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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: Hypocrites
By Gerald Shuler


A.D. 34

Look... there goes another one. You notice him late but call out your line anyway. “Alms! Alms! Good sir, help this poor cripple man!” The man does not even acknowledge you, not even a blink of an eye. Yes, coins jingle in the lining of his robe. He could help you, but he walks right past without even looking at your twisted body.

No, you think, this one would not have helped anyway. Look where he is going. Another hypocrite pompously entering into the temple. He will come back out just as pompous. You know this because you have seen it repeatedly, day after day. They go in, they come out, they remain unchanged. You spit on their pompous religion; with great contempt, you spit. You have no need for them or their God. Your need is for their money.

So, again, you call out “Alms! Alms!” to yet another passerby. This time a coin drops at your feet. “God bless you kind sir!” you say, sounding almost as though you mean it. You watch as he walks away. Yes! He walked right past the temple! Only the temple worshipers seem to be hypocrites. The coin at your feet goes quickly into a slit in your turban. Here comes two more, so you prepare your line. No, they are going toward the temple, a waste of time. This, though, is your only hope for an income. So you call out.

“Alms! Alms! Good sir, help this poor cripple man!”

The two men stop and look at you. Your surprise must be obvious because the men smile. That is something never done when looking at such a pitiful body as yours, yet they continue smiling. You gather your wits quickly. These two may be the catch you need to meet your needs for the day... perhaps even more.

“Sirs, I was born the way you see me.” You give a forlorn look as you gaze at the ground. “If not for the kindness of men like your selves, I would have perished long ago.” Do you dare look up? Not yet. Wait until they speak.

“I am sorry. We have no silver.” the first man says.

“Nor do we have any gold.” the other adds quickly.

The first man continues, almost as if it were supposed to mean something, “We have no silver or gold, but what we do have we gladly give to you.”

You knew it. Temple dwellers to the end, lying through their teeth. You will not waste any more time with them. Others are walking past.

“Alms! Alms!” you cry to the others. But the two liars are still there. One of them, the big one, claps his hand to get your attention.

“Look at me!” he says, with as firm a voice as you have ever heard. Something stirs within you. But it is money you need. They said they had none.


“I said, LOOK AT ME!”

You look. What you see can not be denied. This man is here by divine appointment. You see it in his eyes. What is going on? You know others are walking by and you almost, perhaps from habit, call out to them. But you don’t. Instead you look deep into the big man’s eyes. What you see is a compassion that is beyond human. You see love from a stranger. How is this possible? He was going into the temple. Does this man serve THAT God?

He speaks again. “In the name, reputation and authority of Jesus Christ, who earned the right to rule in heaven and on earth, and whom we now serve, rise up and walk.”

You hear the words. Do you believe them? Is it possible that the God you so recently spit at could love you enough to heal you? So long ago you had stopped praying. Stopped believing. But now.....? There is something happening in your toes... you can feel them move. Your left leg twitches slightly. Not much, but enough. You reach out to the two men for help rising to your feet.

Before they touch you, though, you are on your feet, standing, walking, leaping for joy. Without hypocracy, you enter into the temple to praise God, knowing you will come out changed forever.

A.D. 2009

As your car turns into the parking lot of the church you notice the man with the sign that says “Will work, family to feed.” Almost late for the service, you decide to...

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Sara Harricharan 05/07/09
Good one here! I like the flash back and between the different times, this was pretty good. I especially liked the twist at who this crippled man was. nice job.
Sharon Kane05/11/09
I loved the commentary on hypocrisy, so very true then and now. And I could not cast the first stone either...
I wasn't sure about using the second person in this story, since when you brought it up to date the 'you' changed from the beggar to the donor.
That said, the emotions of the man, the hopelessness, and the joy came shining through.
Diana Dart 05/13/09
Ooooohhhh, I did so like the last paragraph. What a twist, a pinch, a nudge. Maybe the up-to-date part could have been third person as well - a snapshot of someone driving into church and the beggar at the entrance... That may have been less personal though. Hmmmmm. Great, great story, so well written with excellent characterization of the beggar. Little things like the coins jingling, Peter clapping his hands... brought me right in.
Dee Yoder 05/13/09
I like the ending. It does make me think of what I would do. The story is well written and gives a personal feel to the Bible story.
Mona Purvis05/13/09
Enjoyed the entry, excellent piece and the last paragraph made it more personal for me.
Lollie Hofer05/13/09
I sure was mad at those pompous jerks until the last paragraph hit me right between the eyes. Ouch! I needed that. Hallelujah for all the Peters and Pauls in the world who do care.
Bryan Ridenour05/13/09
Excellent...I love biblical fiction, and you did a great job with it. Well done.
Myrna Noyes05/13/09
This well-written, Bible-based story has such an important message! I like the way you challenge us to look at our own hypocrisy here and now, instead of simply judging those temple-goers of the past! Good job!
Lyn Churchyard05/13/09
No Gerry, you didn't fail with your final paragraph. It fitted beautifully. Well done.
Gregory Kane05/13/09
Imaginative story.I'm also on the opposing team as regards the last line. I think your story would have worked perfectly well as a straightforward Bible story. The twist is very clever but the change of perspective spoiled it for me. Had you kept the beggar in the second person, the ending would have been a lot more forceful.
That said, it's well written and leaves the reader feeling very uncomfortable.
Joshua Janoski05/14/09
I have seen this particular story retold many times before, but I can honestly say that this was the best retelling I have ever read. You put me in the mind and body of the beggar. This was so good! I think the ending works either way - with or without that final paragraph. I personally liked that final paragraph, because it challenges me as a reader to get off my hiney and do something for someone in need.