Seventh Sunday of Easter [b] May 16, 2021
[Jesus said,] Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
In the Name of Jesus.
What is your reality?
There was once a story in the news—this was some years back—of a man diagnosed with a terminal disease; so he bought a yacht, threw expensive parties, and went gambling until his savings were no more. Why leave anything behind? Then he found out it was a misdiagnosis, his death was not imminent, but now his money was gone and he had nothing.
His problem was, he didn’t know his reality. He had a false reality. He thought he was a dead man walking, and he acted accordingly.
What is your reality? My reality? Our children’s? Perhaps we have a misdiagnosis? We do, actually, have a misdiagnosis. And because of that, we end up living like a man thinking he’s dying when he’s not.
Jesus prays to his Father for us:
[O Father,] they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Jesus asks his Father to would sanctify us, to make us holy in the truth.
“Truth.” We all want truth. None of us wants to live by the lie. Jesus uses this word “truth” many times in John’s Gospel.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
And now in chapter 17, Jesus prays to his Father that he would make us holy by the truth.
What is this truth of which Jesus speaks? The word Jesus uses for truth is the Greek word aletheia.
We think of truth as the opposite of the lie. We teach our children to tell the truth and not lie. So truth and lie are opposite—it’s either one or the other.
But the Greek word has a more full meaning. Aletheia is not just the truth over against the lie, but it means “reality”—what is real over against falsity.
In misdiagnosing the man with a terminal disease, the doctors gave him a false reality. In his true reality, he was healthy with more years to live, and he should’ve held onto his savings for just that. But in the false reality handed him by the doctors, he was a dead-man walking, and he acted like it.
Jesus speaks to us of our aletheia, our reality.
He knows the reality we see around us. But Jesus wants us to know that what we see is a false reality. The reality we see around us is the façade put up by our enemies. Our enemies are, as the Catechism says, the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh.
By these three enemies, here is the reality we see:
We see our flesh subject to sickness and death, and we get afraid.
We see people who will hurt us, and we get afraid.
We see everything that can go wrong, and we get afraid.
We see the malice in our world, the willingness of those in authority to divide people against each other in order to gain their power, and we get afraid.
We see the guilt in our conscience, we see the shame covering us, for the devil and the demons keep pounding us with the Law so that we are kept under the accusation, and we stay afraid.
With this reality, who would not fear? Sin, death, sickness, the devil, who wouldn’t want to just hide in the house trying not to get hit by it all?
And Jesus says, “Fear not.” Do not be afraid.
How can we not be afraid?, we say to Jesus. Have you seen the threats, Jesus? Have you not seen our enemies of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh, Jesus? Do you have no understanding, Jesus, of our reality?
That is not your reality, says Jesus. I am your reality. John 14:6:
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
I am your aletheia, your truth, your reality, says Jesus.
The devil? That great liar? He afflicts your conscience, using my Law to accuse and cover you in shame as long as you live in your life of flesh, but he’s a liar. I have defeated the devil, I have broken his power, I have—in my death on the cross to atone for you—I have ripped the Law out of his hands; he can no longer accuse you. I am your aletheia, your reality, says Jesus.
The world, its malice, its diseases, its setting up of false gods and false ways to make yourself acceptable, its temptations—all which the world throws at you as long as you live your life of flesh, this is not your reality. I am your aletheia, your reality, says Jesus.
Your flesh, says Jesus, that’s your problem. As long as you live in your life of flesh, you will see that reality which is, indeed, true to your flesh—the sickness, the death, the sin, the temptation, the guilt and shame belonging to all sinful flesh. That’s the reality you see in your flesh, says Jesus.
But that is not your reality, your aletheia. I am the truth, your aletheia, your reality, says Jesus.
When Jesus says, I am your truth, your reality, he is giving us our life of faith.
By our life of flesh, we will continue everyday to see that which we can perceive with our eyes. As we sang in the hymn, this is what Thomas saw,
The warmth of blood, the chill of steel,
the grain of wood,
the heft of stone,
The last frail twitch of flesh and bone.
But this is not your reality. It was not Thomas’s either. Not, anyway, when Jesus came to Thomas and rescued him from the reality he saw in his flesh.
Jesus spoke forgiveness to Thomas, he showed him his resurrected body, and he brought him into the new reality, the new aletheia.
I am your reality, says Jesus. My crucifixion, it atoned for your sin, that is reality. My blood, it covers all shame, you stand in honor, that is reality. My resurrection, it is your resurrection, it is the standing-up and breathing of your body on the Last Day, that is reality.
The old reality of the life of our sinful flesh, our life of fear, Jesus calls us out of that. This is the life of our old Adam, our old Man of sin and death, and we do not belong to it.
Jesus gives us our new reality, our new aletheia. It is the life of our new Adam, our new Man of faith, and Jesus calls us into it daily by speaking to us his Word of forgiveness and life.
After telling us that he is our truth, our reality, our aletheia, Jesus then turns to his Father and prays for us. John 17:17:
[Father, I pray for them,] “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
The Father hears the intercession of his Son, that is reality.
By the intercession of his Son’s blood and his Son’s prayer, the Father sanctifies you, makes you holy, in the truth.
What is this truth, this reality by which the Father makes you holy? Jesus is your truth, your reality, your aletheia. The Father makes you holy by his Son.
By the Blood of Jesus and his Word, you are holy. That is your life of faith. And that is your reality.
In the Name of Jesus.