May 30, 1416: Death of a Heretic

Today is May 29, 1416 and this is my last confession before the day of my death.
My name is Jerome of Prague.

My life has been one of privilege
However, the privilege that I speak of is not my family’s wealth
Or my education or my world travels
It is my travels to England to acquaint myself with the writings of John Wycliffe
And my friendship and support with the late John Hus

John Hus warned me to keep away from his trial
But I ventured foolishly into the lion’s pit

Arrested and imprisoned
I had little realization of what a prison was like until those dark days
The cruelty, the stench, squalor, excrement and chains
Chains as heavy as a ship’s anchor
Now I know how the ancient prophet Jeremiah must have felt in that black hole in Jerusalem

Unfortunately, my health suffered greatly during those 350 days of dark lost
It was when the flesh was the weakest that my human saviors came to me and implored me to recant and denounce Wycliffe, Hus , and many others whose crime was to point out how the church of Christ had misplaced the simple message of the Master Carpenter

Corruption and greed and rejection of truth
These were the sins of the Jewish leadership as they condemned the Master to death on the cruel Roman tree

I renounced my beliefs in order to save what was left of my miserable life
I wanted to live

When taken before the Council of Constance my fate was predetermined
Regret filled my soul like it must have Peter’s after he denied his Lord three times

As the light of the morning filled the chamber,
It bathed me in its warm radiance.
I sought forgiveness and begged the Lord for those three questions that He asked of Peter on the seashore- do you love Me?

With all the courage of my being,
I renounced my recantation in prison and boldly by the Spirit proceeded to defend those who had died for the truth of God
As I talked, I saw the faces of piety for what they were-devils of the human kind

Like Stephen of old I saw the death in their eyes and their hatred of the truth
I reminded the Council that they were mortal men, not gods placed on earth
The innocent blood shed by them would one day cry from the ground to the heavens for vengeance and justice

At these last comments, I sensed a peace about me as the world before me become crystal clear of who ruled these hearts of stone

May 30, they led me to the same place where my old friend John Hus was burned
They placed a tall paper hat on my head with red devils dancing for their master
The crowd, thirsting for another blood spectacular, brought tears to my eyes
The Council members were there dressed like kings of old, pagan to the bone

When the moment came for my recantation before the torch was tossed into the wood

I said,

I am now convicted that the church of Christ is no longer his body on earth
One day a message will be heard, the loud cry of Revelation, for God’s true people to come out of her for she is no longer a refuge from the storm but it is itself the storm of devils

I see a day coming where all will be gathered around the throne of judgment
All innocent souls murdered by the hands of their executioners and judges will be there to testify of the crimes committed

You may burn our bodies and scatter the ashes, but this place remains holy ground for the Great Judge has noted what has transpired on this place this day and the previous days

You placed a paper hat with devils on my head
Like my Lord he wore a crown of thorns placed by the Romans
I will wear this hat of derision and blasphemy
It will be entered into evidence at your trials
For on that great day our ashes will be reassembled into his glorious likeness and the shadows of darkness will find their end in the lake of fire like you will unless you repent

At that I ceased to speak and began singing hymns in both Latin and Czech
I looked into the heavens as the flames danced about me
For it is there that I will see my Lord’s face on the day of His coming.
Amen and amen.

Summary:

Jerome found forgiveness and died a martyr to the true faith.
There may have joy in the crowd as Jerome was burned, but most assuredly, there were tears in heaven.Innocent blood once again spilled on the earth by those who had been commissioned to spread the gospel of the good news of salvation to the world.

A day did come on October 31, 1517 which began a revolution of faith which continues until today. For those brave men and women who have gone before and died the martyr death, may they not be forgotten on this earth. For it is in their stories that we take comfort when we will face the torch.

G. D. Williams © 2015

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