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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Written by Fr. Valery Akoh

Fr. Valery is parochial vicar at St Mary’s in Rome, Georgia. I receive his daily reflections. He is not one to shy away from proclaiming truth -- a refreshing difference from what seems to be the norm in so many churches. This one spoke to me this morning: John 16:12-13 “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.’” STANDING UP FOR THE TRUTH IN A CULTURE OF RELATIVISM In today’s passage, Jesus continues to outline the role of the Holy Spirit He promises to send to His disciples. Yesterday, He highlighted the role of the Holy Spirit as the Advocate, who will plead on behalf of them. The Holy Spirit is the Consoler, who will accompany them in their missionary work and so enable them not to feel as though they were orphans. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins, but then also show us that there is hope for us if we turn to Jesus Christ, our hope of salvation. In today’s passage, Jesus underscores the role of the Holy Spirit as the revealer of the fullness of truth. He who came to bear witness to the truth promises us today that there is so much to be unpacked from what He has revealed that cannot be made known to us all at once. The revelation of the truth of salvation happens in progression. As such, Jesus tells the disciples that He has much to tell them, but they cannot bear it now. Truth is revealed to us to the degree to which we can bear it. For instance, though the fullness of algebra is known by the Math teacher, he does not begin by teaching first grade children algebra but simple arithmetic of addition and subtractions. Without this progression, truth becomes overbearing and impossible to receive. This has been Jesus’ pedagogy throughout His ministry especially in the Gospel of Mark where He keeps telling people not to say anything of who He is because the people were not yet ready for the kind of Messiah He was going to be – not a political Messiah, but a suffering Messiah. The greatest assurance Jesus gives us is that there is the fullness of truth, objective truth and at the appropriate time, we shall come to the knowledge of this truth. Truth is the conformity of what is in thought to what is in reality and only the Creator from whom all things come to be and are sustained in being, can be said to know it all. Nothing escapes the mind of God; He knows it all! The fullness of truth resides with God and He promises to share this with us as time unfolds. Nothing could be more comforting especially in a world where truth seems to be the creation of men instead of God, where truth is limited to what I see and find as useful to me, where basically truth is relativized. A story is told of a mother who was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson, and said to them, “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake – I can wait.’ Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, Ryan, you be Jesus.” Against the dictatorship of relativism (as Pope Benedict XVI decries), Jesus, the Truth promises us that He will send us the Spirit of Truth who will open our hearts and minds to the fulness of truth. St. Paul, in the first reading, can be seen following our Lord’s pedagogy of revealing the truth gradually. St. Paul finds himself in the metropolitan polytheistic city of Athens, where it is said that it was easier to meet a god than a person in the streets. In this city, St. Paul goes to the Areopagus (the Greek for Mars Hill), which was the most distinguished, selective and exclusive court in the city consisting of probably only thirty members. It was in this city with an uncountable number of gods, with the overflowing of various ideas, in the presence of the most learned men of the Areopagus, that Paul courageously stood up and addressed the people: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22-23). Like our Lord, St. Paul begins from the known to the unknown, from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from the people’s understanding of an unknown god to the understanding of the living and true God. St. Paul describes this God they are unaware of as the creator of all that there is and from the order He established in creating, we might seek Him, “even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27). From creation, St. Paul assures the Athenians that there was sufficient clue to seek the living and true God. Paul did not end there but went further to show how this God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, who became man, suffered for us, died and rose from the dead as “confirmation for all” that He is Lord (Acts 17:31). The one thing Paul did and which we are invited to imitate this day is to stand up. Paul courageously stood up for the truth of who God is without being deterred neither by the contemptuous scholars nor the polytheistic culture of which the people were accustomed. How could he preach of One God in such an environment? How can we preach the objectivity of truth in such a relativistic culture in the new Areopagus of the Mass Media? Easter is a time when we are reminded that God is the Creator of truth and we are mere recipients of truth, who need nothing but humility to be given this truth at the right moment. Easter is a time when we are assured of the objectivity of truth against the dictatorship of relativism. Easter is a time when we stand up for the truth with the conviction that the Word that became abbreviated at the Incarnation, muted at the Crucifixion, is risen and alive forever. May Jesus Christ, the Truth inspire and strengthen us as we ponder on the truth and bear witness to it in season and out of season.

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