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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Helping Others

Witness: Anya, a Jewish peasant woman of the time of Jesus

Story N. 8 (see previous posts)

Anya is sitting all by herself, trying to regain her good spirit. The elated state of mind of the first weeks on the road is already vanishing. Too many people are following Jesus, and they bring with them so much misery. They follow him because they are hungry, scarred by life, in need of hope. Some of them are sick and it’s difficult to watch them suffering. Crippled and ashamed of their diseases as if they were God’s willed punishments, they carry themselves in Jesus’ presence asking for a miracle. And it always happens for those who have faith in him. At the end of the day he’s so exhausted that he has nothing left to give to his disciples: He needs to be alone and pray.
Anya prays too, for Yahweh to keep her husband safe. Neri has always been hot-blooded and maybe that’s why she fell for him. But now she wishes that he would calm down, abandon his thirst for revenge and just believe. Believe in Jesus.

There are few women among the disciples, and one of them is Mary of Magdala. Anya has a lot of respect for her because she understands Jesus’ message better than anyone else. The apostles are often astounded by his teachings, sometimes even embarrassed, but not Mary. She seems to capture the essence of his words in all their beauty. Anya makes up her mind: She needs to talk to her. Mary is sitting next to the fire, broiling some fish. Anya sits next to her.
“Are you hungry?” Mary asks her.
“No, thanks. I’m just sad.”
“Thinking about your family?”
“Yes, but that’s only one of the reasons for my sadness. When I left, I new that I was going to miss them and worry about them. But I was sure that following Jesus was the right thing to do if I wanted to find peace. Now I feel betrayed. There is no peace among the crowds that follow him asking for justice and relief. It breaks my heart to see all that desperation.”
Mary looks at her with empathy.
“Oh Anya! Can’t you see? Jesus’ actions ARE his teachings! We must learn not to recoil before distorted limbs or even before leprosy. Only through compassion the Kingdom of heaven will come on earth. We are witnessing the creation of a new, unspoiled life!”
“But those people scare me, Mary! And the compassion that I feel is too much to bear. “
“Those people are your brothers and sisters, Anya. Don’t listen to the righteous who say that their illnesses are a punishment for their sins or even for those of their parents. There are sinners among the unfortunates just like there are among us. And when you feel that your pity is too much to bear, try to remember that they are the ones who are suffering. Compassion is good only when it’s directed outward, when makes you act on it for the well being of your fellow human beings. Don’t stall in your pity. Help them instead, like Jesus does. You’ll be the first one to gain from it.”

As Anya and Mary are talking, Jesus comes down from the hill where he has been praying to the Father. That’s how he calls Yahweh: Our Father in heaven. It’s full moon. Its rays illuminates softly Jesus’ radiant figure. Smiling, he opens his arms and turns to his disciples:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me.”

The evening sounds are echoing his words. Crickets are screeching, leaves are murmuring, waves are breaking rhythmically on the rocks to sing a hymn of joy.
Maybe this music has been playing all along, Anya thinks, but I’m hearing it for the first time. The sound of a new earth.

1 comment:

Manny said...

Very nice. You expanded Anya's emotional range. I really liked this one.

By the way, you had a typo in there. You wrote "new" when i think you meant "knew." I saw it when i first read it, but now no matter how much I look I can't find where it was. If I was imagining it, ignore this.