+JMJ+ Welcome to part 25 of A Journey. Jonah is on a journey with a certain tentmaker, searching for the body of the false messiah, convinced that it was stolen by some of the dead rabbi’s disciples. They reach Capernaum, hot on the trail of the fugitives.
And now the journey continues.
A Journey – Part 25
First Day Day for the Third Time, Sunday
I am relieved that we have picked up the trail of the fugitives and they are, indeed, headed to Capernaum, or were. They are probably there now or they may have already left. Word of our search has undoubtedly reached them before now. Bad news travels quickly and certainly more quickly than we have been. I am in no hurry to catch them and I hope we do not. I would like to know what they are up to, but I cannot let that distract me from my main goal: freeing my sister and restoring our honor. Let the tentmaker search for the body of the one they are calling the Messiah all he wants to. I longed to be away from Jerusalem and now I only want to go back, to see Rachel again and to take her home where she belongs. Where we both belong. But I am trapped with this man who never stops talking about serving the Sanhedrin and how faithful he is and he is driving me mad!
I wonder how many times I have written those words or words like them in this account. And how many times I will likely write them again. Until I am free of him, I suppose.
I wonder what the rabbi’s disciples are doing right now. Are they cowering in the room they were staying in when I left? Have they ventured out since then? Have they sent anyone to their fellow disciple, my sister? Writing that left a terrible taste in my mouth. My sister, their fellow disciple. My sister, a young woman too easily influenced by others for her own good, letting them pour poisonous pious-sounding nothings into her itching ears. I never thought of her before as having itching ears but I was wrong.
I hope this stay in a Sanhedrin prison cell cures her. I myself have never been in one. Yes, I know we are to take care of widows and orphans and those less fortunate than we are, and I always set aside a portion of our wealth for precisely that, as my father did before me. Until now I would always send my gifts by a servant or messenger, even when I was nearby. But now I am days of travel away and all I want to do is go to the prison and take her out of there. I would give a gift to everyone there if I could see her and free her.
The one who was following us caught up to us as we entered Capernaum. He was sent by a member of the Council, a friend of the–I am running out of ways to refer to him. (Why not use his name? Because it is the name of a man who began as a great king and hero and suffered a great fall into disgrace and dishonor, and I refuse to compare him unduly with one who was so great a figure from our people’s past, even if his reign did end badly.) Seems word got out that the chief priest and his friends had imprisoned some of the followers of the popular teacher and who also happen to be women, and without bringing it up in the Council and allowing a vote. (There is always this jockeying for position in the Council. Everyone must have their pride fed and tended. Everyone must be seen to be consulted, must be seen to be respected. I am no better with my constant concern for our family honor. It is the way things are, the way we are.)
So in the Council there has been talk of releasing the women, but some then disagreed loudly and an argument ensued. And I have a sudden and intense urge to knock the messenger off his brave little donkey and high-tail it back to Jerusalem. Only with sheer will-power do I manage to beat back the urge and remain seated in the house of another seeker after honor who seeks to lift himself up by praising his guest. (How my companion reacts to this almost makes me laugh out loud. As if he were not puffed up with enough pride already.)
Whether we will continue our mission to capture the fugitives or return to Jerusalem at once is not immediately clear. My annoying companion thinks we should keep trailing them, while I argue that we should leave now in light of this news, when the messenger interrupts both of us and announces that we are to set out to return as soon as we receive this message. Or, rather, I am. I am asked, no, ordered to return.
I do not like the sound of this. I cannot help but feel a knot in my stomach now, well, a bigger knot than the one that was already there. I force myself not to think about what this can mean. Will the most annoying of companions continue the quest for the fugitives or will he return with me to Jerusalem?
While he struggles to decide, I take my leave quietly and once outside and out of their view, take the opportunity to flee his presence. I slip into the nearby stable and for a few coins secure a sure-footed donkey and am soon on the way, unfettered by companions or belongings. I brought very little with me on this trip and I have never been more glad to have no possessions with me. All I have are the garments I am wearing and some money. Though the heat of the evening is oppressive, I feel a surge of elation and well-being. To be free once more, with nothing but the sounds of the rapidly falling night around me, seems like nothing short of a foretaste of heaven.
An image of my sister in her prison cell, and the torments she has faced, is facing, and will face, suddenly fill my mind and fill my heart with dread. I will take no more pleasure in my aloneness this night as I push this poor animal as much as I dare. As I ride I begin to pray.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheynu, melech ha’olam.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has watched over me since I was a boy, and my sister, too, and my friends, few though they may be. Help us always to serve You and walk in the ways of our fathers before us and their fathers before them. Help us to honor our parents of blessed memory. May our feet never stray from Your paths. May we never seek Your Face in vain. May I reach the Sanhedrin in time. O Lord, make haste to help me, Lord, come to my assistance. If it be Your Will, send Your angel before me to watch over her and keep her safe, O Lord, my God, God of Israel. May we pray soon in the synagogue. May we sacrifice in the Temple, and hear all the people say,
Amen. Amen. Amen.
End of Part 25
Other parts of the story are linked on the Fiction page.
Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and remember, we are all on the journey to the heavenly city. So don’t be like this stubborn rich young man, but pick up your cross daily and follow Him, so you can become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Image in the cover: From the east, Nazareth, Holy Land, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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