The Gospel of St. Matthew (Chapter 10:26) tells us, Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.
Have you ever had someone whom you trusted lie to you? It's a bad experience, isn’t it? Suddenly, the confidence and trust you had built up is destroyed. You feel betrayed. That’s what happens with lying, for every lie is a betrayal. Every lie breaks relationships and inflicts pain. As children, we learned that lying was wrong. We may not have understood the implications of lying. We were, after all, just children.
Now that we are older and more experienced, we can return to this issue in today’s scripture with new insights and new wisdom. Jesus is telling us that the truth will always out eventually for it cannot be concealed. This is a comforting thought.
Even in the midst of persecution for the sake of the truth, you can be confident that truth will prevail. It prevailed in Nazi Germany; it prevailed in Stalinist Russia. It will prevail today.
The important thing is to live in the truth, even if it hurts. Because the truth will set you free.
There was a study done several years ago as to why people lie so much. The simple answer offered in this study was that people lie because they don’t know they are lying. Lying has become commonplace nowadays. We are constantly barraged by ads on television that try to sell something by shading the truth about a product — rather than telling the truth.
People seem to accept this kind of behavior as a matter of course. They don’t see anything wrong with it. Yet, it is contrary to the Gospel, and should be avoided ardently by Christians.
People are afraid to tell the truth for all kinds of reasons. Some avoid the truth because they want to get along with their peers or neighbors or their bosses. Some are afraid of the truth because it is not viewed as a profitable proposition. So, they lie. The truth is a bitter pill to swallow.
Why do companies use lie-detectors in job applications? Why do people take oaths? If people could be truthful, they would not have to use lie-detectors or take oaths. Their word would be their bond; their "yes" would be their "yes," and their "no" would be their "no." The Lord says: Do not take an oath at all; not by heaven for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth for it is his footstool: St. Matthew Chapter 5:34.
Some years ago, a businessman I knew asked me to pray for the large citrus company he managed. He told me the harvest was so bountiful, enough for two years, that his company could not find enough storage space to house the over-abundance of citrus. The only solution to the problem, he assured me, was a very poor harvest the following year.
Well, as nature providentially arranged, the following year produced a poor harvest and that took care of his problem. So I thought! The businessman did not see it that way. He took advantage of the situation by raising the price of citrus, citing the excuse that the company needed to make up for the poor harvest. I spoke later with the businessman and protested, "How could you do this after your prayer was answered." He smiled and said, "That’s business, father."
There is no honest reason why anyone should resort to such greedy tactics. Facebook got into trouble when its data scientists tried to manipulate the reactions and emotions of its readers for selfish advantage. Fortunately, these greedy tactics were exposed, and Facebook had to acknowledge wrongdoing. Today’s message, obviously, poses a daunting challenge in today’s digital age also.
What should you do in situations similar to those described above? St. Peter puts it very simply by saying we must venerate the Lord in our hearts and speak the truth with conviction. In today’s world, there is more value placed on being credible than on being truthful. Credibility is only the appearance of telling the truth. Thus, many seem willing to settle for the appearance rather than the reality.
Our modern lack of concern for truth shows itself in so many ways. Advertisements often promote falsehood. Politicians who purport to work for the common good, and workmen who claim to understand our plumbing or our television sets or our computers often do not. We are offered guarantees for many items that we buy, but when we try to collect there is too often a snag.
Jesus says, "whoever belongs to the truth listens to me." The world, Jesus is telling us, is too full of selfishness to love the truth. But, if we want to follow Jesus and be saved we must accept the truth; we must be true to ourselves. Pilate was too much of a politician to love the truth, and he washed his hands of Christ.
Jesus came on earth to witness to the Truth. This kind of witness requires courage. Courage to say "no" to falsehood. Courage to say "yes" to the truth by sacrificing selfish desires.
A truthful attitude frees us from fear of anyone or anything. It is of the essence of humanity. Behind the gentle words of love and compassion lies truthfulness. This powerful attitude cannot be ignored without destroying love and compassion. It is essential for all genuine friendship and community.
"Whoever belongs to the truth," says the Lord "listens to me."
Fr. Hugh Duffy holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hull, England. Born in Donegal, Ireland, he was ordained in 1966 in Dublin, Ireland. He is pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Okeechobee, Florida, where he served for 30 years and built a new Church, debt-free, in 2013. He founded Christian Community Action (CCA) in Ireland that built housing for seniors, a sheltered workshop and bakery for people with disabilities, a community center, and an addiction treatment center. Since 2013 he has traveled across America as an Outreach Priest for Cross Catholic Outreach, Inc. Duffy’s recent book, "What is This Thing Called Faith?" is a collection of meditations with reflections for readers on the sayings of Jesus. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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