My wife and I have been reading from the Deuter-canonical Book of Maccabees lately. In it there are exciting stories of courageous responses to evil… standing up for the truth. King Antiochus of Greece thought he was kind and loving to the Jews, even though he brutally conquered them. “For I was kind and beloved in my power.’ But now I remember the evils I did in Jerusalem. I seized all her vessels of silver and gold; and I sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without good reason…” (1 Maccabees 7:11-13) Antiochus had become deluded… a brutal conqueror, yet he thought he was kind and loving. Delusion and hard heartedness is a great danger.
Years ago during the height of the Cold War, I used to think how can anyone believe in atheistic communism. I knew the indoctrination was very intense in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, but I thought people just went along with it because they were threatened with imprisonment or worse. After the Fall of the Soviet Union, I think we did see that most of the people did not buy the propaganda and were happy to get out from under it. Yet some actually bought into the lies.
When people don’t fight against lies and quietly embrace them, after a time they can begin to believe them; they can become deluded, not knowing the difference between right and wrong. What may have started out as a political ploy or strategy or charade, can turn into a real belief…. a belief in the lies, not really knowing “right from wrong.” This is pretty frightening. It’s frightening, because it can happen to us.
Jesus spoke of this in Matthew’s Gospel, “…seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.” (Matthew 13:13-15)
When we hear the truth and turn from it, there is a consequence. Our hearts get hardened. It can happen to any of us. Small lies become more believable. It’s easier to compromise with the truth. The result is that we are not able to distinguish the truth.
There’s a cost to following the truth of God. The “father of lies” doesn’t like it and the world which is under his influence doesn’t like it. (1 John 5:19) “the devil … a murderer from the beginning, and (who) has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
So, we need to be aware of this danger and make sure we interact with those who know and follow the truth…. people who speak the truth in love. Let’s keep our eyes on Christ, the way, the truth, and the light. Let’s believe and follow the words of scripture and the church. And as we do this, all will be well with our soul. And that is very good news.
This reflection is from Dave Touhill Sr.’s blogposts, 2022-2023.
Top image credit: background image of a Christian cross in a brick wall, from Bigstock.com, © by clearviewstock, stock photo ID: 7637699. Used with permission. Scripture quote added.