"What is truth?"(1) was Pontius Pilate's question for the man standing before him on the day that the world changed. Jesus had already answered that question: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." (2) This statement is the key to one of the most misunderstood and misused things Jesus said: "If you follow my teaching, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (3)
(1) John 18:38 (2)John 14:6 (3) John 8:31-32
If Truth is the key to freedom, then untruth leads to un-freedom. Adam and Eve learned this the hard way. The underlying weapon behind everything that Satan does is Untruth. When we know that God is Real; that Reality is God's Creation, then everything else is unreal, untrue, and a bad foundation for our lives.
This does not mean that God cannot use trouble. Sometimes Satan's knife in the back is used by God as surgery to heal and shape His people. Jacob's lie to Isaac was what pushed him where God needed him next. The lie that put Joseph in jail put Joseph in contact with Pharoah, where Joseph's wisdom became the saving of Egypt, and of Joseph's own family. Absalom's lies about his father David were his own undoing, and the reorganization of David's kingdom. Lies against St Paul in Jerusalem ultimately led him to Rome.
This week we remember a remarkable man of God who changed the spiritual destiny of a nation. But even St Patrick had to deal with lies and accusations. One of the only three writings of St Patrick that have survived is his "Confessions", in which he deals with accusations that he was taking financial advantage of his flock: "But in the hope of eternity, I safeguarded myself carefully in all things, so that they might not cheat me of my office of service on any pretext of dishonesty, and so that I should not in the smallest way provide any occasion for defamation or disparagement on the part of unbelievers." Patrick understood the Truth: look at a key passage from
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
his most famous prayer:
(Translation by Cecil Alexander, Dublin, 1889)