Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
“Truth or Consequences.” Obviously it refers to a moral choice. But for people of a certain age the expression could identify a certain radio show that graduated successfully to TV. What I was surprised to discover is the fact that it is also the name of a small town of some 8.000 souls that was first called “Palomas Hot Springs” when it was settled in 1882. Early on it became a popular destination for its many hot mineral springs long thought to provide numerous therapeutic benefits. The name was quickly shortened to “Hot Springs.”
It all began in 1950 when the town was just slowly trudging along as a small resort, with its tourist trade being its main industry. Even at that, it was in stiff competition with hundreds of other “Hot Springs” scattered all over the country.
But the town would get a boost when the then popular “Truth or Consequences” radio show, on its 10th anniversary, wanted to find a town that would change its name to “Truth or Consequences.” The show’s producer, Ralph Edwards, wanted some town in the US that liked his show so much that it would change its name. The New Mexico Tourist Bureau relayed the news to the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and the locals liked the idea. It was, after all, lots of free advertisement as well as ending the confusion of their city with Hot Springs that were in Arkansas, California, Montana, and more. The town today is midway between El Paso, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Our Readings for Mass this weekend have that theme of “Truth or Consequences” running through them like a colored thread. In the excerpt from Isaiah he tells us that he has experienced the same sufferings as other prophets before him, just for proclaiming the truth of God’s Word. Complacent people always hate change.
The Letter of James makes the obvious connection between one’s belief in God and one’s conduct.
The Gospel gives us Jesus’ own self-generated “poll” regarding the popular take on His identity, followed by St. Peter’s inspired and most accurate answer. Then Our Lord predicts His passion for the first time, which in turn engenders consequences for His first disciples and us of carrying our own custom-fitted crosses.
Obviously Jesus never promised us a rose garden in this life. But He did stress the thorns. However, the good news perdures for us as a balance. It is Our Lord’s other promise: rising again after our death to live eternally joyful.
Bishop Robert Barron’s has his typically appropriate insight on these matters, as he cites the locus of our ability to learn about truths and consequences in our own families. “The family is the place where the objective virtues are taught and cultivated and from whence morally informed people go forth for the reworking of our culture. When this kingly responsibility is abdicated, other kings, one can be assured, will step into the breach.”
To which I humbly add: “Viva Christo Rey.” (Long live Christ our true King!)
May He always love you and give you His peace.
Reading I: Isaiah 50: 4c-9a
Even though he has experienced much suffering, the prophet exudes confidence because God is his help.
Reading II: James 2: 14-18
This famous passage makes an obvious observation. If a person accepts the facts of God’s revelation, then a certain way of life, his/ her “works,” should reflect that belief, with all its expected consequences.
The Gospel: Mark 8: 27-35
The first self-originated “poll” from Jesus seeks to know what the outside world thinks of Him. Then comes the first Passion prediction and its consequences for authentic discipleship.