“…and you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free,” says Jesus. His combative audience is not clear: what truths, and just who is this, bearing his new truth and sharing it with them? The conversation that follows in John 8:32 seems to center around Jesus’ authority–or theirs. These fellow Jews are holding to an older truth and tradition, and fail to hear or recognize, as Jesus says, “a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.”
How we search in our own lives for our truths; how often we long to be set free! How resonant and promising Jesus’ affirmation is, for those able to hear and sit with it.
William Butler Yeats reflects with yearning, indeed is “sick with desire,” pondering those biblical figures (sages) so assured of God’s truth and theirs that they are merely burnished rather than consumed by fire. What a beloved story in today’s passage from the book of Daniel is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “servants of the Most High God,” who will not turn from their truth.
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
-William Butler Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”
Perhaps the poet seeks certainties. And perhaps Yeats expresses the reach we make from our “sin-sick souls” to those thin places where the truth seems to shine through to us.
What truths do we yearn for, do we need, to set us free, to anneal us as we seek to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God?
Can we hold on to the truth of God’s love and mercy, as Jesus embodied them, in the heat of our day?
May it be so for all of us today.
Links to the appointed readings and prayer for today: