In His Light: Focusing on ‘The Truth’ in a time of ‘fake news’

May 9, 2017

So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say 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.”

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 33: 36-38).

One of my all-time favorite movies is A Few Good Men with Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in the leading roles. At the culmination of the production is an iconic scene depicting the Cruise character as a trial lawyer cross-examining Nicholson’s character on the witness stand at a murder trial.

The escalating and heated exchange between the two personae are laced with sarcasm and derisive remarks until the scene reaches its climax with the Cruise character demanding “the truth” and the Nicholson character shouting back, “You can’t handle the truth!”

We co-exist in a world at this hour where in which knowing the truth is very difficult. We turn on our televisions, pick up a news publication, or view an Internet news service and learn the verdict of a trial, a commission’s recommendation, or governmental decree.

We shake our heads in disgust and wonder to ourselves, “What were they looking at or what in the world were they thinking?” 

Complicating the matter is the fact that it is equally hard to know who to trust in our world today. We have very few heroes remaining in our world, especially in the arenas of journalism and politics.

Those individuals who we once admired and idealized for their courage, outstanding achievements, and noble qualities, such as Carl Rowan, Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrell and Gwen Ifill, personified what it meant to be true journalists.

They would compose direct presentation of the facts without an attempt to incorporate their own biased interpretation. These individuals were also notable authors who understood the difference of composing a story as a news feature and offering their view or opinion about an event through personal commentary.

Human rights advocate James Freeman Clarke said, “The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.”

At one time in our nation’s history, we were graced with more statesmen than politicians; however, it would appear that era is gone forever.

Not that long ago in our nation one party possessed the majority control in the legislative branch while the other party leader occupied the oval office.

During the light of day, the two leaders of each branch feuded and clashed for hours. However, under the darkness of night, the two leaders sat in the oval office alone over an aged bottle of scotch with ice in heavy crystal glasses and reached an agreement that was in the best interest of our nation and our world and not their own personal gain.

While I am composing this narrative and viewing the current events with politicians jockeying and babbling rhetoric about the Korean Peninsula, I reflected on my youth and the infamous October of 1962.

The location is no longer the Caribbean Basin and the lead characters are no longer the same. However, the imminent threat of a global war and the incomprehensible annihilation that would follow is gawking us directly in our faces.

Is it possible to return the proverbial genie of skepticism and cynicism back into its bottle or has the bottle been forever shattered and the renowned genie has become part of the fabric of our daily lives? 

When Pilate questioned The Master, “What is Truth,” it is not recorded in sacred Scripture that our Lord answered his query. Little did the Roman Prefect of Judaea know he was gazing on the loving countenance of “The Truth.”

The Evangelist John in his Last Supper Discourse records that The Master’s knowing His death was imminent. The Master shared with His disciples two precious images, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” and “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

The way for true believers of Jesus of Nazareth is to pick up your cross daily and evangelize to a world engulfed and paralyzed with fear, hatred, prejudice and betrayal. The truth for true believers of Jesus of Nazareth is to speak the truth everywhere and to always be a voice for the voiceless, the oppressed, the abused and all our Lord’s brothers and sisters subsisting on the fringes of our society.

The light for true believers of Jesus of Nazareth is to take to heart His words, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

May our Risen Lord and Prince of Peace remain with us now and forever and may He continue to protect, guide, and keep us always glowing In His Light.

Deacon Leonard Paul Lockett is the vicar for Catholics of African Descent.