Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Truth

Dear Friends,

There was a long Old Testament history of awaiting the king of the Jews. The waiting continued into the New Testament as seen in all four Gospel accounts. The question of the expected King’s coming is brought to the fore when Pilate asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews?” In John’s Gospel, Jesus and Pilate have a particularly sharp and extended interchange about the meaning of Jesus’ kingship. When Pilate asks Jesus if he is the awaited king, Jesus responds: “my kingdom does not belong to this world.” Pilate pounces: “Then you are a king.” Jesus replies: “You say that…For this was I born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me.” There it is. Jesus’ kingship is rooted in and brings forth truth.

We could talk about the feast of Christ the King using the passages given in the lectionary for this cycle, but because we live in a time when truth-telling is a challenge in our country, it seemed appropriate to talk about Jesus and the truth he came to bring. In our everyday world, there is illusion and there is truth. Illusion in our day has a partner called fake news. Truth is confounded by the political and cultural front.

Soon, we will be caught up in the illusion of Christmas: the perfectly decorated home, the Christmas meal that rivals the best of Food Network chefs, and all those gathered around the table are polite and engaged. Not quite our experience is it? In fact, at its deepest level, Christmas is the beginning of Christ’s presence in our world which helps us see through the illusions that the myth-makers create. The disciples of Christ strive to be truth-tellers and truth-seekers.

We sometimes nibble around the edges of the truths and commitments of life. Sexual predators, and sometimes seemingly happily married men and women cast an eye around for someone else to attract. We are tempted to cheat at work, at school. We lead ourselves to believe that lying gets us off the hook or that, in the face of some responsibilities, “if I don’t want to I don’t have to.”

Jesus says to Pilate and to us: “if you belong to the truth, you will listen to my voice.” In order to listen to the voice of Jesus, we have to still the many voices that clamor for our attention, who offer their own versions of truth. Humanly speaking, it hurts when we don’t live the truth or tell the truth to someone we love. It can make our bodies ache. Moreover, we send mixed messages which can be confusing for the other person and our relationship can weaken or collapse.

People know when things get muddled, when we don’t abide in truth with love. They can’t be fooled. The most important day in our life may be when we tell the truth and live with its consequences.

Going back to Pilate, his name has been known to us for over 2000 years – associated as he is with the trial and death of Jesus. Pilate’s best gift to us is his question, which needs to become our question: What is truth? What is Jesus’ truth? What is our own truth as disciples of the Lord?

Good question for ourselves and for our church to end one liturgical year and begin another next week.

~Sister Joan Sobala