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Paul wrote a letter to his faithful assistant, Titus, asking him to go to the island of Crete. Now, the locals on the island are known for their lies and deception. They lie so they can take advantage of the people, especially the merchants who come to their beautiful island to visit. Paul wanted Titus to go there to prevent lies from getting into the Church. So he gave Titus instructions as to how to avoid the lies. He instructs him: “If you do not believe them, they will not hurt you. Instead, bask in the truth.” Here is the problem. Truth is typically uncomfortable. I don’t want to look in the mirror and see my receding hairline. I do not want to look at the scale after I ate a big meal. I do not want to see the speedometer when I am in a hurry.
Once I was in Pennsylvania fly fishing and I caught a really big trout. The guide that was with me said that it was a beautiful fish and it had to be at least 24.” The reason why he said that was to make me feel good. But I knew that the fish was not two feet long. It was closer to 18 inches. Why not? Why can’t I bask in the lie and enjoy the moment? The guide even gave me permission. The reason why I do not want to believe the lie is because if I ever do catch a 24’ trout, I want it to be special. I do not want a lie to cheapen the catch. Let’s admit it. Lies make our lives easier, more comfortable. Yet, here is the problem–we will never advance, we will never progress, we will never get to the next level.
It was U-Haul weekend in the city. All the students were moving in to begin school. I was walking outside and passed one of the many U-Hauls. I saw a sofa on the sidewalk with a young student sitting on it, waiting for his father to help him carry it into the apartment. He was hunched over with his head buried in his hands. If I could read his mind, I would be sure he was thinking “What did I get myself into…Why would I ever want to do this?” If he had asked for my advice at that moment, I would have told him this: “I know you must be feeling homesick. You miss your friends, and you would like to be in your favorite pizza joint right now. But here you are in a big city, where everything is different and you do not know anyone, and you have no old friends to console you. On top of this, you will be undertaking a huge challenge. You will have some of the best teachers in your field of study, and they will make big demands of you. You will work hard, have long hours, and feel intense pressure. They will hold you to expectations at levels you never knew before. And you will be tested. You will need to achieve excellence as you never have done before. You may be having doubts about all of this right now but I am telling you that you need to do this. Yes, the reason why you are here is because you have a mission in life and you are going to get the skills to fulfill that mission. People will be blessed because you will acquire skills and knowledge that will help you make a difference in the world. Your family will be blessed because you will be a person who will be helping others with your gifts that will grow from this experience. Your children will be blessed. The world will be a better place because you decided to leave your comfort zone and make a sacrifice that will benefit others. It is okay to feel uncomfortable because that is how you advance.” I tell myself this every time I work out.
Today is the Baptism of the Lord. Paul tells us that we were baptized in the truth. That means we will be able to do great things we never were able to do before. But these skills are not a given. We have to learn them and earn them the hard way by basking in the truth.Back to All Homilies