I pray that we hearken to the call of Jesus to preach deliverance to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, first to ourselves and then to others. So that we can have wisdom, harmlessness of the dove, humility and peace.

Man seeks to be free, to be prosperous, to avoid being victims of wickedness and evil. But even when he is prosperous, he remains subject to evil. Therefore he is not free and not happy. Man is trapped in a prison of dark experiences from which he has the choice to break free. But man prefers his dark prison and ignorantly abhors liberty. Why?

The scriptures provide answers. Jesus Christ fasted 40 days in the wilderness and then overcame the devil’s temptations, which exploit man’s dark prison passion for lust, power and greed. Then he went to Capernaum where he healed some sick folks before heading to Nazareth where he was brought up. On a Sabbath day, in a synagogue, he opened the scriptures and read excerpts from Isaiah 61:1-3, which prefigured his life’s mission statement:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19).

He ministered that the scripture he read had that day been fulfilled. His gracious words astonished the congregation, who saw Jesus as the local boy, the son of the lowly Mary and Joseph, the carpenter. The first sign of one of the elements of our dark prison: to despise the lowly.

The congregation, like all Israel and the world, trapped in darkness, were ignorant of the word, the light amongst them. They expected a prince, not a carpenter’s son born in a Bethlehem manger. They didn’t know of Angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary at the Annunciation.

They were deaf to the glorious hymn of the Heaven’s hosts to the poor shepherds in the open fields that cold night, leading them to the new born babe in adoration of the Saviour in the manger. A congregation deaf to the supplications and worship by the wise men who traced a bright burning star, all the way from the East, to adore and give gifts to the child in the manger. All they saw was a carpenter’s son. The prison syndrome with dire consequences.

His town folks had heard of his miracles in Capernaum and wanted him to do the same in Nazareth. But traps of ignorance, disbelief and despise of the lowly carpenter’s son blocked their healing, miracles. Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to them:
“Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.” (Luke 4:23).

Jesus added: “Verily I say onto you, No prophet is accepted in his country” (Luke 4:21). He recalled Prophets Elias and Eliseus who healed gentiles in place of Jews. It was truth. But they were incensed and seized him in rage to throw him over the cliff.

It was the very first attempt to kill Jesus over the truth. There would be several more attempts on his life in Israel until he gave himself up as the sacrificial Lamb to cleanse the sins of mankind, the Saviour who endured the terrible passion and horrible crucifixion on the cross of Calvary.

Again a reaction from the dark depths of our prison, fear and hatred of the truth. Nazareth did not like his truth and desired to kill him. Recall Apostle Nathanael words? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Jesus walked off from them. It was not yet his time. Jesus had a lot on his plate: To build his team of Twelve who would change the world, to preach the word, to teach the grace of baptism.

He had still to stress the need to be born again in truth and spirit, to heal, raise the dead, speak truth fearlessly to decadent power, to give the Holy Sacrament, the Eucharist, his body and blood, to man for the forgiveness of sin, to die as the Lamb, before his Resurrection and glorious Ascension to Heaven. His mission was tightly packed. His execution of the vision was flawless, to the letter, perfect.

So why was Jesus, who was sinless, spoke the truth, filled with love and kindness, under constant persecution, death threats and indeed killed for his good works? The answer is given by Christ himself. As he sent his apostles to go preach the gospel, he said: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 12:16).

Jesus acknowledged the world was full of the wolves prowling in man’s dark prison: sin, hate, wickedness, evil. But amazingly, he asked them to be WISE as serpents and HARMLESS as doves before wolves.

After the horrible hate, flogging, beatings, spitting, false accusations, conviction and condemnation, his logging the cross, hammer tearing nails into his hands and feet on the cross, gross mockeries, Jesus, on his wooden deathbed, said:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24). Why?

The folks who visit such meanness may not know what they were doing? Is that possible? To be evil, wicked and be bereft of the knowledge of their motivation?

So what is this knowledge? Now let us return to the third, fourth and fifth of the six point mission statement of Jesus Christ: “to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”

Who are the captives, the blind and the bruised? The answer is easy if we position ourselves as victims. Others are wicked wolves. We the oppressed captives and bruised. But are we also blind? Yes we can also be blind to truth being trapped in a web of ignorance and structures of evil that influence our choices.

