“The truth will set you free.” John 8:32
At the core of the trial of Jesus, Pontius Pilate asks a question, self-servingly and flippantly, “What is truth?” Pilate scoffs at Jesus’ idea of bearing witness to the truth. From Pilate’s position of power, truth is optional, inconsequential even; truth can be defined how one wants.
In many ways it seems as though the same attitude to truth prevails in the world of today. People talk of being “economical” with the truth, of “mis-speaking” instead of “lying”, and of “fake news” as the news that is inconvenient. The truth, the whole truth about the past can be covered up, manipulated, revised and presented to suit the agendas of the powerful today. But truth matters infinitely. Christians must not be content to keep silent in a world where truth has almost become a disposable commodity – occasionally of value, but capable of being twisted or discarded when awkward, disturbing or embarrassing.
Humanity searches for answers to the truth about our identity and purpose – who are we, where do we come from, how should I live, what is right, what is wrong, what happens when this life is over? For Christian disciples the answers to these questions are ultimately to be found in the dramatic events of the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. It is Truth that is at the heart of the story of Holy Week and Easter. Jesus Christ goes to the Cross because he is the embodiment of Truth, betrayed by grubby ambition and squalid self-interest. The Resurrection is the ultimate vindication of the Truth that the God who is Love will in the end prevail over darkness, hatred and suffering.
The great German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, preaching in Berlin as Hitler was coming to power, reflected on Pontius Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” He said that although we may ask for the truth, there is also a Truth that is asking for us, seeking us out. We may live in a miasma of half-truths and untruths, but the Truth that is Christ himself is challenging us, on a daily basis, to take our place at his side in the name of unconditional truth and of absolute integrity.
In these weeks, we have an opportunity to delve deeper into the mystery of the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord and allow ourselves to be taken over by the Truth who seeks us out. In opening ourselves up to Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”, we can courageously face the truth of our own lives, and become people who live by, and bear witness to the Truth.
May God in Christ bless you all.
Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh