Grace to you!
There are certain truths we want and hate at the same time. We want the doctor to tell us everything about our diagnosis though we are afraid the truth may break us.
Many times the truth is bitter. Hardly do we like to listen to it especially if it doesn’t favor us.
Shouldn’t the truth be told, even when it hurts? Yes, it must be told with love and gentleness but some truths are challenging to us in any event, no matter how and when they are told.
The Lord Jesus, truth par excellence, always models the way for believers. Did you observe that the way Jesus taught his disciples was a gradual movement from soft, gentle things to more challenging stuff? His teachings and examples weren’t simply about the nicest things to say or lead, but the truthful.
In dealing with the things of God’s Kingdom, Jesus doesn’t promise only pleasant experiences. He points to the alternate reality of opposition and persecution. Hear him speak these words to his disciples and to us: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division…”(Luke 12:49-53).
Surely fire has many symbols in the bible. For example, we hear of the fire of Divine love, God’s burning love for us (see Deuteronomy 4:24; Ex 13:21–22; etc.). The New Testament tells us how this love of God led to the coming of the Son: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). It’s for love of us that Jesus willing gave up his life (John 15:13).
Fire could also mean the Holy Spirit, who descended on the disciples on tongues of fire (Acts 2:3). Saint Josemaría Escrivá spoke too of apostolic fire, the zeal to spread the message of peace amidst sufferings and persecutions (Christ Is Passing By, 120).
The most literal interpretation of the first sentence of this text (which is my interest here), is that Jesus is pointing to the reality of persecutions that come from being a disciple of his, being a believer. What he calls “his baptism” was the crucifixion. You better know at baptism we equally die with Christ to live the life of the redeemed.
Jesus tells it like it is and invites us to accept the truth, the whole truth, not partial truth.
In our Christian life, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we knew the whole truth – the crown and the cross, the joys and the sorrows – so when we accept the Gospel, we know for certain it isn’t all a lullaby experience, but sometimes challenging. Cafeteria discipleship is a joke. It’s deceitful.
Don’t you feel hurt when you have accepted something at face value and realized those responsible didn’t tell you the whole truth? They simply were selling. This can cause one so much pain to realize someone was deceitful. In the same way, we shouldn’t lie or speak half-truths, or simply sugarcoat what we shouldn’t. Unleash the liberating force of the truth.
I pray we dare to accept the Gospel – not some of it, but its entirety with the nudges and sometimes, the thorns following that choice. No division is intended, though the choice for Christ implies opposition against evil. And evil doesn’t let go. It dares us.
Remain blessed in your love for the truth of the Gospel and be courageous.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.