Honesty and Integrity

February 16, 2020
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Readings for Today

Let your “Yes” mean “Yes,” and your “No” mean “No.” Anything more is from the evil one.  Mt. 5:37

This teaching from our Lord comes after a series of new and deeper teachings from our Lord on the Commandments of old.  Jesus mentions the Old Testament teachings that we ought not kill, commit adultery, or lie.  He then follows up each of these commandments with a deeper insight.  In the New Law of Jesus’ teaching, “Thou shall not kill” is deepened to mean that we ought to avoid all anger in our hearts.  “Do not commit adultery” is deepened to mean we ought not have lust in our heart.  And “Do not lie” is deepened and presented in a new way in the above quoted Scripture.

The first thing to note is the more general fact that Jesus’ life and teaching brings us to a new depth of morality.  No longer are we to simply avoid seriously sinful actions, we are now called to avoid even interior tendencies toward these actions.  Not only must we purify our external actions, we must also purify our hearts.

This particular passage, that our “Yes” must mean “Yes,” and our “No” must mean “No,” is Jesus’ way of saying that the words we speak must flow from the honesty and integrity of our hearts.  In other words, what we say, exteriorly, must be spoken from the depths of our being.  Our words must flow from that which is in our hearts.

What a profound lesson for us.  It’s so very easy, in life, to live in a two-faced way.  It’s easy to say only that which we believe benefits us the most, makes us look good, or makes a particular situation easier.  It’s a common tendency to say what we believe others want to hear or to say that which paints our lives in the best light. 

True honesty and integrity requires that we speak only from the truth that resides within our hearts.  No, we do not have a moral duty to reveal every truth of our hearts publically.  Some things are to be reserved only for God or for confession.  But when we do feel compelled to speak, it’s essential that our words carry the integrity of truth in every way.  Otherwise, they are meaningless, deceptive and, ultimately, destructive.

Reflect, today, upon your own honesty and integrity.  When you speak to others, do your words flow from the truth alive within your heart?  When God hears your words, does He see honesty?  After a conversation, can you return to prayer and face your Lord in peace and with a clear conscience?  If you struggle with honesty, know that it is honesty that produces integrity.  Seek the goodness of integrity in your life and our Lord will help you to achieve it by becoming a person of truth who speaks from the heart.

Lord, please make me pure of heart.  Help me to be a person of honesty and integrity.  May the truth that You place in my heart be the basis of my actions and my words.  May I speak with a clear conscience always speaking what You give me to speak.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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