USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
This is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
“I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.
Good News Reflection: The truth about the truth
In today’s first reading, we’re told that the anointing we received from God during our baptism remains in us always, and therefore “you do not need anyone to teach you.” Okay, literally? Because of my anointing, whatever I feel is right is right, and whatever I think is the truth is true?
Not exactly. John was writing about deceivers. Many voices in our world are telling us that they have a better grasp of the truth than does the Church. We’re bombarded with influences from all directions as people try to convince themselves that their immorality is really okay by trying to convince us to agree with them. Moral relativism is a pervasive philosophy that makes us vulnerable to these deceptions.
Sometimes we are accidental deceivers, thinking that we’re teaching the truth while actually spreading a misconception because we are misinformed and we have neglected to research the topic.
So how do we figure out what to believe and what to disregard? How can we be sure that we have the correct understanding?
God has provided for this by giving us sacraments of anointing through the Church (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick) and the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit. We’re empowered to recognize the truth by the only perfect teacher of truth, the Spirit of Truth who lives within us and speaks to our spirits.
The trouble is, we often don’t want to hear the truth completely. And so we’re not completely in touch with the Spirit’s gift of truth. When a human interpretation of the truth comes to our attention, God notifies us of his approval or disapproval, but we receive his guidance only to the extent that we’re humbly willing to accept it.
Truth is the hardest substance in the universe. It cannot be changed, even when we try to reshape it. God never changes, and therefore the truth never changes, since God and the truth are one. But those who don’t want to believe this truth about truth say things like, “To each his own” or “Live and let live” and “Whatever works for you is fine”.
When you hear or speak a deception, what is the Spirit of Truth doing? Why do you feel uneasy? Why does anyone who spouts a falsehood feel like they have to fight hard to convince others that it’s a truth? The reason is that the Holy Spirit is contradicting the deception, and each person feels this deep down inside. The anointing from God is working!
Today’s first reading speaks primarily about the truth of who Jesus is, for he teaches all truth, and all true teachings show us how to remain united to him.
If we embrace the truth about who Jesus is, we live in that truth and Jesus is born into the world through our behavior. When he comes for us at the moment of our deaths we will have eternal life. However, all harm we’ve caused by living contrary to the truth must be purged and expiated before we can enter fully into the glory of heaven. All misconceptions and deceptions will be stripped away, for we will be face to face with the Lord who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Father, You assigned me a mission and You empowered me for it. Grant me the grace to discern what it is and give me the strength and boldness to carry it out. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica