and accusations from others, etc. And, we often get trapped in the flames of doubt, despair, anger and resentment.
In the 1st reading, when the three young men were threatened with the fiery furnace, they stuck to their faith in God. In doing so, they were freed from their fear of death. They believed in God, and that set them free to face and overcome the fear of the fiery furnace.

It is also by believing in God and in His Word of truth that will set us free.

By forgiving those who hurt us, we are freed.
By praying for those who wrong us, we are freed.
By not nailing judgment on others, we are freed.
By loving others, we are freed.

The flames of the fiery furnace may not go off, but by believing and living in the truth, we live in the freedom of walking together with our God in that fiery furnace.

Lent: 5th Week – Wed Liturgy

Persons who trust in God fight enslavement to sin. In the face of abuse of authority, persecution or coercion of any kind, even of tradition or of the law, they retain their inner freedom. When they hear and keep God’s Word, they make a decision for freedom. The liberating word of Christ sets us free and makes us sons and daughters. God’s children are born to be free. The three young men at the king’s court were willing to lay down their lives for their faith. Like the faith of Abraham, our faith in Jesus should be deep and unconditional.

Penitential Rite:
-as you test us in the fiery furnace and come to rescue us, LHM
-as you test us in the crucible of sorrow and come to wipe away our tears, LHM
-as you free us from our slaveries and make us your children, LHM

Opening Prayer
Lord our God, you call us to be free people. Help us to give you always a response of freedom. Set free by Christ’s liberating word and death, may we never again shackle ourselves with self-made chains, of selfish sin and false attachments. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Truth sets us free. The truth that we are children of God and forever united to Him through His covenant can liberate us from attraction to the seductive attraction of the things of this world. The truth that we are guilty of sin can bring us back into the loving arms of His mercy. The truth that we are connected with one another through the mystery of the Body of Christ can inspire us to lives of loving service for our neighbor. The truth of the resurrection can imbue us with great hope for the world to come. May we always embrace the Truth who sets us free.

General Intercessions
–   For those who are persecuted for their faith, that they may stand firm, even in torture, we pray:
–   For all who claim to be descendants of Abraham, Jews, Christians, Moslems, that each in one’s own way may have deep trust in God, we pray:
–   For people who have to make hard decisions in life, that they may follow their conscience in doing what is truthful, right and good, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord God, your Son Jesus could not be deprived of his inner freedom even when he died on a cross. Give us the courage of your Son, that our loyalty to the truth, to you and to your values, may always be strong enough to make us break out of our self-made prisons, our fears, complexes and excuses. Accept this our sacrifice and let it make us free with the freedom brought us by Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Lord God, we are your sons and daughters reborn in Christ to be free. Help us to set our brothers and sisters free from any sinful slavery that oppresses or exploits them. Give us the courage to speak out and to do all we can to bring justice and human dignity to all in the strength of Jesus Christ our Lord.