What is truth? What is truth indeed? During this Lenten season, when we pay special attention to the events leading up to our Lord’s passion, there is one particular passage in John's gospel that sums up so much of what is wrong these days, especially during this time of great confusion. It is that truth is so often considered to be something subjective!

When Jesus was sent in the midst of His Passion to appear before the Roman procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate (pictured above), Pilate was trying to figure out what to do with our Lord in the midst of cries for His death from the Sanhedrin (the Jewish supreme council and tribunal).

In the midst of all his suffering from being treated as some completely base criminal, Christ, with great dignity, spoke of His mission to testify to the truth.

(In an intriguing side note, God the Father referred to Jesus as His Truth in the revelations He gave to the 14th century mystic St. Catherine of Siena, as recorded in her famous book The Dialogue).

Pilate responded to our Lord by asking Him famously “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Was this a sneer, or a complaint from some harried petty functionary who was blind to truth staring right at him? We can only imagine.

So, how does that relate to us this Lent and beyond? I’ve come to realize there’s a little bit of Pilate in many of us, and certainly in those who wield power or are close to it in some way. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote that “Pilate was one of those who believed that truth was not objective but subjective, that each man determined for himself what was to be true.”

We live in a time when relativism has run so amok that ideology can trump biology, such as in the popular notion these days that one’s gender is a fluid option; or that in some warped idea of what constitutes religious freedom Satanism can be considered a religion worthy of protection on par with Christianity!

There’s an additional danger here in thinking this way. Many people in our society are wandering perilously further and further away from believing that truth is subjective, to believing that truth is whatever those in power say it is!

And now we are approaching a particularly perilous time in the era of Artificial Intelligence and various algorithms, both of which can be manipulated to serve powerful monied interests imposing censorship or otherwise blocking truth in the name of fighting so called disinformation or misinformation about such vital matters as aspects of governance and health.

Indeed, one of the main leaders of the Globalist World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab has bragged that whoever controls Artificial Intelligence will control the future.

And, with the striking advances in technology we are beginning to see more and more of what is known as a deepfake, which Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines as being “an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.” That may really get us all asking, particularly with regards to politics, “what is truth” indeed!

It is quite ironic, to say the least, that in an era where we have a library’s worth of access to accurate information on our smartphones and laptops, we have nonetheless a distressingly large number of young people that seem to have been “dumbed down” for whom indoctrination into various Woke sacred cows has replaced getting a real education in the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

While the press and television news media have for decades prided themselves on supposedly speaking truth to power nowadays it seems more like they’re speaking mostly power to truth, that is to say, in uncritically reporting government propaganda as fact regardless of the veracity of what they’re covering.

Keep in mind in this regard who ultimately gains from any and all of this suspected malfeasance and confusion, Satan himself! More often than not, humanity is content to play three card monte with him, even as we get ripped off again and again and again. Peter Kreeft wrote a great article about knowing our real enemy over 20 years ago linked here

Speaking of the devil, literally, Jesus memorably rebuked the Pharisees in John’s Gospel saying “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Clearly Satan is Truth’s, that is to say Christ’s, adversary!

Getting back to Pontius Pilate, he was an aggravated, compromised man of the world who couldn't comprehend what Jesus was saying when he responded with his famous sneer “What is truth?”. And yet here was Truth standing right in front of him in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity!

Still, Pilate knew how much those among the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin hated this man in front of him and wanted Him dead. Having no love for them, he was looking for wiggle room, for maneuverability to be able to set this Jesus, not an insurrectionist by any means, free and put this whole mess behind him!

His idea of a compromise with them, you might recall, was to have our Lord scourged, that is to say beaten so badly that anyone else might well have died from this brutality (some compromise)!

But in the end, after struggling with whatever subjective sense of right and wrong he might have had, Pilate folded under pressure from the mob accusing him of being no friend of Caesar, that is to say the powers that be in Rome, and he washed his hands as he authorized Jesus’ brutal execution shortly afterwards!

Granted, many times so called white lies or various shadings of the truth may indeed be necessary given a particular situation. Sometimes hard truths need to be sugar coated with tact and prudence. Even our Lord told His disciples once to be shrewd as serpents (John 10:16).

