Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
In the 1992 Movie, A Few Good Men, during a Court Marshall proceeding, Col. Nathan Jessep, a character played by Jack Nicholson, is being questioned by the character played by Tom Cruise. Jessep responds to a demand for the truth by shouting, “You can’t handle the truth!” The inference is that, in matters of life there are certain facts which are too sensitive, too shocking, or too revealing for them to be spoken and heard.
This is a movie, it is a story contrived in the minds of writers; yet we have to wonder how often such false facts become reality. We live in an age when it is difficult, if not impossible, to discern the truth. Our news media daily report matters where the truth has been distorted, covered up, misrepresented, etc. Further, the social media enables anyone with access to the internet to state anything they want, present it as truth, and people will believe it and repeat it over and over again. So, what is truth? And, can we handle it?
In the Gospel of John, 14th chapter, Jesus speaking to his disciple Philip, declares Himself as representing truth. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He goes on to state; “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” When Philip still didn’t understand he tries to explain how he is the Son of God, that He and the Father are one. Hear verse 11: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
This question of truth came up often as people struggled to understand who Jesus is. Most famously in the exchange between Jesus and Pilate just before the Lord was turned over to the mob to be crucified. After Jesus stated that He ruled over a kingdom that did not fit within this world, Pilate asked directly, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered. “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” To this, Pilate replied sarcastically; “What is truth?” (John 18: 37-38)
The statement Jesus made, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice,” provides the answer to the question, “How do we know what is true?” And it also provides the answer to our being able to handle the truth. We can have confidence in the word of God, simply because He is truth! And being truth, He can do none other than to speak truth. For us, it is a matter of faith.
Who else can you rely on? Your neighbor, your brother or sister, your political leaders? Heaven forbid; politicians hire people for the expressed purpose of drafting lies about most everything. They call it, “putting a spin on it.” But it means, crafting lies to make you believe what is untrue.
The Gospel of John says a lot about Jesus and the truth, and it begins with inviting us to hear and understand His word. “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:31-32) But free from what? Free from sin, free from bondage created by the lies we live and those which are foisted upon us by those who want to control us.
Finally, Jesus assures us that we can know the truth when we have the Holy Spirit within us and rely on Him to guide our every living moment. “When He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
Not only can you handle the truth, but you can glory in it, because God is with us, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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