Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"Consecrate them in the truth"

In today’s Gospel, the prayer of Jesus to the Father continues.

“Holy Father…I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

Truth is central to the mission of Jesus Christ. Before Pilate, Christ said, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth”. Christ is all about Truth. He says elsewhere in John’s Gospel, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. He makes it clear in this Gospel passage that he is the Father’s word, and the Father’s “word is truth”. So, Christ’s prayer is that the Apostles and disciples would be consecrated in Christ and Christ is consecrated in the Father.

What is also clear in Jesus’ prayer to the Father is that the world (sin) hates Christ. It hates, then, the word of the Father. It hates truth. It put Christ on the cross and killed him. Why? Because he spoke the truth. Jesus promised the Apostles that they would receive the same treatment: “if the world hates you, realize that it hated me first…the world hates you” (Jn 15:18-19). The Apostles were hated and were killed in a similar way (all of the Apostles were martyrs except John). A multitude of Christians have been martyred over the past twenty centuries.

The Church continues to be hated and greatly persecuted by the world for proclaiming and defending the truth in the twenty-first century. We see this played out most regularly with regards to its teachings on marriage and life. The Church continues to defend the sanctity of marriage which is under tremendous attack by the secular culture. She continues to defend the sanctity of life in all stages from conception to natural death in a world that views life as disposable. Just as the death of Jesus Christ seems senseless, so, too, does the daily martyrdom of the Catholic Church seem to make no sense. The mission of the two are the same: proclaim the truth in love.

Why does the world hate truth? In my opinion, it’s because of pride. People who live according to the world’s standards want to live as they please; they want to do it their way. They want to live as they want, not as God wants. They want to live according to their own truth. They have heard what God has said (Commandments, Gospel, Church teachings, etc.) and have essentially said, ‘no. I know better than God.’

Now, of course, I am referring to those who truly have heard what God has said and rejected it; I believe these are the people to whom Christ is referring when he refers to the world. It is those, like Satan himself, who have been given the truth and, in their pride, have rejected it. To a lesser extent are their disciples: those who have followed them in the ways of the world. This is probably a much greater number of people and probably the category into which many of our youth fall. Do the disciples of the culture really know the Church and hate it? Do they really know Christ and hate Him? My vast experience with this type of people has been that they really don’t know Christ or the Church and are surprised to hear what either is all about. In short, they are surprised by Truth.

Finally, it is an incredible experience to see someone hear the truth for the first time and respond to it. To see someone react to the truth about God, the Church, or life is among the most powerful experiences in life, in my opinion. It is an experience of seeing someone go from slavery to freedom. The Holy Father spoke so often about this in his visit to the United States because he knows that so many are burdened by the slavery of sin. Coming into the truth means coming into freedom. True freedom provides us the ability not to live as we please but to choose the good. Christ desires each of us to live in freedom. Truth is the vehicle for freedom: “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32).


At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was painful to read. Are nonbelievers that way entirely because of pride and selfishness? Some people can't find Christ. How do they shed their pride and selfishness or whatever it is that keeps them in the dark? Christ helped some of His apostles when they could not believe.

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Maybe I’m stuck on semantics, but, my first though when I read “so many are burdened by the slavery of sin” was, yahoo! I’m free. Doesn’t being captive or being a slave of something or someone remove the responsibility of one’s actions? I see slavery as a state of existence that is totally out of a person’s control. Sins may be committed, but the slave is not responsible for them. Or, in order not to be held responsible for their sin, does the slave have to hold onto their beliefs, even at the risk of a vicious beating or death?

I know we are responsible for our reaction or choice when we are confronted with a sin. I’m wondering if the concept “slavery to sin” is meant to be interpreted in the context that we will always be slaves to sin because of the original sin Adam and Eve committed?

Would you mind clarifying the intent? Thanks.

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon w/ pain:

I’m sorry FG’s post was painful to read. Don’t give up on hope, prayer and an open heart. I don’t believe “hearing” the Lord, the truth, is totally your responsibility. To be a Christian, one must not only share and teach the truth through love, they must realize that there are many ways to teach, many ways to love.

Has it ever occurred to you that part of the problem might be that we, the Christians around you, are not sharing the truth through love you can feel and understand? As much as you may want to hear, feel and believe, your fellow Catholics have to remember that you can’t begin to believe if you don’t understand and feel our love. Yes, you have to have an open heart and want to hear the truth, but we must remember that there is no single teaching, loving style that will reach everyone questioning or searching for the truth.

From my viewpoint, it was painful to realize that you may not be feeling the teaching and love that may have been or is being offered to you through the Church. “Do you know the church?” should be quickly followed by, “Do we know you?” We must be patient with each other. Believing is a process.

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Consecrate them in the truth”

I’m not sure “truth” can be definitively defined. I view it as a concept that I will never be sure I totally understand. This morning’s 8:30 mass opened with Fr. Greg’s admission of forgetting to open the windows before mass, and his suggestion to the 30 or so of us sitting in the pews, to feel free to open them if we felt the need.

As it got warmer, I tried to find a time where I would be pretty inconspicuous when I stood up and opened a few windows.

When I sat back down, I heard the birds chirping away, celebrating and talking about another beautiful day – what a wonderful truth to hear, the Lord has indeed risen.

FG, thanks for leaving the windows closed.

At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Why does the world hate truth? In my opinion, it’s because of pride.”

Not always (maybe not even often). Hating truth has a great deal to do with pain and fear. It’s a natural human condition to avoid the things that hurt. It can take more than faith to accept truth- it requires courage, for it means changing your ways- maybe even your entire life. I get why people deny truth- maybe they feel inadequate.

I made a choice a long time ago that was life altering. It was a “good’ choice, the right choice, but at the time, in making that decision- pride was not an obstacle. Absolute, complete unadulterated fear was, but I had a belief about the sanctity of life and knew there was only one way I could live with myself. Honestly, then, I didn’t have faith that God would get me through what was coming. I had courage and a belief in my own strength that I would deal with what would come. If I didn’t have that, maybe I’d have made another choice, but still a choice unrelated to pride.

At 6:47 AM, Blogger fran said...

In my various roles, as daughter, sister, spouse, parent and friend, I have found that the very things I need to hear, are often the very things that are hardest to hear. I have not always immediately appreciated them, but when given more serous thought and reflection, I have grown to appreciate them.

When said with an undercurrent of both love and respect, and at the proper time, words of wisdom, advice, support and yes, gentle admonishment, can make a difference, and a different person.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That cuts both ways. Saying things to others, with love & respect, and in what seems to be the proper time (with the best words of wisdom that we, at that time, have), it can make a difference; it’s not always the immediate difference we expect. It’s hard to not let regret set in those times, but if we hold true to our intentions in speaking “our” truth, I guess we have to learn to live with both ourselves and the consequences.

At 9:26 PM, Blogger fran said...

To speak or not to speak...that is the question!

I agree with you, anon, sometimes even when we speak with our hearts to others, the immediate difference is not what we expect.

I keep going back to the thought provoking comment that was made on Sunday's post, regarding doubt. In it, somebody said that doubt can be good as it is what keeps us moving forward. They said, if we always believed everything, and never doubted, we would not advance... That same person went on to say that choices must be made and it was hard to discern those choices.

Some of that thinking applies to our topic of discussion too, I think. If we never share with others our thoughts and/or views of what we think might be beneficial to them, then how can they move forward? Doesn't not saying something, almost enable them to stay right where they are, never advancing?

The choice to speak, or not speak, what we believe to be the truth, is a difficult one to make. I guess, for me, I would rather say something, and live with what comes with making that choice, than never having said anything at all. And on the flip side, I would rather hear what another thinks I might need to hear, as well.

At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doubt- that’s timely. Archbishop Wuerl talked about the fear and doubt the apostles had on the day of Pentecost. He talked about fear, anxiety and apprehension, and then the ascension of the Holy Spirit who addressed and relieved those fears. He bestowed upon them courage, wisdom and faith.

My goodness- what a journey life can be! I had always thought that I had what I needed to get through the doubt, fear and anxiety by sheer will, innate courage and a head strong sense that I could do whatever. I thought I needed to “earn’ the Grace of God by doing things to be worthy of Grace. Now, I wonder if Grace hadn’t been bestowed upon me all along. Maybe- just maybe- in all those times that I thought I “fought” my way through to a positive end- maybe Grace was already given to me- not b/c I did something to earn it, but b/c God, in His wisdom, granted me the strength that I needed to carry on. What a thought! Maybe I’m not as strong as I think I am supposed to be (all alone)- and what a relief that is.

You’re second part- speaking the truth- for us, our truth is only that- ours. Maybe our truth differs from that of another, either because we differ in opinions or life experiences that lead us to different conclusions, but (in expressing them- our truths- from our hearts) they are OUR truths, and I guess that alone must be enough.


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