by Ken Rolheiser
Do you want the truth or a good story

The Pope and a Rabbi were having a debate. The loser would leave Italy. The rabbi spoke no Italian, and the Pope spoke no Yiddish, so it would be a 'silent' debate.

The Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. The rabbi looked back and raised one finger. The Pope waved his finger around his head. The rabbi pointed to the ground where he sat. The Pope brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine. The rabbi pulled out an apple. With that, the Pope stood up and declared the rabbi the winner.

The Pope explained, “I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He held up a single finger to remind me there is still only one God. I waved my finger around my head to show that God was all around us. He pointed to the ground to show that God was also right here.

I pulled out the wine and wafer to show that God absolves all our sins, and he pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin. He bested me; I could not continue.”

The Rabbi explained, “First, he told me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I gave him the finger. Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I told him that we were staying right here.”

“And then what?” asked a woman. “Who knows?” said the rabbi. “He took out his lunch so I took out mine.”

Now that is a good story.

The story is told of Thomas Edison who came home from school with a note. “Mom, my teacher gave this paper to me and told me only you are to read it. What does it say?”

Her eyes welled with tears as she read out loud: “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have good enough teachers to train him. Please teach him yourself.”

After his mother died, Edison found the letter his Mother read that day: “Your son is mentally deficient. We cannot let him attend our school anymore. He is expelled.”

Deeply moved, Edison wrote in his diary: “Thomas A. Edison was a mentally deficient child whose mother turned him into the genius of the Century.”

Now that is a beautiful story with some truth in it. Edison tells us what really happened. He overheard the teacher tell the inspector that Edison was ‘addled’, confused, and it would not be worthwhile keeping him in school any longer.

“I burst out crying and went home and told my mother about it. Then I found out what a good thing a good mother is.

“She told the teacher that he didn’t know what he was talking about, that I had more brains than he himself, and a lot more talk like that. In fact, she was the most enthusiastic champion a boy ever had, and I determined right then that I would be worthy of her and show her that her confidence was not misplaced.”

Jesus has confidence in us. He told His followers, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

“In the day when I cried out, you answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3).

(578 words)