Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
Like Pontius Pilate, we all want to know “what is truth?” (John 18:38). This dogged, relentless conundrum is placed before our consciences, if not always consciously, perhaps subconsciously, prior to every decision we make; its affects diffuse our every intention. Truth, whether misguided, perverted, corrupted, wounded, or authentic, is our prism for perception of the world, its color uniquely varied from person to person based in part by many causal chains of experience over time, and in part by the preset disposition of the soul we were given. In short, how one interprets truth will affect how he treats others, himself and the world writ large. Consequently, finding Truth is the crux and the entirety of living- since from it springs forth everything action, hope, and dream in the heart of mankind, when it is properly and benevolently defined, it can bring great benefits to the world, specifically to interpersonal relationships amongst men. Fortunately for us Catholics, Jesus provides plenary clarity for us in this matter by succinctly stating” I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Later, the Apostle Paul corroborates this by announcing “Christ, who is our life…” (Colossians 3:4). And not content to leave us befuddled or armed with one too many hermeneutical arrows in the quivers of our minds, Saint John pares down all interpretive or conjectural possibility as to the nature of this Jesus in three small words: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). So our Truth, then, is Love. So what am I reaching for here, CLYA? I am here, anecdotally, to affirm Jesus’ injunction in Matthew 28:19-20 enjoining us all to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This was our charge last month, catalyzed by a brother’s call for volunteers to witness at the Baltimore National Harbor, and a group of us responded willingly and courageously to share Love-as-Truth with the denizens of Baltimore as a means to the aspired end result of spawning conversions and encouraging baptism (oh if only the waters weren’t so deep…just kidding!). Primarily our method was to offer and solicit prayer from anyone willing to participate, but all of us were led by the Spirit’s preference moment by moment. Divided in 3 groups of two, for 2 hours we walked the harbor grounds as our 70 predecessors did the ancient Roman Empire and we proselytized, we prayed, we waited…..we absorbed jeers, consternation, and lo, even a smattering of affirmation and praise from some. One success story was an opportunity afforded to pray with a girl who was delighted by spontaneous dancing from a CLYA member, another was hearing heartfelt appreciation from a Protestant, something along the lines of “I appreciate that we are all spreading Jesus’ message whether Catholic or Protestant,” to the willingness of one man to pray with us (allowing us to lay hands on him) for God to bless his family and to augment his heart so he could more readily grow in love of the Lord so as to do His Will. The most indelible moment however came as our ministry drew to a close….we crossed paths with an irascible, vociferous, ornery group of men with the mystifying appellation “Black Hebrew Israelites.” I’ll let gotquestions.org do most of the talking here: [The terms “Black Hebrews” and “Black Israelites” refer as a categorical whole to several independent sub-sects whose unifying characteristic is that their members are of black African descent who claim Hebrew / Israelite ancestry. Apart from this unifying characteristic, however, these sub-sects are very distinct from one another. For example, members of the Original African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem (or the African Israelites, for short) believe that, after the Roman expulsion of the Jews from the land of Israel, many Jews migrated to West Africa. From there, their descendants were transported by slave ship to the United States, where the group began in the 1960s. According to this view, the biblical Hebrews of the Old Testament times had multiracial descendants. Members of the Nation of Yahweh, on the other hand, believe that all of the Old Testament prophets, Jesus Christ, and God Himself are all black. They believe that all whites, but especially Jews, are infidels, whom they call “white devils.” Only blacks are “true Jews.” This group is considered a black supremacist group by many and has a history of violence and terror.] As you can imagine, our loving and peaceful attempt to introduce Truth and Love didn’t harmonize so well with a group bent on telling all non-African Americans that they were inexorably and irrevocably cursed…unless they submitted to the Black Hebrew driven theological model of the Christian faith. After about 30 minutes of trying to refute claims of Jesus dying exclusively for descendants of Israelites, who could only (duh!) be from Africa (huh?), and against claims of Popes who “molest children in birthday cakes,” (can you say non sequitur?) we decided to agree to disagree and head home for the evening. One of our members, in an act of pure human solidarity despite the glaring ideological differences, offered to shake hands with a Black Hebrew…who refused based on opposite skin color. It truly was disheartening to see such darkness and cynical malice from someone claiming to be a descendant of Abraham…the father of all nations. Their segregationist sophistry also stands diametrically opposed to John when he witnesses in the Revelation: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9). Anyhow it was at that moment we all stood arm locked in arm with Plato when he claimed: “Courage is a kind of salvation.” We had courage to stand toe to toe with a paradigm that was about as abhorrent as they come, and we courageously tolerated with patience…we courageously loved. Yet, with Jesus as our intercessor we pray for these enemies of Catholicism, that they may one day see the Love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord (Matthew 5:44). I know I’m getting a little loquacious here so I leave you with this thought – our truth, our Catholic Truth is that Jesus loved us so much he gave us a Church in which He will guide us back into His arms one day as our Bridegroom. Revelation 21:2-3 says “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” The whole aim of our life should be to love God with all of our hearts, to allow ourselves to be romanced by Him so that we will have peace. Augustine said our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God. Isn’t that what evangelism is all about? Isn’t Jesus the Truth that everyone is missing? Wont you come join us the next time we have an event…so that we can plant a new Truth in the minds of our brothers and sisters who have been lied to by Satan and the World and their Flesh? Our love for them will prove everything they previously thought to be true, by comparison to Christ and His Freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17) to be a lie….And as a corollary, we hope, like Peter they will leave their fishing nets behind and follow Jesus, just like we did – if we obey Jesus’ call and give them that chance. (Matthew 4:22)