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.

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