“I wish you’d never been born!” the drunken father hissed, as he slapped his son sharply across the face.
“Father, you don’t mean it.”
“I do mean it! You have been nothing but trouble to me since the day you were born. You are always in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Hot tears strung the young man’s eyes. He tightly clenched his tattered coat, as he huddled in a dark corner.
“Lavi, how did you get that black eye?” Mary asked.
“I fell and bumped it.” Lavi lied to his best friend.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Come and see Papa’s roses. They will make you feel better. Papa always says that life is like roses, full of beauty and full or thorns.”
“My life is nothing but thorns!”
“Lavi, I know who can help you – Jesus of Nazareth! Papa says He has helped so many.”
“No one can help me, Mary. My father is right I am always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have never even seen this Jesus of Nazareth, and if I did He would never want anything to do with the likes of someone like me.”
Lavi left Mary standing in her rose garden. Hunger pangs began to gnaw at his sunken stomach. He headed toward the marketplace hoping to find something to eat.
The marketplace was humming with activity. Lavi spotted a loaf of freshly baked bread. As he had done so many times before, he began to scheme how he could steal “just one loaf.” When the merchant wasn’t looking, Lavi quickly stuffed a loaf of bread in his pocket.
A scream pierced through the crowd. “Thief! Thief! Stop Him!”
Lavi fled as his heart pounded wildly, as he ran through the crowd. A giant of a man tackled him.
“Where are you going, Thief?”
Lavi stuttered, “Nnnno where, I guess!”
“Oh, you are going somewhere alright! You are going to the dungeon.”
An elderly woman’s shrill voice echoed, “That’s the same fellow who stole my chickens.”
The giant man bellowed, “There’s only one thing to do with thieves, they must be crucified.”
Lavi fainted in sheer terror.
Lavi looked around the dark dungeon. He was haunted by painful memories of his childhood days. Anguishing thoughts flooded his cell. He cried out in agony, “Oh, God of Abraham, everything in my life is so wrong. I was born to a man who doesn’t want me. I’ve lived wrong. And tomorrow I am going to be crucified so it looks as if I will finish wrong, too. Please help me.”
Lavi’s prayer was interrupted by the sound of keys clinking against the iron door. Looking up he saw a familiar face.
“Mary, how did you know?” he asked.
“Papa told me. He saw them arrest you. I’ve brought you something.”
Mary held up a hand-woven basket filled with beautiful roses and two loaves of bread.
“I thought you might be hungry.” She added, “Lavi, Jesus has been arrested. They are crucifying him tomorrow.”
“What did He do?”
“He is being falsely accused. Maybe He can help you.”
“How can He help me when He can’t even help Himself?” Lavi scoffed.
“He can help you, Lavi. Papa says He not only heals broken bodies, but He heals broken hearts, too.” Mary slipped a single rose from the basket and placed it in Lavi’s trembling hands. “Jesus can give you beauty among thorns.”
“Your time is up!” the guard barked.
Mary pleaded, “Lavi, you must promise me if you see Jesus you will speak to Him.”
Lavi promised, “I will, Mary. I will.”
Staring at the basket of roses Lavi muttered to himself, “Mary says life is like roses, full of beauty and full of thorns. She says that this Jesus can give me beauty among thorns.” Tightly shutting his eyes he choked, “Please… Somehow let me see beauty among thorns.”
Lavi moaned and writhed in pain as he hung on the cross. He heard the man beside him cry out, “I thirst.”
Lavi lifted his eyes and saw Jesus gazing back at him. Waves of love swept over Lavi. His heart burned within his chest. Lavi saw the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head.
“Beauty among thorns!” he whimpered.
Just then Jesus cried out to Lavi, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Lavi looked toward Heaven and triumphantly exclaimed, “Finally, at last, I am in the right place at the right time!”
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