(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Mass-Blog-for-the-32nd-Sunday-in-Ordinary-time-2021.mp3)
One thing that hasn’t changed in this world since Jesus walked among us is humanity’s B.S. mastery. A recent article by a business-to-business writer defines a B.S. artist as “someone intentionally or unintentionally, consciously or unconsciously, communicating something with little regard for the truth, genuine evidence or established knowledge.”
Many have more faith in their own B.S. than in matters of substance—like the truth of Jesus. In fact some believe devoutly that Jesus was King of the B.S.rs. They love challenging his truths, as Pontius Pilate did at Jesus’s trial.
So imagine Jesus facing Pilate before being sentenced to death for, as witnesses testified, claiming to be a King. In his effort to detect B.S., Pilate asks: “Are you a King?” Jesus turns the tables. “YOU say I am a king.” Then he explains HIS concept of kingship: to testify to the truth. This confuses Pilate, because he couldn’t conceive of this as a purpose fit for a king. Like the B.S.er he was, Pilate lacked any meaningful connection to truth and asks, “What is truth?”
Jesus doesn’t answer in words, but for the first time, Pilate gets his answer via the truth of Jesus’ royal bearing. He then testifies to the accusing crowd, “I find no guilt in him.”
Why didn’t Jesus need words to define truth for Pilate? Because like our Teacher, his students ARE God’s living words. Jesus told his disciples he was the way, the truth and the life, and that whoever believes in him will do the works he does–and even greater ones.
That truth seems like B.S. to a world so steeped in its own B.S. that, like Pilate, it can’t tell the truth. But the truth Jesus teaches is a faith-based light our lives project so others wandering in darkness can find their way along our shared earthly journey—without concern for how or when that path will end.
Sunday’s readings offer examples of lives that shine the light of divine truth.
The gospel (Mk 12:38-44) finds Jesus seated across from the treasury—the place where people paid funds entrusted to the priests for distribution to the community’s needy. He sees a poor widow deposit two small coins, worth a few cents. This is one of those rare moments when one of the people he’s here to save amazes him and inspires a moment of truth.
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
This fearless woman was among those whom such contributions were meant to help. But her faith was invested in the truth of God’s greatest commandments (love of God and neighbor), and for Jesus, it made her stand out from among the B.S.rs he called hypocrites—much as the poor widow of Sunday’s first reading (1 Kgs 17:10-16) did in the prophet Elijah’s time. She ended up sharing the last scraps of everything she had with that prophet. Her fearlessness was fed by the faith Elijah offered her that “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.”
B.S.rs live in fear of drought and death. By doing and saying anything and everything to escape their mortality, they die a thousand times. Those who live by the faith Paul describes in Sunday’s letter to the Hebrews realize we only die once (Heb 9:24-28). So while waiting to see what comes after that, we might as well live the truth that sets us free in this life.