Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In these days between the liturgical celebrations of the Ascension and Pentecost, the Church invites us to join the Apostles in the very first novena—nine days of prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to come upon us and guide us in all that we do. The Gospel we read this weekend gives us an insight into the profound prayer of Jesus. His prayer is that we would be consecrated in truth. To be consecrated means to be set apart, made holy. To be consecrated in truth means to be made holy by the word of God—the Scriptures we read and follow—and made holy by the Word of God (made flesh)—Jesus Christ Himself.
A friend of mine recently shared these words: “Not every Christian doctrine is palatable to everyone. But palatability or taste is not what Jesus was going for. He is the way, the truth, and the life whether you like it or not.” It’s a somewhat cheeky way of reminding us that the truth of the Gospel does not change based on my opinion. Rather, Jesus is who he is and the Gospel is what it is, and sometimes that will challenge us to think, speak, or act differently. The beauty of the truth of the Gospel, the truth of Jesus, ought to transform our outlook on life. Not only that, but when we are struck by the thought that the Gospel is not palatable, we might want to consider expanding our palate, rather than changing the flavor being offered.
Jesus prays that we would be consecrated in truth. It is not uncommon for people to think that some aspect of the truth of the Gospel is not palatable and so they reject it outright. This can lead to the oft-decried “cafeteria Catholicism” wherein people pick and choose the things they think they want. More serious, though, is the reality that this approach to the Catholic faith leaves many things untried, untasted, and unused – thus, the rejection of what is not at first palatable actually becomes a deprivation of the full experience of God’s grace, love, and truth. G.K. Chesterton said it best: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”
Our Lord has prayed for us, that we would be consecrated in truth. He has prayed that we would live the Gospel in its fullness. And not only has he prayed, he sends us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, to keep us in truth, to protect us, to teach us, to help us through even those moments of confusion, crisis, or challenge. In these novena days, let us ask the Holy Spirit to expand our hearts and minds, to help us embrace the truth of the Gospel, that we might faithfully serve and follow the one who has the words of everlasting life, Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.