For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (John 3:20-21)
These words we hear the Lord Jesus say to Nicodemus at Mass today echo what He said about “nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” (Luke 12:2-3)
I.e. No one keeps secrets from God.
While I was trying to nurse my poor back I had the chance to watch the recent movie version of Anna Karenina. When Anna and the Count are beginning their affair, they picnic together in a secluded spot. But Anna nonetheless worries about being overheard. The Count says, “There’s no one around.” Then she looks up through the trees to the sky.
There is always Someone around.
Does that mean that the Lord Jesus invented the idea of “transparency?”
Well, not exactly… He also counseled—and practiced—discretion. He spoke openly in parables, but only explained them in private to His chosen ones. He ordered His disciples never to cast pearls before swine. He knew all along Who He was and what the Father willed for Him, but He was mighty cagey about spelling it all out. He told the people He cured to keep quiet about it. When demons recognized Him as the Messiah, He commanded them to be silent. He ordered us, when we pray, to go to our inner rooms to do so.
We certainly want “transparent” organizations, as opposed to shady, corrupt ones. The Lord Himself declared, more or less, something that we all know: Honest people welcome investigators. Honest people have nothing to hide. In fact, honesty gives us the luxury to forget the things that we tell people today. If all the things we say today are true, then they’ll be true tomorrow, too, whether or not we remember. Liars have to lay awake nights remembering all their lies.
The light of truth will reveal all in the end. The truth will vindicate the honest and will condemn the dishonest.
But, until then, not every moment calls for “full disclosure.” I had a girlfriend in college, and we agreed that our relationship had to be based on “100% honesty, all the time.” You can see how that worked out.
Being genuinely trustworthy has two sides: 1. Always speaking truth. 2. Keeping silent a lot of the time. We just heard the consummate example of this two weeks ago: During His Passion, the Lord—Who did not shy away from speaking the truth at the proper time—went from quiet to absolutely silent. People asked Him questions, to which He certainly knew the answers. But He opened not His mouth. It was not the time. Speaking would have served no purpose.
The truth is always bigger than what we mortals can know or express. May we seek it always, live in it always, testify to it when we should, and spend the rest of the time listening for it.