ROME – Christians are called not only to refrain from telling falsehoods, but to conduct their entire lives – both words and actions – as a witness to the Truth that is Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said Wednesday.
“Let us ask ourselves: what truth do the works of us Christians attest to, our words, our choices?” the pope said Nov. 14. “Everyone can ask themselves: am I a witness to the truth, or am I more or less a liar disguised as a true person?”
In his weekly catechesis, Francis reflected on the eighth commandment: “You shall not give false witness against thy neighbor.”
“The truth,” he said, “finds its full realization in the very person of Jesus, in his way of living and dying, the fruit of his relationship with the Father.” As children of God, people are given this same access to truth, sent through the Holy Spirit, “who is the Spirit of truth, who attests to our hearts that God is our Father.”
Francis explained that “in every one of his actions man affirms or denies this truth. From small everyday situations to the most demanding choices. But it is the same logic: that which parents and grandparents teach us when they tell us not to lie. The same logic.”
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope said, the commandment against lying, “forbids falsifying the truth in relations with others.”
“Inauthentic communication” is a serious error because it prevents relationships and love, which require truth; and “where there is a lie there is no love, there can be no love,” he emphasized.
To tell the truth in one’s relationships means more than to just not tell a falsehood with one’s words, he continued, listing also “gestures, attitudes, silences, and absences,” as possible occasions of dishonesty.
“A person speaks with everything he is and what he does. We are always in communication. We all live by communicating and we are constantly poised between truth and falsehood,” he stated.
An element of telling the truth in relationships includes not gossiping, he said, departing from his prepared remarks to emphasize that to gossip is like dropping a bomb, which destroys the community and the reputation of others.
“Be careful!” he urged. “How much gossip destroys communion for inappropriateness or lack of delicacy!”
Just because one may have told the truth about another person, does not mean it was right to say it, or to reveal some personal or confidential information, Francis warned.
Christians are not exceptional people, but “we are children of the heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint,” therefore, Christians are able to live in the truth “not so much said with discourses,” he said, but as a “way of existing, a way of life, and it is seen in every single act.”
“Truth is a marvelous revelation of God, of his Father’s face, is his boundless love,” he said.
The question, “what is truth?” Francis noted, is what Pontius Pilate asked Jesus when he questioned him about his kingship before handing him over to the Jewish people to be crucified.
Jesus said: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” Jesus gives this “testimony” by his passion and death, the pontiff said. Through his manner of suffering and dying, “Jesus manifests the Father, his merciful and faithful love.”
“Not to say false testimony means to live as a child of God… letting the great truth emerge in every act: that God is Father and we can trust Him. I trust God: this is the great truth,” he concluded.
“From our trust in God, who is a Father and loves me, loves us, my truth is born; and to be truthful and not a liar.”