What Is Truth?

Editor's Note: Father Jonathan will appear on "Your World with Neil Cavuto," Friday, April 14 at 4 p.m. ET to discuss the new reality show "God or the Girl." He will also appear on "FOX & Friends," Easter Sunday at 8 a.m. ET.

Today, Christian churches celebrate not-so-good Good Friday.

On this day my parents used to attempt, and with some success, to keep silence around our house from noon until 3:00 p.m., the hour Jesus died. Cingular Wireless would not have approved. “Silence is weird,” they quipped, in a national billboard campaign. Chatter is good, all of it, all the time.

As I try to keep a bit of my own silence today, my thoughts go back to a phrase that still sears our modern consciousness. Pontius Pilate snapped contemptuously to the prisoner before him, “What is truth?” Out of place questions reveal more about the interrogator than the problem they probe. He wanted a response, not an answer. Any response would do. He got solemn silence and he walked away.

There’s some Pilate in all of us. We have wondered, and still do, if the idea of truth is for the birds.

In the 1960’s and 70’s we were tired of dogma — “anything goes.” In the 80’s we discovered that not all that goes, goes well. In the 90’s we skirted the issue with phrases like these:

“My feelings about this are….”

“If it works for you.…”

”It all depends….”

In 2006 we have all but turned off our minds. When the crux of the argument is personal opinion and it all depends, public debate sounds unimportant, because it is.

Six years into the new millennium we don’t ask questions. Lunch rooms are for eating. If you have to talk, tell me about the weather, the Yankees, or my pretty blouse.

We only know one thing for sure: “Truth” is a code word for intolerance, dogma, and always ends in Inquisition. We don’t want to go there.

Friends, I, with you, wish things were so simple. If nothing mattered, we could say truth is for the birds and go our merry way. But two big towers came toppling down, Africa is dying and Europe is confused. Our borders are not safe, and inside them, people are abused. Abortion makes babies die and mothers cry. Iraq is burning. People kill in the name of God.

The economy is abuzz, but what if it weren’t? Some day, it too will come undone.

We’ve got problems. Are there answers? Only if there is truth, not the relativistic type, the kind that doesn’t matter, but the kind that says some things are always and everywhere wrong, while others are true. It’s the uncomfortable, honest kind that admits a proper place for shades of grey while never forgetting the two colors that make them up.

None of us has all the answers. I surely don’t. My brain is the size of my fist. I’m 5 foot 7 inches tall. At night I get tired, and some day I’m sure to die. But in all my weakness, I believe truth is to be had. I’ve tasted it. I’m sure you have as well. It tastes like love.

Imposed belief isn’t truth. Wishy-washy affirmations aren’t either. Truth tastes like love because it involves connecting with something that makes us better. It challenges us to be better.

We find it in a well-formed conscience, that inner sanctuary where we all come face-to-face with the voice of God. To hear it, we need silence and the willingness to accept it when it comes our way. In other words, we must never walk away.

Because he walked away and washed his hands, Pilate was free — free from the voice of conscience and free to condemn to death an innocent man.

That kind of freedom can’t be true. It doesn’t taste like love.

Happy Easter! And to my Jewish friends, a blessed Passover.

God bless, Father Jonathan

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