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You Can't Handle the Truth

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!

A Reflection from Father Tudgay

Recently, I carved out a few minutes to chill out after a long day and, uncharacteristically, decided to watch a movie while eating some leftovers for dinner. On the “suggestions” page (the free ones!) a cult favorite from 1989 showed up as a suggestion… “A Few Good Men”. For those of us who’ve seen it time after time, that famous scene between Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise, where Nicholson rips into Cruise’s character with the famous “Truth? You Can’t Handle the Truth” line. As I ate my leftovers and pondered this weekend’s readings, I began to ponder how the “real” truth often sits with us.

Our First Reading draws into Jeremiah’s condemnation by the authorities for speaking the truth, that is, to draw attention to the infidelity to the Covenant and to challenge God’s Chosen People to remain faithful to the sacredness that was theirs. Understandably, when we’re doing something wrong, we don’t often appreciate being called out on it. It stings. It's embarrassing. It can be humiliating. Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that, despite the sting that comes from being called to task, it is really for the best. The truth is sometimes hard to handle.

In our Gospel, Jesus uses the most intimate bonds of human existence to illustrate the point that he trying to make. “Setting the world on fire” and the language of division within family certainly doesn’t sound very Christian, does it? So, what’s the point then? Jesus doesn’t often use the word “fire” much in the Gospels, so when he does, it's important for us to pay attention to the point that he is making. And that point? That God’s love is meant to permeate each and every dimension of our lives, even the most intimate. This fact is the basic truth of discipleship.

Living in the light of God’s truth gives us the freedom to identify and call out the injustices against human life that are in our midst, which doesn’t always help us win popularity contests! But as unpalatable as the ‘truth’ may sometimes be, our responsibility to one another and to the Church is to raise the awareness of God’s presence in our midst and to keep our eyes focused on the Christian way of life which, ultimately, brings us joy and peace.


O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love, so that, loving you in all things and above all things, we may attain your promises, which surpass every human desire.

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