4th Sunday, C - homily
“Love rejoices with the truth”.
A movie came out years ago called “The Truman Show”, starring Jim Carrey. Carrey played the role of “Truman” whose entire life has been a television show. Everyone knew it except for him. He thought that his life was just like everyone else’s. He finally realized as he got older that everyone in his life – his wife, his best friend, and co-workers – were actors. At the end of the movie, the creator of the show reveals that he has deceived Truman since he was conceived. It is one of my favorite movies because it raises questions about truth and reality. How do we know what is true? How do we know what is real? And, how do we know when we are being deceived?
The question, ‘what is truth?’, has been asked by human beings for thousands of years. I find it to be one of the most fascinating questions in the world. What is truth? Truth IS what’s real. Truth is what exists. It’s what out there in the real world. It may appear to be obvious stuff to most people, but there is a huge battle going on in our world between truth and deception. Let me give some examples.
A mathematical truth is that 2+2=4. I don’t think anyone here would deny that truth! A truth that has moral implications is that a baby in the womb is a person with a body and soul. God tells us in the first reading that he forms us in the womb. A theological truth is that God is Father, Son, and Spirit. These are all things that are objectively true. And yet, many people claim that they are not true. They say that there is no truth, or that we can never know the truth. Let me continue with these examples to show how.
They would say that 2+2 is 3 or 5 or whatever we want it to be. They say that the baby in the womb is a glob of tissue or a bunch or cells or something. They say that either God doesn’t exist, or that he (or she) is whatever we want him to be. This is the philosophy of our modern, secular world. It denies truth. It argues for relativism which says that everything is relative, and nothing is absolute (nothing is absolutely true). Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us of the dangers and errors of relativism.
How do we know that this question of truth is so important? Jesus says so. He says in John 18:37 that the reason he came into this world, the whole reason he was born was “to testify to the truth”. He reveals to the world that he is “the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). People today don’t want to hear that, and people back then didn’t want that. Jesus not only said that he taught the truth, he said he IS the truth! And, what did it get him? Death on a Cross. Jesus died for the truth.
And, his followers have lived and died for the truth ever since. The world hated Christ because he spoke the truth, and it has hated Christians who have continued to speak the truth. Jesus predicted this when he said in John 15:18, “if the world hates you, realize that it has hated me first”. Many people hate the Catholic Church because it speaks the truth on moral and theological issues. But, do they really know what the Church is all about? The old saying goes that “millions of people hate the Catholic Church for what they think it is. But, less than a hundred worldwide hate it for what it actually is”.
Speaking the truth doesn’t mean to hammer it at people in harsh ways. It means to speak the truth in love. Truth and love are inseparable. As Pope Benedict reminded us, God is love. And, God is truth. Christ lived and spoke the truth in love. The Church continues to speak the truth in love. One of my main jobs here is to teach and live the truth in love. It is hard to speak the truth, as any of us know when confronting a friend with the truth. But, it is because we love them that we speak the truth. The truth is not always easy or comfortable but it is freeing, as John 8:32 tells us. At the end of the movie, Truman is very happy to know the truth, and to go out and live it.
When we find the truth, we rejoice! When we find the truth about God, about life, or about ourselves, we rejoice that we finally know what’s real. For years, I didn’t know the truth about my vocation. Now, I know that I have been truly called to be a priest, and I am rejoicing! I have found the love of my life. For all married persons here, I hope that you rejoice that you have found the truth, that you have found your true love. For all young people here, I hope that you realize that God has a plan for each one of you, and when you find it, you will rejoice! It is why you are on this Earth.
Finally, to the truth of the Eucharist. The truth of the Eucharist has been under attack for over 500 years…by Christians! Many non-Catholic Christians (and now many Catholics), whether knowingly or unknowingly, believe and teach that the Eucharist is just a symbol. Jesus never taught this! In John 6, he says it over and over again that it is his flesh and blood that we are to eat and drink. He says at the Last Supper, “this is my body”. The earliest Christians believed and taught the truth that the Eucharist is really Jesus’ Body and Blood. It is really Him! It is really Him who is Truth and Love that we receive in Holy Communion. As Jesus says, when we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we have eternal life (see Jn 6:54).
As we receive our Lord today, may we be open to his truth and love. If there is anything that is preventing us from hearing and accepting his truth, let us let it go. If we are open to Christ, he will speak to us. He will show us his truth. He will show his love. May you know his truth and his love this day.