A 19th century legend is told of thus and Jean-Leon Gerome has beautifully painted about it. The Truth and the Lie met one day. The Lie said to the Truth: “It’s a marvellous day today”! The Truth looked up to the skies and sighed, for the day was really beautiful. They spent a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well. The Lie said to the Truth: “The water is very nice, let’s take a bath together!” The Truth, once again suspicious, tested the water and discovered that it indeed was very nice. They undressed and started bathing. Suddenly, the Lie came out of the water, put on the clothes of the Truth and ran away. The furious Truth came out of the well and ran everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back. The World, seeing the Truth naked, turned its gaze away, with contempt and rage.
The poor Truth returned to the well and disappeared forever, hiding therein, its shame. Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because, the World, in any case, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked Truth.
In India for the past few weeks or months as the General Election 2019 is approaching, we have been witnessing a run-chase of the Truth and the Lie mostly in election campaign and speeches. Some one claims, “Main hun Chowkidar” and the other slams, “Chowkidar hi chor hi”. Now, you have to judge who is right and who is wrong. And, your judgement will depend on what you prefer to see – A well dressed Lie or a naked truth!
It is in this context perhaps we can reflect on the Gospel today. It cautions us about the vulnerable human tendency, viz., lust for prestige, position and power! The mother of the two sons of Zebedee – James and John – is asking such very favours from Jesus. In our secular world, our leaders are wielding power, control and manipulation – Swapping the Truth and the Lie.
However, Jesus’ worldview is completely different. His worldview is “to be great is to put one’s talents totally at the service of others and powers to empower others.” If you dare to be at the side of Truth to go that well where naked truth is hiding out of shame and you will understand – Power corrupts man; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Today let us learn from Jesus how to exercise and wield power for the service of others and not for selfish gains! May our leaders and all of us understand the Servant Leadership model of Jesus and follow that. Amen.