Imagine a childhood filled with fear, hatred of people who look and act different with unfamiliar beliefs. Or a childhood soaked in parents’ neurotic dread of witchcraft and suspicions of family members. Or the terror of physical, emotional and sexual abuses by parents and adults, celebration of corrupt wealth, fierce competition to get ahead of siblings by any means.

Add the child’s exposure to depraved sex in books, movies and online media. The intellectualism and jaundiced personal interpretation of truth and the gospel that is drenched in the soul of the child. These experiences and the impact of the social environment as we grow up, often locked up in our subconscious, are the unseen motivations that lurk in our souls and influence our reality, our actions.

The produce is violence, racism, hatred, murder, genocide, apartheid, Holocaust, slander, deception, jealousy, lies, anger, rage, abuse, agnosticism. It results in the setting up of evil structures to exterminate whole races, subjugate and exploit people by corrupt leadership, caste systems and slavery that lead to extreme poverty and misery of the great majority of mankind.

Guess what? We, you and I, exhibit these dark traits of the wolves. Just as we can be victims and react violently to victimhood, so that the cycle of justified evil keeps escalating.

Yet, the great many of us may be acting out of ignorance of deep seated fears in our subconscious. Hilter led the slaughter of millions of Jews. Why? His childhood. His mother abandoned him to an extremely abusive father and a Jewish ancestry he loathed, amid the hate stories about the Jews as he grew up. The childhood trauma trap is proven by psychoanalysts.

How then can this cycle of evil be broken? By confronting it and to have knowledge of it. By knowing first what drives your fears, hate and reactions, you can get to understand what drives the reactions of others. With this knowledge, you are able to make your choices with humility and to have compassion for those who persecute you.

For they could be acting out of childhood and social experiences that they refuse to confront and challenge. This knowledge is wisdom. It is reason why you can forgive. It is why you can be harmless among wolves. By wisdom. God Almighty said to Prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6).

To forgive those who persecute you for the truth, to be harmless amidst wolves does not come easy. It is not the way of the world. But it is in knowing the truth about you, removing the evil logs in our own eyes, by breaking free of the dark prison in which one is trapped that you can understand others and be able to forgive. Jesus said: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5).

In the book, Be Human, Be Holy, C.P. Varkey, SJ writes: “Inner freedom is the ability to discern between right and wrong and to choose what is right. It includes freedom from fears, anxieties, worries, compulsions. Wisdom means the ability to see oneself, others and the world around, as they are, objectively. It is self-awareness and awareness of the world, and even of God.”

Awareness is wisdom to deliver us from webs of falsehoods that hold us captive, make us blind and bruised. It sets us free, with humility, contriteness and peace as we forgive ourselves and others. Some will resist the change from wisdom and truth. Forgive, all the same, in harmless wisdom and walk away.

Jesus said: “And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.

“Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (Matthew 10:14-15).

When you understand, you forgive. When you forgive, you get inner peace and you you have peace, you are happy as you able to keep the golden rule: Love your neighbour as yourself. One clear thing Jesus asked us to learn from him is gentleness. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29).

Are you gentle? Are you lowly in heart? Are you wise? Are you knowledgeable? If you are, then you will appreciate why Jesus forgave his tormentors and killers. He could see their souls trapped in evil prisons they are unable and unwilling to break free from.

Now we understand the long patience of God Almighty, his loving kindness and willingness to forgive our sins when we choose to keep his commandments, break from the trap of evil, repent, walk before Him on the path of righteousness and live Christlike so that your lifestyle may shine like the light on the hilltop.

I pray that we hearken to the call of Jesus to preach deliverance to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, first to ourselves and then to others. So that we can have wisdom, harmlessness of the dove, humility and peace. That we may preach with understanding, humility and understanding, the light of the truth of the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted and set at liberty them that are bruised.

May the Good Lord bless us all in our quest to break free and have the liberty of truth.

Ken Tadaferua is a media and marketing communications consultant. Twitter: @ktadaferua