A small fortune is spent each year on fishing baits. A bait is a lie. We cleverly trick the fish into thinking there is a nice, fat tasty worm for him to eat, but he ends up getting eaten instead. The New Testament word for bait is dolos. It is used to entice an animal or human to benefit my own personal needs without any real care for the one deluded.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit (dolos)!" Jesus liked Nathanael because he was open and sincere even to the point of expressing that nothing of any merit could come from an insignificant town like Nazareth. Jesus dismissed Nathanael’s insult and loved his open honesty. Thus it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
It is always good to see what pleases Jesus. Candor and straightforwardness in our dealings reveal us as far from being perfect, but our sincerity will always be refreshing to Jesus. Unfortunately it is so terribly easy to be deceptive. I think there are two significant reasons for our failure to be truthful.
The least obnoxious of these reasons is that we are afraid of being exposed as morally flawed. We love to fix ourselves up in the mirror before we appear in public. Many of us have very unsettling thoughts about our value. Maybe we have to learn what St Paul says "when I am weak then am I strong". I suspect if we do not have inferiority feelings we might fall into a far worse condition of arrogance.
A far more serious reason for not being candid is a desire to use others, even God for our own advantage. We do not want our real motives to be seen. We make sure the hook is totally covered by the fat, juicy worm. Many of us can go thru our whole life using people. We never really understand those beautiful words of Jesus: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.