Truth and Consequences

08-13-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Experience has taught me that if you “buy a lie” the truth will forever kick your butt. Take for example the alcoholic who despite evidence to the contrary decides to buy that lie that she can find a way to manage her drinking. She’ll tell herself that if she just exerts enough will-power she can control her drinking or if other people would just get off her back, she wouldn’t have drunk so much. However, if she accepts the truth that she can never safely drink alcohol, then she has a chance to recover and live a sober and sane life.

Some of us even fight to make the lie true. We’ll blame other people and victimize ourselves. We’ll insist that if other people would only stop saying the lie, the lie would somehow morph into the truth. When others stand their ground and refuse to say the lie is the truth, they are met with anger, resentment, hostility, and ostracism.

Individuals as well as institutions and whole societies can buy the lie. The Twentieth Century is replete with such examples. Today, we see that lies are being rewarded and truth is being punished. A Texas college professor, taught in his class that the science of Biology shows that gender/sex is determined by chromosomes. He was dismissed from his teaching position.

Jesus, tell us, “The Truth will set you free”. Once you accept the truth, such as, that you are a sinner, then the truth will no longer beat you up but it may take time to heal from the beating. And here is the other part that is hard to swallow: you can’t choose your dues. You don’t get to pick the consequences that come from living a lie. Sometimes you get off easy, other times its seems the punishment far exceeds the crime. You can rail against the unfairness of it all, but that wont change ti. You simply have to pay your dues and deal with them.

That’s why paying attention to the decisions that we make is so important. Bad decisions will inevitably bring bad consequences and bad consequences will bring lots of pain and suffering. That is why faith is important. It lights up our path and if we are painstaking about it we can find the truth that then informs our decisions.

In his Encyclical Letter, “Lumen Fidei” Pope Francis wrote:

“The light of faith is unique since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: In a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with a living God who calls us and reveals. His life… Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision of the future that opens before us. We come to see that faith does not dwell in shadow and gloom; it is a light for our darkness. Dante…describes that light as a ‘spark’, which then becomes a burning flame and like a heavenly star within me glimmers.”

In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Jean Valjean accepts the truth of who he is, though he still must pay his dues for his crime, heavy as they are, the truth sets him free. It is through the eyes of the kindly bishop that prisoner 24601 sees himself as a beloved child of God and that moment of clarity forever changes the direction of his life. The light of faith will always light up the darkness.


Fr. John B.