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” (John 8:31-42).
He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. (John 1:11-13)
As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
Fatherhood and sonship seems to be the center of the debate here between Jesus and some of the Jewish leaders (John 8:31-42). Weren’t they sons of Abraham? Didn’t God choose them out of all the other nations of the world and call them to be his own?
The answer to these questions is both yes and no. There are two ways to understand what it means to be someone’s child. You can conceive a child, and genetically that child is yours. However, unless that child lives under your roof and takes on your reasoning, your outlook, and your approach on life, then an essential element of sonship is missing.
For many of the Jewish leaders, being a son of Abraham was a lot like the first kind of sonship. God had chosen them as his own, and that’s all there was to it. Because they didn’t try to take after their father, they missed out on the more intimate—and more satisfying—aspect of being a son of God. Of course not all the Jewish leaders approached their faith like this (for example, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea). But some were content in being a descendent of Abraham, yet they failed to experience the joy and freedom of being a true son of God.
Brothers, we can become sons of God the Father in the deepest, most powerful way possible. We can call him “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). We can begin to take on our Father’s habits, his likeness, and his philosophies. This is why Jesus came in the first place. He didn’t come just to do away with sin. He came to make us children of God (John 1:12-13). “Becoming a disciple of Jesus means accepting the invitation to belong to God’s family, to live in conformity with his way of life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2233).
Every day is filled with opportunities to take on the family resemblance. It’s not always easy, but neither is it all that difficult. We can refuse to join in on gossip or negative and critical conversations. We can forgive someone who has deeply hurt us. We can lend a helping hand or perform anonymous selfless acts of service. As often as we do these things, we are showing the whole world that we have accepted the privilege of being members of God’s family.
“Father, thank you for sending Jesus to us. Thank you for filling us with your Spirit and making us your adopted sons. Help me to be faithful to your law of love so that I may become more and more like you.”
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Why do you believe there was such a strong, almost angry response by the Jewish leaders to Jesus’ words, “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”?
2. The article says that “some were content in being descendents of Abraham, yet they failed to experience the joy and freedom of being a true son of God.” We too can be “content” in just being Catholic men without experiencing the full freedom and joy of our sonship in Christ. If this is true to some extent with you, what steps can you take to change it?
3. What impact did the article have on your understanding of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God? How are you doing?
4. The article challenges us with these words: “Brothers, we can become sons of God in the deepest, most powerful way possible. We can begin to take on our Father’s habits, his likeness, and his philosophies.” How would you describe the attributes of our Heavenly Father? Which ones would you like to imitate? What steps can you initiate to “take on the family resemblance”?
5. In the upcoming weeks look for some opportunities to “resemble” more closely your Heavenly Father and Jesus. If you are in a men’s group, share the fruit of this at your meeting.