Playing with the truth PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 May 2016 14:13

Table Talk


We have to be most careful in handling the truth. First,

we have to know what truth is, where to find it, why it is the truth,

how to present it, etc. Otherwise, we can suffer what St. Augustine

once said:


“They love truth when it enlightens them, but hate when it

accuses them. In this attitude of reluctance to be deceived and intent

to deceive others they love truth when it reveals itself but hate it

when it reveals them. Truth will therefore take its revenge: when

people refuse to be shown up by it, truth will show them up

willy-nilly and yet elude them.”


This Augustinian observation can be validated, at least

partially, in that gospel episode about some leading Jews who, driven

by unbelief that brought with it its usual cohorts of envy and hatred,

asked Christ, “by what authority are you doing these things?” (cfr. Mk



They were referring, of course, to Christ preaching and

performing miracles and in the process drawing a lot of people to him.

But Christ, knowing their motives, also asked them a question that has

to be answered first before he would answer them. “Was John’s baptism

of heavenly or of human origin?”


This threw them into a quandary. If they answered one or

the other, they would be caught in a bind, since they would certainly

suffer the obvious bad consequence of each possible answer. And so

they said they did not know. To which, Christ simply said: “Neither

shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”


We have to understand that to be truthful, the first thing

to do is to believe in God and to follow his commandments. After all,

God is the creator of everything. He knows the ins and outs of all

things, whether material, spiritual, natural, supernatural, etc. All

we do is to discover them, not make or create them.


Our senses and intelligence alone can capture only so much

truth. They cannot go all the way, and in fact, they always need

another higher principle. This is where faith comes in.


We have to have faith in God first, before we can get to

the truth. Faith enables us to accept truths that are beyond our

capacity to see, hear and touch, and even to understand. Faith makes

us accept truth through belief. What our Lord told the doubting Thomas

is illustrative of faith.


“Have you believed, Thomas, because you have seen me?

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (Jn 20,29)


Even in our ordinary, daily life, we use some kind of

faith, because we simply have to trust people rather than go through

the tedious process of investigating and studying as to whether this

woman, for example, is really my mother or not, or whether the cook

really serves me food and not poison, etc. We are wired for faith.


We just have to go all the way to the scope of faith and

find that at the beginning and end of it, we will find God himself,

the Creator, who made the universe, the author of all reality in all

its infinite richness and variety of aspects and levels.


In short, we cannot really be in the truth unless we are

in God. We cannot seek the truth unless we seek God. The problem we

have is that we dare to know, study and use the truth without God, or

ignoring him, at least. We even think that to be objective and

unbiased, we would just depend on what our senses and intelligence can



As a result, we get some aspects of truth that ultimately

depend on us simply. And since we are not stable, not to mention that

we are often affected adversely by passions, if not dominated by

malice, then the truth we see, study, invent and use, cannot be the

truth that is the real truth.


It would be at best a contingent truth, a relative truth,

detached from its stable and ultimate moorings, and therefore can be

shifty, unstable and vulnerable to be misused and abused. This is what

we see around, and thus we are also quite in a mess.


We need to have some kind of revolution in our attitude

towards truth. There has to be a conscious, deliberate effort to seek

God who actually revealed himself fully in Christ and continues to

reveal himself to us in the Holy Spirit. Unless, we do this, our

affirmations of truth will always be suspicious.


Why, for example, do we make an oath before God when we


say something really important?