Saturday, 12 May 2018
“Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.”
When Judas betrayed Our Lord with a kiss, he betrayed love with a kiss, he betrayed truth with a kiss. The sheer cynicism of this act was perhaps worse even than the cynicism of Pontius Pilate who when Our Lord said “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”, Pilate responded: “Truth, what is truth?”
The Twelve apostles symbolized the twelve tribes and hence the fulfilment of God’s plan for Israel. That’s why it was crucial to replace Judas—so that the Church in its fullness would receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But it is interesting to note what criteria the apostles used to choose Judas’ replacement. He had to be someone who had been with them from the beginning – who knew Jesus and His teaching. He had to be someone who could witness with them to the truth of the Ascension and the Resurrection. In other words he had to be someone who would be consecrated in the truth like them, and would be filled with the Spirit of Truth at the coming feast of Pentecost.
The High Priestly prayer of Jesus which we have in our Gospel today is often discussed by commentators for its teaching on unity. But what is often neglected is His teaching on truth and the need to be consecrated in the truth. Our Lord prays for the apostles to be consecrated in the truth before He prays for their unity. This is because the foundation of their unity is precisely the truth for which He was born to bear witness – it is impossible to build true unity on anything other than the truth.
Truth is the conformity of mind and reality. The truth about God is understood when we accurately grasp the nature and purpose of His creation, and when we believe in any supernatural revelation He has made. Jesus told us that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that the truth would set us free. All truths have their origin in the Truth who is God made man.
The truth banishes error, especially idolatry and heresy, because all truth is found in the Word made flesh. Truth is good and beautiful because it unites us to the good and beautiful God. He created us so that we may know Him - by knowing the truth that He is.
I belabor these points about truth because it is not fashionable to speak about truth today. Just like it wasn’t fashionable for the apostles to speak of truth. Just as the world hated them, so it will also hate us if we stand for truth. People who stand for the truth of Christ are branded as dogmatic, rigid and legalistic.
The only notion of truth which the world will accept is the idea of “your truth being as good as my truth” – relativism. Or truth which evolves and changes to suit historical circumstances and sentiment – post-modernism or neo-marxism.
This rejection of truth and war on reality has now gone beyond dogmatic and moral truths. Even basic scientific truths of human nature are rejected by suggesting that people can change their sex by a slice of a scalpel and a fistful of hormones. Human nature, the nature of marriage, family and reproduction are all under attack like we have never seen before.
Even within the Church herself we are seeing the culture of death expand its grip. It is one thing to cease medical treatment which has no chance of success, but it is quite another to withdraw oxygen, water and food from a sick toddler with the deliberate intent to kill him. I am sure I’m not the only one who felt ashamed to be Catholic when some of our bishops sided with an intransigent medical profession and an intrusive state to trample all over the rights of Alfie Evans and his parents – parental rights which arise from the natural law and which no earthly court has the authority to revoke.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that the German bishops had proposed the admittance of divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy Communion, in just these last few days we have had yet another proposal from them to admit Protestants to Holy Communion. Rejecting yet more truths of the faith in the process.
Why should this war on truth and reality matter to you and me? Cardinal Eijk of Utrecht last week offered us a reminder from the Catechism of why it should matter. He said:
“Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“The Church’s ultimate trial
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.”
Remaining in the truth of Christ is vital for every last one of us – if we do not remain in His truth we will not remain in Him, we will not remain in His Father, we will not remain in Our Father. And the consequence of that will be final damnation.
Let us pray that this Pentecost the Holy Spirit of truth will consecrate us in the truth.