Sunday, June 06, 2004

Dan Brown Does Not Believe!

(Trinity Sunday 2004 (C): This homily was given on June 6, 2004, at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. Read John 16: 12-15.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Trinity Sunday 2004]

Dan Brown does not believe!

He does not say, “Amen!”

Dan Brown, of course, is the much-celebrated author of the very popular novel, The DaVinci Code. After reading his book as part of my Lenten penance this year (I’m not kidding about that, either!), I offered my brief evaluation of it during the homily I gave at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday night.

Since many of you were probably not present for that Liturgy, I will summarize my review for you this morning with the following statement: What rot!!!

“C’mon, Fr. Ray, tell us what you really think!”

This book is designed to smear not only the Catholic Church, but, even more importantly, it’s designed to smear our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In so doing, it attacks the very foundation of the Christian faith! And yet I’ve actually heard many Catholics and other Christians praise the book endlessly! They talk about it as if it’s a classic on par with Dante’s Divine Comedy or Virgil’s Aeneid!

These people must not understand their faith! If they do understand it, and still think the book is wonderful, then all I can say is they should be ashamed of themselves!

Of course, if you dare to criticize the work in the presence of one of its many supporters, the person will typically respond by saying, “But it’s just a novel!”

To which I say, “No, you do not write a novel like this about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!—because it tells scurrilous lies about him! If Mr. Brown wants to write a book of fiction, fine; he should write it about fictional characters, not about the divine Son of God!”

How would you feel if someone wrote a book like this about your mother, falsely portraying her as a prostitute? Would you be offended, or would you say, “Oh well, it’s just a novel.”?

How would you feel if someone wrote a book like this about your father, falsely portraying him as a terrorist?—as an Al Qaeda operative living in this country? Would you be angry and offended, or would you say, “But it’s only fiction.”?

If we would be upset at our relatives being smeared in novels (and we all know we would be!), how much more should we be angry and offended when the one being attacked is our Creator and our Savior?!

The fact is, this novel is filled with lies and historical errors—far too many to be mentioned in a Sunday homily.

But there is one lie—one falsehood—that undergirds most of the others. And this is relevant to the theme of our Mass on this Trinity Sunday. It’s the lie that says the Church “invented” the divinity of Jesus Christ at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

That is a gross, horrible misrepresentation of the truth! As Deacon Fran rightly pointed out in his homily a few weeks ago, the Church did not “invent” the Lord’s divinity at that council; rather, the Church defended her belief in the divinity of Jesus at Nicaea against the heretic Arius and his followers, who were going around teaching people that Jesus was something less than God, and who were influencing even many bishops with their false doctrine!

The fact that the earliest Christians believed Jesus was God is extremely easy to illustrate. All you have to do is open up the Bible!

The last book of the New Testament was probably written about 100 A.D. That’s a long time before 325! And there are numerous references in the New Testament to the divinity of Jesus. Some are very explicit—for example, John 10:10 where Jesus says, “The Father and I are one.”

Or how about the confession of Thomas when he saw the risen Christ for the first time? He said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”

St. Paul says in Colossians 2:9, “In Christ the fullness of deity resides in bodily form.”

What the early Christians believed about Jesus’ divinity is crystal clear from those 3 verses alone!

Then there are other passages—like today’s Gospel text from John 16—where the divinity of Christ is implied. For example, in predicting the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, our Lord says, “He [the Spirit] will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine [please note: EVERYTHING the Father has belongs to Jesus—including ‘divinity’]; for this reason I told you that he [the Spirit] will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Here we have a text that implies that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are divine!

Of course, that’s just what the Church teaches today, isn’t it?

The teaching of the Catholic Church, which was believed from the beginning, and which was dogmatically affirmed at the Council of Nicaea, is that there are 3 Persons in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit—commonly referred to as “The Blessed Trinity.”

This truth about the inner life of God is at the very foundation of our Catholic, Christian faith. That’s why it’s so important! That’s why the Church called an ecumenical council to defend it in the fourth century!

Think about it, my brothers and sisters: If Dan Brown is right; if Jesus Christ is not divine and there is no Blessed Trinity, then almost everything else we believe as Catholics has got to be false!

If Jesus is not God, for example, then he couldn’t possibly have died for the sins of the whole world!

If Jesus is not God, then he couldn’t have risen from the dead by his own divine power!

If Jesus is not God, then he certainly can’t be present in the Eucharist or in any of the other sacraments!

If Jesus is not divine, then his words are simply the words of an ordinary man; they’re not the words of the Creator of the Cosmos. And if they’re only the words of a man, we can choose to treat them as such: we can accept them if we so desire, but we can also ignore them or reject them if we wish.

Dan Brown ultimately wants to discredit Christianity—and especially Christian moral teaching—by means of this novel. That’s his true purpose! And he’s a very smart guy: instead of attacking individual Christian beliefs as some others have done in the past, he’s decided to go after the foundation of those beliefs.

He knows that if you destroy the foundation of any house, the whole structure eventually crumbles. So he knows that if he can undermine and destroy people’s faith in the Blessed Trinity, the rest of their Christianity will very quickly disappear.

I end my homily as I began: Dan Brown does not believe! (He does not believe that there are 3 Persons in one God; he does not believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of the heavenly Father, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made man.)

Dan Brown does not say “Amen” to that foundational belief of the Christian faith.

But, hopefully, we do!