Fr Billy Swan
Dear friends. I have been a priest for almost 25 years and in that time have heard many confessions. Not surprisingly, there are some human struggles that keep coming up that are as old as humanity itself. One of these is our relationship with the truth. When we examine our conscience we must admit that we don’t always tell the truth perfectly or live by the truth. We avoid truths that are inconvenient and call us to change. So how important is the truth for us? How committed are we to knowing the truth, telling it and living it?
In these past few weeks, the Gospel passages are taken from Jesus’ farewell at the Last Supper. They are his final words and so are packed with emotion and importance. Everything that his life was about is summed up here. In that farewell speech, two themes stand out. The first is love, the new commandment when he asked us to ‘love one another as I have loved you’. The second is the importance of truth. He prays that we, his disciples, be ‘consecrated in the truth’ and be witnesses to the truth in the world. He also suggests that our fallen world has a problem with the truth because the truth that Christ himself proclaimed was opposed from the very beginning. Si in today's Gospel, he promises that we will receive the Spirit of truth to be our strength. Later of course during his passion as he stood before Pilate, Jesus said that he had ‘come to bear witness to the truth, for this he was born and that all who are on the side of truth will listen to my voice’. If the truth was so important for the Lord then it must be important for us too. God’s will is that we be consecrated in the truth, to seek the truth, to tell the truth, to love the truth and live the truth all the time.
We also need to be aware of the cultural shift taking place in the Western world today concerning truth and the whole woke movement. This is where you have your truth and I have mine. Everyone has an opinion but there is no objective truth to agree on. This is a dangerous development because if there is no truth to agree on then we can never be united. Furthermore, if there is a truth that is inconvenient for me to hear then I simply ignore it or cancel the person or people who present that truth.
So why then is the truth so important? Because it unites us and sets us free. It is our strength. If we tell the truth and live by what is true then nothing can hurt us and we need not be afraid. On the other hand, if we live a lie then we are always afraid – afraid of being found out, of being exposed and shamed. Truth will cost us little but a lie could cost us everything. For us Christians, the source of the truth is Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Jesus described himself as ‘the Truth’, the way and the life. To love the truth is to love him. In the Gospels, he continually calls people back to the truth when they were blind to it themselves. He lifted up those who thought they were beneath everyone else and pulled down those who thought they were above everyone else. From time to time we all need a reality check with the truth. It’s there waiting for us in the Gospels.
Think of the early martyrs of the Church. Many of them were given final chances to deny their faith before they were fed to the lions or killed by the sword. They refused. Do we think for a second that they would have done this if their faith was based on an opinion, or a theory or an idea? No, their faith was founded on the truth of Christ being alive and that all he stood for was true.
Friends, we might not have to die for the truth like they did but let us live for it. From the least matter to the greatest, may we once again commit ourselves to the truth for it will unite is, set us free and dispel our fears. This is the freedom of the children of God that he wants us to enjoy – to be courageous and strong Easter Christians, consecrated in the truth.
‘Do not accept anything as true if it lacks love. Do not accept anything as love if it lacks truth’. Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).