Trust in the truth
It is not unusual to suggest that people have been ‘economical with the truth’. Generally, this is a kind way of suggesting that they have been embellishing a story or telling a ‘white lie’ to avoid giving offence.
However, in this new age of tweeting on social media, in some circles at least the truth seems to have become a rare commodity. If lying becomes commonplace, it certainly damages trust and inevitably human relations become strained and societies becomes divided. But, while there is always the temptation to conclude that we are seeing a deterioration in behaviour by comparison with a bygone era, there is no doubt that duplicity and deceit have been part and parcel of the human story from the very beginning.
This Sunday the Church invites us to reflect on how Moses reassured his people that God would raise up a prophet like himself, to whom they must listen and in whom they could trust. There is also a warning for those prophets who choose to go their own way: they will not prosper. The Old Testament is littered with the stories of such prophets who tried to mislead the people for their own ends.
Ultimately, Moses is pointing us towards the coming of Jesus. At the beginning of his gospel, Mark is determined that we should get the connection by establishing the authority of Jesus, who acts and speaks in a manner that the people had clearly not been used to. Jesus makes a deep impression on them precisely because he teaches ‘with authority’. He speaks the truth.
The battle between good and evil is going to be waged. It is the man who possesses the spirit of evil who identifies Jesus of Nazareth as “the Holy One of God”. This is the truth that Mark wishes to establish in our minds right from the outset. Everything that follows is designed to reinforce that message. In our age, as in every age, we are caught up in the great struggle between good and evil.
At the same time, the recurring theme is that Christ, through his passion, death and glorious resurrection, has conquered, and that his victory is our victory if we allow his Spirit to dwell within us.
By the time John is writing his gospel, after a lifetime of meditating on this mystery, John repeatedly returns to the notion of truth. He recalls that Jesus, at the Last Supper, points out to Thomas that he (Jesus) is “the way, the truth and the life”, having previously taught those who took his word to heart: “you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free.”
In an age of fake news, we will do well to ensure that we always speak the truth, and then we can enjoy the freedom that follows.
Tim Buckley CSsR
© Majellan Media 2021
They know they are loved
Abraham and Sarah, an elderly couple, who trust in God are rewarded with the unexpected gift of a son in Isaac. Jesus is also an unexpected gift to a young woman Mary and Joseph, her spouse.
Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son to show obedience to God, but Isaac is spared, and Abraham and Sarah become the parents of nations. Forty days after the birth of their child, Joseph and Mary travel to Jerusalem to carry out the requirements of the Law which asks that the mother be purified, and the child be dedicated to God. They encounter two wise people who affirm that their son is a blessing from God who will play a major role in the redemption of the people.
Current family experience is distant from these two historical families, but they also cope with the unexpected, in the birth, the raising of children and their journey through life. Contemporary families have many configurations, but all follow the developmental cycle of dependence, independence to inter-dependence and perhaps ultimately dependence in old age. It is a journey of many joys, some disappointments, and a variety of challenges. We all have hopes for our children and these will be fulfilled in ways that exceed or fall short of our expectations.
After the purification and presentation, the Holy Family travelled to Nazareth and we hear that Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.” At the age of twelve he accompanied his parents on their annual pilgrimage to the Temple for the feast of Passover. On the day of their return, Jesus “lingered” in the Temple, but Mary and Joseph thought that he was among their group.
After a day of travel, they realised Jesus was missing, so they returned to Jerusalem, and found him in the Temple in discussion with the elders. Given his age, they were amazed at his learning. When admonished by Mary, Jesus replied: “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus grows in maturity and finds his identity in carrying our God’s will. We do not know what Mary and Joseph expected from their son, but his public ministry, preaching, healing, death and resurrection must have been unexpected.
We do not know what direction our children will take but the greatest gift we can give them is to let them know that they are loved prior to achievement rather than because of their achievements. Secure in the knowledge of being loved, young people are free to become the people they are called to be and letting them go will enable them to return home no longer as children but as adults.
Michael A Kelly CSsR
© Majellan Media 2020