Saturday, June 16, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061618.cfm

Why do we lie? It gets us so mixed up!

I vividly remember a quotation painted along the chalkboard border of my 6th grade classroom. It is from Sir Walter Scott’s poem Marmion:

“O what a tangled web we weave
when first we practice to deceive.”

Perhaps the quote impressed me so much because I was entangled in a juvenile drama over smoking in the girls’ bathroom. Some supposed friend had reported two of us to the principal, a tiny nun who kept an unused  (but nonetheless threatening) cat-o-nine tails in her desk drawer. When confronted, what was there to do but lie?

Mt 5_37 yes_no

But, oh the complexity of it! Would my partner in crime tell the same story? Would any slight discrepancy render us convicted? Would she instead take the part of the informant? Would my smoker parents be brought in as investigators of the behavior they had inspired? Where would the whole quagmire end!

Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler to just tell the truth? So why do we lie? Why do we swear to what is not true? Why do we boast of things we cannot claim? This is the same challenge Jesus puts to his followers in our Gospel passage.

In my young case, as in many others, we lie because our behavior has fractured us from the image of who we are expected to be. We want to be respected, loved, powerful and right. These are conditions that should be earned by the integrity of our behavior. But when our actions cheat, we often lie, pretend, avoid, distract or otherwise compromise the truth.

Our world is full of this kind of lying. Our politics are crippled with it; our leaders unashamedly expert at it. Our culture is so poisoned with a lack integrity, that it seeps into our own relationships and choices almost unnoticed. Lying becomes normalized.

And the situation is not new. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is warning his disciples to avoid just such corruption.

A remedy? Here’s what Jesus says:

“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.”

It sounds simple enough. But it requires the hard work of prayerful self-examination, loving mutual correction, forgiveness (even of ourselves), and a good old “firm purpose of amendment”. (Remember that one from the Act of Contrition?)

It was a heck of a lesson I was taught in sixth grade – and, like most great lessons – it wasn’t in any textbook! I only hope I learned it somewhat well.

Music: Tell the Truth ~ Eric Clapton (Get ready to jam! Lyrics below.)

Tell the truth.
Tell me who’s been fooling you?
Tell the truth.
Who’s been fooling who?

There you sit there, looking so cool
While the whole show is passing you by.
You better come to terms with your fellow men soon, cause
The whole world is shaking now. Can’t you feel it?
A new dawn is breaking now. Can’t you see it?

Tell the truth.
Tell me who’s been fooling you?
Tell the truth.
Who’s been fooling who?

It doesn’t matter just who you are,
Or where you’re going or been.
Open your eyes and look into your heart.

The whole world is shaking now. Can’t you feel it?
A new dawn is breaking now. Can’t you see it?
I said see it, yeah, can’t you see it?
Can’t you see it, yeah, can’t you see it?
I can see it, yeah.

Tell the truth.
Tell me who’s been fooling you?
Tell the truth.
Who’s been fooling who?

Hear what I say, ’cause every word is true.
You know I wouldn’t tell you no lies.
Your time’s coming, gonna be soon, boy.
It doesn’t matter just who you are,
Or where you’re going or been.
Open your eyes and look into your heart.

Songwriters: Bobby Whitlock / Eric Patrick Clapton / Robert S. WhitlockTell the Truth lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Music Sales Corporation

5 thoughts on “The Tangled Web

  1. This one is dead on. Truth is so much more liberating. Liars need to have great memories and generally end up all entangled in their own web of lies. Thanks I truly enjoyed this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, thank you, Renee! I think most people can relate to your personal reflection because we’ve all been there. Thanks for the challenge! 🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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