Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Wednesday in the 5th Week of Lent
Dancing to the Tune of Truth
Readings: Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; John 8:31-42
Months ago, while up in the mountains, we were told about the importance of dance in the lives of the people there, especially those who still cling to the old traditions. Celebrations often feature a communal dance, except when one family is in mourning, or is at enmity with another family. Then dancing and the playing of musical instruments – especially the gong – are forbidden until the mourning period is ended or the dispute resolved. In the mountains, dance is part of the fabric of daily living.
It seems different for us modern city-dwellers. Even though chic dance-clubs continue to attract hordes of patrons, here dance seems more of an optional pastime – perhaps even a frivolous one – than an essential part of life. And yet, isn’t it true that even if we don’t actually dance physically, every one of us dances at least figuratively? Don’t we dance to a variety of tunes, to melodies of ambition and competition, of materialism and consumerism, of envy and greed? Don’t we sometimes find ourselves so entranced by these tunes that even our freedom is lost?
Which brings us to our readings today. Both readings deal with the theme of freedom by presenting us with a contrast between two groups of people. The three boys in the first reading are slaves of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. The people in the gospel, on the other hand, pride themselves in being descendants of Abraham who have never been enslaved to anyone. But appearances are deceiving. For slaves though they may be, the three boys demonstrate their radical freedom in refusing to dance to the tune played by the powerful king. In defiance of the king’s decree, they refuse to fall down and worship at the sound of trumpet and flute, lyre and harp, musical instruments for idolatrous rites. They choose instead to acknowledge no god but the God of their ancestors. In contrast, the freeborn people in the gospel are unable to recognize and unwilling to accept Jesus as the presence of God in their midst. This makes something very clear to us, something of which they themselves remain stubbornly oblivious: in spite of their rigorous external observance of the law, they are actually dancing to an idolatrous tune.
But Jesus offers them a remedy, both for their ignorance as well as their idolatry. 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… The way to freedom consists in tuning in and dancing to the music of the Word of God, which alone is capable of penetrating our hearts, of unmasking the extraneous melodies that hold us entranced, and of recovering for us the ability to recognize the tune of Truth for which our hearts are hardwired. And isn’t this what we have been doing especially in these days of Lent? Isn’t this what we will be doing even more intensely during Holy Week and the Easter Triduum? We will be meditating upon Christ the Word himself, as we celebrate in a special way, in the church’s liturgy, the Mystery of his life, death and resurrection. Through these celebrations, we hope to be helped, in our daily living, to tune in and dance to no other melody than that of Truth.
What tune are you dancing to today?
Posted by Fr Chris at 9:20 am