Is it true? Is it False? Is it Fake? Is it an opinion or a fact?

It seems as if a new job/profession has come into existence over recent years:  A fact-checker.

There was a point in time — not so long ago — when people became skeptical about what they read or heard.  THAT can’t be true!  Oh, I don’t believe THAT?  Where did you read THAT?  Was it on CNN or FOX?  That liberal/conservative press, you have to take what THEY say with a grain of salt!

People read WIKIPEDIA knowing that it could not be considered a “encyclopedia of fact.”  After all, it was easy to edit articles or to add something to an article even if you were not the author.

Then FACEBOOK came along and we really began to question things.  One had to be careful about “reposting” something or “sharing an article” — only to find out later that you had been sucked in to sharing a false/made up story.  Did the Russians plant false stories on FB during the 2016 presidential campaign?

Long gone are the days when it was “Gospel Truth” if the preacher said it.  And “politicians”, you’d be wise to disbelieve more than you believe.

Within hours of a political speech,  FACT CHECKERS will publish what they consider to be true or mostly true — what is false — what is questionable.

A number of newscasters and reporters lost their jobs for “stretching the truth.”  What does stretching the truth really mean?  How much does the truth have to be stretched before it becomes a falsehood?

I have seen statements similar to the following on Facebook.  Which one is true?  [1] President Trump is doing a GREAT job handling the response to the Pandemic!  [2] President Trump is doing a TERRIBLE job handling the response to the Pandemic!

In reality, these are opinions based more on feelings/perceptions than any fact.

Or how about these statements:  [1] The Covid-19 scare is a HOAX created to establish a new world order!  [2] The Covid-19 scare is a global pandemic reminding us how what happens in one part of the world can affect the entire world!  Where’s the truth?

Senator Mitch McConnell was responsible enough to admit that he was mistaken when he said that the Obama Administration “let the cupboard bare” without any plan for a pandemic.  The truth is that there was a 69 page plan left for the Trump Administration.  Did everyone who read/heard the accusation by Sen. McConnell also hear the retraction/apology.  Likely not.

In John’s Gospel (14:15-21) Jesus tells the apostles and us — “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth …”

We need THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH … I need the Spirit, we need the Spirit, the world needs the Spirit of TRUTH to lead us and to guide us — first, maybe just to get beyond feelings and convictions — to see the Truth — to see things as God sees things.

But — did we hear the first part — to get the Spirit of Truth — we must first keep the commandments — and in particular, the commandment of love — where there is hate, there cannot be the truth — where there is hate — there cannot be the truth!!

In the devotional, Give us this Day, Loretta Ross, a retired Presbyterian Clergywoman, from Iowa City, Iowa writes:

… truth shimmers and is multivalent.  It dances and surprises like a good poem.  It will not be stuffed in your back pocket but squirms out, oozes down your leg, and gets stuck in the sole of your shoe.  You get home and start to peel it off and find half a dozen other things you picked up on the way.  Truth gets the giggles and tap dances.  It dresses up in gothic cathedrals and lies in the gutter on the bad side of town.  We can come to know it, but we can never possess it.  And, its subversive agenda is the total occupation of our hearts.

I suppose we can set out to seek truth, to be truthful. But such enterprises are apt to be unsuccessful.  Truth is not something we seize upon, but rather most often it leaps out from the bushes in dark alleys when we are not looking and grabs us by the throat.  It seizes us out of the clutches of misery or pride.  Truth teases us in our dreams.  It will not be manipulated, cogitated, or collated by the human mind.

Jesus said he was it and that we would know it and it would set us free.  Finally truth suffers disbelief, hurts, and dies.  And in the end truth saves — on its terms, in its time.

Wow!!!  What a beautiful way to illustrate truth.

A person of truth — like Jesus — would never turn to an opponent and say with a condescending tone, “if you were not so sinful or stupid — you would see things like I am able to see them and agree with me!”

We ought to be cautious before we speak AS IF “our side”, “our party”, “our Church”, “our nation”,  is THE TRUTH — and everyone else is wrong — or a least mistaken.

Truth dresses up in Gothic Cathedrals and can be found in the gutters of the so-called bad side of town.  It is spoken by men and women.  People who are white, black, brown, or yellow can speak the truth.  People with PhD’s speak the truth — and so do people who can’t read or write.

So many adults/parents tell there children … “you can do anything — just don’t lie to me.  I can handle anything, just tell me the truth.”

At some point in time — at some age — we must forget that lesson.  We find an excuse for “stretching the truth” or telling a “half truth.”

Truth bears good fruit.  Truth is seen in saving action.  When the people of Samaria welcomed Philip to their community, they did not just hear his words — they saw the signs of what he was doing — casting out evil demons and curing the ill.  People knew Mother Theresa was a person of TRUTH not because of what she said, but because of how she lived.

As much as we listen to what others say — we become discerners of the truth when we test their words by what they do.  AND BEWARE, others will do the same for us.  They will listen to our words — and watch for how we live and by what we do.

We remain within the Easter Season — we await a fresh outpouring of the SPIRIT OF TRUTH at Pentecost.

Let us love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul.  Let us love our neighbor — and respect what the neighbor is saying, even if we are in total disbelief — let us help those in need during this time of pandemic —– and then, only then, will we receive the SPIRIT OF TRUTH — who will show us the WAY.

Let us be men and women who measure our words with no time for a spirit of lies.  Let us be seekers of the TRUTH.

HJM

 

About thegospelforliving

Retired Catholic Priest - now serving the community as a paralegal and charter school consultant.
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