Recently, one of my students gave me a Dove chocolate that contains a short quote or saying on the inside of the wrapper. When I opened mine up, it said: “Hold hands firmly, hearts gently.” I was immediately moved by this beautiful image and tacked it above my desk. It made me wonder, how gently am I holding the hearts of those around me, including my own? Am I holding firmly to the right things, out of love of those in my life, or instead, objects that consume me? So often, I feel that we clutch and cling onto possessions, ambitions or ideals of who we think we should be rather than being willing to let go of these things that can distract or draw us away from God.
In today’s Gospel, however, Jesus calls us to loosen our grasp on these things and live in the freedom that God offers. But what does this mean? What does it mean to “know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 31)? When we clench our fist, we don’t have the ability to hold something new. When we cling to things with closed fists rather than holding them gently in our hands, we limit our openness and close ourselves off to God. We often put boundaries around what we allow God to do in our lives, yet God’s love for us, on the other hand, is a free and unconditional gift. When we experience God’s love, it leads us to freedom. Fr. Gerald Fagin, SJ, describes freedom as being “so passionately committed to God and embracing God’s plan” that we are able to detach ourselves and be free from everything else that distracts us from this. We have “the freedom to let go of whatever stands in the way of responding to God’s love.” What an amazing way to live if only we allow ourselves to do it!
Our response to God’s love should be out of freedom rather than out of fear, a desperate attempt to earn reward, or to escape punishment. The experience of God’s gift of unbounded love sets us free to love in return. W.E.B. DuBois once said, “The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.” What are we clutching at right now that is keeping us from God? How can we freely live the truth of God’s love for us?
Loving God, teach me how to live my life freely in response to Your love. Help me to unclutch my fists around things that distract me from serving and loving You and those around me. May I continue to learn how to live the truth of Your love and extend it to others. Amen.
Anna Lester, ‘98, Assistant Director of Edmundite Campus Ministry
First Reading: Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
Psalm: Daniel 3:52-56
Gospel: John 8:31-42
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website