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Summary: Truth is neither planned, nor willed. It imposes itself on human beings.

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December 14, 2009

St. John of the Cross

Caritas in Veritate

The conversation we overhear today between the chief priests and the elders is very instructive as we continue to reflect on the papal encyclical, Charity in Truth. When Jesus asks them whether John’s teaching was divinely inspired or humanly inspired, they ask themselves not what is true, but what is politically correct. When that discussion reveals the corner they have painted themselves into, they say “I don’t know.” That merely reveals their bad will.

It is a constant human temptation, as old as original sin, for us to forget that “in every cognitive process, truth is not something that we produce, it is always found, or better, received. Truth, like love, “is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings” We cannot speak of inventing the Truth, only of discovering it or opening ourselves to it. Balaam, in today’s reading from Numbers, had been hired to invent prophecies against the people of Israel, but whether by external force or internal conscience, he could not reinvent the Truth. He had to proclaim it as he heard it from Almighty God.

But this is not bad news. Truth is not one thing for me and another for you; that is what tears the human fellowship apart. Rather, in the Holy Father’s words, “Because it is a gift received by everyone, charity in truth is a force that builds community, it brings all people together without imposing barriers or limits. The human community that we build by ourselves can never, purely by its own strength, be a fully fraternal community, nor can it overcome every division and become a truly universal community. The unity of the human race, a fraternal communion transcending every barrier, is called into being by the word of God-who-is-Love.” “The logic of gift does not exclude justice, nor does it merely sit alongside it as a second element added from without; on the other hand, economic, social and political development, if it is to be authentically human, needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness as an expression of fraternity.” We become one human family when we realize and acknowledge the gift of God in Jesus that can make us that family.


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