Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you continue in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
They answered Him, “We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How is it that you say `You will be made free?'”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin... I know that you are descendants of Abraham, yet you seek to kill Me because My Word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have heard from your father... Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear My Word. You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me.”
That is Jesus Christ speaking. Jesus is saying to the religious leaders of His time, “You are the spawn of Satan. You are the children of the devil. You don't accept what I have to say, which is the truth, because you follow your father, a liar, the father of lies, and a murderer from the beginning.”
Nowadays, those of us who try to be faithful in teaching and preaching the fullness of truth are often criticized and condemned for being divisive, for being inflammatory, for being problems in the Church. I assure you with 100% certainty that they would not allow Jesus Christ to preach in the Church in many places today; in fact, they would send Him off to sensitivity training.
It is Jesus who is speaking, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, the Prince of Peace who said, “You think I have come to bring peace? I tell you, I have not come to bring peace but a sword, division that will separate a household of five, three against two, and two against three, father against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother.” The Prince of Peace said that. If you do not believe it, look it up; it is right there in the Gospel. (Matthew 10:34-35)
What is the sword that Jesus speaks of? It is the truth; the truth is a two-edged sword. Start to live the truth and teach the truth and preach the truth with fidelity and power, then fasten your seatbelt. You are in for it! Your family will reject you, your friends will reject you. You will become the vocal point of a battle, that primordial quintessential battle between good and evil, truth and lies, light and darkness, life and death. We are at war, and our battle is not against flesh and blood.
In order to understand these things, you have to go back to the beginning. Saint Thomas Aquinas rightly taught many times, “An error in the beginning is an error indeed.” Don't make an error at the level of principle; you make an error at the level of principle, and the repercussions of that fundamental error will reverberate throughout your life and throughout history.
So we go back to the beginning, The Book of Genesis. Now in the beginning, God created everything that is, out of nothing, ex nihilo. That's creation by definition. God does not require pre-existent matter to bring things into existence. He's the Creator. He does not need anything. He wills it into being. God created everything out of nothing, and when He finished the job, He called it good, very good. All of creation is good. Everything God created is good. He had to be good for it came from the One who is goodness itself. That is Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2.
In the third chapter of Genesis, something goes wrong. The Garden of Eden. The serpent approaches Eve, the mother of all the living, as the Bible calls her. “Eve, woman, did God tell you, you can't partake of the trees in the garden?” “Well, no!” Eve said. “God said we may partake of the fruits of all the trees in the garden. Human freedom is very broad. However, God said we may not partake of the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We may not partake of that fruit or even touch it, less we die.”
Human freedom has limits. And those limits are laid down by God Almighty. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that the original sin must have been pride. Eve considered it, and the devil went on; the liar and the father of lies, the murderer from the beginning, and he went to say: “Well, surely you don't believe God!” The father of lies is calling God a liar. “Oh no! God knows very well that if you partake of that forbidden fruit, you'll become like gods yourselves.”
Knowing good and evil, subjectively and arbitrarily. Pride: “I can be a god! I can decide for myself what is good and what is evil.” That's a pretty powerful incentive: I can be God; if only I will disobey God, I can be like God. That's the original sin, that's pride. What did it result in? Disobedience! Partaking the forbidden fruit. What was the result of that? Death! At that very moment, pain, suffering, and death entered creation. The gates of Heaven slammed shut.
Nothing has changed! It goes like this today, and I realize where I am speaking. I realize 100% consciously and wilfully where I am: in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It goes like this today, “Surely you don't accept that teaching of that Polish Pope! Nor the ones who went before. Surely you don't accept and believe the teaching contained in the encyclical Humanae Vitae on the sanctity of human life! Surely you don't accept that! No, no! You're too intelligent and educated for that! You can decide for yourself what's good for you, what's not good for you; you can play God! You can engage into artificial contraception — the ultimate form of which is abortion, as Pope Paul VI so rightly prophesied in his encyclical. You can play God!”
What happened? Eve succumbed to the temptation; she bit into the forbidden fruit. The lie ushered in a reign of darkness and death. That's why the Saviour came: to bring light into that darkness.
I am going to talk to you about three things: truth, conscience, and freedom. And the absolutely essential indissoluble union among those three.
