Lenten Meditation: Wednesday, February 24
Jesus answered, “You say the I am a king. 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.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” John 18:37-38
This brief bit of scripture is among the more famous and certainly common to Lent. John is telling of Jesus’ appearance before Pilate and truth is at the center of the conversation. Jesus has the truth, to which he is testifying. Pilate can’t see it, or is not listening, but in any event he wants to know, “What is truth?”
In truth, there is a lot of truth. Not everyone is a good steward of their truth. What do we do with our truth?
The upside to truth is that it is true. At least we honestly believe it is. Some truths are so true to us that we believe they should be other people’s truths as well. But how do we know the difference? How do we know what is our little truth and what is our big truth? How do we promote truth without becoming a fanatic?
At some level all “truths” are truly believed to be so by those who utter them (with the exception of those who deliberately lie and distort truth). Most people do not take the time to parse out what is truth from what is everything else. Truth’s close kin—fact—is black and white. Fact is observable, measurable, verifiable. Truth is generally a collection of facts which, when washed together, come out looking grey.
While we cannot and should not impose our truth on others, nothing prevents us from witnessing to others our truth. Ultimately all good in human affairs come from this buffet of truth sharing in the spirit of honesty and critical examination. Ultimately, whatever is true is true because it is built from shared experience of human beings. But that is tricky and laborious and that is why so few are interesting in pursuing it.
In the movie made from “Fiddler on the Roof”, Tevye is standing at his milk cart talking to the student Percheck. Percheck has challenged the statement made by one villager “Why should I break my head over the outside world, Let the outside world break its own head.” To which Tevye responds, “He is right.” Percheck says, nonsense. You can’t turn your back on the outside world. To this Tevye says “he’s right.” Then the Rabbi’s son says, “he’s right and he’s right? They can’t both be right.” Tevye sums things up. “You are also right.”
And that’s the truth.