What Is Truth? – Rev. Tony Romaine – 11-21-2021
One of my all time favorite movies is Rudy, the story about a walk-on football player at Notre Dame and his journey to beat all the odds. In the struggle within his journey Rudy meets and befriends a priest named Father Cavanaugh, and as Rudy is working and attempting to do everything he can to get into Notre Dame University, there is this wonderful conversation when it seems like Rudy has reached the end of all his options where he asks Father Cavanaugh, “If I've done everything I possibly can, can you help me?” To which Father Cavanaugh answers, “Son, in thirty-five years of religious study, I've come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts; there is a God, and, I'm not Him.”
I thought of this scene as we approach our topic today of Christ’s reign and in what we should be giving thanks, because of the answer that Father Cavanaugh gives about there being two facts or truths. And how when it seems like we have nothing we can do or there is no where to turn, we must place our trust itself in the Truth of God.
So, just as Pilate posed the question to Jesus, we approach it today, What Is Truth? How appropriate a question for us to ask ourselves today. Especially as we face the multiple misinformation efforts and mis-truth efforts of our world. Well, to begin, one truth is that Jesus is indeed, as we hear from the Gospel reading for todays, not from this world. This truth means that what Jesus offers us is something more prophetic, more strange, more unknown to the world of the ancient Israelites and our modern society, because what Jesus offers as the truth about His Kingdom, about the reign of eternality He is about to enact, is that it is gained not through the violence of war, it is gained not through any act of humanity alone; rather, it occurs and comes to be, through the peace that is Christ himself.
Perhaps this is why Jesus never truly answers Pilate question about being called the King of the Jews. In that, Jesus was not just coming to be King of the Jews, but the eternal Prince of Peace for everyone and all God’s children. And because Jesus’ reign is not from our world, it is going to look like something we are not familiar with, it will be perhaps even unrecognizable to us until it actually comes to be.
But let us not move on too early without keying in on another truth, that Jesus’ reign is one that comes through peaceful actions. We are about to enter into the well-known season of Advent where we will hear all the Scripture and sing all the songs we have come to love and appreciate this time of year. We are about to once again hear how an infant is what changes our world forever. And yet, here we are on the cusp of this most celebratory season, and we once again need to hear the Truth.
The Truth that the peace-filled, loving, care for one another, look to the margins, socially upheaving, political replacing, world over-turning Truth was, is, and always will be, the love God has for us through Christ and the love we are supposed to show one another. A Truth which begs the deeper question of when are we as a human race finally going to realize this Truth?
As a historian it is a question, I keep coming back to myself and I’m sure you hear me mention many Sundays out of the year. Our God could do anything, and I mean anything at all. Our God could and has in the past, destroyed our world and made a new people. The only thing in fact from preventing this from happening again is that God made a covenant with Noah millennia ago. And in place of doing this over and over again, God sent instead a Truth, the Truth, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God to live, teach, demonstrate, and die for all of us so that we could know the Truth which is God’s love.
And in our world which cannot seem to distinguish truth from fiction, fact from opinion, this Truth about God’s love is so important for us to hear, that I consider it my job as pastor to reiterate this until my voice is no more. Because here is the real issue people, we are going to come to a time in our modern world someday, it may be sooner or it may be later, when we are going to have to face our worst demons once more. We are going to come to a day when the Truth of God’s love is put on trial once more and we are faced with the choice between demonstrating the love God has for us to our neighbors or choosing the greed and power of being comfortable, wealthy, or “right” in our own minds.
The day is coming when we are ultimately on trial once more and given the chance to answer the question of “What is Truth?” with a resounding, triumphant love like that which Christ shared with us. And when that moment comes, do we shirk away into silence and allow our Savior to be crucified again? When that moment comes when the fear-filled voices of those who are afraid of losing their power, privilege, or place in society are willing to kill our brothers and sisters to remain in power, are willing to allow the stranger that Jesus calls us to feed to die in hunger, are willing to allow the migrant whom Jesus calls us to welcome to die on the border, are willing to demonize and de-humanize blacks, browns, Asians, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, trans-folk, just for trying to live as God created them, are willing to de-moralize fellow Christians and call them hate-filled names because they are of a different political belief…when that moment comes and the world is struggling for the Truth of God’s love, what are we going to do?
Are we going to shrug our shoulders and say, “Who really knows what the truth is?” Are we going to turn a blind eye and let the world keep spinning out of control? Are we going to remain in our place of privilege and comfort and complacency? Or will we respond and answer the worst parts and practices and sins of our humanity with the one Truth we all know…
And while we may not know much about anything in our crazy world, love we know. Ironically, in a Hollywood-style epic turnabout, in this manner, we actually do know what Truth is. We know it is the smile on a face of a child who was lifted up in love instead of turned away by hate. We know it in the story shared around a warm meal by someone who the night before was freezing in the alley. We know it in the thanks we receive from the person behind us at the grocery store when we paid for their groceries whether they needed it or not. We know it in the embrace of a friend or family member. We know it in the joys and celebrations of new birth, and we know it in the somber silence of death.
See people, we know love when we see it because deep down inside of each of us, we have once been loved so much that we were created. We know it as Truth because deep down inside each of us, we have been loved so much that Christ died for us. We know the Truth because God has loved it into us and longs for us to burst it forth into our world. And the Holy Spirit is just burning inside of us try to get out and love our world!
So, indeed, “What Is Truth?” is one of those questions that Jesus does not really answer, similarly like when Pilate was asking whether He was King of the Jews, because it doesn’t require a literal answer for Jesus. Why, because Jesus lived the Truth, Jesus’ entire mission was to save us so we would know the Truth, Jesus’ reason for being was that if we had the chance to see it, experience it, and learn about it, that maybe we too would live as Jesus lived and love as Jesus loved. And this is not opinion or personal belief, hearsay, a Tweet, or a meme, but God’s Word as written in John 14:6, John 16:13, and ultimately John 8:32, where we hear that when we follow the Truth that is God’s love through Christ, we are set free!
But let’s be honest, we already know this, because when asked what is truth, we know that indeed God is, Jesus is, the Holy Spirit is, you are, I am, we all are together, as the love eternal from God our King, Queen, and Forever. We know that this Truth is what we come and give thanks for not just one day out of the year, but everyday in our lives. That we are alive by the love of God, forgiven by the grace of Christ, empowered by the strength of the Holy Spirit, and can hold fast to that Truth that is God’s love for us and the world.
There may indeed only be two things that one may know for certain, like the quote from Rudy I shared at the beginning today. But I will disagree with Father Cavanaugh’s character, because I actually believe there are three things we can know for certain. One is that indeed there is a God, two is most definitely that we are not God, but the third is that we know the Truth, the capital “T,” God’s honest, pure as the day is long, Truth; God is Love, Jesus came to bring about Peace, and the Spirit shows us this Truth always. Thanks be to God, Alleluia, Amen!
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