“What is truth?” (John 18:38) is a question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus during His trial. It is a part of scripture that I am sure many of us are familiar with and perhaps it was Jesus’ prior statement that puzzled him and made him ask that question. Some of us too may have been like Pilate. In what sense you may be wondering? Well while Pilate was asking “What is truth?”, some of us at one point or another may have asked similar questions but in different forms. These could have been along the lines of “What is the purpose/meaning/goal of (my) life?” or “What is happiness in life?” etc. In these questions, we were also seeking truth – the truth about who we are, what we are meant to do and the truth to being happy. These existential questions are very important to us and many of us seek a satisfactory answer through various means.

What is interesting about Pilate’s interaction with Jesus is that Pilate was asking the question to Him, who had at the last supper told His disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), making it somewhat ironic. As such, it was clear that while Pilate may have heard of Jesus, he did not really know Jesus well and he did not find out further about Jesus or from Jesus Himself. If we can learn anything from this part of scripture, it is that when we ask deep existential questions, perhaps we are challenged to do what Pilate did not, which is to turn to Jesus to find the answer.

St Therese of Lisieux too had asked such a question while she was alive but in a way that maybe we Catholics are familiar with, that is, “What is my vocation in life?”. In simpler terms, she was asking “What am I called to do with my life?”. This was an existential question for her as well, and in her bid to look for an answer, she turned to the Bible, the Word of God, to lead her to the truth. Eventually she did find what she was looking for and if you read her diary in Story of a Soul, you would read that it was not only a satisfactory answer but one that filled her with great joy. So, if we are still searching for answers or the truth of our lives, perhaps before all else, we should first turn to the One who created us and, who is the reason why we exist, to direct us. After all, God promised in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a great plan for each one of our lives and that He “will instruct you and show you the way you should walk” (Psalm 32:8). For when we do, God will surely lead us on a discovery of both ourselves and Him, who created us in His image and likeness.

Written by Jordan Hong