Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Corpus Christi 2019

Theoretically, Corpus Christi is 60 days after Holy Thursday, that is, if we had celebrated it on Thursday 20th June. Essentially, the feast mirrors Maundy Thursday as both point to the Eucharist. The difference is the liturgy of Holy Thursday has a number of foci—apart from the Institution of the Eucharist, there is the Washing of the Feet which is tied to the Ordained Priesthood. Finally, after the Supper at the Upper Room, the Eleven with Jesus adjourned to the Garden of Gethsemane where He experienced His great agony. It is a day steeped in the sadness of betrayal that led to the Passion of the Christ.

In contrast, Corpus Christi highlights the Eucharist in a manner that allows us to rejoice at so great a gift for the salvation of mankind. It may be a commemoration less than a 1000 years old. Yet, one can even say that the solemnity has a fortuitous beginning in Belgium. It was like a pre-emptive strike against a Europe just before the onset of the Reformation.[1] It was at that time that there arose the first serious challenge to the long-held belief in the real, true and substantial presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

As a result of the Protestant Reformation, for many Christians, the Eucharist is no more than a symbolic remembrance of the meal Jesus had with His disciples. But for those believers in whom there is to be found, a valid succession of the priesthood, Catholics and Orthodox, the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus the Lord.  

Since He is fully human and fully divine, the Eucharist does make it easier for us to have a relationship with the invisible God. Through the Eucharist, God enters our soul in a real and personal way. As it is rightly stated, reception of Holy Communion transforms us into Him whom we have consumed.

This progressive change explains our procession—a feature central to the celebration of Corpus Christi. How symbolic can we be that the whole Body of Christ, meaning the congregation, is carrying the Body of Christ signifying our longing to be transformed into Him. Of course, transformed into Him does not mean that we are Him but that we become very much a copy of Who He is. St. Athanasius (296-373 AD) used to say, “God became man, so that man might become like God.”  Hence, our dear Lord, symbolised by the wine, completely humbled Himself in order that we, symbolised by the water, could be built up to share completely and inseparably in His divine life. This overt display of our faith is not a pretentious parade but a public petition for God to deepen our faith so that our reception of Him becomes more personal and therefore more life-changing. We know we can never measure up to the mark but that should not stop us from imploring His grace.

As we walk along the street, we become more mindful of Who it is that we are in the presence of. We enter into an attentive prayerfulness because we recognise that, under the appearance of bread, He is truly with us, He is really processing through the streets and He is essentially interested in our joys and sorrows. Furthermore, there is a paedagogical purpose in a procession. If you recall Christ on the way to Calvary, then the procession also has a bodily and an organic function of teaching us that the Cross is a definitive feature of discipleship. We will have to carry our cross, just like Jesus did, if we want to follow Him.

The trouble is we all inhabit a world of private spirituality. In this closeted world, we undoubtedly feel more comfortable with discreet practices. Just like when we make the sign of the Cross before saying grace. We trace it over an area as small as possible. With good reasons too. Furthermore, the usual question as to why we need to go to church since we can pray at home arises out of this fear that we be labelled “hypocrites” for not living up to what we preach. So, in preparing for processions, in general, we prefer restrained frugality to pompous pageantry. It would not be wrong to surmise that perhaps, we are doing it for the sake of getting it over and done with. Why? Primarily because it does not make sense to those who do not believe. Who wants to look like fools carrying an inanimate object around?

However, in a proper procession, there are supposed to be four altars set up along the way. These altars represent the four corners of the world and in a way, they invite us to make known to the world that God is interested in our salvation. Hence, the procession coupled with stopping at the four altars highlight the Church as the vehicle that God has intended for the salvation of the world. Catholics themselves might even find this hard to believe in but that is the truth. The banners being carried in front actually call to attention that this Body of Christ on earth, also known as the Church militant, is engaged in the fight against Satan and against our sinful selves. The Church, through the Eucharist, was established for the business of saving souls.

Finally, if the Blessed Sacrament is such a wonderful gift, should we not shout that out on top of the mountains? “Hey, this is truly the Bread of eternal life”. A muted procession might just surface a humbling realisation that we do not truly believe in this gift. Perhaps, it is time to change this. 

