Christ is risen!
Notice what our Lord Jesus says in today’s Gospel reading: The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (St. John 8:42 ff)
One of the toughest realizations in my own spiritual journey was the confession that my spiritual life progresses or is hindered not by external circumstances, but the inner state of my own heart.
Jesus says to the religious people around Him “You don’t believe in Me because of the state of your heart, not because I do or don’t do certain things.” Jesus insists that they don’t believe in Him because they are predisposed not to believe in Him. They don’t want to believe in Him.
I’m sure there are many reasons. Perhaps they don’t want to deal with the changes that would have to take place in their daily lives if they believed in Christ. Perhaps they love their routine more than they love truth. Perhaps the Lord’s commands to love their enemies was too much for them. Maybe they simply didn’t want to risk their position in society to embrace an unpopular Leader. Maybe they were afraid.
Regardless of the motivations, The Lord was clearly putting their rejection of Him on their own choice not to believe.
Today, are you willing to examine your own heart to discover what hinders your own spiritual progress? Are you willing to put away the false notion and eternal excuse-making tendencies of outside influences? Are you willing to begin your spiritual inventory with yourself, and place your best energies in discovering your own heart rather than turning all your keen insights outward toward others?
If you begin with your own heart, not in some morbid and unfruitful self-flagellation of blame and shame, but the productive and blessed confession of your own spiritual needs, you will find a willing Partner in the Holy Spirit in leading you to spiritual freedom. Instead of beginning with the excuses that have always kept you spiritually immature, begin with a strong and brave look inward and God will meet you in your courage to add His strength to your need.
My dearest, your spiritual freedom will never be found as you wait for the “perfect” outward circumstances to arrive! You must find peace in your own soul, then thousands around you will find their salvation.