You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
There is a promise Jesus makes to his disciples on which the experience of freedom depends: you will know the truth. Often “knowing the truth” these days sounds more like a threat than a promise: “Make no mistake, the truth will come out.” Truth is hard won. Recall the words of T.S. Eliot, “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.”
Truth can be threatening. At some point early in our lives, we all have the experience of being deathly afraid that the truth will come out and we will be exposed. Early on we develop an uncertainty of the relationship between the truth being known and the experience of being free. No wonder we have a reflex to opt for something less than the truth…and, thereby, cultivate habits that fall far short of true freedom. Hopefully, in time and with love, our uncertainty resolves in favor of freedom—we come to know how truth and freedom are inextricably bound together. Perhaps it is the knowledge borne of love is the deepest truth of all.
Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If there was ever a reminder for us of our resistance to knowing the truth, of the inextricable relationship between truth and freedom, and of the knowledge of love as the deepest truth of all—it is the witness of Dr. King.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Prayer (from Kenya): From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth, from the laziness that is content with half truth, from the arrogance that thinks it has all truth — O God of truth, deliver us. Amen.