01-21-2024Weekly Reflection© LPi Fr. 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 truth-telling 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.