The Choice to Know the Truth

4th Sunday of Advent | December 22, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the first reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons


I don’t wanna know.

It is a phrase that I find I use quite often as an educator.

You walk by a student on their Ipad and they suddenly guiltily close out of whatever they were doing.

I don’t wanna know.

A student casually mentions that he is in hot water because the one young woman he was talking to happened to find out about the other young woman he was also talking to.

I don’t wanna know.

And my personal favorite, “Fr. Brian did you hear about [fill in the blank]. No seriously, there’s a video.”

Nope, I don’t wanna know.

But I realize that this temptation to not wanna know can be quite problematic.

For there are countless times in the course of the day when I need to know, even if I don’t particularly want to.

I see the student who is just not being himself and I know that I need to ask him what’s going on. Even though his answer is probably going to involve a lot more work and a lot more pain than I was planning for.

I see the referral come in for a student in crisis and I know I need to respond.   Even though a part of me just wishes that I never knew about any of this in the first place.  Let someone else handle it.  

Maybe that is why I have always found the contrast in these readings so powerful.

Because in Ahaz and Joseph we are given the two possible responses to our call to be members of the Body of Christ.

On the one hand, we can be like Ahaz.  Claiming we don’t wanna know. We don’t wanna know where God is leading us.  Who God is leading us towards.

It is so much easier to plead ignorance. Not me, Lord. Choose someone else. Ask someone else. Let them be someone else’s problem. Someone else’s concern.

Just not mine.

And on the other, you have Joseph.

    Who did not run away from the knowledge that was probably a lot to take in.

Your fiance is pregnant. It is not your kid. But you will be responsible for raising him. For sheltering him from the storms.

    In so many ways, it would have been easier for Joseph to take the route of Ahaz.  

Sorry, I don’t wanna know. Good luck, Mary, with the whole Son of God thing, but this is not my kid. Not my problem. I’ve got enough to worry about without this.

    But he doesn’t.

    And in that moment, his embrace of the truth, his embrace of Mary changed everything.

My friends, each of us is constantly given the same choice.

To know.

To know the truth about those who bear Christ all around us, if only we dare to ask.

The truth in our younger brother that we write off as being too immature or the truth in our child that we dismiss as simply going through normal adolescent angst.

The truth in our estranged uncle that we can’t access after years of hurts and misunderstandings and the truth in our cousin that is hard to see under the political differences.

The truth in our colleague that we minimize because we come from different cultural backgrounds or the truth in our friend that we avoid because we are struggling to balance our own lives in the moment.

The truth in the homeless veteran that we never get to know because we never roll down the window or the truth in the kid in class we never speak to because they are from a different social circle.

And in uncovering the truth of one another, we come to understand our very selves. We come to understand the God in whose image we are all made.

My friends, this is what liturgy is all about.  Sharing of that one cup. Drinking of one another’s lives.  The good, the bad, the beautiful and the broken, the majestic and the mess.

Refusing to run from the truth. But genuinely seeking to know.

The truth of who they are. Of whose they are. The truth of who and whose we are.

And in so doing encountering the Emmanuel. The God who chooses to be one with us. The one who knows us. The one who loves us and delights in us.

Now and always. Forever and ever. Amen.

May God be Praised.

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