Truth, the Whole Truth
Tuesday: Twelfth Week of the Year: June 21, 2016
Year II: 2Kings: 19: 9-36; Psalm 48:2-11; Matthew 7: 6-14
The Responsorial Psalm invites us to look with awe and wonder at what God has done and is doing for us and to praise him for his love: “God upholds his city forever” (Psalm 48).
The Israelites of Samaria were defeated and enslaved by the Assyrians. Then 2Kings 19: 9-36 tells us King Sennacherib invaded Judea and “captured all the fortified cities of Judah” up to Jerusalem. Then the Lord promised King Hezekiah of Judea through Isaiah the prophet: “The surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward; for from Jerusalem a remnant shall go out, and from Mount Zion a band of survivors…. The king of Assyria shall not come into this city…. That very night the angel of the LORD set out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians….Then King Sennacherib of Assyria left [and] went home,” confirming the people’s faith: “God upholds his city forever.”
Faith is most recognizable as faith, however, when there is little evidence to support it. To know we believe in God as the God he really is, we not only have to stop depending on “signs and wonders” (John 4:48; Acts 2:22, 43), but we also have to go beyond what appears or appeals naturally to us as humans.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).
In Matthew 7: 6-14 Jesus calls us off the “beaten path” of our cultural assumptions about what is the right and acceptable way to think and act. He calls us to leave the main road and take the “unbeaten path,” the steep, narrow path up the mountain. . It is a path “for those with a journey to make…” (Isaiah 35:8). It is a divine path, that leads to life on the level of God. Jesus says it is “a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
One reason so few find it is that there are so many “cultural Christians” who water down the Gospel to make Christianity compatible with the “American way of life” (or Hispanic or Vietnamese way; or any other culture’s way). They do this because they want to “fit in.” They know that to live or affirm Christ’s values to people who are caught up in the culture is to invite mockery and hostility. That is why Jesus warns us that in ministering to others we must be careful where we “throw our pearls.” But we must be equally careful not to lose them. Discretion can become self-deception: what we don’t reveal to others can become invisible to ourselves. If we don’t follow the divine path, we lose it and obscure it for others.
The ministry of Jesus was to reveal the divine truth—the “thoughts” and “ways” of God—by his words and actions: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). This is our ministry too.
The essence of ministry is self-expression. We must give physical, human expression to the invisible, divine faith, hope and love in our hearts — not with naiveté, but with courage; expecting opposition, but trusting in God’s support: “God upholds his city forever.”