Some years ago, I heard a beautiful legend from Africa that has stuck with me. The story is about the struggle between truth and falsehood.
Many years ago, Truth, Falsehood, Water and Fire were traveling through the lush countryside. As they journeyed, they came upon a herd of cattle with no one to care for it. Discussing the situation among themselves, they decided that the most logical thing to do would be to divide the herd into four equal parts – one each for Truth, Falsehood, Water and Fire. In the back of his mind, however, Falsehood decided on a plan that would gain the entire herd for himself.
Calling Water aside, Falsehood said, “Beware! Fire is planning to burn the grass along the riverbanks in order to drive the cattle away from you and into his pasture.” “Is that so?” fretted Water. “Whatever shall I do?” Falsehood suggested, “Extinguish Fire! That way we can have his share of the cattle for ourselves.” Gullibly listening to Falsehood, Water rushed forth, flooding Fire, extinguishing him. Falsehood’s plan seemed to be working.
Taking Truth aside next, Falsehood whispered, “See this! Water has destroyed Fire and has taken his share of the cattle. Surely we do not want to keep company with such a one as this!” “What shall we do?” queried Truth. “Let us climb the mountain, taking all the cattle with us,” said Falsehood. And so they drove the cattle up the mountainside, climbing high above the plain.
“Wait! Come back!” cried Water, who could not flow uphill to follow Truth, Falsehood and the cattle.
Once they reached the top of the mountain with the cattle, Falsehood turned on Truth, sneering, “See! I have fooled you all! I shall throw you from the mountaintop! You will never survive the great fall and so all the cattle will be mine. I shall win!” Truth answered, “I see that you have deceived us all, but I shall never be your slave. Let us battle here and now. May the stronger of us win!”
And so Truth and Falsehood battled, day and night. As they clashed, great cracks of thunder rang across the valley below. They struggled mightily for many hours. Sometimes it seemed as though Falsehood would prevail, but at other moments, Truth would drive Falsehood back.
They still struggle against one another. At times, it seems as though Falsehood is the stronger of the two. Yet when all seems hopeless, Truth manages to prevail, never resting or surrendering.
So it is in our own lives. We know the power of truth. We know that it can set us free. Yet we also know that we can be easily deceived by falsehood – those crafty words that tickle our ears and impair our ability to understand things as they truly are.
So it seemed on a hill in a land far from our own, when the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life was hung on a tree to die our death. Yet we know that he rose from the grave just three short days later as he promised. We know that Truth lives so that we might live his life forever. And so our journey in FAITH continues.
Father Dwight Ezop is editor of FAITH Magazine and pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Fenton. Email: editor@FAITHpub.com.