In order to grow into Whom we believe in, the parish should move in the direction of adoration, on a regular basis, before the Blessed Sacrament. The adoration rendered to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is simply the Mass extended. Adoration actually prepares our soul to receive Him more deeply and helps us make our reception of Him more personal and more transforming.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year—adoration is the fruit of this conversion. When we begin to understand how much God chooses to be with us, in sacramental form—truly, really and substantially present to us, then adoration 24/7/365 will be the result. We want to and not because we have to. Adoration cannot come as a result of fiat or imposition but rather as the fruit of our conversion.

We should not need this but our faith can be helped if we know it. In the Shroud of Turin, the blood type found therein is AB+. There are about 140 Vatican-approved Eucharistic miracles, where either the host or wine lose their appearance of bread and wine, turning into human tissue or blood. Wherever scientific testing has been carried out the same result of AB+ for the blood samples has been obtained. We do not need this but these findings provide a profound perspective for what we believe in.

In the procession, children always take the lead because there is an innocence about them which allows them to enter the Kingdom. We should imitate them them. So, on Corpus Christi we ask God for the grace of clarity to grasp this gift so great in our life. For the saints, the Eucharist is their strength, their consolation and the centre of their lives. May it be ours too.

[1] Throughout history there have always been doubts about the possibility of “transubstantiation”. Lanciano is the oldest in the series of Eucharistic miracles. In the case of Corpus Christi, a German priest on a pilgrimage to Rome stopped to celebrate Mass in Bolsena. He was affected by the debates amongst theologians whether Jesus could truly be present in the sacred species. As he offered Mass, blood started seeping from the consecrated host onto the altar and corporal. The incident was reported to Pope Urban IV who sent delegates to investigate. The host and blood-stained corporal was brought to him in Orvieto where they remain till today. In a way, the visions of St Juliana of Mont Cornillon in Belgium were confirmed. A mystic and a nun, she was instructed by Jesus in her visions to establish a liturgical feast for the Holy Eucharist. She tried for many years when finally she convinced the future Pope Urban IV to create this special feast. After her death, the Pope instituted the feast for the Universal Church and celebrated it for the first time in Orvieto in 1264, a year after the Eucharistic miracle in Bolsena. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Trinity Sunday Year C 2019

Have you heard Charlie Puth’s “We don’t talk anymore” which features Selena Gomez? They are wrong. Our problem is not the scarcity of talking. We talk too much. The trouble is the loss of thinking so much so that whenever we need to explain the Trinity, we seem to retreat behind a kind of veiled mystery before which we stand condemned to a muted silence. Sure, our prayers are Trinitarian in nature—to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit—-but that is probably the best description we can or dare to give.


We have lost the language of God—theologia. Instead, we are more at home with the language of work—oikonomia. Given our “homelessness” with theologia when faced with such a mystery as the Trinity, we easily resort to a practical explanation (oikonomia) that is, we speak of God in terms of how He is related to us. So, we resort to what we are most familiar with, that is, functionality. For example, we all habitually use a calculator and do we really care “how” pressing of this and that would yield a certain result except that it generates a number? Our idea of the Trinity is basically the economic Trinity. It means we generally do not talk about Who God is but rather What God is in relation to creation and humanity. Now, apart from functionality, is it important to understand inner life of the Blessed Trinity?

It is because the Trinity is “the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life” (CCC 261). In order that we worship the one true God, we need to know the God whom we adore. If not, we might fall in any one of these heresies—monarchianism, modalism, tritheism, subordinationism and so forth.

So, who is He? The God who is one in three persons.

When someone asks: “Who are you”? This question might elicit a reply like “I am a human being”. That is not properly the answer. Instead it should be the response to this question: “What are you”? The question who one is should draw the response, “I am so Mary” or Joseph or Peter and so forth.

Both the pronouns “what” and “who” may help us navigate one of the hardest theological mysteries that Christianity stands on: a belief in One God who is a Trinity of persons. The Trinity are the same in what they are—they are one. But, they are different in who they are—they are three. If you were to ask God this question, “Who are you?”, you will draw three answers as in “I am the Father”, “I am the Son” and “I am the Holy Spirit”. But, when you ask them “What are you?”, then the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, each will answer, “I am God”.

But that does not make them three gods.

The Council of Florence in AD1338-1445 gives us definitions which might help us understand better the reality that God is Trinitarian. When we speak of what constitute the Blessed Trinity, there is one nature in God. There are two processions—generation and spiration. There are three persons and finally there are four relations.

There are two processions in God because the Son “proceeds” from the Father, and the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son”. Out of these two processions we derive four eternal relations but realise that there can only be three persons in God. The four eternal relations in God are.

