The Jews thought that the command of the Lord was that a person should not make a false oath. The Lord tells us that we should not swear, we should not take an oath at all. It is quite a radical command. It is quite a radical rule but it will not look as such if we start to examine why people swear or take oaths.
People swear because they need to establish their credibility. People swear because they want other people to believe what they are saying. People take an oath so that other people will take their words as credible. The question to ask yourself is, why do people not take your words as credible? Perhaps, there has been a history of lying, or perhaps you do not take your own words seriously.
The Lord is saying, “Why should you rest on an oath when the real problem is that you are not telling the truth?” The Lord is telling us that if we are always telling the truth and fulfilling our words, we do not have to swear and take an oath because our words will always be credible.
Unfortunately, it is because we have become victims of lying that we, in turn, have to swear, to make promises. We need to establish our credibility because there is a history of untruthfulness, of incredulity as far as our pledges are concerned.
Oaths, contracts and swearing-in are ridiculous in a love relationship where, it is presumed, there exists trust between parties. The Lord is telling us that the same trust must be extended not only among family members, but to everybody.
Let us just hope and pray that there will come a time when we will not need official receipts because we need not show people proof that we have paid. Let us just hope and pray that there will come a time when we will not have to swear because people will believe every word we say.
Let us just look forward to that day in life when all these oath takings, swearing-ins and affidavits will be rendered useless because what will ensue from our mouths will be what is truly in our hearts. When there is a discrepancy between what is in our heart and what comes out of our mouth, then the best affidavit, the best sworn statement will be useless. In the final analysis, it is truth that will set us free.
St. Anthony of Padua was a young priest when he died at the age of 36. He was a good preacher. When his body was exhumed, his tongue was found to be intact, incorrupt, because it was used only to proclaim the truth.
St. Anthony de Padua did not need any contracts. He did not have to swear, he did not have to make an oath because every word that came out of his mouth was what was in his heart. For us, what will be the first to decompose when we die? Or has it already begun to decompose now while we are alive?
SAY ONLY WHAT YOU MEAN
Only Jesus, Always Jesus