Homily: 13 May 2015
Gospel: John 16:12-15
Jesus said to His disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”
During my first assignment as a teacher in Xavier University High School in 1995-1997, I put in as much content in a 45-minute class. The result was an information overload. My supervisor told me that students could only take in chunks of information per class period.
Four years later, I got ordained. When preparing for a homily, I wanted to put in everything that I know of theology for a particular Gospel passage. A Jesuit reminded me, “You cannot save souls after ten minutes.” He said that I have the whole of my life to explain Scriptures, so “choose just one point and explain it in depth.” Thus, one point explained in depth is digestible for a congregation at mass. Ignatius said, “Non multa sed multum” (Not many, but much; not an accumulation of information, but depth).
This I think is the point of the Gospel today. Jesus said that we could not take in ALL of the truth in one sweep. So, the Holy Spirit will aid us in recognizing the truth. Jesus said, “But when He comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you to all truth… because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” The theological term for this “declaration” is “revelation.” And revelation means that the process is incremental: the truth is served chunk by chunk, in bite-sized pieces.
This is a practical truth. Our impression of a person is the first knowledge that we have for one whom we have met for the first time. That impression is checked in time, as we eventually interact with him or her repeatedly; revelation therefore is gradual. Just like the Bible: they are stories of God’s gradual revelation of Himself to us. And that took centuries.
The same thing happens with our relationship with God. As we continually reflect and pray over our lives, we gradually know God through the Scriptures, the Church and our personal daily encounter with Him. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to see God working continuously in the present, in the here and now.
This is very important for education. Everything that happens in school is part of the formation program. We see to it that each student grows developmentally and resiliently. When Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would aid us in the truth, He also meant that our discovery of the truth is inexhaustible: it will be gradual, but it will never end. There is more to discover, every time we arrive at an answer to a question. Education will and should not end.
God continually reveals Himself to us. He wills that we get to discover Him until the very end of our lives.