Being human, we strive toward various goals in life. Most, if not all of them, are directed in search of the truth or a derivative feeling of authenticity. One of the most tender, blatantly straight-forward, and crucially philosophical questions of the New Testament is a query made by Pontius Pilate, the man responsible for permitting the Crucifixion, when he asks Christ, “What is truth?”
Christ himself had provided the perfect answer to this during his public ministry. In response to the Apostle Thomas’ question, clarity is delivered when “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me’” (John 14:6). Christ shows that he himself is the key to the gates of Paradise, of eternal peace in the Kingdom of God. He simultaneously reveals himself as the one who sustains the existence of all created beings and as the source of fulfillment in the search for truth: a search which, as Pilate proves, is undertaken by all rational people, both of Judeo-Christian and pagan beliefs alike.
As Catholics, the faithful are expected to seek the truth which, ultimately, is found with God. God the Son, the Truth, is one and the same with the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). It’s a necessarily repetitive verse; its validity and importance can never diminish. Christ is the Word of God made flesh as Scripture is the Word of God laid down in a textual format. Thus, the Word of God is itself synonymous with the truth, the Bible holding, for the believer, indisputable truth.
Scripture presents a beautiful message, especially manifested in the New Testament. It shares the message of love, love as being authentic, not some obscure magical sensation that lies unreachable beyond the stars. Scripture presents a down-to-earth yet supernatural love, love as it is meant to be. And the prime example of this love is the Incarnation of God the Son, the Word of God made man. The altogether human desire for truth is seen clearly in the desire for love. In searching for happiness, we seek only genuine love, a love which is true, the love which knows no limitation.
Only God, the Author of natural law and divine law, has the rightful position to be the author of truth. There can be no other. If we know what or rather Who the truth is, it may be a fair question to ask where the truth is. Quite simply, it resides with Christ.
Apart from the Holy Eucharist, Scripture provides one of the best practices for discerning the truth. Saturating one’s thoughts and prayers with Scripture aids one in coming to know the truth and God’s will. Scripture also points to natural, non-biblical sources of knowing God, of knowing truth. It does not point to a series of complex data in a search for the truth. Instead, Scripture informs with sense knowledge followed up by deductions of common sense or reason.
“For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them” (Wisdom 13:1-3).
God, as well as far lesser fragments of truth, are found in nature. Likewise, culture and the intellectual pursuits of the ungodly can unearth a certain amount of truth. However, as St. Paul notes in a perfect example, neither Greek wisdom nor the faith of Judaism alone is a sufficient road map toward Heaven. Rather, as Jesus said, he himself is the way. Paul gives ridicule to the parties on both sides, writing, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
Truths are often revealed to us, even to those who are not steadfast followers of God, yet all wisdom has its origin in God the Creator. Christ is the basis for truth. Thus, truth can be discovered almost anywhere, though obviously not everything said by others is true. No policy, no philosophy of life, no scientific theory is 100% true or utterly authentic with the singular exception of one: Christ’s philosophy. St. Peter, the first pope, confirms this understanding. “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’” (John 6:68).
The complete fulfillment of truth is experienced only in Heaven and cannot be fully comprehended by man in the state of a fallen intellect. For those who truly love wisdom and seek the truth, one of the highlights of their eternal reward will be the fruition of learning, the culmination of knowledge. Pope St. John Paul II tells us, “The attitude of the human person in the quest for truth is already an act of praise of the Author of truth. It is the Author of truth Who alone can fully satisfy the human intellect.”
Here is an awesome vision of Paradise, one in which coming to know God, face-to-face, is coming to know all that is in existence. It is intellectual fulfillment; it is the summit of knowledge. The insatiable thirst for understanding is suddenly missing, a sense of total satisfaction, contentment, and ecstasy taking its place. Truth is a taste of Heaven. The fullness of truth and its pinnacle dwells there.