The Truth of the Gospel

Jan 28, 2018: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalms 95:1-2, 6-9
First Corinthians 7:32-35
Mark 1:21-28

Tom and Sally, an elderly married couple who were childhood sweethearts and had settled down in their old neighborhood, were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. As part of their celebration, they decided to walk down the street to their old school.

There, they held hands as they found the old desk they had shared and where Tom had carved, “I love you, Sally.”

On their way back home, an armored car drove by and a bag of money fell out of it, practically at their feet. Sally quickly picked it up, but they did not know what to do with it so they took it home.

When they arrived at the home, Sally quickly counted the money, and it amounted to fifty thousand dollars. Tom said, “We have to give it back.”

Sally says, “Finders keepers,” as she put the money back in the bag and hid it up in their attic.

The following day, two FBI agents were going door-to-door in the neighborhood looking for the money and showed up at their home. They say, “Pardon me, but did either of you find any money that fell out of an armored car yesterday?”

Sally said, “No.”

Tom said, “She’s lying. She picked it up and then hid it up in the attic.”

Then Sally said, “Don’t believe him, he’s getting senile.”

Nevertheless, the agents sat Tom down and began to question him. One said, “Tell us the story from the beginning.”

Tom replied, “Well when Sally and I were walking home from school yesterday…”

The FBI agent looked disgustedly at his partner and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

Today’s readings remind us that the importance of the Gospel is that it is the truth. We need the truth to pursue what is truly good in life, not illusions.

In today’s First Reading Moses, about to part ways with the Israelites, promises them that Yahweh would send a prophet to teach them after he is gone.

A prophet speaks on behalf of God, which is why Our Lord is so harsh on those who say that their teaching is from God, or from false gods. Yahweh had so frightened the people of Israel on Sinai that they wanted an intermediary, someone who would speak to Yahweh on their behalf. The prophet promised by Moses is Our Lord. Sent by the Father, He teaches us the truth about God’s will for our lives.

In today’s Gospel, the crowds see something different in this young rabbi from Nazareth who is just starting His teaching. Why do His words have a weight to them that they did not find in their scribes? They bear the weight of truth. Something resonates in us when we hear the truth, and for the crowds in today’s Gospel they know Our Lord’s teaching rings true: it speaks to something in their hearts, be it a call to conversion or a confirmation of the upright life they are trying to lead. We, too, need the truth, and Our Lord is the truth in Person. Society today focuses a lot on opinion, but often does not go very deep. Today many people do not want to speak out at all for fear of being labeled as judgmental, but also, at times, out of a mistaken idea that two apparently irreconcilable beliefs can be true: everyone has their “truth,” and nobody should question it. This attitude loses sight of the fact that there is a truth to everything, and we are all seeking to understand it and embrace it in our lives. The Gospel brought to us by Our Lord brings that truth to us. It helps us cut through opinions that may veil untruths. The Gospel today has been preached for millennia, but it is the truth that sets us free. Let’s listen to Our Lord with renewed attention today through His Word, confident that it is the truth; and not be shy about helping others learn the truth as well.

What is Truth? In John’s Gospel, Our Lord told Pontius Pilate that all who were on the side of truth would hear His voice (see John 18:37–38). Pilate responded, “What is truth?” His actions would later show he really had no idea what the truth was: he had an innocent man scourged and then crucified. Our Lord has come to bring us the truth, and, as He teaches us, the truth will make us free (see John 8:32).

Let’s tell no little white lies this week. While everyone agrees that lying is wrong, not everyone holds little white lies up to the same standard. It seems the easy way out when the possibility of hurting someone’s feelings or getting in trouble confronts us. Had Our Lord lied to the Sanhedrin, He would have saved himself a lot of suffering, but He also would have denied the truth.

Do not leave yourself any wriggle room this week. Tell the truth. The truth will set you free.

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