Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)
TITLE: Don’t care about caring
By Josiah Kane
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I stomped faster than the lazy donkey and was soon well out of view. Round another bend I spotted the gown of the high priest’s son, Alexander. Then I had to hurry! No student Rabbi would give up the chance to talk with him. When I had halved the distance between us I realized I had better slow down. It would be a very bad move to smash into him unexpectedly sweating like Shadrach in the furnace and stinking worse than that Samaritan. Even walking I would reach his highness before we got to Jericho.
Suddenly the priest ran along the road as though fleeing a demon. I was about to charge forward to help, but something told me I shouldn’t. I continued my trot until I too realized what had made him flee. On one side of the road was a man. He was completely naked, with open wounds all over his body. Dust and flies fought for the best places to land. His eyes were so rimmed with bruises that they could hardly open. He looked like he had been lying there for hours, after some great hoard overtook him. His damaged face could have had features of a fellow Benjamite, but a crooked nose, battered eyes and mouth caked in blood made identification impossible. Vultures circled in increasingly large flocks, waiting for him to die.
I thought of what Gamaliel, my godly mentor would do. I went closer to see if I could help him, but it was impractical. I could not move him on my own and had no ointments to soothe him with. Besides, his deformities would make it impossible for this man to live an ordinary life anyway. And I could not afford to waste time. What if he should die in my arms—that would make me unclean for a whole week! As for the mess… No I would have to leave him. As a Pharisee I was sure that he would die and be raised. It would be better for both of us if I just let that happen.
I had lost a lot of time with the poor man, and did not catch the high priest. He took a different route after Jericho. So I joined a caravan and went to where I had been told to find Jesus. It didn’t take long to locate him, surrounded as he was by a crowd of hundreds singing praises. I pushed through the crowd wordlessly. I was only a student but everyone had heard of me. Even Simon, or Peter, jumped aside respectfully before me. I asked Jesus my question: “What must I do to earn eternal life?”
As I expected he turned me to the Law, and I gave all the right answers but I kept pressing with questions until he gave me an answer of his own. I was far better than this carpenter. And I meant to show it, for the sake of Judaism. If his increasingly heretical teachings got worse, then Jews following this new way could break the holy Mosaic Law irreparably!
He told a story about a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho, who met someone who had been robbed, stripped, and left for dead. I suddenly realized that he could see my soul. Jesus went on to say that the Samaritan, whose face I had so nearly covered in spittle, had helped the man and paid for his lodging. I could barely keep guilt from knocking me down. When the story was over Jesus asked me who had behaved like a neighbour.
“The man… who… helped him,” I finally choked.
Jesus did not condemn me. He seems to be perfect. He would never leave a man lying naked, bruised and bleeding. What I had done was inexcusable. I had left not only a fellow Jew, but someone of my own tribe, to die. I scanned my own heart. I had always assumed that it was faultlessly pure, that it was one that glistened whenever God glanced at it. I found it full, plastered, and overflowing with filth.
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