People of the Lie
Save us, Lord! There are no devout men left. Fidelity has vanished from mankind. All they do is lie to one another, flattering lips, talk from a double heart. Psalms 12:1, 2
The post-modern world with the wide range of media communication that it presents brings us face to face to face with the truth that we are called to embrace. It also challenges us to respond with the truth of our personal lives. It invites us to analyze the truth of our human relationships. It confronts us with the one who said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."
In the story 'HOGAN'S HEROES', U.S. Colonel Hogan, accuses German Colonel Klink of telling a lie. Colonel Klink responds by saying, "I never tell a lie. I always tell the truth—almost always."
Few of us have the honesty to make this admission. We want people to believe that we are trustworthy. This is so even if we have proven to be blatant liars and the worst of scoundrels. We claim to be insulted if one dares to challenge our veracity.
However, this is not the most crucial fact about telling a lie. There are aspects of untruthfulness that are more decisive, more determining and damaging. It is one thing to tell a lie. It is quite another to live a lie. It is all the more crucial where fundamental religious and moral values are concerned.
Jesus came into a world which was basically religious. The Jews had inherited the Law of Moses. They were descendants of the Patriarchs and the Prophets. They bore with them the great promise of the Messiah. They were a religious people.
Yet, when Jesus proclaimed to them the Kingdom of God and its demands, they rebelled against him. They rejected the very truth which they were committed to protect and promote. They got rid of him. Falsehood they embraced. Truth was far from them.
What does this say to us? What can we learn from this encounter of Jesus with his fellow Jews? Does this relationship bear any meaning for us who come in the 21st century?
Many of us, human beings, including Christians, are People of the Lie. We pledge ourselves to uphold and champion the truth. But at every turn we flagrantly deny it. Yet, we have the audacity to say, "How dare you tell me that I am a liar!"
Many of us claim to uphold religious and moral values. Some of us profess to build our lives on noble principles. Yet, in our daily lives, we flagrantly reject them.
This is because these values are merely verbally expressed. They have not been internalized. They have not been absorbed into our being. They have not become part of the framework of our lives. We very conveniently assert them. But our lives do not manifest them.
Christ is the Truth. Most of us are People of the Lie. Not only do we tell lies, but our whole life is a lie. It is a mere fabrication. It is a gross deception. And many there are who glory in this caricature of human personality.
What can we do about that? How can we fulfill our role, our mission as bearers of the truth and our call to live the truth? Is the lack of religious education our main problem?
Many of us profess the truth. We may speak the truth. Many of us hold on to the truth and will defend it with all our might but only when it brings some advantage. If it threatens to bring us trouble we will withhold it or even deny it. We will be silent. Unfortunate is the man who exposes himself to trouble! Foolish is the man who welcomes victimization!
However, our basic problem is that we have not been radically committed to the truth. We have not wholly embraced the truth. We have not been converted to the Truth. Real conversion, a major transformation, is needed. Truth bears a power of its own. It has a transforming power. It was Paulo Friere who said, "To speak a true word is to change the world." We do not challenge the world, we do not change the world because we do not speak the truth with our lives. Our lives are often nothing more than a tissue of lies.
There are things greater than men and women. Truth is greater than man or woman. In fact, to be truly a man or woman, you have to surrender yourself to truth. Not only must you tell the truth, but more particularly, your life must be based on truth. You must be ready to suffer for truth. If you cannot do this, you are a blatant liar and you are not worthy to walk on the face of the earth.
Oh, we tell lies with such indifference! Few of us realize how evil is a lie. The holy man of God, Padre Pio, says, "The lie is the child of the demon." A lie is much more than an untrue statement. It is yielding to a power, a power which dominates us. We can indeed become slaves of the lie. Only Christ has the power to set us free!