In the early nineties I was living a very hedonistic lifestyle. I did what I wanted when I wanted without a thought to who was affected. I dropped out of college - two or three times - and lived only to party. I had a job that barely paid for rent and food so I used credit cards to get what I wanted -CDs, drinks, ATV, and on and on. In my mind I was free. I could do whatever I wanted and no one could tell me anything. In reality, I couldn't have been more enslaved.
True freedom is the choice for truth, beauty, and goodness. True freedom is the action of saying yes with the will and body to those things that are truly good and saying no to that which is not. I was not free. I could only say yes to my own desires. I could not say no to anything except that which was true, good, and beautiful. What I understood to be freedom was actually slavery. I was a slave to the world and its allurements - having toys, being popular, vanity and the like. I was a slave to the flesh - sensual pleasures like food and drink and even other substances that affected the flesh. I was a slave to the devil because I could not say no to anything he placed before me. I certainly wasn't participating in Black Masses or anything of the sort but I was definitely under his influence.
So what happened to free me from those shackles of sin? What happened in my life that made me realize that my perceived freedom was actually the worst sort of slavery - where the slave believes he is actually free? I found the Truth and the Truth set me free.
In today's Gospel Jesus invites the Jews who are starting to believe in Him to examine their slavery to sin and recognize that He has come to set them free. Where does this freedom come from? Jesus says simply, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." The key here is to continue in His word, continue to constantly seek His word in prayer but most especially in the Scriptures. If we seek Him and continue to grow in all that He has taught, we will know the truth and by knowing and assimilating the truth, into our lives the truth will set us free from sin.
Continuing in Christ's word can set us free in more ways than one. When learning to identify counterfeit money, government agents are not given a pile of fake money so that they know all the different ways of counterfeiting. Instead, they study real bills over and over so that a fake will stick out like a sore thumb. Immersing ourselves in the truth will first of all enable us to recognize and avoid untruth. Secondly, being filled with the truth of Christ leaves no room for the slavery of sin. That sweet taste of true freedom is much more beautiful and attractive then the false, twisted beauty of sin. Finally, not only will the truth set us free in this life but it will allow us to participate in the everlasting freedom of Heaven.
FROM THE SAINTS - "Say to your body: "I would rather keep you in slavery than be myself your slave." - Saint Josemaria Escriva The Way #214