Telling the Truth

As a priest leaves the sacristy of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, processing to whatever altar he is going to celebrate Mass, he is immediately confronted by a very large mosaic. The work was completed in 1604 by Cristoforo Roncalli and is titled "The Punishment of the Couple Ananias and Saphira." The scene is a portrayal of what occurred in Acts 5:1-11. Ananias lies to St. Peter about money he had obtained from the sale of property and, because of that lie, immediately drops dead. His wife Saphira, not knowing what has happened to her husband, likewise lies to the Apostle and she too dies. It is almost a scene out of Greek mythology.

The altar at the Vatican, below which this work of art hangs, is known as the "Altar of the Lie." The artwork was intentionally placed outside the sacristy to serve as a reminder to priests to hide nothing from God. Priests should not live dual lives, but be transparent and honest. There should be nothing grievous on their hearts or consciences, particularly as they celebrate the Eucharist.

The exhortation to integrity and honesty applies to everyone, not just priests. We lie out of fear. We are afraid that being honest and upfront about whatever the case may be, will somehow hurt us. Our reputation and image will suffer, someone might become angry and leave us, we might lose something valuable. Lying means we have submitted to fear. Telling the truth means we have submitted to trust in God. For God is always protecting us and will never let us down, no matter how bad the situation appears. So, tell the truth. It will set you free.

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