Can You Handle the Truth?

01-30-2022From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“You can’t handle the truth!” That is a powerful line from the movie “A Few Good Men” where Tom Cruise is the military prosecutor of Jack Nicholson who is an officer who ordered one his marines to be killed. Is evil or the denial of the truth or the rights of others ever justifiable? To deny the truth is to live in darkness and error. Denying the truth is nothing new. It is a human trait that inevitably leads to disaster and discord. Lies and falsehoods separate us from God and one another.

We see that in the Gospel for today’s Mass (Luke 4:212-30) which continues from the passage we heard last Sunday where Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah and said He was the one who fulfilled that prophesy: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, ‘Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Jesus spoke those words in a synagogue in His native place. The people were at first amazed at His words but then began to doubt He was who He claimed to be. They walked into darkness and tried to throw Him off the brow of a hill but He walked away from them. Imagine telling Jesus He cannot be the Son of God, He cannot be the long promised and awaited Savior. They could not handle that truth, they could not handle that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

We live in a society that is constantly calling us to look at the internet. People walk the streets with eyes fixed on their cell phones and computers occupy a much used space in our homes. The internet provides valuable help and information. It is also filled with sites that turn us in on ourselves and tempt us to seek pleasure instead of the truth. Self-centeredness is ultimately a lonely and scary place that offers no real peace, only continuous promises of happiness and momentary false pleasure. Can I handle the truth that God’s loving presence is a pure gift? To recognize and respond to that cannot but fill us with humble gratitude and joy. The truth is that when I let God into my life and let Him encourage, guide, and inspire me, I have opened the door to the ultimate path to the fullness of life. The key is to not only handle the truth but to handle the gift of faith.

In the first reading at Mass today (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17- 19), God assures Jeremiah that to follow Him will not be easy, but leads to the truth and to God Himself: “But do you gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you. Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them; for it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land: against Judah’s kings and princes, against its priests and people. They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.” We are certainly challenged in our society to live and speak of the truth of who are as Catholics. I close with the words of Mother Teresa, a woman who lived and spoke the truth of God’s love. I recently read them in a column in “Columbia,” the monthly magazine of the Knights of Columbus:

“When Mother Teresa of Calcutta gave the keynote speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 1994, she spoke with uncommon authority. It had been nearly fifteen years since she had received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in bringing help to suffering humanity, and her religious community was already serving in more than 100 countries. Standing before President Bill Clinton and other government leaders in Washington, D.C., the diminutive nun declared, ‘Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.’”

Would that we could handle the truth to love as she did!!!