RELIGION: The pull in us is to see our entire universe limited to our own desires and interests

By Canon Gerry Conroy

One of the big problems facing those practising their faith in Christ in the modern world is that the modern world has to a great extent confused the search for truth with a search for a feeling of self-fulfillment. Instead of a search for Truth on its own merits, life has become mainly a search for self-realization. This is now what guides and gives consistency and meaning to the modern person’s life. Unfortunately for all concerned, that puts it at odds with Christianity which is has at its heart a search for Truth. As we heard in the Gospel today, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who is sent to us to lead us to the complete Truth. But having reduced truth to self-fulfillment, we have set off on the wrong path.

We have set off on a path that would have us focus on ourselves, as if we were the entire universe, but all is not lost because there remains within us a voice that tells us that on this path we will not find what we are looking for. There is within us a need to reach out to others in search of that completeness we long for. There is an instinct within us that tells us we can only find our happiness together with others.

When St Paul was speaking about self-indulgence and listing all those sins, he was speaking of the mistakes we make when our attention is centered on ourselves, when we think we can find happiness and completeness in that search to realise ourselves. Instead we end up caught in a net of frustration and sometimes self-hate that seeks an outlet in these ultimately self-destructive practices. What the Spirit is leading us to is a truth that is found outside ourselves, a truth that draws us out of ourselves and opens us to others and to the infinite personal God who has revealed himself to us in Christ. The Spirit’s struggle is with the pull in us to see our entire universe limited to our own desires and interests, which has in the mind of many become confused with our desire for self-preservation. But as Christ said it is only if we are willing to die to ourselves that we can live. That is the law of faith; and as we know in our hearts it is also the law of love.

So to help and guide us, Christ gives the Spirit to us just as it was given to him. The same Spirit that descended on him at the Jordan, that led him into the desert for forty days of battle with Satan, that anointed him so he could preach the good news and led him in obedience to the crucifixion, the Spirit in whose power he was raised up on the third day. The same work that the Holy Spirit did over him, he will do over us so that we come to know the truth of God and the truth of ourselves by loving one another as Christ loved us, and as the Father first loved Christ. This is what we are called to by Baptism and led to by the Spirit. This is the journey of faith upon which we have embarked. This is the path where we find a Truth that will set us free and it can be ours because we have received that Spirit of Truth to guide us on our journey.

Listening to the truth the World is proposing will silence the Truth. We are called to listen to the Spirit of God and to live the Truth.

Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton

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