Posted by: L. E. Barnes | April 25, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Easter

In class today we talked about this Sunday’s scripture readings as well as the chapter from Catholic Christianity deals with the eighth commandment. In the gospel reading, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” One of our class leaders remarked how the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, holding a lamb in His arms, seemed so touching to her at first. Then she later learned that sheep are not very intelligent animals, so it is actually quite humbling to be referred to as sheep! Another person told how the late Timothy Leary, the king of LSD, once spoke contemptuously of the notion of Jesus as our shepherd precisely because it made us nothing but sheep. But I think a person like Leary shows why we need the Lord’s guidance rather than trying to follow our own lights. After all, Leary had nothing to offer but drugs and empty words–”Turn on, tune in, drop out.” And we’ve seen plenty of examples of what happens when people (even Christians) decide to ignore God’s way and try to do things their own way.

Kreeft discusses raises some excellent points about the eighth commandment. This commandment is not simply about telling lies about others. Rather, it is about being dedicated to the truth in every aspect of our lives. Jesus is the very embodiment of truth, so sin of any kind rests on falsehood. Kreeft points out that all sin is idolatry, in that by sinning we put something else before God, and all sin likewise stems from the rejection of God’s truth. He also says, “Love and truth are equally absolute, for both are divine attributes, infinite and eternal.” Our class discussed how these days people often don’t want to see truth as an objective absolute but as something totally subject–“Is this your truth or my truth?” And I mentioned how scholars who have studied the critical thinking process consistently agree that people have a strong tendency toward self-justification and self-validation. We usually want to think the best of ourselves, and it’s easier to see others’ faults than to see our own. Living in the truth, however, requires self-honesty!

We talked about prudence in telling the truth. For instance, the Church recognizes that there are times when the truth should be withheld. Jack Nicolson’s character in the movie A Few Good Men blurts out in one scene, “You can’t handle the truth!” In real life, there are times when a person isn’t ready for the truth because they aren‘t mentally or emotionally mature enough (e.g., a small child who wants to know where babies come from!), or the truth should be withheld to protect the innocent (e.g., a person lying to German soldiers about Jews hiding in their home). Then there is the matter of gossip. Even if something is true, that doesn’t mean that it should be broadcast to anyone who will listen. (I mentioned the example of office politics/bickering among employees. I’m sure we’ve all encountered situations in which disgruntled coworkers go around badmouthing a fellow employee–and it’s usually not even those people’s business.) In other words, even harming another’s reputation can be a sin against truth.

Finally, we discussed the media. Kreeft remarks, “The communications and entertainment media constitute one of the major battlefields in the war between truth and falsehood today.” The media have a great responsibility regarding what they choose to present to the public. For instance, one person gave the example of how the media have been covering the sex abuse scandal in the Church. (See my earlier post about how this problem is not confined to the Catholic Church.)

I love how Kreeft points out the irony of Pilate’s question “What is truth?” After all, he had the very answer to that question–Jesus Christ–standing right in front of Him!



  1. free will is a hard conversation. what exactly is God’s will? I believe we heard that answer, “Love me and love each other.”

    I hope the choices i make will always speak to loving God and loving another.


    • At its most basic, that’s what it comes down to. Or I believe it was St. Augustine who said, “Love God and do what you will.” Because if you love God, you will of course obey His commands, especially to love others.

  2. “I love how Kreeft points out the irony of Pilate’s question “What is truth?” After all, he had the very answer to that question–Jesus Christ–standing right in front of Him!”

    I love that!

    • Yes, Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. Pilate had no idea whom he was dealing with! So sad for him….

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