Still, while we say we value goodness and truth, time and time again we show ambivalence in following the Commandments of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who, along with His Father and the Holy Spirit, is goodness and truth itself.

Speaking of Pilate in this regard, Jesus Himself told Sister Josefa Menendez, a Spanish nun, in 1923, in a church-approved private revelation, that the governor’s soul was, as He put it, “typical of those who, tossed between the impulses of grace and the allurements of their own passions, blindly yield to human respect and excessive self-love.”

How many oaths to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth are broken willingly in our nation’s courts each day (not accountlng here for natural human error in remembering details about an issue, for example). How many companies and agencies make false claims about products or services for their own gains?

How many of our vaunted political “strategists” make a living off of calumnies (mortal sins against the Eighth Commandment) and what is known more generically by the sanitized term “Opposition Research”?

And, as mentioned earlier, how many news reports these days are anything but objective? In totalitarian societies this problem tragically magnifies whatever mistakes and miscalculations despotic rulers make but this is creeping into our supposedly more democratic governments as well. as journalists are increasingly being harassed, fined or even jailed for stating opinions contrary to some official government narrative.

You might have heard the saying “You’re entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts”. Yet in today’s world, going back to Pilate's words, “what is truth”, truth is too often considered to be what it is in the eyes and ears of the beholder!

We can scream “I want the truth!” as Tom Cruise did at Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men, but for many people Nicholson’s reply, “You can’t handle the truth!” might be more fitting.

Do they feel threatened by our Lord trying to help them carry some cross, to expunge some inner wound, or to wake them from an unholy slumber? Is the truth something they feel can never be resolved satisfactorily, that it will somehow threaten not only whatever peace of mind they think they’ve got, but their very existence somehow?

Do they think thus that their only recourse is to believe in lies, project their sins on others, or otherwise engage in some mindless virtue-signaling about the splinter in someone else’s eye while ignoring their own beams (Matt 7:3-5)? God only knows, literally!

What’s the antidote for the poison of calumny, the vaccine for the virus of falsehood? In no small part, it involves our accepting basic supernatural premises with God-given faith as we try our best to show Him loving obedience in our day-to-day lives.

As Jesus said in Matthew’s Gospel "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:37-39).

Or as He told His apostles at the Last Supper: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). The Ten Commandments are His laws of love after all!

Remember always that Jesus is God, not some prophet, philosopher or just that “Golden Rule” guy. His Kingdom may not be of this world but it is in heaven, indeed, it is heaven, a place every bit as real as the sun you see come up in the morning.

Heaven and Hell are very real, with an eternity of love and beauty and peace like you can’t imagine on one hand, or one of hatred, ugliness, fear, anxiety and loathing like you can’t imagine on the other. Guess which is which?

Christ loves each one of us enough to have created us and died for us in the first place. As Goodness Itself He gave us His Commandments (not, as newsman Ted Koppel once famously noted, His Ten Suggestions) to follow as citizens-in-training for that Heavenly abode, but He will not force us to join Him there.

He respects our free will to choose to follow Him, but this often means undergoing hardships that can be endured more easily, or at least more bearably, through His grace in prayer and in receiving His sacraments.

Remember that God loves each of us enough to get us through all this if we let Him. Set your sights and efforts, with His help in making His kingdom your destination, when you pass away and your earthly pilgrimage ends.

In this regard, John Lennon got it wrong in literally singing the praises of some worldly humanist utopia with his line “imagine there’s no heaven”. No! Quite the opposite in fact! Heaven’s where you’ll find utopia, not here!

Heaven is a place of total transparency and transcendent love! Where there’s no fighting over what is or isn’t true, no disputes over the love God the Father, His Son, and His Spirit have for each other and for us as well. Heaven is the ultimate Sea of Love, in fact it's an Ocean of Love where you have no fear of drowning in choppy waters.

It’s where you know for sure that, unlike the disciples in the boat with Jesus during a storm before he calmed things down, with a command to the wind and the waves (Matt 8:27) that you’re in good hands. You’re in God’s hands for eternity and as such you will never perish.

In a world filled with calumnies, canards, white lies, and various obfuscations, you can count on all of this being true. All you need to do is to believe in God, and in His teachings, with supernatural faith which is also God ‘s gift to us, and to trust in Him!




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