Updated: Nov 20
When I was growing up, the phrase “your word is your bond” was enshrined as a mark of integrity, nobility, and trustworthiness. Unfortunately, our world is increasingly becoming a culture where “alternate truth” is trending, and doubling down on lies is en vogue. Trust has become a rare commodity as promises are broken with equanimity, people lie over blatant truths, warranties are not honored, and political correctness seems to drive our “yeses” and “nos.” At stake here is the negation that our “yes” or “no” is a product of the heart, not of the mouth; a product of genuine conviction, unalloyed commitment, and dependability.
In the gospel of this 2nd Sunday of Lent (Matthew 5:17-35), Jesus clearly states that when it comes to what we say or the promises we make, “Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one" (verse 35). What Christ is saying here is that words matter, and they mean something and should mean what they stand for—our word should be our bond. A promise or commitment is not something we should do to look good or to take advantage of a situation and then fail to follow through. Yes, there are certain situations in which a promise becomes impossible to keep. In this case, we should have the humility to acknowledge the inability to keep to the promise and find ways to renegotiate it in truth. But the primary point here is that we should be upright and forthright with others regarding what we say. In this regard, the apostle Paul said, “Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor.” Scripture is demanding that we preserve the holiness of truth. The book of Proverbs names seven things that God hates and detests, and the second on the list is “a lying tongue” (Proverb 6:17). It goes further to say, “Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given” (Proverbs 25:14).
There is no doubt that it is pretty hard to be a person of one’s word in a society where promises are slippery, and loopholes are ever present. But the Lord calls upon us to be the light of the world. We need to be true to our words, true to our commitments, true to our promises, faithful to our pledges, true to our ministries, faithful to our Christian vocation, true to our children, true to the values of our motherhood and fatherhood, true to our traditions as catholic, faithful to our Baptismal promises, true to our covenant with God, true to our Sacramental life, true to the values of our religion, faithful to our marital commitments, true to ourselves, to God, and others. There is no greater reward than honoring our words. It leaves both the “promiser” and the “promised” with a feeling of fulfillment.
So, when we must say “yes,” let us say it from the heart, and when we must say “no,” let us say it without fear because while “no” is easier to do and “yes” easier to say, a dishonest “yes” is a “no” to one’s credibility. Let us pray that the power of our ‘yes’ meaning “yes” and our “no” meaning “no” may take root in our hearts and transform our lives. It is good for people to know that your word is your bond and that you will do exactly what you say you will do. And as Scripture says, let us do it “from the heart, for the sake of the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance.” (Colossians 3:23-24).