I imagine most of us are familiar with the story of Pinocchio and his lie-detector nose, which grows each time he tells a lie. More than just a story of adventure, it represents one wooden marionette’s process of acquiring a ‘true conscience’ and inner moral compass in order for
him to become a real human being, with the help of his faithful companion, Jiminy Cricket.
This process of ‘forming our conscience’ begins when a two or three year old starts lying – he or she still does not understand the value of ‘truth’, and would lie to get out of trouble, to escape punishment, to get what they want… and sometimes just for fun because it’s funny to see grown ups gets confused when the child talk nonsense and make up stories! It’s not a ‘bad’ thing – it’s a sign of intelligence, creativity and even self-preservation… but eventually they need to learn the importance of Truth.
The process continues all throughout childhood and well into adulthood. The stake gets higher – it is no longer a matter of hiding a broken glass but broken relationships. No longer about cheekily munching on forbidden cookies, but other much more harmful substances. No longer about a ‘white lie’ to win a little game, but a complex network of deceit that can destroy another person. It becomes a matter of life and death, of integrity, of what kind of person you want to be.
It’s not an easy learning process, and the choices get harder and harder as life becomes more complicated. But we are not alone – as Jesus said in the gospel today, we have an Advocate, a ‘lawyer’ of some sort who is on our side to help us and defend us! This ‘Spirit of Truth’ comes in many forms… perhaps as a peaceful dove that reminds us of our identity as a beloved child of God, as we see at the baptism of our Lord. Other times, the Spirit acts as a burning fire within that gives strength and courage so that we may overcome our weaknesses and fears to stand up for the truth, even at the cost of our lives, as the disciples did in that first Pentecost. In other moments, the Spirit might act as annoying talking ‘crickets’ in our lives, reminding us to do what is good and right.
No, it does not make for easy choices… and yet, I can say with all my heart, that it is definitely worth all the pain and effort to follow this Spirit of Truth. After all, the fruit of such choices will be “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control”… aren’t these things that we all want??
And so I pray: Come, Holy Spirit, be with us all!