Author’s Note: I don’t know if my rendering of the following story is even close to the true tale, but I have recounted it as I remember hearing it many years ago. In my heart, I believe it, and it continues to give me great hope for the future Peaceable Kingdom of God that is coming. You can check this out for more accurate information than my re-telling. Thanks for the indulgence.
There once was a monk. During the height of the Roman Empire this monk heard the call to leave the monastery where he lived. He did not know why he was supposed to leave, but he obeyed. As he walked along, seeking guidance, he heard shouting. Curious, he went to investigate and found himself standing in a coliseum. Below him, in the middle of the arena, two gladiators engaged in a fight to the death.
Seeing the slaughter going on around him and seemingly unaware of the danger, he stepped onto the sand and approached one of the gladiators. Grabbing the man’s sword arm, the monk shouted, “In the Name of Christ, forebear!” At first the gladiator just stared at him, stunned by the appearance of this unarmed monk, but after the monk repeated his statement with even more urgency, the gladiator gave a chuckle in response. Other gladiators noticed the little monk and were curious as to what was passing between their fellow fighter and this man. Silence descended on the arena as even the crowd strained to hear this new development in the day’s entertainment.
“In the name of Christ, FOREBEAR!” the monk shouted again and again. The first gladiator’s chuckle turned into full-blown laughter, and as the words of the monk began to sink in, the crowd joined the taunt. The desperate monk kept repeating the same phrase over and over with tears streaming down his face. He wept openly at the celebration of death surrounding him. By now only the gladiators could hear the monk’s chant over the din of the crowd’s hilarity.
Suddenly one of the gladiators tired of the monk’s cries and decided to put an end to the distraction. Walking over to the monk, the gladiator calmly ran him through. At that, a hush overtook the crowd, beginning with the fighters on the stadium floor and then spreading into the stands, until everyone was perfectly still. With one final breath the monk again pleaded, “In the name of Christ … forebear.” The final whisper of the monk’s dying breath captured every ear in the arena that day.
A shockwave rippled through the crowd, rendering everyone speechless. Finally, a man in one of the upper tiers stood up and walked out of the arena. Silently, one by one, the bloodthirsty spectators began to leave until only the gladiators were left. Their entire audience had been decimated by one insignificant monk.
On a quiet morning, a peaceful man left his quiet, monastic life in the name of a quest he did not grasp, only to find himself run through by the sword of a man who made his living killing other men for sport. I wonder if the monk would have left his home if he had known what awaited him? I wonder if he had any inkling what his death would mean to the world outside of that little monastery? You see, Telemachus’ death marked the end of gladiator fights in the Roman Empire. His death marked the death of a long held tradition of cruelty and bloodshed.
I wonder what we are willing to do, or to what lengths we are willing to go in order to bring peace to this earth. Are we willing to show the love of Christ, even if it means our death?
John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
May peace reign in our hearts and minds through the Spirit of the Christ, the one who gave his life into the hands of violent men to show us all the way of peace that will one day end all violence.
Thank you so much for reading. Namaste.