Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Lectionary: 293


“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.

To know the truth one must love the truth. No amount of schooling or scholarship can replace love of the truth. It begins with the realization that I cannot own or contain the truth. Although I turn with my sincere curiosity to the world around me, asking profound and beautiful questions, there is an impenetrable darkness within me. So when I ask questions and seek knowledge, my motives are always suspect.

The world may respond to my questioning, “Who are you? What right do you have to ask? Why are you asking? Why should we answer you?” It might even reply with Colonel Jessup’s taunt, “You can’t handle the truth!” (from the movie, A Few Good Men)

Jesus has warned us about the truth, “You cannot bear it now.” It will expose more than you want to know about your prejudices and privileges.

It might also reveal God’s love as more brilliant and beautiful than you can bear. You might flee from him with the same impulse that forced Peter to his knees when he said, “Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man.”

The Holy Spirit “will guide you to all truth.” Jesus assures us. Very likely, as we take those steps, we will have to ask, “Precious Lord, take my hand.”  

We live in a dazzling age of data explosion and information technology. We have scanners of every sort amassing data from the sea bed to outer space. Remote sensors measure snow pack and wind velocity on mountain tops and the temperature of mud in river bottoms. We are collecting medical information about millions – soon to be billions – of human beings. With powerful computers and sophisticated algorithms we can predict systemic reactions with astonishing accuracy. What’s the weather next Tuesday? How will this medicine perform in this patient? When will Flight #123 arrive? We might not know the future but we can predict with great confidence. And if they ever figure out how to quantum compute today’s advances will look like Stone Age!

But -- will all this knowledge drive us to reconcile with climate change? Will it persuade us to share the earth and it resources with billions of persons just as worthy as ourselves?

All that amassing of facts knows little of Truth; it only leaves us more vulnerable to catastrophe. It is no more reassuring than the Tower of Babel. We are still clueless in the face of mysteries like Justice, Mercy and Communion. The heart of darkness still hides its deceptions in plain sight where we cannot see them. I might ask, “How can we use all these algorithms for the promotion of peace?” but my real agenda is, “How can I guarantee my present and future security?”

From the secure “chair” of his agony, Jesus teaches us the value of human knowledge. Because he is nailed securely to a cross he cannot ascend to the heavens or rest on the earth, and yet he governs both. His wisdom, as Saint Paul said, is foolishness to the wise; his holiness is scandalous to the pious.

If we can "handle the truth" of our utter helplessness under mountains of data, we might hope to bring justice to earth.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.