Headline: Truth Out Of Season (Evil may have its hour but God will have his day - Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

Posted on: 2015-07-18

The travails of prophecy

Being a prophet generally requires depth of thought vision and even spirituality. Every authentic prophet must, at some point in life, confront sin and Godlessness. Some prophets get advance warning of their challenge, others do not. God admonished Jeremiah: "Do not say: 'I am still young', for now you will go, whatever be the mission I am entrusting to you and you will speak of whatever I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them for I shall be with you to protect you. - It is Yahweh who speaks" (Jer. 1:7-8).  Ezekiel's introduction to mission was not any easier. On seeing a vision of the likeness of Yahweh's glory, he was told: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a people who have rebelled against me.... Now I am sending you to this defiant and stubborn people to tell them 'this is the Lord Yahweh's word'... But you son of man do not fear them or what they say for they will be as thorns for you and you will be sitting on a nest of scorpions....Tell them what I say, whether they choose to listen or not for they are rebels" (Ez. 2: 3-7). Prophet Amos in his turn,  had a rough time too. When he was heckled and harassed by Amaziah to stop speaking the words of Yahweh, he responded with a heavy oracle. "Now hear the words of Yahweh...Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, your land shall be divided up and given to others, and you yourself shall die in a foreign land" (Am. 7:16-17). That pretty much is the life story of all real prophets.

Same for the Suffering Servant

Long before Jesus came, Israel looked forward to a Saviour who would make everything easy for all. From that point of view, Jesus began well. When he picked up the scroll in the temple to define his mission, he proclaimed soothing words: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring  good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and news sight to the blind; to free the oppressed and to announce the Lord's year of mercy" (Lk: 4; 18-19). That music to the ears of his listeners did not last very long. It soon became obvious to them that the kingdom of God was going to mean much more than sweets and sugar. It would also be about suffering, perseverance, sacrifice, justice and truth. So, Jesus began to speak less-palatable truths. "If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life for  my sake will find it" (Matt. 16:24-25). Jesus even declared that he had come because of the truth. When queried before Pilate, he said: "For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of the truth hears my voice" (Jn. 18:37). Jesus had earlier stated his very identity: "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me" (Jn. 14:6).

The disciples died for the truth.

Straight after Pentecost the disciples of Jesus demonstrated their commitment to the truth. Stephen was stoned to death as the first martyr of the Church for affirming the truth about Jesus (Acts 6,7). Peter and other disciples, arrested by the authorities, harassed and admonished to quit the business of preaching the Gospel, retorted; "Better for us to obey God rather than any human authority" (Acts 5:29). They paid dearly for their choice. Paul upped the stakes:  "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1Cor. 9:16). Enumerating the troubles he had seen in the service of the gospel, he demonstrated that few could have seen worse. "The beatings I received are beyond comparison. How many times have I found myself in danger of death!" (2Cor. 11:23) He then stubbornly declared:  "I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor spiritual powers, neither the present nor the future, nor cosmic powers,  were they from heaven or from the deep world below, nor any creature whatsoever, will separate us from the love of God, which we have in Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Rom 8: 38-39).

Truth still travels on gravel roads

Only such passion for the truth can save Nigeria today. Among us, truth needs disciples, heroes, and knights, committed to its battle and subsequent triumph. Though the transforming power of truth is undisputable, the process of that transformation is tortuous. It is a permanent challenge to all true prophets, be they clergy or laymen, men or women youth or adults. Jesus said: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" (Jn 8:14). Those who embrace the truth, who proclaim and promote it may have a hard time and suffer pains. But they are the ones who "create" a better world, not the Jack the Rippers, the  Al Capones, Adolf Hitlers or Idi Amins of this world. Those who would say nothing for the truth should not stay smug. Truth is not only violated by falsehood, it is just as well outraged by silence. We must all actively commit to enthroning the truth. God and history never discard the records of such choices. That fact determines the worth and measure of each person's existence. I hope you are asking yourself this question right now. What is my existence on this earth