No One Answered Pilate’s Question

truth1The Roman villain in salvation’s history asks the Savior, “What is truth?”  And even the Savior evades Pilate’s question.  That elusive yet always top of our list word is that somewhere, somehow “truth” resides and we just need to unravel, unpack or “un”do something to reveal it.  Yet, is “truth” absolute, subjective or situational? And if discovered, can it ever be institutionalized?

What prompts Pilate’s historic question is when Jesus said, “I was born into this world to tell about the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth knows my voice.”  Everyone in the congregation breathes a sigh of relief knowing they’ve been right all along and all the “others” have been wrong.  Whewww.  “That was close, I was starting to doubt my attitudes and beliefs but Jesus assured me that I was right all along.”

Three groups for consideration

  • For most folks, truth is not really considered or pondered
  • The next group jumps on their institutional religion beliefs
  • The remaining group is so sure what “truth” is that their certitude is frightening dependent on such an intangible word.

The first two groups wished the definition of “truth” could be so clearly defined.

It’s raining outside now.  Clouds and pressure do their magic and the beautiful pitter/patter enhances my evening along with the crops and my grass.  That’s the only truth I know.  (Being from Wisconsin and not a sports fan, the Packers will tease us with truth and then fail us making my following Monday morning lousy amid mournful fans who thought they knew the truth.)

Slavery was an accepted truth for centuries (including the Bible) and still continues in different shapes and forms today.  Germany knew the truth about Jews and its lingering suspicions haunt us still.  Gay marriage is now the soup of the day but we still fondly remember its bold, unquestionable truth for hundreds of years.  (“Moral disorder” anyone?)

I met a “pagan” the other day.  I really did.  She wasn’t baptized so I called her a pagan.  She didn’t laugh but I found it amusing that the truth of thousands of years was witnessed between us.  We killed how many of them in the name of “truth” because we were so sure of its definition and meaning that killing became a kindness to them in answer to Pilate’s simple question.

The Catholic Church has its own list of defining and implementing “truth.”   I love the Church for all its worth and mistakes.  No institution can survive thousands of years without entering many doors.  Jesus said there is only path to heaven and that it is through him.  I suspect there are many doors that eventually lead to him.  There is no one door.  There is no one “truth.”

But the truth of the matter is I know it’s raining outside right now.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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