News Ticker

Seventh Sunday of the Apostles

The Feast of the Twelve Apostles

Basilica Hymn
Their gospel went out to all the earth
And their words to the ends of the world
They guarded his witness, and the position that he gave them
They went out and preached in every place
The holy apostles taught one perfect confession by the Holy Spirit, and uprooted and banished from the earth the thorns and weeds the evil one had planted in the world. They planted, instead of them, the seed of their teaching. With the light of their words, they quenched and destroyed the darkness of error that had seized the world. They preached the true faith through all the inhabited world, in the adorable Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Nature that is incomprehensible!

To Tell the Truth

A cynic may ask what difference it makes what people believe: why should the belief in one God, for example, have any real impact on someone’s life or happiness? The pagan and the Christian live in the same world, see the same things, even (in many cases) live similar lives. A pagan can be a good husband and father, a model citizen and a fine worker. He can look around himself and see the beauty of the world, appreciate it with depth and love, and even write poetry about it. Even assuming he were believing a lie, how different would his life be if he believed in one God instead of many? Even more so, how different would his life be if he believed not only in the one true God, but also in the Son of God, the Messiah foretold by the prophets?

This points to a larger question: how is truth itself of greater value than falsehood? On the basic human level, this question is ridiculous: of course knowing the truth in itself is a better thing than believing a lie. But we are not dealing with the basic human level here, but something strange and exceptional, something with the hint of the inhuman; we are dealing with the cynic.

To answer the cynic, then, the wise man would do well to scrape the surface of the cynic’s question: why is it asked and how could it be otherwise? That is, what assumption does the cynic have that leads him to question the very value of the truth? Is it really true that the pagan’s happiness, though lived in a lie, is equal to the Christians? Yes, he may perform similar activities, have similar relationships and share in some sort of natural joy, but is there nothing more to the life of a human being?

We must remember that this question is not asked to empty air, but to a human being, to you and me, and when the cynic asks us what value is our knowledge of the truth he is implying something about us, and that this implication is insulting. He is implying that human life is nothing more than eating and drinking, enjoying simple things and then dying. This is a fine life for a cow, but not for man. Man is not just another mass of cells temporarily alive; man is a mind and a will; man is an image of God, and this mind is one thirsty for something more than food and drink.

Weeds

Knowledge of the truth is a nourishment that, from the whole physical world, can only be enjoyed by a human being. To know what is and what is not is only for us, whereas other living things share most of our other joys and pains. That is why the truth is so important: it is what makes us human beings, and why a lie is so harmful: it is what corrupts the greatest thing within our being. That is the difference.

Unfortunately, there are many lies and there can only be one truth. That is why the Lord compares the world to a field containing many plants, some wheat and some weeds (Matthew 13). This description of the commixture of truth and falsehood in this world, of good and evil, gives us an insight into even the practical good of knowing the truth: the difference between truth and falsehood is the difference between wheat and weeds. Wheat is fruitful and self-sustaining, and pleasing to the eye. Weeds, on the other hand, are fruitless, choke other plants, and ugly. The truth also is fruitful – it produces good in the world; it is self-sustaining and does not rely on anything else for its existence and flourishing; it is beautiful. But falsehood is none of these things, and notably the very falsehood of cynicism: it produces no good for anyone; it thrives only in attacking other things; and it is ugly.

The weeds of falsehood and idolatry are the work of God’s enemy the devil, and it is these weeds that attempt to choke the truth of the Gospel entrusted to the apostles. But the ultimate Truth is Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, who cannot be overcome or even comprehended by darkness (John 1). Through all trials and tribulations, against every work of darkness and every weed, the true faith will always prevail:

The holy apostles taught one perfect confession by the Holy Spirit, and uprooted and banished from the earth the thorns and weeds the evil one had planted in the world. They planted, instead of them, the seed of their teaching. With the light of their words, they quenched and destroyed the darkness of error that had seized the world. They preached the true faith through all the inhabited world, in the adorable Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Nature that is incomprehensible!