Fr. Glenn: A Universally-Accepted Virtue

Fr. Glenn Jones

Well, the election’s (finally!) over and—as with every presidential election for the last several cycles—the results are being contested and accusations of shenanigans are a’flyin … both ways. Yet, wherever power is to be had, we know all too well that temptation to corruption is an ever-present specter, no matter the person or position. For we who are a bit older, the Watergate scandal is perhaps the most memorable—the image of a president resigning because of it … boarding Marine One for that one final flight in disgrace.  Since then … hanging chads, collusion accusations, mischaracterizations, scandals galore. As the adage goes, power can corrupt even angels.

When one reads history, though, he finds that such are tactics going back as far as we have records; one need only read of Rome to learn of similar power struggles in the jockeying for the office of consuls during the time of the republic, which became even more treacherous (and deadly) with the emperors. And, of course, we Christians annually recall Jesus’ mock trial, which had its source in envy of religious authorities and how false witnesses were brought forward to condemn Him. Those authorities arrested and tried Him, of course, at night … in the dark … when few other than His disciples were around to witness. As John writes so poignantly of Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, departing the Last Supper: “…he immediately went out; and it was night.” (John 13:30) Dark time for dark deeds.

Whenever one hides his actions from view, it cannot but sow doubt as to the righteousness of those actions, recalling again to mind the Gospel of John: “…men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21) As a common yet tragic example, anyone who has suffered betrayal in relationships knows the suspicions which cannot but arise with secret deeds—hiding of texts, whispered phone calls, disappearances or delays unaccounted for. Thus transparency in relationships and processes are critical in maintaining trust. 

No matter how much we may trust another, only the most naïve realize that humans tend to be selfish creatures who often betray for selfish ends, and so always in the back of our minds is that doubt and/or insecurity when something cannot be verified. And, when betrayed, trust rarely if ever returns in its entirety, regardless of how much the aggrieved party might protest to the contrary. Always remains the doubt: “Is it happening again?” Trust, like honor, once lost, is almost impossible to regain. 

Thus we witness again the importance of honesty and trustworthiness, not only in elections, but in all the various aspects of our daily lives. Perhaps it’s better to dissect the word “trustworthiness” into its component phrase: “to be worthy of trust”—a compliment and characteristic that all need aspire to. How do we achieve—or rather, retain—that worthiness except to be honest in all of our words and deeds, disdaining deceit and refusing to either submit to, or to participate in, that which is false.

Given current events, we find our ready example. In a system of governance such as ours which relies on honest elections, tampering with, or to purposely falsifying/altering, results is hardly less than treason—that term defined as “the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting…to overthrow the government.” To influence elections by fraud, lies or ballot manipulation would be to attempt to thwart the collective will of the governors—the electorate. Certainly one can argue methods and voter qualifications, but seeking to alter the truth of the outcome would be to undermine the national will. 

One wonders if it wouldn’t be better to have Veterans Day before rather than after November elections.  We’d at least like to hope that the remembrance of the sacrifices of our men and women who have defended our nation, and thus our rights and lives, would renew appreciation of how vital is integrity of the election system of our republic. After all, military and many government personnel do not take an oath to defend persons or party, but rather: “I…do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”  … defend that founding document and its component principles which outline our system of government. You’d hope that those passing by a national cemetery and its garden of stone would honor the sacrifice made by so many by refusing to participate in anything which diminishes it memory.

One of the greatest compliments given in all of scripture is that given by Jesus to Nathanael: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47) You know … when you’re complimented so enthusiastically by God Himself, what more need you know?! And Jesus assures us: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6) Therefore, when we depart from truth, we separate ourselves in some measure from Christ Himself, because conversely He says:  “[…the devil/evil] has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him…he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) Not a family heritage to be proud of! So let us all rather strive for complete honesty and integrity in our lives, knowing that such is a path of righteousness, honor and sanctity … a path pleasing to God.

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“No virtue is more universally accepted as a test of good character than trustworthiness.”

(H.E. Fosdick)

Rev. Glenn Jones is the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and former pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos.

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