Saturday, November 24, 2012

2012 November 25: Christ the King - What is 'truth'?

Why did Jesus come into the world?  Take a guess  - we all know this its pretty obvious but can any of us answer that question off the cuff?  Why did he come?  To set the captives free?  To give sight to the blind?  To save us from our sins?  All of that is true but what did JESUS say was the reason he came?  We just heard it in the Gospel two minutes ago.  For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.
Its not the answer we might have expected.  I would imagine most of us would have asked the same question Pilate did, Truth?! What is truth?
Wouldnt you love to hear Jesus answer that question?  Its always bugged me that he went silent at that moment.  Here he is on center stage in front of the authorities this is his chance to get his word out to the world and EXPLAIN what his life's mission is about but after that statement, he fell silent leaving Pilate AND US to guess at his meaning.
Does it really matter?  Do we really care that Jesus testifies to the truth?  Does it change anything in OUR lives that Jesus said I am the way and the truth and the life?
It does matter, Because truth is the basis of morality.  We can only decide what is right and wrong based on truth.  C.S. Lewis said, If no set of moral ideas were truer, or better than any other, there would be no sense in preferring civilized morality to savage morality.  In other words, who is to say that our Christian moral code is any better than that of the head-hunters of the South Pacific.  You can only say that one is better than the other if you have a moral standard to compare it to.
Let me give you an example lets say you go down here to the gas station and fill up your tank with gas.  You notice that if you fill up at this gas station it only takes like 10 gallons to fill up your tank.  But if you fill up while in Evansville, it takes almost 12 gallons.  Now dont get excited this is just a made-up example.  The question is how DO we know when we buy a gallon of gas that it is in-fact exactly a gallon?  This used to be a real problem but now every county has an inspector who goes around to every gas station and certifies each pump in effect, guaranteeing to you and me that a gallon is a gallon.  But how does that inspector know its a gallon?   Well he has to rely on his own instruments which are themselves calibrated and certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in fact they have a department devoted to maintaining standards for Weights and measures.
Obviously, if we DIDNT have such a department maintaining standards, we would have chaos.  Imagine back in the old days, if you went to the store to buy some rope youd buy like three arms length.  Easy to see how THAT would be chaos since everybodys arms are different.  Thats when some king got the idea to set the standard that a foot would be the length from his elbow to his wrist (from here to here) then a yard was 3 feet.  Measuring sticks were provided to all merchants so that Now you could go to the store and get three yards of rope. And pretty much know what you were getting.  If somebody wanted to prove their stick was the perfect length, they would have to take it and measure against that standard...which was the kings arm.  The king stretched out his arm to set the standard...remember that.
I use those examples just to highlight the fact that there ARE absolute measurements out there.  If you want to the absolutely, positively sure that youre measuring correctly, you take your measurement device to the authorities who have the True measurement.
So does that apply to morality as well?  Is there an absolute authority I can check myself against to determine right from wrong?  This has been a problem ever since Adam and Eve... They wanted to be like Gods to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong but our church year ends with this feast which declares that CHRIST is the King HE is the one who sets the standard for what is right and wrong. Not us.  In order to live in His kingdom, we have to follow His rules.  While that may sound harsh or unfair it really is a comfort to us.
Because we live in a kingdom that follows the law Thou shall not kill, we can live in reasonable peace of mind knowing that WE wont be the ones being killed.  Of course, that changes if we go into a different culture one which doesnt follow the law of truth and love in the kingdom of God.
Some things in this life ARE absolute truths.  Jesus sets the standard because HE IS the truth.
most people including probably everybody in here think that truth is NOT absolute that it is relative.  Its called relativism and I want you to hear and remember that word and what it means, because the Pope has called it possibly the greatest threat to Christianity....even to society.
Relativism says there  IS no absolute truth there is no right or wrong in any situation that the truth varies depending on the situation or the person.  Youll hear people say things like, well, to me, the truth is this…”  or My belief is that....  Relativism judges no one and prefers no one.  Relativism can justify any action, no matter how evil.
Granted there ARE situations that are grey area.  For example, should I study to become a doctor or a professor.  I cant say there is an absolute right/wrong answer for this.  However, I submit to you and any MORAL issue before us can and MUST be weighed against our perfect moral standard and that is the standard set by Jesus.
We live in a kingdom that believes "thou shall not steal"... But if we allowed relativism to make the rules, then we might say....well, if my kids are hungry... Or as long as I don't know the person I'm stealing from... No harm no foul.  Reminds me of a line from a recent reality show, "ain't doin' nothin' illegal unless you git caught".  Really?!  This guy's standard of right and wrong is relative...relative to what he gets caught doing.
Also reminds me of the story Fr. Tom used to tell about the lady working the bingo at his old parish and they caught her stealing money.... They even caught her on videotape.  When they asked if she had taken anything, she still denied it...and when they showed her the tape, her defense was...well it wasn't that much!  Her morality was relative... In her moral code it was ok to steal as long as it wasn't "much". 
If we allow relativism to set our moral standards, then we can all do whatever we want and eventually, we will fall into anarchy and chaos.  Thank God we have our own King, Christ who overthrew the dictator of lies years ago.  Just like the first yard sticks, if we want to know if were measuring our moral character correctly, we have to take it to the king... Christ the King....he not only Set the standard, He IS the standard of truth. Just like the first yard stick, OUR king stretched out his arms to set the standard for us.  The standard of Love is from here to here (arms outstretched).

1 comment:

  1. Mike,

    Really enjoyed the Homily today. You do a great job of relating the scriptures to current life situations. You tell a story and make the needed points in a way that everyone can understand and use in their daily life. Keep up the good work!!

    Kevin Schepers