Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 1 - Telemachus, Martyr, Peacemaker, World Changer


Telemachus wasn't sure why, but he was headed to Rome. He had been given the unmistakable impression that he was being called to Rome and since he normally interpreted these impressions as the almost silent movements of the Holy Spirit, he followed after it. As a monk and ascetic, he had fashioned a life of prayer around himself and cocooned himself in the subtle rhythms of the spiritual life but he was still shocked when he arrived in Rome to be led to a stadium that people were filing into. Though he was oddly dressed in comparison and did not fit into the crowd, he became one of them and joined them in the stadium. His stomach knotted as he came to realize what spectacle would soon unfold before his eyes.

Two men entered the stadium from opposing entrances and offered a salute to the Empire and to the crowd. Over them was a patchwork of armor but it was not meant truly to protect them; it was only meant to prolong the spectacle. They approached and offered a salute to each other before preparing to harm and possibly kill the man they had perhaps just met. The clatter of the one man's sword against the other's shield reverberated through the crowd and seemed to electrify the Roman populace. They became as one in their furious calls for blood and carnage. Telemachus came to the sudden realization that he was watching an unholy liturgy where a man would be sacrificed violently to appease a crowd disillusioned with life and the Empire. He pushed his way through the vocal crowd and approached the wall that stood between the audience and the gladiators. For a moment, he considered what it was that he was preparing to do but he felt it was the will of God and so he hopped over the wall and ran to the gladiators.

The gladiators were surprised to say the least. They had never been approached by a spectator while they fought--especially, one dressed as a monk.It was no longer the practice of the Empire to condemn Christians to death in the stadium so it was surprising to see one leap willingly to the dirt that had soaked up so much martyr's blood. He moved to stand between them and they allowed him. Telemachus yelled, "For Jesus' sake, stop this!" Their manufactured hatred melted away and they marveled at his bravery and confidence. But soon the crowd grew displeased--they had come to watch blood be spilled and their unholy moment had been postponed. They gathered stones and murdered Telemachus for making peace. They found the blood they craved and punished Telemachus for interfering in their dark rite.

Upon hearing of the events, the emperor Honorius ordered the end of all gladiatorial combat on January 1 in the year 404. With his death, Telemachus purchased peace and further fought against the worship of violence and death by a people desperate for something to worship.

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