Truth (trooth) n. 1. the thing that is a fact or reality; 2. something factual or so clearly stated that is without need of an explanation; 3. a position, concept or statement generally believed to be accepted or obvious, or a scientific accuracy or undisputed conclusion; 4. to be faithful to a cause or person [ i.q. true ] and steadfast in that faith; 5. Honesty, or a sincerity of or toward honesty; 6. that which is not deceptive or wrong; 7. God.
The above definition of truth, as published in the Merriam Webster Dictionary Collegiate Edition. As a priest, I can see where the key definition lies. Truth is honesty and steadfast faith to a cause or person, that is not deceptive. Truth is God.
In scripture we are told: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.“ [John 14:6] Ipso facto, Jesus is truth. However it does seem to be the weakness of man, that we do not know the truth, recognize the truth or even what is true. From the outset of the Gospel, we are told : “… and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not know or receive him.“ [John 1:10-11]
Continually throughout scripture, Jesus seems to need to convince people – sometimes even his own disciples, as to who he is and what is the truth. “Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, says; ‘Lord, we are going to drown!‘ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?‘ The he got up and rebuked the wind and the waves, and it became completely calm.“ [Matthew 8:24-26] “He said to them, ‘Do you light a lamp to put it under a bowl or bed? Instead don’t you put it on the stand? For whatever is hidden, is meant to be disclosed and whatever is concealed is meant to be found and brought out into the open.’ “ [Mark 4:21-22]
If we are to find truth and believe in truth – in God, where are we to look for this truth? Perhaps, since Christ is above all else love- and taught love, we are to look there. It is a pillar of the Dominican life, that it is impossible to separate truth and love. They become not only so dependent on each other, and interchangeable, that they indeed become almost the same word. Try this little homework assignment- read scripture and replace the word “truth” wherever it appears with the word “love”. The meaning and the intent of the passage is not lost. It may even be more influential. More powerful. More poignant.
“Come before the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14] “Worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth.” [John 4:23] “The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call on him in truth.” [Psalm 145:18]
From just these small handful of simple passages we can see, God desires to be worshipped and approached in love. This then is truth. Because in love, we bare our souls. In love, we expose ourselves and open ourselves to the intimacy of others. It is only in love, that we can truly be enlightened and holy. For it becomes obvious, “Love rejoices in truth.” [1 Corinthians 13:6] It becomes obvious, love and truth go hand in hand. They are the same word. They radiate the same meaning.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, himself a Dominican, rationalized this thought regarding truth; “truth gives us the capacity to reach and understand the existence and essence of things, because it has a non-material, spiritual element of a childlike wonder and love to the thought of it.”
Throughout the First Epistle of John, we are reminded time and time again, that if we are deceptive, lie or become like hypocrites, we do not have the truth within us. It tells us if this be the case, we do not have love within us. And if Christ Jesus is love, then we would not have Christ within us. For love, like truth, opens us up. It is only through love, and therefore truth, that we can ever hope to become true followers of Christ- and true practitioners of His Word.
Reflecting back now on the dictionary definition with which I began, perhaps we need to expand upon the defined meaning of the word truth? Maybe we now need to add a new definition for the word truth, and that is love!
So I take editorial license here in my own essay and now add an eighth definition for the word “truth” – 8. Love.
Oh wait a moment, I recall the original dictionary definition I used above from Merriam Webster. It is already there, in the final definition – “7. God”
Father Wolf is a retired police officer in New Jersey, the pastor of St. Aelred’s Parish, and an Assisting Priest at Saint Miriam Parish and Friary in the Old Catholic Churches International.