1. The Father actively and eternally generates the Son. 
2. The Son is passively generated of the Father.
3. The Father and the Son actively spirate the Holy Spirit.
4. The Holy Spirit is passively spirated of the Father and the Son

Only relations 1, 2 and 4 are persons. Both the Father and the Son actively spirating the Holy Spirit cannot constitute another “person” because they are already persons in relation to each other in 1 and 2.

The Trinity in One is how we describe our God. If you can remember your baptism, you were not baptised in the Names but specifically in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Nor did you sign yourselves after dipping your finger into the Holy Water font, in the Names. This doctrine is not of our invention but rather it is a revelation from God Himself. Apart from the Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Sacred Scripture gives us plenty of references to God as being one in three.

According to the Compendium of the Catechism, “God has left some traces of His trinitarian being in creation and in the Old Testament but His inmost being as the Holy Trinity is a mystery which is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of the Son of God and the sending of the Holy SpiritThis mystery was revealed by Jesus Christ and it is the source of all the other mysteries [CCCC 45].
Before Jesus and Pentecost, we could not have known in a definitive manner that God is a Trinity. It is God Himself who draws us into the relationship He wants to have with us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

A good analogy for the description of the 4 relations but 3 persons, that is, a good way of conceptualising the Trinity, is to describe God as love. If God is love, then the nature of love is self-communication. Humanly speaking, we describe a person as “bursting” with joy. Is that not a metaphor for self-communication? If God is the penitude of love, then the Father is the lover. The lover has to have a beloved. Hence, God the Son is the beloved. St Paul’s Letter to the Colossians gives us this beautiful insight that Jesus is the image of the Unseen God which makes our Creed comes alive when we recite it—“God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made. consubstantial with the Father”. In the eternal reflexion of the Lover and the Beloved, we find the mutual love between Father and Son who is the Holy Spirit. The best illustration for this mutuality is to picture both the Father and Son breathing or actively spirating in one accord the perfect love for each other. It is in this image of the Father, the Son and the Love between them that man is called Imago Dei, made in the image and likeness of God. He invites us into the love that exists within the Trinity of persons.

When we know a person, we often know him or her through the work they perform. In a way then, God’s work, that is the economic Trinity, is how we get to know Him. But, to know someone functionally is rather different from knowing someone personally. We ease without effort into a functional relationship. You see this in our Church—people calling each other only because of work, no?[1] There is a shortage of EOMHC and a functional call is put out to get people to step up and fill the vacuum. Functionality helps us to keep a distance but when we get to know a person personally, we enter into their lives. At a human level, the entrance into a person’s life can be messy because of the human condition. For example, a beggar. It is so easy to give him RM10 and in out in our mind the Last Judgement hoping that Jesus will remember us when He separates sheep from goats. At the same time pray that the beggar will have moved on to his next target. It is too messy to get into the reality of a beggar’s life.

But with God, it is different altogether. To enter into the personal life of God is to enter into the love of God. If God is love, then the Trinity is His best description. This Trinitarian God loves us and wants us to know Him. He created us out of love, and we are meant to live in His love and to live for love. Without an appreciation of the love that God is and what we are called to, it is impossible to embrace Jesus’ teaching of laying down one’s life for the other and also to love one’s enemies. If God is relationship, created in the image of God just means that we are created for relationships. Thus, every Sunday is basically Trinity Sunday—a celebration not of doctrine or dogma but of who God is and whom we are called to be—imago Dei—a reflexion of the relationship that God is. This is the magnificent power of love that the world sorely needs to witness. Instead, like the rest of the world, we are often drunk in the love of power failing to realise that only the power of love can change the human heart. Hence, if Christianity were to make more sense than all the competing religions, then the best conviction it can give the world is the love of the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working in us and through us.

[1]To a certain extent, utilitarianism, practical though it may be, can leave us with a sense of dissatisfaction that is destructive. How so? Highly autonomous self-made creatures usually prefer functional relationships because they are practical and professsional, minus the messiness of emotional attachments. Hence, we use others as stepping stones to becoming who we are. In a world which is thoroughly messing, utilitarianism which has for its principle the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people, may account for the fact that we are trying so hard to proof to God that He is deficient in His works. The quest for justice, even though noble, could also be symptomatic of us trying to show God short and we here on earth struggle our mighty best to make the world aright so that we can present the world, a better world, back to God. It is definitely a symptom of our lack of trust in this God whom we have been invited to know personally.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Pentecost 2019

The other part of this great country, the more sizeable section of it has just marked its harvest festival—Kaamatan and Gawai. Pentecost, 50 days after the Passover, is basically a similar type of celebration. It is an occasion to offer in thanksgiving, the first fruits to God and when the Temple still existed, it culminated with a trip to Jerusalem.

