«Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool, much less lying lips to a prince» (Proverbs 17:7).
Johannes Tetzel (1465—1519) demonstrated an enormous ability to speak from a young age. In 1487, he attended high school in Leipzig (Germany), where he entered the Dominican order. For a time, he practiced as a prior in Gloglow (Poland); in 1509, he served as inquisitor in Poland and subsequently in the Province of the Order (Saxony). His incursion in the sale of indulgences began in 1504, as he participated in numerous campaigns where he convinced people to «buy» the forgiveness of God issued by a document signed by an ecclesiastical authority. At the start of 1516, he was deputy commissioner to Giovannangelo Arcimboldi for the sale of indulgences for the benefit of the Basilica of St. Peter. The success he had made him very popular with the clerics and the people.
But his glorious moment came in 1517, when he was appointed general deputy commissioner to Albert of Brandenburg for the sale of indulgences in the territories of Magdeburg and Halberstadt. His strident, spectacular, and vociferous way of preaching indulgences, which did not vary much in the way others did, raised criticism from various sectors. The truth is that he presented himself as a messiah offering the salvation of sins in exchange for the acquisition of an indulgence. People crowded to acquire the alleged certificate. The business was a resounding success. However, these actions outraged Martin Luther, who published a document (his 95 theses) where he asked the pope that if he had the power to forgive the sins of the people, why did he not do so for love instead of money.
The sale of indulgences fell apart. Tetzel was filled with fury and tried to respond unnecessarily to Luther, yet his name suffered a huge disrepute. His brilliant oratory no longer convinced anyone. He was subsequently charged with embezzlement and immorality, but was acquitted. He soon became ill and died on August 11, 1519.
It is not enough to know how to speak and express ourselves eloquently. A good orator who becomes a channel of lies and falsehood cannot expect a happy ending. A tongue that is used to deceive, abuse, and dupe others will encounter one day an emissary of truth that will put a stop to its actions and show its regrettable intentions.
Ask the Lord today to help you become a messenger of truth in this world.