The Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe:
The Testifier to the Truth
A few years ago, I attended the YMCA Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Clearwater and was electrified by the speech given by the Keynote Speaker, Retired Lt. General Gary H. Mears. General Mears spoke the need to restore truth to our society. He began by mentioning that a sign was found in the Nazi soldiers’ quarters in Auschwitz that said something to the effect, “All who arrive here are to be deceived.”
Hitler said that the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it. Joseph Goebbels, his propaganda minister, expanded this to, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
This was at a time of war, and indeed people can quote Senator Hiram Warren Johnson of saying after World War I that the first casualty of war is the truth. But the determination to reject truth did not end with wars. In our own times, political correctness is a higher value than the truth. An example of this is historical revisionism, such as that which eliminates God from Thanksgiving and turns the feast into a meal of pilgrims thanking Native Americans. The lie, that God had nothing to do with Thanksgiving, is seen by many as a value because it respects the concerns of atheists as well as promotes respect for Native Americans. A similar effort is made to eliminate Christ from Christmas, transforming Christmas from the Birth of Christ to the Winter holidays, out of concern for the sensibilities of non Christians. Christmas is the celebration of the Birth of Christ. To decide that it is anything else is a lie.
Certainly many politicians are the masters of the lie, creating lies about their rival’s positions and then telling them over and over until a large group of people are convinced there must be some truth to the statements. Integrity often takes a back seat to the value of electing a particular candidate.
The question is often asked: Does absolute truth exist? Some would claim that it does not. They state that truth is whatever a person makes it to be. Relativism is the only truth promoted by many if not most of our institutions for higher, or in their case, lower learning. Sadly this includes many of our Catholic colleges and universities.
Absolute truth does exist. But where can it be found? Truth can be found in Jesus Christ. Often at the beginning of Mass, I like to say, “Yours is the truth that gives meaning to the very concept, Truth.” In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus saying to Pilate, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Jesus was proclaiming that the spiritual is infinitely more valuable than the physical, that the Kingdom of God was infinitely superior to anything man could create, and that those who were committed to God would recognize the voice of truth. Jesus is our King not just in a figurative sense, something we say but don’t really mean, but in the very reality that the Truth of God with all its ramification is the only truth that can be found in the world. Nothing in the world matters other than that which comes from God and that which leads to him. We are committed to the Truth. We are committed to Jesus Christ. His is the Truth that gives meaning to the very concept, Truth.
Earlier in the Gospel of John, the Gospel of this Sunday’s reading, Jesus said, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) Set us free from what? Set us free from a life of deceit, where people routinely lie to others and even more frequently lie to themselves. For example, a person has serious moral problems. You can fill in the blank about whatever these problem may be. He routinely lies to others by creating the persona of a moral person. He also lies to himself saying that he is not all that bad. He is very much a slave to his own immorality. But then, through the grace of God, the person commits to Christ. He is no longer satisfied with claiming to be a Christian but is determined to live as a Christian. Now he faces up to his life, puts the truth before all else, and is finally freed from his immorality. The truth of Christ has set him free.
It is easy for me and for you to decry the lies of other people, or of our society. It is far harder to recognize the times that we are the liars. But, again by the Grace of God, when we do come to the realization that there are many times that we are living a lie, we can find freedom in Jesus Christ. When we have the courage to live as He called us to live, we can be people of
integrity, people of the Truth.
Jesus Christ is our King. He frees us from lies. He gives us his truth. The Church year concludes by summarizing Jesus’ life on earth in one simple statement: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
May we have the courage to live the Truth of Christ, our King.