Truth! Conscience! Freedom! What is the truth? We live in a very confused era in history. A lot of people think truth is relative. A lot of people would take the position that, well, if it's good for you, fine, but there is another truth good for me, but there is no absolute truth. There is no objective moral good and evil. In other words, truth becomes a subjective construct. Whatever is convenient, whatever fits in with your contemporary lifestyle, however disordered and degenerated it may be.
Well, the truth is not a subjective construct. And the truth is not determined by a democratic vote, for a democratic vote is only as good as the individuals voting. And if those individuals are perverse in their understanding, then a majority of those perverse individuals will arrive at something far from the truth, far from that which is good. The truth is something absolute and objective. If I ask you what is the truth, and you try to describe it, you say: “Well, the truth is this and the truth is that.” And you may be right about many things.
I say to you, the truth is not merely something. In the end, you are better understanding the truth is somebody. And His name is Jesus Christ. And that's why the truth cannot be trifled with. Don't trifle with Jesus. Don't play games with the Lord of lords and the King of kings. There is an absolute and objective character to truth. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
All truth that truly is, subsists in Him who is the Truth. Jesus is who He is. God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He could have gone on to say, “I am not whoever you think I am; I am not subjected to your whims and fancies. I am who I am! My absolute essence is to exist.”
People have tried to distort, diminish, and destroy the truth from the very beginning. Jesus said to the religious leaders of the times, “You are the unholy spawns of Satan in so many words.” He said, “Your father isn't God; your father is the devil! And your desire is to do your father's will. And your father is a liar. And the father of lies is a murderer from the beginning.”
Why did Jesus say that? Because of Genesis, because of what happened. A liar: “You can become like gods if only you'll disobey God.” That's a lie, and a big lie. What happened? Our first parents bought into that lie: the original sin — which, by the way, is a doctrine of the Faith. And anyone who denies the existence and reality of original sin is a plain-out heretic.
What is the truth? Well, the truth fundamentally is God Himself... God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, by the way, His only Word. The “Word” of God is not merely something. The Word of God is somebody — Jesus. A divine somebody. In the eternal silence of the Trinity, God our Father spoke but one word. He has no more to say. The great Doctor of the Church, Saint John of the Cross, said, and the Church has quoted that in the Catechism: “The Word of God, the one and only Word of God, Jesus, all truth subsists in Him.”
What did Jesus teach? Now Jesus is a teacher; we know that. Right? They called Him “rabbi”. There are probably some teachers in the audience here... The teacher learns a subject matter which is extrinsic to himself, and then he teaches it to his students. Jesus was an essentially different kind of teacher, for Jesus didn't teach something extrinsic to Himself; Jesus taught Himself. Jesus taught the truth, and the truth is not something outside of Him; the truth is essentially God Himself.
Now, how do we know what the truth is? Well, I am going to point you again to the Gospel, this time Matthew, 16th Chapter. Jesus posed a question, a question which reverberates throughout the ages: “Who do the people say that I am?”... Then one voice spoke out, with all of the resonance and power of eternal truth: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” “Ah, Simon, son of John, no mere man has revealed this to you, but My Father in Heaven. And I, for My part, declare that you are Rock, and upon this rock I shall build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
Please note the divine institution of the Church. Jesus, a divine person, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, speaking through His human nature, declares that He changes Simon's name to Rock. Take a concordance book of the Bible, look at the word “rock”, and you will see it listed dozens of times. Every place in the Bible, the word “rock” is used, usually it is in the conventional sense of the term (the rocks roll down the mountain), but a couple of times, here and there, the word is capitalized, rock with a capital “R”, in which case it refers to God; it is a name given to God. He is the Rock, “the Rock of my salvation”. “I declare that you are Rock.”
Now you have to understand that in Antiquity, a name meant a lot more than it means today. In Antiquity, a name, in a sense, represented the very being of the person who held that name. I will give you an example: Smith. You know “blacksmith”. A man named “Smith” was a blacksmith. The perfect example, Jesus: “God saves”. You see the name perfectly, powerfully, makes present the reality underlying that name. Jesus = God our Saviour, God who saves. And so He changes Simon's name to Peter, Rock.
Now we know Peter isn't God. What is happening here? A mystical marriage is happening here: Jesus and Peter become one; the two become one. Such that when Peter speaks in Faith and morals, it is Christ Jesus speaking through him,. And when the successors of Peter, the Popes, speak definitely in Faith and morals, that is Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit speaking through them.