Luke’s placement of the Holy Spirit’s descent during a harvest festival is quite prescriptive for us all. The birth of the Church within the context of harvesting or gathering provides a compelling testament to the missionary nature of who we are—the Body of Christ. The head who came to gather humanity into a people of God and now is seated at the right hand of the Father has left behind His body to continue His mission.

The birthday of the Church through the dynamic agency of the Holy Spirit inaugurated her missionary endeavour. Prior to the Holy Spirit’s coming, the Apostles were cowering behind closed doors, fearful of what might happen to them. After receiving the power and charisms of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles immediately went out and preached the message of Jesus to everyone—especially to those who spoke other languages.

The words “Apostle” and “Mission” are both characterisations of sending. The designation “Apostle” comes from the Greek “apostollein” meaning to be a messenger sent forth whereas the word “mission”, derived from the Latin “missionem” most probably associated with a Jesuit being sent abroad as an agent, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, to “preserve and augment the faith of the Catholics in England”—a mission when captured inevitably ended with death—either by beheading if you were a nobility or being hung, drawn and quartered if you were a proletarian.

If the Church is by nature missionary, then, how is she missioned? We are conditioned to think of mission mostly in ad extra terms. Just like the Apostles standing at the windows thrown open, the image paints a picture of them talking to those who do not believe. However, Vatican II gives us a more comprehensive picture of what mission should be in our era.

A cardinal during Vatican II sketched a scenario for the Church’s missionary undertaking when he spoke in terms of ecclesia ad intra and ecclesia ad extra, meaning that the mission is both within and without the Church—inside and outside the Church.[1]

The scandals of the recent past, within and without the Church has also rendered the missionary undertaking more arduous. Just to refresh our collectively perfect but terribly short memory, you may have heard of Barings Bank, Enron or Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis. If not, maybe Cows for Condo might jolt your memory and our very special cherry-topping 1MDB. Top these corporate scandals with ecclesial failures in the area of chastity. The reason for the almost excessive and obsessive scrutiny on the Church is because people have this innate sense that if the world were that wrong, at least, let the Church not be so. In a way, it is a back-handed compliment to who we are as Church. The professional standard that we are presently initiating is simply proof of how far we have fallen from who we are supposed to be which leaves the Church with a challenging proposition when it comes to preaching the Good News.

Today, more than ever, in a credibility-challenged society, the mission ad intra and ad extra are almost seamless. We cannot hope to be an effective messenger out there if we have a credibility deficit in here. The foundation of our message must be built on our trustworthiness, starting personally with each one of us. Christ’s message stands or falls on our shoulders. Without internal reform, we simply thwart the Holy Spirit’s mission to unite all in Christ[2] because we have failed to pay attention to the mission ad intra. The mission ad extra must begin with the reform ad intra.

Let me illustrate how crucial that is at the most fundamental level. We must know who we are and what we are about. A Protestant pastor once said to a Catholic priest, “If I believe what you believe, I will not just fall on my knees but I would fall on my face”. He was referring to the Blessed Sacrament. When the Blessed Sacrament is in procession, what is noticeable is how Catholics basically carry on their usual business—read the papers, talk, laugh or eat when in reality, recognising “Who” is passing by, we should instinctively fall on our knees (for those who can). Somehow it is proof that for so many of us, the Blessed Sacrament is no more than a piece of blessed bread. Holy? Yes, but nothing more than a symbol. We may know what it is (sacred) but we do not know who it is (Jesus truly, really and substantially present). At the most basic level, the renewal ad intra requires strengthening the foundation of who we are and what it means to be Catholic. In short, the need for proper catechesis. Just recently I have been asked to approve the new signage for attire and behaviour in Church. The proper code of conduct is derived from knowing Who it is that we are coming before and not from an obsessive fixation with “rigid laws or regulations”.[3] Poor choice of attired is a sign of a lack of conversion. And the same too can be said of someone who regularly comes late for Mass. He or she is waiting for conversion.

