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Jesus is not a guru selling good feelings

Harrowing of Hades

José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro via Wikipedia CC

In Harrowing of Hades, fresco in the parecclesion of the Chora Church, Istanbul, c. 1315, raising Adam and Eve is depicted as part of the Resurrection icon, as it always is in the East.

Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 01/03/23

If Jesus does not free us from sin and from the consequences of sin, namely death, he is of no use to us.
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Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

“John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’” Today’s Gospel reminds us of a truth we too often forget. Jesus did not come into the world to give out caresses and smiles. His calling, his destiny, is to free us from sin. If Jesus does not free us from sin and from the consequences of sin, namely death, he is of no use to us.

Too often in Christianity we have lowered the saving significance of Jesus by turning him into a mere wise man who gives pearls of wisdom for “living well.” Jesus is not a guru selling good feelings, but the One who can set us free. But even in this regard it’s perhaps helpful to say what this redemption consists of. 

Being set free from sin does not mean that we automatically sin no more; it does mean that we are no longer compelled to sin. Jesus gives us the freedom we need to be able to stand against evil, to not compromise with it because of our weakness, our wounds, and our limitations. He accomplishes this through the Spirit, that is, through an experience of Love so indelible that it radically changes us.

In fact, only those who feel loved are truly free. Those who do not feel loved experience that they are not fully free. Jesus came to give us a Love so indelible that it allows us radical freedom.

John says, “On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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