Historical setting: Remembering the First Century, Jerusalem
Nic is still listening to my ancient family story. And I am still telling it.
“While my father, known as Simon, worked in the marketplace at the Temple porticos he contracted an illness, probably a pox, spreading among the foreign merchants in those days. He called that ‘God’s blessing,’ also, if you know what I mean.
“He followed the Law and he went away from family to stay outside the walls of the city to await the end of the illness either by healing or by death. He didn’t die. He became strong and well but marked with pox.
“As a wealthy Pharisee he always felt he was in a power struggle with the Sadducees who controlled the Temple. He railed against them all his years because he believed they only followed the politically expedient laws of Torah not the proper details of the Law. He believed the Sadducees divided their loyalty to God with obedience to the little Roman assigned ‘King of the Jews’ – Herod.
“So when he recovered from his illness he went to show himself to the priests at the Temple as the law requires for cleansing after healing. (The priests were of course, Sadducees.) But the Chief Priest labeled his scars ‘leprosy’ and my father was permanently evicted from the Temple.
My father was shrewd. So he challenged the expectations of the sentence he was given. Instead of endlessly begging outside the gates of the city as was the usual plight of lepers, he simply moved my mother and sister into a beautiful villa, an easy walk from Jerusalem, into the town of Bethany. He was in a good place to receive merchants and trades from all the four corners of the winds. So in a way he turned his difficult circumstance into a true blessing. He simply continued to follow the ancient Law of our people as though he were among the scattered as he felt he was. He practiced his faith and nurtured us, his children in wisdom and strength and love for God above all else.”
Nic interrupts my reminiscence, “So, how did he become friends with Joseph and is that how you meet Jesus?”
“Oh, yes, that’s what you were asking isn’t it. And I was just getting to that part. My father was one who saw education of his children as a significant and holy responsibility. He valued good teachers in all subject matter.”
Nic inserts his guess. “And Jesus was a teacher?”
“No, no, Nic. This all happened before Jesus or I were even born.”
(Continued Tuesday, October 27)