Greater Than Our Questions
On the Da Vinci Code
Fr. Johnny C. Go, S.J., School Director
Mary the Queen Parish
14 May 2006
Since the movie “Da Vinci Code” will open in a few days, it will be good if we can talk about both the novel and the film this evening. But first, let’s conduct a little Da Vinci Code survey. I will ask you three questions. Just answer each one silently.
First: “Who among you have read the book by Dan Brown?” The novel sold over 30 million copies in just three years, so many of you must have read it.
Second: “Who among you plan to watch the film?” The movie stars Tom Hanks, and already it is expected to draw a lot of protests because of its controversial topic.
Third: “After reading the book or watching the film, who among you expect to find yourself questioning your faith?”
There are no right or wrong answers, of course. But if you answered “yes” to the first two questions—whether you read the book or plan to watch the film—you may want to ask yourself what you are looking for. Are you looking for education—or entertainment?
If you’re looking for education, I think you’d better be warned that the Da Vinci Code will not be helpful at all. Many scholars have pointed out the numerous historical inaccuracies in the book. More importantly, the author himself makes no pretenses and claims that it is a work of fiction, and so it should be read as such.
I read the book myself and thought it was great entertainment. I also plan to watch the film for that and that alone.
Now, if you answered “yes” to the third survey question, that you expect to find yourself question ingyour faith, let me assure you that it’s perfectly all right. Questions about the faith are not sinful or wrong. In fact, they are healthy, helpful, and at times even necessary. Many times our questions even serve as our door to the truth.
You see, there is an important difference between scientific truths and religious truths. When we talk about scientific truths, we are referring to truths that can be observed directly and measured, and can be proven with certainty. That’s why we say we can know scientific truths. We can be certain. An example of this would be the truth that water boils at 100 degrees centigrade. We know this with certainty, and because we can observe, measure, and prove this scientific truth, in a sense, we have no choice but to believe it in the face of evidence.
But things are quite different when it comes to religious truths. Unlike scientific truths, they cannot be directly observed; they cannot be measured; and they cannot be proven with certainty. That’s why we don’t say we know religious truths; we say we believe them. For example, questions like “Is the Bible really the Word of God?” and even “Does God really exist?” These cannot be directly observed, measured or proven beyond any doubt. That’s why to believe a religious truth is always a free choice.
So whenever we encounter questions about our faith, we should not panic. We should expect them because of the very nature of religious truths. These questions can lead us to a better appreciation of our faith and can help us validate our choices and even deepen our faith. But we must take care that we also have the right motivation when we ask these questions our faith.
If our motivation is to criticize our faith so that we can find an excuse not to follow it, then certainly this type of questioning will not lead us to a better place.
However, if our questioning stems from a sincere desire to seek the truth and to understand our faith more deeply, then we should not hesitate to ask those questions.
In the Gospel reading today, our Lord tells us that He is the vine and we the branches. For as long as we remain in the Lord by sustaining a close relationship with Him, we should not be afraid of our questions. In fact, we should welcome them,. After all, a strong faith is not characterized by a false sense of certainty simply because we are afraid to ask questions. Rather a strong, authentic faith is characterized by the courage to ask questions precisely because we believe that God is greater than our uncertainties and our questions.
So let us have faith in God. Let us not be afraid of our questions.
For comments or questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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