GOSPEL READING: Matthew 5:33-37
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply `Yes’ or `No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
Meditation: How forceful are honest words! (Job 6:25) Jesus addressed the issue of honesty and truthfulness in one’s conduct and speech. What does it mean to be true to one’s word? To be true to oneself and to others requires character. Unfortunately many people today miserably fail here. No wonder we don’t trust many in positions of leadership and influence. God is the source of all truth and there is nothing false or deceitful in him. His word is truth and his law is truth. His truth liberates us from illusion, deceit, and hypocrisy. Jesus told his disciples that the truth will make you free (John 8:32).
We can count on God’s word because he is faithful and true to his word and promises
Why is it so hard to be true and to speak the truth? Truth demands commitment – that we live our lives according to it and be faithful witnesses of the truth. Jesus teaches his disciples the unconditional love of truth. He speaks against bearing false witness and all forms of untruthfulness and swearing unnecessary oaths to God. A disciple’s word should be capable of being trusted without verbal rituals to give it validity. Christ’s disciple must speak truthfully without “stretching” the truth by adding to it or by compromising the truth by speaking untruth or by leaving out what is necessary to convey what is truthful.
Do you allow God’s word of truth to rule your mind and heart?
Thomas Aquinas said: People could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another… (In justice) as a matter of honor, one person owes it to another to manifest the truth. Are you true to God, to yourself, and to others? And do you allow God’s word of truth to penetrate your mind and heart and to form your conscience – the way you think, judge, act, and speak?
Set a watch, Lord, upon my tongue, that I may never speak the cruel word which is not true; or being true, is not the whole truth; or being wholly true, is merciless; for the love of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 103:1-5, 8-13
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The Light of Truth, by Chromatius (died 406 AD)
“By the grace of gospel teaching, the law given by Moses acquired an advantage. The law prescribes that one must not swear falsely; but according to the gospel one must not swear at all. The Holy Spirit had seen fit to order this through Solomon when he said, ‘Do not accustom your mouth to oaths’ (Sirach 23:9). And again: ‘Even as a well-chastised servant is not deterred from envy, whoever swears and does business will not be purged from sin’ (Sirach 23:11). Therefore it is absolutely inappropriate for us to swear. What need is there for us to swear when we are not allowed to lie at all and our words must always be true and trustworthy, so much so that they may be taken as an oath? On this, the Lord not only forbids us to swear falsely but even to swear, lest we appear to tell the truth only when we swear and lest (while we should be truthful in our every word) we think it is all right to lie when we do not take an oath. For this is the purpose of an oath: Everyone who swears, swears to the fact what he is saying is true. Therefore the Lord does not want a gap between our oath and our ordinary speech. Even as there must be no faithlessness in an oath, in our words there must be no lie. For both false swearing and lying are punished with divine judgment, as the Scripture says: ‘The mouth that lies kills the soul’ (Wisdom 1:11). So whoever speaks the truth swears, for it is written: ‘A faithful witness will not lie’ (Proverbs 14:5). (excerpt from TRACTATE ON MATTHEW 24.2.2-4)
[Note: Chromatius was an early Christian scholar and bishop of Aquileia, Italy. He was a close friend of John Chrysostom and Jerome. He died in 406 AD. Jerome describead him as a “most learned and most holy man.”]