WEDNESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK IN LENT APRIL 1, 2020
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 8:31-42
Jesus 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. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
REFLECTION: “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin."
Jiminy Cricket, a wise and talkative cricket in Pinocchio (1940, The Adventures of Pinocchio: the Story of a Puppet by Carlo Collodi) told Pinocchio, " Always let your conscience be your guide".
We are to form our conscience not by our feelings nor by what we think is right or wrong, but according to God's way. It helps us to do good and avoid evil. We form our conscience primarily through the Word of God: aided by sacred scriptures, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, witness of others, and the authoritative teachings of the Church. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1785). But can individual conscience trump the Church teachings?
In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin." Jesus was teaching that sin enslaves you and does not set you free as obeying God would. Do we not have politicians, nowadays, who think like the above Jews? They think that their conscience trumps the Church teachings especiallly if they are in opposition to each other.
Many Catholic politicians emphasize that they are Catholic, but yet, support abortion up to and including after delivery and same sex marriage. Many catholics disregard attendance at Sunday masses or yearly confession, or agree with sterilization and artificial birth control. They are called "cafeteria Catholics". They select out what they want to believe and follow. There are, likewise, corrupt bishops and priests who follow their own conscience or have suppressed that which they know is true and consequently never look up to see God in prayer.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is the final authoritative book on the Church's teachings. In CCC 1786, "if faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them. In CCC 1791, 'This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin". In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.'
Maintaining a conscience is a lifelong task and for Catholics it is always obeying the Church teachings, recognizing that Jesus is living in His Church. When we listen to the Church we listen to Jesus Christ.
Today we can pray for all our priests, our politicians and our country. We also include the victims and healthcare providers and essential hospital personnel in our prayers.