St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, November 14th 2018
Catechesis on the Commandments, 13: "Do not say false testimony"
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In today's catechesis we will address the Eighth Word of the Decalogue: "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor".
This commandment - says the Catechism - "forbids falsifying the truth in relations with others" (No. 2464). Living in non-authentic communications is serious because it prevents relationships and therefore prevents love. Where there is lie there is no love, there can not be love. And when we talk about communication between people we mean not only words, but also gestures, attitudes, even silences and absences. A person speaks with everything he is and what he does. We are all in communication, always. We all live by communicating and we are constantly poised between truth and falsehood.
But what does it mean to tell the truth? Does it mean being honest? Or exactly? In reality, this is not enough, because one can be sincerely mistaken, or one can be precise in detail but not grasp the meaning of the whole. Sometimes we justify ourselves by saying, "But I said what I felt!" Yes, but you have absolutized your point of view. Or: "I only told the truth!". Maybe, but you've revealed some personal or confidential facts. How much chatter destroys the communion for inappropriateness or lack of delicacy! On the contrary, chatter kills, and this was said by the apostle James in his Letter. The talker, the chatter are people who kill: kill others, because the tongue kills like a knife. Be careful! A talker or a talker is a terrorist, because with his tongue he throws the bomb and goes quiet, but the thing that says that bomb thrown destroys the fame of others. Do not forget: to chat is to kill.
But then: what is the truth? This is the question asked by Pilate, just as Jesus, in front of him, fulfilled the eighth commandment (cf. Jn 18,38). In fact, the words "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor" belong to the forensic language. The Gospels culminate in the account of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus; and this is the story of a trial, of the execution of the sentence and of an unheard-of consequence.
When asked by Pilate, Jesus says: "This is why I was born and for this I came into the world to bear witness to the truth" (Jn 18:37). And this "testimony" Jesus gives it with his passion, with his death. The evangelist Mark narrates that "the centurion, who stood before him, having seen him breathe in that way, said: Truly this man was the Son of God!" (15.39). Yes, because it was consistent, it was consistent: with that way of dying, Jesus manifests the Father, his merciful and faithful love.
Truth finds its full realization in the very person of Jesus (cf. Jn 14: 6), in his way of living and dying, fruit of his relationship with the Father. This existence as children of God, He, risen, also gives it to us by sending the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of truth, who attests to our hearts that God is our Father (cf. Rom 8:16).
In every one of his actions man, people affirm or deny this truth. From small everyday situations to the most demanding choices. But it is the same logic, always: what parents and grandparents teach us when they tell us not to lie.
Let us ask ourselves: what truth do the works of us Christians attest, our words, our choices? Everyone can ask themselves: am I a witness to the truth, or am more or less a liar disguised as a man? Everyone is asked. Christians are not exceptional men and women. But we are children of the heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint us, and puts love for our brothers in their hearts. This truth is not said so much with discourses, it is a way of existing, a way of life and is seen in every single act (cf. Gc 2:18). This man is a real man, that woman is a real woman: you see. But why, if you do not open your mouth? But it behaves as true, as true. He says the truth, he acts with the truth. A nice way to live for us.
Truth is the marvelous revelation of God, of his Father's face, is his boundless love. This truth corresponds to human reason but overcomes it infinitely, because it is a gift descended on earth and incarnated in Christ crucified and risen; it is made visible by those who belong to it and shows its own attitudes.
Not to say false testimony means to live as a child of God, who never, never denies himself, never tells lies; to live as children 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. 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.
Greetings in Various Languages: