ONE MAN’S VOICE:
Sixteen hundred years ago a simple holy man from the countryside found himself in Rome for the first time. His name was Telemachus – and this Christian monk had arrived in the “eternal city” of Rome during its celebrations of a recent victory over the Barbarians.
As part of the festivities the famous Roman Colosseum was hosting a series of gladiatorial events – and so this rural monk simply followed the crowd into the huge stadium. Telemachus didn’t know what he was about to witness, nor did he know that within an hour his actions would bring about the end of gladiators fighting in the Colosseum.
As Telemachus stood at the back of the stands wondering why the crowds were gathering, the gladiators came out and stood before Emperor Honorius. These trained fighters gave the pledge their profession had been giving for centuries: “Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant” (“Hail, Emperor, we who are about to die salute you”).
Telemachus might have lived a simple country life as a monk but he wasn’t dumb. He quickly realised these men were about to battle to the death. Unable to understand why crowds would watch men kill each other he cried out “In the name of Christ, stop!” but his voice was lost in the cheering crowd.
As the gladiators began to fight each other Telemachus ran down to the front of the stands and yelled out again “In the name of Christ, stop!” but still he was unsuccessful in being heard.
So Telemachus did the unthinkable. He climbed over the wall into the arena and walked towards the battling gladiators, pleading “In the name of Christ, stop!”
The crowd cheered as they saw this scrawny and dishevelled holy man. They initially thought he was part of the entertainment – but the crowds quickly grew angry as they realised he was trying to interrupt the entertainment.
As Telemachus approached the gladiators he continued his appeal: “In the name of Christ, stop!” But instead of heeding Telemachus’s appeal one of the fighters lifted his sword and plunged it into the monk’s body. Telemachus dropped to the sand and his last words were to the gladiator who had delivered the fatal blow: “In the name of Christ, stop!”
As the other gladiators stopped their fighting and stood over the body of this simple man the spectators fell silent. And then one-by-one the crowd began to leave the Colosseum. The stadium soon emptied and that day’s events were subsequently cancelled. When only a handful of people turned up for the following day’s battles that day was cancelled too. The Roman Emperor, who had witnessed the death of Telemachus, soon passed a law putting an end to gladiatorial battles. The Colosseum of Rome would never again host this barbaric entertainment.
One tiny voice filled with the spirit of christian compassion was willing to take a risk. And Telemachus’s actions changed history.
You may think your voice won’t be heard over a crowd unwilling to listen, but what impact might you be able to make in your world? Act and speak with the humility of the Saviour – and your voice will be heard.
About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and he lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.
Click here to join the Facebook page for “Reverential Ramblings”
Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this “Reverential Ramblings” series? Click here to read the strange story of how one orchestra member saved his colleagues from the wild temper tantrums of their world-famous conductor