Today, Jesus is under a lot of pressure to tell a lie. Sometimes we can feel pressure to lie too – so we don’t look embarrassed, or get in trouble, or lose our popularity – or even the love of someone we love. And so we lie. And Jesus had strong pressure to lie: he was facing a semicircle of angry bearded men about to start throwing rocks at him, to kill him.
Yet he doesn’t lie. Why? Why doesn’t he do the wrong thing to save his reputation? Today’s readings give us a number of reasons. One is that lying is wrong: Jesus knows that only the good will do him and others good, so he shares with them the good, the truth. A second reason is that Jesus has guts: he is not a coward – because that is what a liar is – but someone courageous, who fights for the truth. A third reason he doesn’t lie is because he loves them: true love first of all desires the good of the other, and where there are lies, the person is no longer being loved.
But the final reason is the most important, because it makes the other reasons possible: the foundation of Jesus’ existence is not getting away with it, or the supposed love of others, but rather the unchanging love of God the Father. Basing our lives on our popularity is always a mistake, because popularity is always going up and down – so its totally unreliable – and because we become a slave of others opinions, and because we end up lying even to ourselves: and so totally insecure. The love of God is different however, because, his love for me is the only thing in the world that never changes. And the people who know this are secure, and face even the hardest difficulties with courage knowing that nobody can touch the love God has for us: and they are a light, and inspiration, and attractive to others.
So which do you want? A slave to the opinions of others – or to be a light to others?