SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER
“The Word of God came to Elijah the Tishbite in the third year of the reign of Ahab, saying, ‘Go, and show yourself to Ahab; and I will bring rain upon the face of the earth.’ And it came to pass when Ahab saw Elijah, that he said to him, ‘Are you he that troubles Israel?’ And Elijah said ‘I do not trouble Israel, but it is you and your father’s house, in that you forsook the Lord God, and you followed after Baal…’” (1 (3) Kings 18: 17-18)
The great Prophet Elijah, celebrated this Friday (NC), speaks truth to power, – to power both political and religious. Because at that time, the king determined not only the politics, but also the religion of his people. I’m not the trouble-maker, Elijah says to Ahab, – you are! So direct is Elijah, while being a “nobody” within the power-structures of his time; while having no “official” power himself. He “only” had “the Word of God,” Who “came to Elijah” and spoke to the prophet alone.
I’m wondering who the “prophetic” voices are today, who speak truth to trouble-makers in power. They could be any “nobody” within the power-structures of our time. They could even be non-Christian, as was Caiaphas, in John 11: 50, when he said to the chief priests and other religious authorities gathered around him, “You do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.” As St. John the Evangelist notes here, “He (Caiaphas) did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation…” (Jn 11: 51).
Let me be attentive today, also to the voices of “nobodies” within our power-structures, if/when they speak truth from untraditional places. Because at times, “the words of the prophets” can even be “written on the subway walls,” as the prophetic voice of Paul Simon reminds us, – at times when our power-structures offer us only “the sound of silence,” with regard to the truth of a matter. Holy, glorious Prophet Elijah, pray to God for us!