This week’s reflection comes a day late. It comes from Track 1, here. Briefly, I’d like to focus on the Psalm and on the reading from Ephesians. Both emphasize honorable steadfastness against the clutches of evil. “No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk with integrity,” writes the psalmist. “Our struggle,” writes Paul to the Ephesians, “[is] against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of the present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.”
The word “integrity” means more than simply “honesty.” It includes both honesty and “wholeness” or “undivided completeness.”
One can avoid telling a lie, and therefore be “honest,” without fully living according to the deeper virtue required by full participation in God’s loving, creative enterprise. One can avoid a lie and still shrink from challenges — choosing instead to hide, to not participate at all, to escape the challenge rather than choose between surrendering to it and fighting against it.
Yet if you avoid, and hide, and don’t participate, you will not be living with full integrity. You will not be girding yourself with “the belt of truth” or “the breastplate of righteousness.”
In short, what matters is not merely what someone says, but what someone does. Words are important, but the only words that are of ultimate value are those that come from the mouth of God. As Simon Peter says in the Gospel, it is Jesus (alone) who has “the words of eternal life.”
The way of integrity is the path of fully living for the Lord. And it is also the path of ultimate happiness, “for the Lord God is both sun and shield; he will give grace and glory.” But that grace will come only for those who, amidst our flawed human weakness, at least attempt, with all the power we have, to walk in the “pilgrim’s way,” towards the integral truth of God.