Our business is to obey, not to disobey. Who was the original dissident? Lucifer was the original dissenter. Look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Fall of the Angels” (n.391). God gave the angels a test. Some of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church say that He presented to them the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption.
Now Lucifer — the word means “morning star” or “light of the morning”, once again a name is important — a very bright angel, brightness is analogous to intelligence; a very intelligent angel, blinded by his own light, chose darkness. When he heard the plan, he said, “Oh no! I don't like that idea of God. Non serviam. I will not serve! I will not accept Your plan. If You are going to assume a created nature, it will be mine, not that human dust. I am higher, I am better, I am more intelligent!”
Jesus said, “I watched Satan fall from Heaven like a lightning.” And a third of the angels with him. That was the first sin, the fall of the angels: arrogance, disobedience, death, that then played out in the Garden of Eden. At the instigation of the serpent, what happened? Arrogance: I can be like God! Disobedience: taking the forbidden fruit. The result: death, as God said it would be. How does it play out today? How is it relevant for us?
The truth is not something we make up as we go along. The truth is something we have received from God. It is a pearl of great price. The truth is a gift beyond the wildest dreams, for truth in its essence is God Himself. The teaching of the Church is the teaching of the Lord. It is in fact the Lord Himself.
There has been a battle going on ever since darkness had entered Eden. That battle rages all about us. Sometimes it is discouraging. One of the blackest days in the history of the Church and the world took place right in this city (Winnipeg, Manitoba). The infamous, treacherous, insidious Winnipeg Statement. A curse and a pox on the House of God. Why? Why? Why is it so bad? The truth was taught faithfully by a successor of Saint Peter, Pope Paul VI. All of the Popes in recent times have been great men, saintly men, highly educated men, more than anything, holy men. That is what is important! At a time in history when it was not easy to do so, a courageous successor of Saint Peter asserted boldly and clearly the immutable truth that has been taught always and everywhere in the history of the Church. And never once was it ever knocked off. Never once has the Church ever, anywhere, taught that oral contraception and its unholy offspring, abortion, is acceptable. And the cursed reasoning that you can just follow your conscience is absurd, because they do not say what conscience!
There is no such thing as conscience in a vacuum. Conscience is not an independent entity. Conscience must be formed. Conscience must be formed. Formed to what? Formed to the objective norm of Church teaching to the truth, which is not whatever you or I want it to be, which is not a subjective construct. The Holy Father taught that truth in the encyclical Humanae Vitae. And in this city, in this country, something like 100 out of whatever it was — I do not know the exact number. I think there were only six Bishops that went against the dissenter. Better to repent of their sin, because I am going to tell you something straight out. A rapist or a murderer has a higher place in hell than someone who leads little ones astray to false teaching, especially to false moral teaching, for the one defiles the body, and the other defiles the soul. God help us! (...)
Now I am going to tell you in no uncertain terms, and I will tell the world, and I will shout it from the rooftops: the teaching is not doubtful. The teaching is not unclear. The teaching of the Catholic Church is absolutely clear. It is immutable, unchangeable; it rings out throughout the ages: respect for life in all of its forms. Artificial contraception is, always was, and always will be intrinsically evil.
That is the Church's definitive teaching! That is not something you can take nor leave, and that is something which you must use to form your conscience, and then that well-formed conscience will set you free, for there is a relationship between truth, conscience, and freedom. Jesus said, “If you are truly My disciples, you will abide in My Word.” You have to abide in His Word first, and then you will know the truth. And that truth will set you free with the glorious freedom of the children of God. (...)
Those who have been given the authority and the commensurate responsibility to care for the flock, do it, and don't be timid about it. Don't be indifferent about it. Don't be cowardly about it. God's flock has been entrusted to you, and woe to you if the wolves come and ravage and pillage God's little lambs. Woe to the shepherds!
I am afraid in recent years, many there are in the Church and in the secular order who go about their business as though there were no war going on; as if there are no casualties. Souls fall into hell like snowflakes, and we seem to take it quite nicely.
My brothers and sisters, get very serious about the truth, for the deterioration of the proclamation and defence of the truth in the Church has weakened the entire world... May God protect, bless, and strengthen His Church, the beautiful mystical body and bride.