Saturday, April 2, 2011


For those who believe in coincidences, perhaps that's what is happening to me right now:  as I am asked to prepare the Ecumenism and Inter-Faith sections of the Archdiocesan report to the Holy See (as part of Archbishop Rodi's upcoming ad limina visit), we have just enjoyed a tremendously well-received presentation by Fr Dennis McManus for our Christian-Jewish Dialogue, and Pope Benedict has just announced more concretely his plan to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's inter-faith initiative at Assisi with an encounter of his own, striving to be a pilgrim of truth and a pilgrim of peace.

This desire is in great contrast to much of the world's news--it is filled (so it seems) with accounts of others who long for self instead of (sometimes in spite of) truth, and violence instead of peace.

From a Christian perspective, what is truth (no, I am not lampooning Pilate's famous question)?  It is that which sets us free (John 8:32)--specifically, free from sin (v. 34-36).  "Sin," for my purposes here, is that which places a person in a context of fundamental alienation:  from God, others, and self.  Truth, then, releases me from this alienation and allows me to live in right relationship with God and others, secure in the self-knowledge that I am first and foremost a child of God, that I am a brother or sister to others, that I am redeemed because I am loved.

How could a person in such a state of healing not also be a person of peace?  It depends on what I mean be "peace."  Peace, then, also needs to be described, and the best word to turn to for this is the Hebrew word shalom, embracing within its meaning the ideas of safety/security, well-being, sufficiency...  Persons of peace are content with what/whom/where they are; they are also willing to allow others to be what/whom/where they are (always predicated on the notion that this state of peace will be mutual).

How can I live in peace with others if there is a different vision of truth in them?  It's not too hard, if we would only be willing all to agree that the goal of truth is love:  of God's love for us, and of our love of God (and one another) in return...  Truth becomes the mode of coming to understand the reality, the centrality, of love. 

Is it any wonder that the Johannine writings in the New Testment are filled with the interplay of truth, peace and love?  In them we learn:
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life... (Jn 14:6)
I will give you another Advocate, to be with you always, the Spirit of truth... (Jn 14:16)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you (Jn 14:27; see also Jn 20:19-21, 26)
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us... (I Jn 4:10)

If we cannot journey to Assisi the end of October, we can at least be pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace; pilgrims of love in our own places.    Below, to celebrate this desire, a performance of Thomas Tallis' "If Ye Love Me" by the Tallis Scholars.  Enjoy--and let's walk together.

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing to me, after absorbing the authenticity of the blog, that contrary reactions still surface. This is a personal reaction brought on at times by recognition that broad family relationships are stuck in a cloud of unknowing. For instance, the only sibling I have and love voiced his riddle of confusion: "I want to know exactly where heaven and hell are located." Reply: Heaven is the place where one is with God forever if His path has been accepted and followed. Hell is the absence of God forever, if He has been ignored in one's beliefs and lifestyle. He said: " I KNOW ALL THAT, but where is heaven and where is hell." This query remained his drumbeat during his stay. He and his wife remain locked in negativism more understandably due to the priesthood scandals, overlooking the 'unnoticed' good priests and religious.
    Perhaps the fact he was able to voice his most passionate questions was a step closer to getting the truth and a more clear self-analysis.
    An author or two were brought to his attention briefly. Not high on the reading list of family members is the bible, nor spiritually oriented books or literature.
    The secular trap is easy. Religious programming is not sought. The efforts of a parish priest often becomes diluted with unavoidable demands. The responsiveness of the people of the parish is directly affected by the priest's leadership and caring.
    The blog, Truth and Peace, or similar messages from a Roman Catholic source can disperse a cloud of unknowing.
    God bless our Pope Benedict XVI. He leads our priests and religious. So few of us recognize his greatness.