The Pastor Speaks …..
Truth of the matter is…. !
Our Lord clearly proclaimed that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Way and He shows us the way for our life journey. He is the Truth and His words reveal and proclaim the truth so that we accept and live in (and by) truth. He promises that "truth will set us free!" He invites everyone to come to him promising "life" and life that leads to "eternal life!" Since truth is crucial for living our life in freedom and joy, and to live authentically, it is good to reflect on the theme, "truth." Our Lord assures each one of us saying, "Truth will set you free!" More important is to ask like Pilate, "What is truth?"
Most Rev. Prakash Mallavarapu
Two questions about TruthIn the normal everyday life, all of us live and function in a certain way. Though not articulated verbally, behind our way of living and functioning there is a certain understanding of life and all the life-related realities. We get on with life and do not usually explicitly ask or raise the questions that are more philosophical or theological, like, "What is truth?" or "what is the actual truth?" or "Why are you doing what you are doing?" Only when some discussions arise or when someone seeks to know or understand us, we try to respond or raise such questions. But, for one's self-awareness and for explaining oneself so that others understand us, it is good to reflect and verbally articulate our answers to such questions. Even the most simple persons among us or those who are seen as uneducated or illiterate will certainly have answers, perhaps simple but could be profound and convincing answers to the above questions! In the Bible we have Pontius Pilate asking Our Lord Jesus this question, "What is truth?" Prior to asking this question during the trial, Pilate was actually trying to know "the truth about Jesus," popularly known as "Jesus of Nazareth." The Jews brought Jesus to Pilate accusing that was claiming to be the "King of the Jews!""You say I am… But my kingdom is not of this world… I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyonewho is of the truth will hear my voice …." (Jn 18:37). Our Lord Jesus wants to lead Pilate to another level. Pilate was not able to see the deeper meaning of the words of Our Lord: He was not prepared perhaps. Hence, his response was, "What is truth?" (jn 18:38).The question was left at that. The question of the actual truth about Jesus was also left out. Untruth, in the form of false accusations prevailed leading to the crucifixion and death of Our Lord. The two questions are different though very much related and relevant.
Knowing the Truth enlightens and accepting the truth liberates In our day to day life situations we are confronted with these questions: The first one is rather generic and it is about exploration or about the search for truth, about God, creation, human life, etc. It is the human endeavor to keep exploring and try to understand truth beyond or behind what is visible, what we can see, touch, and smell. For the ongoing effort to pursue and know the truth there is no real end point. The more one comes to know the truth the more enlightened and transformed one becomes, by the truth, provided the known truth with its transforming power is received into one's life. The second questionis about the actual persons, events that happen, relationships one is involved, and about the verifiable facts of life of a given person or event: "What really is the truth….?" about the given person, events that happened, relationships that one is involved, obligations, duties and responsibilities one has, etc.Accepting and owning the truth of the given matter can lead to a more genuine and authentic life, failures not withstanding! The real truth cannot always be established not so easily by the third party, unless there are undeniable established evidences for the same! Most often, the individual person, he or she, alone will know the actual truth about oneself and can tell what really the truth is. The others will have to depend on the evidences available and on the facts that can be verified. Denial of the real truth or refusal to accept until the proof is shown will only result in postponing the acceptance of the truth. Knowing and accepting the truth will be liberating of one's inner self: "Truth will set you free!" Truth known but refused to accept will not set a person free. Instead, "slavery" to untruth continues! One can be so bound by shame one has to face or bound by fear of losing the immediate benefits or advantages one is enjoying; it could also be fear of facing the consequences after admitting the truth or it could be that one is so entrenched in the wrong or sinful situation that he or she one is unable to see the truth; it could be that one is afraid and unprepared to change oneself. The best example for denial or refusal of truth is 'a sick person' who deliberately refuses to admit or to disclose one's health problems until he or she is forced to accept. Meanwhile the damage is done and sometimes, there is no reversal possible!
Openness and receptivity to the truth that is being revealedWe can be stable, strong, and secure in our spiritual life and moral life, if we are open to God and other persons through whom comes the revelation of the truth of our life as it is being lived or has to be lived. Pursuing the truth as an academic and intellectual exercise is not enough for a quality life. Knowledge of a given subject matter is different from the knowledge that reveals the truth of our life and in that way affects our way of life. Of course, a disposition of openness and receptivity towards what is being revealed as the Truth and the truth of our life will give a chance for liberation of oneself from untruth in all its hues and shades, tacit or explicit. Like the Jews at the time of Jesus, if we are not open and free to know and face the truth, we will have the danger of living for a longer period of time in slavery to a way of living that is not truthful, genuine, and authentic, and therefore, not faithful to what we are supposed to be! Why did the rich young man in the Gospel not take the invitation of Our Lord? He could not let go his riches. Why did Judas Iscariot not come out of his situation after having been with the Lord Jesus for the same length of time like the other apostles? He did regret for what he did and wanted to return the thirty silver coins But it was too late. And we know how he ends up, dying by hanging himself! Truth will keep on persuading us. Yielding to the truth has to be a decision: The younger son of the "prodigal father" took a long to see the truth and decide to return to the father's house. Once decided, he gets up and walks back to his father's house. It was a proud moment in his life and a decisive moment that marked a radical change in his life! Certainly, it was a moment of immense joy to the father, this "son who was lost is found!"
Truthfulness through our faithfulness to what we are supposed to be (or called to be): There are some fundamental terms and conditions or expectations implied or attached to our personal life based on our status, position, identity, relationships each of us have at a given time or place. As believers in God, a Trinity of three Persons, our life is seen and lived in relation to this God. In Biblical terms, it is not only Creator-creature relationship but it is also "Covenantal Relationship! Covenantal relationship is a deliberate and mutually accepted relationship: I am your God and you are my people; you are our God and we are your people is the declaration!Faithfulness to this relationship is the agreement: God to be ever faithful in His love towards His people; People to be ever faithful to this God by listening and obeying what commands and instructs. People are supposed to be God's people and therefore, cannot be and do as they like. They have to be and do according the "the Covenantal relationship!"
What does all this mean in the daily life of a Christian believer, follower of Christ?It means each one has to strive to be faithful. Faithfulness means being truthful to what one is supposed to be and do.The all important and crucial point here is, does one believe and consciously accept this relationship? If one does not fully believe or if one starts well with full faith but gradually stops believing in this covenantal relationship (due to whatever reasons that might be!), one would stop being faithful to it, leading to a breakdown of the relationship. Scriptures show us how repeatedly, the People of Israel, individually and as people as a whole, break the covenantal relationship by being "unfaithful to what God commands and instructs!"Truthfulness in one's thoughts, words and deeds is the way to remain faithful! Being faithful means to be Truthful to what one is "supposed to be!" What one is supposed to be and do in relation to God, fellow human beings (fellow believers), and the world is further qualified and amplified by what we are at a given time: a human being with fellow human beings, a parent, a husband, a wife, a child in a family, a priest or a consecrated person in the Community of believers, as a member in the Church, a teacher by profession, a leader entrusted with particular set of duties and responsibilities, an employee, etc. With regard to all such things that go with our identity and position, remaining truthful by being faithful to what we are supposed "to be and do" is the underlying demand on each one of us! Instead of saying "to what we have to be faithful, a Christian believer has to ask saying, "to whom should we be faithful!" Our Lord Jesus prayed for all of us saying, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth" (Jn 17:17-19).
† Prakash Mallavarapu, Archbishop of Visakhapatnam