We live in an era of conspiracy theories, fake news, and alternative facts. In the past falsehood competed with truth. Now it’s confusion. We don’t have to be convinced of a lie to be led astray. It’s enough to become cynical and doubt that we can ever arrive at objective, absolute truth. Truth becomes relative and personal: “You have your truth. I have mine.” The person who shouts the loudest seems to get the most attention nowadays. Into this charred, postmodern landscape comes a stranger and alien, Jesus Christ. When he finally got his day in court, the judge wanted to know if he was indeed a king. He was, but he said his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:33-37). This world loves power, not truth. Jesus gave up his power to bear witness to the truth.
“So you really are a king?” Pilate asked.
Jesus answered, “You say that 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.” (v. 37)
Citing other verses in John’s Gospel, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “In Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. ‘Full of grace and truth,’ he came as the ‘light of the world, he is the Truth.” (CCC 2466) In other words, Jesus not only speaks the truth, he embodies it. Likewise, we are called not merely to acknowledge truth, to mentally assent to and affirm it, but also to live it. Again, the catechism says, “Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity, or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy.” (CCC 2468). What is most needed in our day, both inside and outside the Church, are people who not only speak truth but live it.
Tomorrow the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe or simply Christ the King. If Christ is our King, then our kingdom is not of this world either. This feast calls us to focus not on earthly power but on heavenly, not on the vicissitudes of human opinions but on divinely revealed truth, and not on shameful behavior but on virtue.
“When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.” (Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas 19)