Reform and renewal ad intra with the aid of the Holy Spirit makes us effective in reaching out to those who are waiting to know Jesus Christ. As agents of the Spirit, our lives are transformed through the gift of adoption we receive from Baptism, strengthen to be soldiers of Christ through Confirmation, healed from the debilitation of sin through Confession and nourished for the mission by the Eucharist. With the Spirit’s gifts we can bear His fruits a plenty.[4]

Unfortunately, the consequence of Original Sin stares us in the face. Desiring to be good is no guarantee that we will not sin, much less knowing who we are. It does not follow that the more conscious we are of our identity as Catholic and Christian, the less we sin. Instead, the contrary may be true. In some ways, we are all hypocrites because there is often a gap between what we publicly profess and how we privately behave. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit never gives up on us for He waits patiently to assist us in closing the gap and to reduce the credibility deficit we have. Our duty is to collaborate with the Him. St Paul VI, in Evangelii nuntiandi said,Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (EN41). Thus, Pentecost is a personal invitation to each one of us to be docile in order for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us, as the Body of Christ, so that the Church may carry out what her Lord and Saviour had tasked her to do—to be His Body in the world for the harvest is great indeed.

[1]Two documents best illustrate this two-fold mission. The first is Lumen gentium, that is the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church reflecting the mission ad intra whereas the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes directs our attention to the mission ad extra, focusing on the Church’s missionary activity in the world. To assist us in our mission ad intra, the Church gave us the first document of the Council, that is, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, otherwise known as Sacrosanctum Concilium. And to aid us in navigating a world which basically does not know her Lord and Saviour, we are guided by the Decree of Ecumenism, that is, Unitatis redintegratio. In short, the Church was given fresh insights into her self-definition, her relationship with Christians and non-Christians, in particular both Judaism and Islam.
[2]Christ came at a particular time and hence His mission has a limited reach. The Holy Spirit through the Church is to extend the frontiers of Christ’s restricted particularity by bringing all under His headship, meaning the headship of Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.
[3]Sadly, we have lost our sacramental sensibility. Traditionally when we see the Bishop, we kiss his ring. But, in our age of data democratisation, meaning that we are all equal on account of our egalitarian finger—Google, such behaviour of kissing the ring would come across as obsequious bowing and scraping. But, the older generation know that the Bishop is the fullness of priesthood. It is a sense of the sacraments so much so that according to  Nr 49 of The Ceremonial of Bishops: “When, in a particular case, there is a tabernacle on the altar at which the bishop is to celebrate, the Blessed Sacrament should be transferred to another fitting place”. In no way can it be interpreted as an exaltation of the bishop with respect to the mystery of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Instead, the ring signifies the Bishop’s marriage to the local Church and typically, when the Bishop wears a pectoral cross, it should have no corpus on it because the Bishop himself is to the corpus, laying down his life for his bride, in imitation of our Saviour (Jn 15: 13 and Eph 5:25).
[4]Charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity (kindness), goodness, longanimity (generosity), mildness (gentleness), faith, modesty, continence (self-control), and chastity.

7th Sunday of Easter Year C 2019

Canon 1246 allows a Bishops Conference, with the approval of the Holy See, to suppress certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday. We have done this with our 6th-of-January Epiphany and Corpus Christi—supposed to be Thursday-after-Trinity Sunday or two months after Maundy Thursday. Thankfully we have kept to Ascension Thursday leaving today as the 7th Sunday of Easter.

When many parts of the universal Church have opted to transfer the Ascension to the weekend, for us, this Sunday before Pentecost has a useless “feel” to it. But, it is not. As we wait for the descent of the Holy Spirit, we are transported back to the day after Christmas. There, we run head-on into an irony who is none other than St Stephen. He entered the spotlight on 26th Dec and today he emerges again.

The irony of St Stephen is that in the midst of joyful celebration and anticipation, he stands as a beacon as well as an indication to us of what it actually costs to follow the Lord radically—to the core of his being and paying for it with his life. He is someone we should emulate. But, he may also be a stark reminder of our failure. In our discipleship, we somehow follow Jesus “prudently” which could be another word for accommodation, meaning, that we have given in to current conventions. For example, I heard on priest somewhat cynically remarked about the question we ask at wedding—“Do you take so and so to be your lawful wedded spouse”? According to him, the answer is not, “I do”. The answer more “suitable” and in keeping with our times and tastes should be, “I did”. That may be one of the many compromises we have made with the “spirit of the world”.

