February 25, 2022
Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings instruct us on one of life’s most important realities: truthful relationship – with God, nature, other people, and ourselves.
James reminds us that the prophets spoke the truth at great personal cost.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,James 5:10
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered.
Culture sometimes characterizes a “prophet” as one who can foresee the future, one who has a greater capacity than the normal person. And indeed there are great leaders who fit that understanding. They see things rightly and help us to realign our vision.
But, in an everyday sense, a prophet is simply someone who sees the truth and is unafraid to speak it. A prophet doesn’t pretend, deflect, lie, ignore, hide, distort or abuse Truth. The call to this kind of prophecy is one that we all share.
Such a call requires that we are honest, first and foremost, with God and with ourselves. It asks that we live a discerning and courageous life, reverently telling our truth as best we understand before God:
… let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No,”James 5:12
that you may not incur condemnation.
In our Gospel, we find the Pharisees trying trip up Jesus with their pretend concern for the Law. Instead, what they are really concerned about is that they could lose their hold on power if the people turn to Jesus and his teaching.
Jesus calls them “hard of heart” because they are not open to the Spirit. They hide in a labyrinth of minutiae rather than the clarity of Love and Truth.
Living in the Truth of God’s grace and mercy, we grow in our ability to be prophetic. It means that people know they will get the truth from us — not opinion or advice; not bluntness or unnecessary critique — but a discernment offered in love, reverence, and mutual hope.
Like the biblical prophets, and like Jesus himself, we will meet people who don’t want that kind of truth. They haven’t been able to espouse it in themselves, so they don’t want to hear it from us. We see this played out daily in a sham political world that continually creates its own version of reality to suit its selfish ends.
In such situations, James would offer us this encouragement:
You have heard of the perseverance of Job,
and you have seen the purpose of the Lord,
because the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
And our Alleluia Verse offers us a prayer for such times:
Your word, O Lord, is truth;
consecrate us in the truth.
Poetry: A Legend of Truth – Rudyard Kipling
“A Friend of the Family”
From “Debits and Credits” (1919-1923)
Once on a time, the ancient legends tell,
Truth, rising from the bottom of her well,
Looked on the world, but, hearing how it lied,
Returned to her seclusion horrified.
There she abode, so conscious of her worth,
Not even Pilate’s Question called her forth,
Nor Galileo, kneeling to deny
The Laws that hold our Planet ‘neath the sky.
Meantime, her kindlier sister, whom men call
Fiction, did all her work and more than all,
With so much zeal, devotion, tact, and care,
That no one noticed Truth was otherwhere.
Then came a War when, bombed and gassed and mined,
Truth rose once more, perforce, to meet mankind,
And through the dust and glare and wreck of things,
Beheld a phantom on unbalanced wings,
Reeling and groping, dazed, dishevelled, dumb,
But semaphoring direr deeds to come.
Truth hailed and bade her stand; the quavering shade
Clung to her knees and babbled, “Sister, aid!
I am–I was–thy Deputy, and men
Besought me for my useful tongue or pen
To gloss their gentle deeds, and I complied,
And they, and thy demands, were satisfied.
But this–” she pointed o’er the blistered plain,
Where men as Gods and devils wrought amain–
“This is beyond me! Take thy work again.”
Tablets and pen transferred, she fled afar,
And Truth assumed the record of the War…
She saw, she heard, she read, she tried to tell
Facts beyond precedent and parallel–
Unfit to hint or breathe, much less to write,
But happening every minute, day and night.
She called for proof. It came. The dossiers grew.
She marked them, first, “Return. This can’t be true.”
Then, underneath the cold official word:
“This is not really half of what occurred.”
She faced herself at last, the story runs,
And telegraphed her sister: “Come at once.
Facts out of hand. Unable overtake
Without your aid. Come back for Truth’s own sake!
Co-equal rank and powers if you agree.
They need us both, but you far more than me
Music: Beautiful Truth – Angela Predhomme