I think it is important to evaluate our attitude toward truth and our beliefs. It is important to how we interact with other, especially those of differing beliefs, but also, perhaps more important to the integrity of our own character – for if our character becomes corrupted, our interactions with other will not show much fruit.
A few lines of scripture got me thinking today. Check these out:
Mass reading a while back was from the first book of Corinthians.
Brothers and sisters:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.
If anyone supposes he knows something,
he does not yet know as he ought to know.
But if one loves God, one is known by him.
As Catholics, we believe that the teachings of the Church and the scriptures and traditions passed to us through the Church are indeed true. Also, we believe God is real because we believe we have met Him. He has come to us in prayer, in the Eucharist, and shown his grace and guidance throughout our lives. We have met truth and put our faith in Him.
What then should our attitude toward the truth be?
I think this is an important question because, quite frankly, we are not very good at sharing the truth, and I believe our attitudes toward it can sometimes be the culprit. Unfortunately these examples of bad attitudes toward truth are the only ones our culture really picks up on and pays attention to – the religious people who are rude, overbearing, intolerant (in a proper sense of tolerance), and thoroughly uncharitable though they claim to have met truth and charity Himself.
As I myself have grappled with this issue and with my own attitudes for truth, especially during my time on a secular college campus, I did a lot of reexamining of how I regard truth.
Something I realized was this: I always thought of myself as one who had found truth. I thought I had figured it out, I thought I had found God and come into relationship with him, and I thought I had made sense out of Catholic doctrine to the satisfaction of my intellect. Furthermore, when talking to people of other faiths and beliefs, I regarded myself as possessing the truth which the rest of the world needed.
Its not that the Truths that we believe aren’t “true” – that’s not what I’m getting at at all. Rather, I think we need to take a look at our attitudes toward Truth.
Did I find the truth, or did the Truth find me?
Some things may make sense to me, but do I really have it all figured out?
Is truth really something I “have” or “posess”?
Is it something I have found or subdued, or is it something so much greater and mightier than I could conceive of, something which, far from having subdued, have barely peeked out at from the bushes?
Here’s the thing: Even when God has called us into His church, into His very Body, and fed us with His own flesh, so that we are indeed in communion with Truth Himself, surely the only proper attitude is awe and wonder and adoration of Truth, right?
If my attitude is snobbery, arrogance, or of one who thinks he has conquered or subdued truth, then people are quite right to question whether I have met Truth at all.
The first thing we have to be sure, thus, is that we really have met truth. Go seek Christ. this takes silence and patience. Also, learn your faith – there is much more there than you ever imagined – beauties and treasures we often ignore.
Then, when we encounter others we must keep in mind that WE HAVE NOT FOUND TRUTH – He has found us. We aren’t wise gurus who the rest of the world needs to listen to, we are the little children playing at Jesus’ feet who run off to tell our friends and everyone of the incredible teacher in our midst.
We can’t “give” Truth/the faith/Christ to people as if it/He was some token that we posses.
We didn’t figure the faith out, we didn’t find God, we certainly didn’t discover Truth. Our attitude must always be one of submission to truth, one of awareness that we are infinitely smaller than our creator and infinitely undeserving of His seeking us out and saving us.
What is really going on, and thus what our attitude should reflect, is that we have met Him, and we want others to meet Him too. Not only is this attitude the correct one, it is the only attitude with which God can work through us to reach out to others.
I think i’ll continue this reflection in a “Part 2” as there is more to be said about evangelization and ecumenical dialogue itself. With our attitude towards truth in mind, how might we re-evaluate how we talk to other people? How might it change the way we talk especially to non-believers?
Just some things to think about.
Your fellow Truth-seeker,