Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
(Acts 20:28-38; John 17:11-19)
Ideas have consequences. Sometimes it seems that an evil act is worse than a distortion of the truth. But distortions often cause multiple misdeeds that dwarf the effect of a single evil act. An example of the destructive power of mistaken ideas can be seen in Situation Ethics which became fashionable midway through the last century. This ethical theory allows any act as long as the actor intends to do something loving. Many hearts are broken and much misery suffered because of loving intentions. Both readings today warn of similarly dismal consequences on account of erroneous ideas.
St. Paul tells the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus that they must be mindful of false doctrine. No doubt he has in mind the demand that pagans accept Jewish ceremonial precepts. In the gospel Jesus prays to the Father to preserve his disciples from evil. It is harder to pinpoint what he has in mind here. From what Jesus did just before he began this “Last Discourse,” he may be referring to the idea that leaders deserve places of honor.
Truth is essential to Christian belief. We must assiduously pursue it and faithfully live it. One truth, however, of which we should be mindful is the difficulty to perceive it. For this reason we need to be tolerant of others in their search for it.