Voices Online Edition -- Vol. XXI No. 4
Christmas 2006 - Epiphany 2007
The Gift of Truth and Love
by Helen Hull Hitchcock
Peace on Earth! Christians repeat these words -- really a prayer -- every year as we celebrate the coming into the world of the self-gift of God’s great love for mankind, Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace. Especially in a time of war and conflict, this prayer resonates deeply with us. “Peace is an irrepressible yearning present in the heart of each person”, as Pope Benedict said in his message for the World Day of Peace in 2006 -- where he strongly connected peace and love with truth.
Who and what, then, can prevent the coming of peace? Sacred Scripture, in its very first book, Genesis, points to the lie told at the very beginning of history by the animal with a forked tongue, whom the Evangelist John calls “the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). Lying is also one of the sins spoken of in the final chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, which bars liars from the heavenly Jerusalem: “outside are … all who love falsehood” (22:15). Lying is linked to the tragedy of sin and its perverse consequences, which have had, and continue to have, devastating effects on the lives of individuals and nations.… Any authentic search for peace must begin with the realization that the problem of truth and untruth is the concern of every man and woman; it is decisive for the peaceful future of our planet. (No 5)
But so often we hear comments like this: “It may be one of my defects, but what I say comes from my heart. And if it comes from my heart, for me, it is the truth”.
This recent remark of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expresses the view of many people today; and it epitomizes the greatest obstacle to peace and love in the world. If truth is only what “comes from my heart” -- my emotions, my feelings of the moment -- then, of course, there is no real truth at all. There’s only your truth and my truth, which changes with our emotions. This is hardly a new problem. President Chavez might have been responding to Pontius Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” This denial of truth -- objective truth that transcends the isolated self (“my heart”) -- has devastating consequences for individual persons and for the whole world. This is what Pope Benedict has called the “culture of relativism”. The result of this nihilism is perpetual chaos, not peace. Without truth there is no freedom, and love is impossible.
Peace is an irrepressible yearning present in the heart of each person, regardless of his or her particular cultural identity. Consequently, everyone should feel committed to service of this great good, and should strive to prevent any form of untruth from poisoning relationships. All people are members of one and the same family.… In a particular way, the followers of Christ, recognizing the insidious presence of evil and the need for that liberation brought by the divine Master, look to Him with confidence, in the knowledge that “He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips” (I Pet 2:22; cf. Is 53:9).
Jesus defined Himself as the Truth in person, and, in addressing the seer of the Book of Revelation, He states His complete aversion to “every one who loves and practices falsehood” (Rev 22:15).
He has disclosed the full truth about humanity and about human history. The power of His grace makes it possible to live “in” and “by” truth, since He alone is completely true and faithful. Jesus is the truth which gives us peace. (No 6)
In Christ, truth and love coincide and coexist. Jesus made it very clear that love and truth are intrinsically connected -- and that we must seek the truth speak the truth and live the truth. The Gospel of John records that after Our Lord’s final message to His disciples, just before going to Gethsemane where He would be betrayed, Jesus prayed,
“Sanctify them in the truth: thy Word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.
“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.… I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known that the love with which thou has loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:17-21, 26)
Nearly every article in this edition of Voices is related to our responsibility to overcome evil and lies by steadfastly bearing witness to the truth, in particular concerning human life -- matters especially “entrusted” to women -- from embryonic stem-cell research to abortion to Church doctrine on the family, procreation, and roles for women in the Church. The issue concludes with the full text of the document issued by the Pontifical Council on the Family last summer, on the Family and Procreation.
The entire staff joins me in thanking so many for generous financial contributions to Women for Faith & Family. Your donations are our only means of supporting our work for the Church and for you. (Please remember to use the form on the last page, and return it with your donation in the envelope enclosed.)
We pray that you and your family will receive God’s gifts of love and peace in abundance during the coming year.
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