Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
A new untruth is better than an old truth.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Supreme Court
Justice, philosopher; he was born on this
One of the poignant scenes of the Gospel for me is the moment that Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate. Jesus speaks of Truth. Pilate responds “What is Truth?” And there is no answer from Jesus.
Why? I think because Jesus knows that there is no point in responding. Jesus, like so many of the great teachers of the Spirit, challenges “old truths”. People get stuck in “old truths”, and they are trapped. There is little or no possibility of getting free, of seeing things anew, or change. Trying to get them to see new truths is a waste of energy. Jesus saw that in Pilate.
As a priest, I would preside at the Sacraments, and preach, and teach ….. and entice. But one of my most important tasks was to keep an eye on people, looking for that moment when I could see in their eyes or in their life that they were open to a “new truth”. When those moments came, I tried to be ready to be there and to in a sense nudge them over the line. Each one of those people was to me like the 100th, the “lost sheep” – worth a real effort to “find”. And of course, all of us are capable of having such moments.
Many would argue that Truth is absolute. I believe in few if any Absolutes beyond perhaps Love. Truth is a function of each person’s Life Journey. The power and significance of Truth will – must – change with every step of the Journey. The moments when Truth and Awareness coincide can be infinite. And the power of those moments transforming.
Even if a “new untruth” disturbs, challenges, angers, it at least shakes things up. It chips away at the tombs in which “old truths” encase us. Dr. Holmes was right on the money. He understood what Jesus meant when He said, “I will send you the Spirit, who will teach you all Truth; and the truth will set you free.”
It will kill us to stay trapped in useless, irrelevant “old truths”. New untruths are God’s humourous but firm push towards wholeness of Life.