So, St Stephen is right in the forefront of upholding doctrines and uprightly defending morality, that is, preaching the Gospel to those who are set in their ways. Ordinarily, we will never have to stand in front of the firing squad but the cynicism of the priest is enough to point out that in the personal interiorisation or embodiment of the Church’s basic teaching, we struggle even to live that out, how do we expect to welcome martyrdom? Indeed, in the worship of a good life, we have mostly lost our taste for simple sacrifice, let alone martyrdom.

But then, Catholicism is not suicidal because martyrdom is not our goal. The goal is the communication of the Gospel, out of which, a deadly consequence may be martyrdom. Today is appropriately titled World Communication Sunday and both St Stephen’s life and death are testimony of bringing the Gospel to the world which resulted in paying the price of communication with his life.

If we can accept that there will be moments when laying down one’s life for Jesus is inevitable, we can set aside this fear of martyrdom and focus on how we can better communicate the Good News to a world waiting and hungering for it.

The Gospel today gives us a clue. The objective of communication is to unite. Unity is important because Jesus prayed for His disciples wishing for the unity that exists between the Father and Him be found amongst His disciples. Not only that, unity is beautifully appealing because broken humanity in searching for wholeness and integrity. Therefore, it is especially attractive to those who do not believe—“See, how they love one another”.

The sad truth is that one might think given today’s technological advancement, unity is readily attainable for us. What is closer to reality are the divisions or the ghettoes we have created. Why is that so? Rather than cementing our union, we have instead honed in on weaponising or commodifying the means of communication. On a global scale, the conflict between Huawei and the US has shown how easy it is for a medium of communication to be weaponised—a means to unity reduced to a tool for espionage. Even our local scene exhibited similar weaponisation which we saw during GE14. Furthermore, nothing can escape the grasp of monetisation. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram which are means of social cohesion and networking have been commodified, reducing these media of relationships into channels of commerce.

So, how do we protect the media of communication from being instrumentalised?

One way is to keep ever before us that every medium of communication must have for its objective a widening of the space for dialogue and conversation so that unity or social cohesion can flourish. Bear in mind that the union we seek is not a unity as all cost but must be premised on what truth is. St Stephen was not preaching just anything but Whom he had come to appreciate as the Truth.

Give you an example. How often do you receive messages and without thinking forward them to your circle of family and friends? A basic question people fail to establish is the veracity of the content forwarded. “Is it true”? We sincerely believe we are protecting our loved ones and friends, but frequently we end up recycling outdated and out of context news and as a consequence create unnecessary fears.

Our delusion is that we often believe that our version of truth is the only one. It is not easy to hold back our “treasured” truth so as to allow what is before us to unfold before judging. It requires that we stand under the light of truth no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

Sadly, we inhabit a deeply divided world where truth is sacrificed on the altar of ideologies. In an ideologically buffeted world, he or she who shouts the loudest has the truth. It can be harrowing to speak the truth because we labour under the oppressive structure of political correctness. Racism, sexism and homophobia are usually the political bludgeons used to silence any dissenting thoughts. All you need to accuse someone as such-racist, sexist or homophobic.

In an image-conscious universe, nobody wants to be unpopular. Recently in one of our national papers, there was a poll on which politician has the most “likes”. Apparently a former PM seems to top the current one in the number of “likes”. An unspoken assumption in this number game is that he who is more well-liked is more “truthful”. Popularity is never a good benchmark for truth but when popularity reigns supreme, truth very easily falls off the bandwagon resulting in the space for genuine dialogue becoming constrained and constricted.

Finally, if knowledge is of the truth, then every medium of communication must serve this enterprise of advancing the truth through strengthening our solidarity as well as deepening our fraternal charity. This endeavour can only succeed when there is humility. To dialogue is to be humble for nothing communicates louder than humility. Communication must be built on a shared platform of searching for the truth of who we are and who God is. Generally, we shut people out who do not share our perspective, opting to preach to the choir, that is, people who think like we do. But, do you realise that even the devil can tell the truth—meaning that we must be humble enough to listen to our opponents, even if we want to gorge out the eyes.

When we communicate the truth we begin to recognise that we are not the owners of truth but rather its humble servant. Truth does not bend down to us but we conform ourselves to it. Hence, how we carry ourselves is equally important to what we want to proclaim. As Marshall McLuhan coined this phrase, “The medium is the message”, then our life is the best communicator of the Gospel because in such a diversified world, most of the time, we are the only Good News people might read.