Seventh Sunday of Easter Acts 1:15-17, 20A, 20C-26; 1 John 411-16; John 17:11B-19 Consecrate them in Truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. John 17:18 Fake News vs. Good News
The term “fake news” has entered our everyday conversations. With all the fake news passed on through a variety of traditional news media and via social media, what and whom are we to believe? The deliberate spread of misinformation, for misleading the public, has become a battle to manipulate hearts and minds for ideological, political, and economic goals. Fake news is not only a current reality—it has been around a long time, but it seems to have become an acceptable way to denigrate anything or anyone that may confront a person in power.
For me, the worst result is that we are losing the capacity to recognize and acknowledge the truth. We dismiss studies from scientific institutions as opinion, ethical and theological truths proclaimed by the Church as irrelevant, and we rely on our own opinions without dialogue and the serious work of discernment. This has grave consequences not only for our society but also for our spirituality.
Pope Francis in his World Communication Day 2018 message says, “The effectiveness of fake news is primarily due to its ability to mimic real news, to seem plausible. Secondly, this false but believable news is ‘captious,’ since it grasps people’s attention by appealing to stereotypes and common social prejudices, and exploiting instantaneous emotions like anxiety, contempt, anger, and frustration.”
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus continues his prayer for his disciples: “Consecrate them in truth. Your word is truth (Jn. 17:17).” We who are committed to living as Jesus’ disciples today are called to seek the truth, discern the truth, and live in the truth. This takes hard work and intentionality. It means resisting the temptation to pass on information whether in our real or virtual conversations that maligns others. It also means a commitment to critical thinking and respectful dialogue to uncover the real truth behind today’s issues in the light of Gospel values. “Either-or” thinking may be comfortable, but it limits our capacity for spiritual growth and living with paradox and mystery.
As Christians, our first allegiance is to the Good News of Jesus Christ—God’s unconditional love and mercy for all. We live in this world, but we say no to values that do not promote all of life and demonize groups of people. We ask God to protect us from falsehood and loosen the grip of our opinions. We pray that we will have the courage to acknowledge the truth, speak the truth, and most importantly to live the truth in love.
Sister Terry Rickard, O.P.