Feb 14, 2015
Quid Est Veritas? What is truth? The words of Pontius Pilate could serve as the defining phrase of our time. It often seems like we live in the age of lies and truth has been lost.
Perhaps the most admired athlete of the last twenty years, Lance Armstrong, with millions of almost worshipful fans, finally admits that he was cheating by using banned substances when he won all of his Tour De France victories. The top rated network news anchor reveals that his often told story of being in a helicopter when it was shot down over Iraq was made up. The bestselling author of a “A Million Little Pieces," a supposedly non-fiction book about how he pulled himself out of addiction without the help of God, makes the obligatory Oprah Winfrey appearance and owns up that his story was really fiction.
The above pop cultural examples are just individuals lying about relatively small matters. Then there are the societal lies, where truths that only yesterday were accepted by virtually everyone may no longer be publicly stated without risk to careers and friendships. The truths that provided the foundation for society are chipped away and what was once condemned is now celebrated.
It is not always easy to avoid despondency and raise children in a world that sometimes feels like a giant carnival side show (Lewis Carroll meets PT Barnum nightmare), where so much around us is part of a big lie and so few speak the truth about matters both small and great. There is also the added twist that in this side show many of the carnival barkers believe their own falsehoods, and fewer and fewer even know what the truth may be.
As we move into lent and journey towards holy week, it comes to mind that the fundamental divide in our world between truth and falsehood can be seen by looking at Pilate’s palace on Good Friday. Pilate, in many ways a perfect voice for an age of lies, says “what is truth?” The Lord had just said to him the words that serve as the answer to that question - that search for the truth in a world of lies - “what I was born for, what I came into the world for is to bear witness of the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth, listens to my voice.”
The Lord told us that the devil is the father of lies and his work is apparent all around us. But Christ’s voice speaking the truth is always there if we listen. What a privilege to be able to speak to him in prayer and hear his voice in the word and take his body in the Eucharist.
While he did not know it, Pilate answered his own question, what is truth, when he presented to the crowd our scourged king, who was wearing scarlet robes and a crown of thorns, and said to the crowd, “Ecco Homo,” “Behold the Man.”