Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pentecost - homily

“You can’t handle the truth!” This is the famous line from the movie, “A Few Good Men”. Jack Nicholson says this to Tom Cruise after Cruise says, “I want the truth”. “You can’t handle the truth”. This is basically what Jesus is saying to the Apostles in today’s Gospel (Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15). The Apostles weren’t ready to hear the truth, the fullness of truth. We are all like the Apostles in that way – sometimes we just can’t handle the truth or don’t hear the truth when it is given to us. But, today is the day that the Apostles were ready for the truth. Today, Pentecost, is when the Spirit of truth came down upon them and led them to all truth. May we be open to the Spirit in hearing the truth.

Truth has a face – it is the face of Christ. Christ is the truth. The words that come from his mouth are truth – the beautiful, rich, true, and real words of Christ. When we hear the truth, it changes our lives. Truth demands a response. In “A Few Good Men”, once Jack Nickolson testifies to the truth, there is an immediate reaction by the court and justice is done. When the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles with the truth, they respond immediately. We’ve been hearing the Acts of the Apostles throughout the Easter season – stuff has been happening, things have been moving. Truth demands a response.

I have seen many here respond to the truth. For example, many have heard the truth about the Eucharist and responded. One parishioner told me last night that even though she went through 16 years of Catholic education, it wasn’t recently here that she heard the truth about the Eucharist and has responded to it. I’ve worked with others here who have heard the truth about sin. A few years ago, the extent of their examination of conscience was that they hadn’t killed anyone. Now, they’ve learned that other things in their lives are sins – drunkenness, gossip, gluttony, for example – and they have responded by going to Confession and going regularly. Nationally, we saw the recent results of a poll that show that most Americans are now pro-life. They have seen and heard the truth about abortion and have responded. Again in our parish, the hope is that our young people are searching for the truth about their vocation and that when they learn the truth, they will respond generously.

Truth demands a response. There are two ways we can respond when we hear the truth. One option is that we can hear the truth and dismiss it. Many will say, “that is your truth but it is not the truth for me”. Folks, there is one truth! There aren’t several truths. Either something is the truth or it is not. Like, in math, two plus two is four…it’s not three or five or whatever you want it to be. It’s four. That’s the truth.

Can a Catholic dismiss the truth that the Church teaches? Not regarding doctrine. Not regarding teachings of faith and morals. The doctrine of the Church is the doctrine of Christ. It is the truth. The second option when we hear the truth is to follow it. It means hearing Christ and following him. May we all hear the truth of Christ and follow it.

Finally, for those Catholics who are like Tom Cruise and say, “I want the truth!”, where do they find the truth? There are many resources in our Church, but the best one is the Catechism. It’s a big, fat book that can be overwhelming, but it has the truth that the Church teaches. We can go to someone we know who knows how to use the Catechism or go to a priest to help us find the truth that our Church teaches. When we find the truth, we find Christ because Christ is the truth. Where there is truth, there is love. May each of us find the fullness of truth, and may the truth set us free.


At 8:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr Greg-
I am so grateful that you have been a consistent speaker of the truth.

You've helped me in my life in more ways than I can count. I have always known you would be honest with me, and oddly enough, it's brought me to you for some of the more difficult topics, when I knew I wouldn't maybe "like" the truth. That level of consistency has become a comfort.

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can now see how long I rejected truths I knew and understood. I can also see that there was much I didn't know and wouldn't ask for fear of being told a truth a might not like But truth is freeing in so many ways. God commands repentance from those who hear His truth, and we become better people as a result. However, I've also learned that there must be an ongoing repentance through which our will is regularly conformed to God’s truth. It's a process- not a one time thought or action. The more I understand and accept this, the more willing I am to speak and live God’s truth without fear. In that, truth is empowering to me now.

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

I was thinking about how Jesus didn't leave the Apostles as orphans to go out to speak the truth. He sent the Holy Spirit to help guide them. Often as parents, we find ourselves wanting to shield our children about certain truths- they're too young, I don't want to put thoughts in their heads, I don't want them exposed to this or that, and in doing so, we are kind of leaving them orphans to the truth. Generations have grown up without some of the most imortant people in the world teaching it to them. I'm so happy truth has been emphasized in the homilies they hear and I'm then able to expand on at home. That starting point has been a gift.

On another note on what I believe as an absolute truth, that Christ is present in the Eucharist, in studying more about the Real Presence, I read the following somewhere and copied it-

“You have exactly the same eyes at night as you have in the day, but you cannot see at night, because you lack the additional light of the sun. So, too, let two minds with identically the same education, the same mental capacities, and the same judgment, look on a Host enthroned on an altar. The one sees bread, the other sees Christ, not, of course, with the eyes of the flesh, but with the eyes of faith. The reason for the difference is: one has a light which the other lacks, namely, the light of faith.”
— Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

At 9:23 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

I had to chuckle when I read Fr G’s homily about two plus two must equal four and not three or five or whatever.

I started “Weight Watchers” at work at the beginning of April, and I have been amused at how their “points” add up. Depending on the food item: 0+0 = 1, 2+2=3.5. 3+3 = 7. Apparently WW math is not like real math. In any case, I’ve lost more than 10 lbs over the past two months, and I hope to be back at my pre-daughter weight by the end of the year.

On another note entirely, Pentecost isn’t Pentecost without singing some variation of Veni Creator Spiritus. Although the world around us has changed, the sentiment expressed in the centuries-old text certainly has not. We still need, and will always need, the inspiration and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I (probably unlike most just-barely-not-baby-boomers) prefer the traditional chant for this hymn. It is totally awesome that that the tune and the prayer we sing today was sung by, and is our connection to, our great-to-the-nth-grandparents and even some of the Church Fathers.

A youtube of the traditional chant:

For the text of the hymn:

On yet ANOTHER note, there was more than one speech at Notre Dame. My colleague whose son graduated last week said the third speech, by John T. Noonan, was by far the best of the three he heard at the ceremony. Judge Noonan pointed out that Abraham Lincoln supported slavery – until being convinced to the contrary by Frederick Douglas. The implication, according to the colleague, was that as Lincoln was enlightened about slavery, so Obama will be enlightened about abortion. Below is a link to the speech, which received zip in the way of media attention:*:IE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7DMUS&q=%22Commencement+2009%22+%22Notre+Dame+%22+-obama&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=qigjSpqzLJmltgeBxaG3Bg&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=5&ct=title#

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

One more thought that struck me on Catholic Truth is that all the teachings work together as a whole. They work in unity to promote one basic message on how to live- with love. I know that's quite simplistic, but I really think it's what it all boils down to. That's why the catechism, for me, has to be accepted in its entirety. To piece mail beliefs devalues the message.

At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Katherine said...

The truth is easier for me to hear than lies. Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but the hurt doesn't last as long as someone telling you lies...Lies hurt far more in the long run.

I came to St. Andrew's after a whole slew of traumas. I came for healing, and I have found it here. I am much more peaceful. It helps that people are mostly very welcoming and nice.

My job is the type where it's not a job, it's a lifestyle. And church really helps me unwind, and be more mellow and peaceful and better able to help people. And better able to tolerate not so nice people.

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Truth is a funny thing. I can hear it over and over again, and then one day- for no reason I can understand, I hear it- big time. One day something that seemed sad and sorrowful looks really different, because I realize the truth- those were the times Christ was closest.

The Truth is reassuring, so it's seems perplexing that we have times when we resist it so much.
I believe we all really, in our heart of hearts, want to be good. Our Truth requires it of us, and sometimes that means life won't always be easy- I guess that's the resistance. But, living the Truth, does mean it will be better.


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