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The WORD. The TRUTH.

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Homily for Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter, 25 May 2022, Jn 16:12-15

When you eat too fast or too much and don’t take time to chew your food and relish it, the tendency is to get an indigestion. If there is such a thing as physical indigestion, there is also such a thing as mental indigestion. Like your physical digestive system, the mind can only take so much.

I think Paul was aware of this when he spoke with the citizens of Athens. Actually, he was clever enough to draw their full attention when he started his speech by drawing attention to a curious altar which he observed in most Greek sanctuaries. It was the altar dedicated TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. He used this as a point of departure for his reflection about the God worshipped by the Jews, hoping that he could lead them to the story of Jesus.

He was able to keep them interested in his reflection by telling them about this “Unknown God”, and that He was the One True God. His point: the other gods were made by you, while the real God was the one who made you and everything else in this world. The other gods are served by priests who tell you to offer him food because he gets hungry, or else he gets angry. The real God does not ask to be served or fed; He is the one who serves you, feeds you, gives you life.

But when he started to speak about this God as the One who raised Jesus from the dead, they started to walk out on him. And how nice of Paul to stop and not force it on them. He just focused on two people who remained interested.

This is also what Jesus is explaining to his disciples in the Gospel about the Holy Spirit’s role. Jesus says he has much more to tell them but he wouldn’t give it all at one moment because he knew they could only take so much. He respected the fact that learning is really like that. It is like feeding. People can only chew little bits and pieces of truth at a time. That is why instead of giving them more information, he has decided to give them the one who will help them process information—namely, the Spirit of Truth.

This is a very relevant thought in this day and age when people are bombarded with an overload of information. Sometimes it is no use offering people more information when actually what they need is the capacity to sort out or to discern between truth and falsehood, between fact and disinformation.

The Lord is telling us that this process requires a lot of patience and care. Like Paul, the Spirit will teach you when to stop, when not to force it, when to just focus on a few. I suspect that like Paul, St. John was borrowing from the wisdom of Greek Philosophy. For the ancient Greeks, TRUTH is “ALETHEIA”, which means uncovering.

But it does not get revealed to us instantly as if it was a matter of undressing a hidden truth and exposing it. Rather, the truth often reveals itself in stages, bit by bit, through patient dialogue. St. Paul calls it a process that may start with “seeing dimly as in a mirror” that eventually leads to “seeing face to face”. He says in this quest for truth, we’re like babies at the start. And the Holy Spirit is like our mentor who will gradually guide us to maturity by gradually perfecting us in faith, hope and love.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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