01-21-2024Weekly Reflection©LPi — Father John Muir

We start telling lies around the age of three, the experts tell us. It’s understandable. Lying is a god-like power. Whatever I want, I need only say it, and the world rearranges itself accordingly. It’s amazing at first. But soon reality snaps back and I’m faced with a dilemma. If I remain committed to my lie I start to fracture into pieces. My words and reality drift apart, and I find myself lost in a lonely world of further falsehoods and fear of being found out.

How marvelous, then, that Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming: “Repent!” We tend to think it means “stop doing bad things” but it doesn’t. It literally means “go beyond the mind you have.” Think in a new way. It’s painful to admit, but some portion of my mind is addicted to lie-telling, usually to protect my ego or make life easier. To repent means to admit this tendency, to say, “I’m done lying,” and to move beyond my split mind into a complete commitment to the truth. Perhaps that’s why at Mass we together proclaim, “I have sinned in my thoughts, and in my words…” Repentance and truthtelling work together.

Those who know the twelve-step process of addiction recovery know this process well. The fourth step requires radical truth-telling: listing our moral defects. This isn’t being scrupulous. Rather it is freedom from falsehood, and entrance into the real world. This week, I invite you to join me in this practice. Get your phone or piece of paper. Answer the question: what are your true moral defects? Write them down. Remember, the Lord knows them already and loves you. We have a sacrament where this truth-telling is celebrated: Confession. Perhaps it is finally time to go beyond our childish lies.