Summary: Jesus came to free us from the slavery to sin through faith, through faith in what He taught, and through faith in Him as a person.
Thursday of 29th Week in Course
Jesus was a very serious Savior. If you were a government official and happened upon a prison where several thousands of persons were enslaved under abysmal conditions, you’d want to free them. Now before Christ, we were slaves of sin. I know what it is to serve sin. Not to make confession, but in general, you cheat on your taxes and get used to spending the money and you can’t stop cheating. You lie to a spouse and every new lie spawns another one. You buy one salacious magazine and can’t wait until the next one comes out. Sin is slavery, and–Paul is right–it makes you incapable of doing the right thing.
So Jesus came to free us from sin–but only by his own death and resurrection. Only by overcoming Satan’s influence in our body, soul and spirit could He be free. Then, as an entirely new kind of human being, he had the power through the Holy Spirit to liberate us, and begin reforming us, individually and as Church, in His own image. That means, of course, that we must each be prepared for some kind of suffering, because it is the path of the Passion of Christ that strips us of our self-will and leaves us most open to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus tells Peter that when he was young, he did what he wanted, but when he would be old, he would stretch out his hand and another would dress him and take him where he didn’t want to go. Those words were not just for St. Peter. The one who in our final days takes our hand and garbs us and takes us through that final scary door is Jesus.
The Popes continue their association of faith with the Passion of Christ: “Precisely because Jesus is the Son, because he is absolutely grounded in the Father, he was able to conquer death and make the fullness of life shine forth. Our culture has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world. We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships. But if this were the case, if God could not act in the world, his love would not be truly powerful, truly real, and thus not even true, a love capable of delivering the bliss that it promises. It would make no difference at all whether we believed in him or not. Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God’s tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.
“This fullness which Jesus brings to faith has another decisive aspect. In faith, Christ is not simply the one in whom we believe, the supreme manifestation of God’s love; he is also the one with whom we are united precisely in order to believe. Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing. In many areas in our lives we trust others who know more than we do. We trust the architect who builds our home, the pharmacist who gives us medicine for healing, the lawyer who defends us in court. We also need someone trustworthy and knowledgeable where God is concerned. Jesus, the Son of God, is the one who makes God known to us (cf. Jn 1:18). Christ’s life, his way of knowing the Father and living in complete and constant relationship with him, opens up new and inviting vistas for human experience. Saint John brings out the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus for our faith by using various forms of the verb ‘to believe’. In addition to ‘believing that’ what Jesus tells us is true, John also speaks of ‘believing’ Jesus and ‘believing in’ Jesus. We ‘believe’ Jesus when we accept his word, his testimony, because he is truthful. We’“believe in’ Jesus when we personally welcome him into our lives and journey towards him, clinging to him in love and following in his footsteps along the way.”