What is Truth?

“What is truth?”

This is the perennial question that many have asked throughout the ages. In the Scriptures, we have heard Pontius Pilate asked this question in John 18:38, “Quid est veritas?” Perhaps as an educated man, he was looking for the intellectual truth that will liberate him from the different popular and religious thoughts of the day. Perhaps he was deep in thought or was too perplexed about the mess dumped on him by the Jewish leaders to missed the important revelation of who Jesus is. Perhaps he was too occupied with the things of this world that he missed the ordinary, hidden King of the universe standing in front of him. Perhaps he, like many others, was looking for something grander than the One who was accused by his own people. Yet, we can see that Pilate’s confusion and innate desire for the truth is a universal hunger for the transcendence and everlasting.

Many wise and intellectual thinkers throughout the ages have launched themselves in the search for truth. Many had come to the knowledge of the transcendental, some to the personal relationship with their Creator, while some had chosen not to believe in God because of their own intellectual or personal presuppositions. However, it is important to know that this divinely-inspired thirst and personal hunger for the truth, with proper discernment, prudence, and wisdom, will lead us to the Truth, which is God Himself, whom our heart is yearning for.

The natural, intellectual and spiritual search for truth will often lead us to many perennial hard, unanswerable questions that the intellect or reason cannot comprehend, understand, or give an exact answer. Death, pain, suffering, injustice, or even love, cannot be given an exact scientific or logically-satisfactory answer. Many had tried but these natural, intertwined human mysteries are too complex to be expressed in mere human words or explained by human reasonings. For the many unanswered reasons, these mysterious realities point us toward something more — something beyond ourselves and our social constructs! Yet, too many of us have not spent the time to search for the personal, intimate, and life-giving relationship that fulfills our body and soul, mind and spirit. Many, unfortunately, stopped short for one reason or another.

Many are attracted and motivated to seek some kinds of New Age spiritual enlightenment and alternative that seem to be satisfying at first, but those things are not really life-giving or substantial. It is so easy to believe that by building up good works and merits in doing the right things, karma will deal positively with them. It sounds hopeful and heart-warming to send up good thoughts and positive vibes to the universe and hope that the universe will give them good returns. Many are fine with this “hopeful” spirituality, but this construction and understanding of hope are wishy-washy because there is no ground or basis for anything that might be substantial or real. It seems like many people are willing to trust in chances than seeking the truth. It is sad that many are just willing to create or believe something that seems to be mystical or spiritual instead of having a real faith in the living God who is the Way, the Life, and the Truth. It seems more appealing and easier to follow something that is mysterious, vague, not well-defined where one has the freedom to define or make up what is not given than to follow the faith that might require conversion or the giving of one’s self for greater love.

Archbishop Chaput, in his book, “Strangers in a Strange Land,” quoted the famous theologian Romano Guardini:

“True illness of the mind and spirit sets in the when a man no longer cherishes the truth but despises it, when he uses it as a means to his own ends, when in the depths of his soul, truth ceases to be to him the primary, the most important concern.”

In a very secularistic and consumeristic world, we seem to be given a choice to do whatever we want. We seem to be given the ultimate freedom to choose or identify ourselves as we would like. We are portrayed as people who are in control of our destiny. Yet, most of those slogans are simply the old smoke and mirror trick. Many of those options and alternatives are nothing but anti-truths. People who believed in those ideologies are still unhappy, empty, and unfulfilled in many ways. By selling ourselves short for something immediately gratifying or selfishly satisfying, we simply allow ourselves to be temporarily content for a short time. We constantly have to redefine ourselves or find something new to satisfy the hunger for acceptance, self-based achievements, or subjective pleasures because we are scared of facing the truth that we are empty. Society is constantly bombarding us with new things and appealing distractions because it does not want us to really think for ourselves and begin to see its vain emptiness and fake progress. As a matter of fact, it is too scary for many to face the deafening silence in realizing that our personal and social constructs and ideas are nothing but flashy distractions and tempting trends, nicely-packaged and neatly-worded human revolutions of no real change, substantial truth, or life-giving relationship.

Here is a hard paradox to swallow and accept: our ego can never satisfy itself because it is too small, too fragile, unsure of itself and what it really wants. The ego — lost and confused by its own self — always chases after something apparently trendy, attractive, appealing, or satisfying, only to vainly hope that maybe this one thing will give it happiness. It fills itself with useless noises, appealing distractions, and meaningless stuff to silence, ignores, and forgets its real hunger and thirst for the truth and substantial relationship. Concupiscence, darkening of the intellect, and confusion of the will are the results of the Fall. Yet, when our post-modern world refuses to recognize the reality, it locks itself in its own hopeless search for unfulfilling happiness. It is like drinking saltwater and expect to be satisfied and alleviated from our real thirst! In our insecurities, we have ignored what the soul is truly yearning for — which is life-giving water from the Lord — by simply gouging on what we perceived as savory now.

We have often traded real substance for fabricated goods, life-giving and eternally satisfying for immediate, temporary, and sometimes toxic, pleasures. “Only God satisfies,” said Saint Teresa of Avila. We have to not be afraid of seeking this truth! The journey will be hard and we will be tempted to give up. It might seem lonely at times but we are not alone. Many great saints and wise people had gone before us and found satisfied, nourished, and full of life in God. Even though it seems like we are walking through the dark valleys, we are not alone for the saints who are like stars shining their light of faith upon us. We also have the Blessed Mother, who is like the moon, radiating the true Son of Justice, Jesus Christ, in our moments of doubt, suffering, despair, or loneliness. Even in the darkest of night, we are not alone, for God is always with us, and His saints are praying, interceding and guiding us along the way.

It is the road less traveled but we are not alone. For those who are willing to go beyond themselves and seek the truth, they will find the perennial, transcendental, everlasting, and life-giving relationship with God that frees them from all bondage of sins, falsities, and deceptive fluxes of this world. When we truly reflect and meditate on what is really going on around us, we can listen to the deep yearning of our heart and soul, telling us that there has to be something more! We cannot be content with ever-changing stuff and empty ideologies that seem to satisfy for a moment but leaving us more empty in the end. There has to be something more because our heart is made to only rest and be truly fulfilled in God, to be completely satisfied only in His love. Without a doubt, when our heart is created by the infinite God, nothing finite will ever satisfy it. When we know that we are created by the everlasting love of God, nothing temporary or shallow can possess it. When we take the time to listen to what our heart is saying and what it yearns for, we will know its true thirst and hunger to be loved by its Creator God. Therefore, I would like to leave you with the famous poem by Saint Teresa of Avila as you and I fix our eyes on the good fight and journey toward the One who truly loves us.

“Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you.
He who possesses God, lacks nothing.
Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you.
Only God satisfies.”