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I teach John’s Gospel every year to students who are preparing to be ordained permanent deacons. One year when I taught the class there were two lawyers sitting together in the back of the class. So I asked them, “Why do you think Jesus promised to send the disciples one of you guys, an advocate, a lawyer?” “Because God loves them,” they replied. They were being wise-guys so I said, “So let me get this straight. I hire you and spend a fortune because God loves me?” Why would I do that? I can go home and feel love for free. No, the reason I hire you and pay a big money is so that you will go to a court of law and show the world the truth. So here is my question. Why does Jesus want us to have the truth?
When I was in Rome studying for the priesthood, my parents came to visit me. We wanted to see the Alps so we got Euro-passes. While we were on the train my mother handed me a brochure of the hotel where we were going to stay. It had three pictures. First, it had a picture inside of the hotel looking out of a window with a lake in front of snow-capped mountains in the background. There was another picture of a row of windsurfers along the shoreline. At the time, dad and I used to windsurf. Then there was another picture of a swimming pool with a big slide. I said to mom, “You found a really nice hotel.”
When we arrived in our hotel room, I pulled the curtain open to see the dazzling view and I saw was a dumpster in a parking lot. Then dad and I put on our bathing suits and went to the back of the hotel to the lake. We didn’t see a row of windsurfers lined up at the shore so we figured they were still in storage. We went to the front desk and the man there said, “We are very sorry, we discontinued that service a year ago. We no longer have windsurfers.” I said to dad, “Maybe we can go to the pool instead.” So we followed the signs for the pool and we saw a big hole in the ground with a bulldozer in the middle of it. When I read the sign, “Pardon our Appearance,” I realized that there are two things in life: there is the brochure, and there is the truth. If you live life by the brochure, you will always be disappointment. If you live life in the truth you will have opportunity. Dad and I went back to the hotel room, got my mother, and went up the gondola to the top of a mountain. It was an incredible view. We stayed up there and talked. I remember sitting on a rock with my mother and dad took a picture of us overlooking the beautiful view of those snow-capped mountains. I no longer have my mother, but I have the memory. That moment would not have happened if there were windsurfers. Living in the truth is better. That is where you will find opportunity.
Before I entered the seminary, the Oblates sent me a brochure. In it were three pictures. There was a picture of a priest saying Mass in a packed church. There was another picture of the Holy Father laying hands on a priest at his ordination. There was another picture of happy students in a philosophy class. And that, I can tell you that never happens. The first thing I did when I entered the seminary was I threw out the brochure. I then said to our Lord, “This is going to be a long road. The harder it is and the more work I have to do to survive, the better the priest I will become.”
Before Jesus died, he met with his disciples. He did not give them a brochure. He promised them the Spirit of Truth. Because in the truth, they will always have opportunity.Back to All Homilies