Rich Paxson

Sheelah, thank you so much for sharing Richard Rohr’s meditation. His quotation from Dante’s Inferno and from Jesus resonated with me, ” By faith you will be saved.” Here at Forgiving Victim I am learning about the gift of faith in the midst of my woundedness. I think my response to this lesson’s Discussion Question reflects a lot of ‘dark wood’, but also the discoverable lightness of God’s laying-on of His Healing Hand.
“Imagine that your character is among a crowd of people who have been following Jesus. The group includes many characters as well as Jesus himself. You have been listening to Jesus’s teachings and been witness to a healing miracle. Now share your thoughts from the role you have chosen to play.”
I am a poor man. I try to be good, to treat the people I know fairly. I attend synagogue when I can, but I don’t always make it. Getting to synagogue is hard, so when I do make it, I feel I deserve some credit just for being there. I’m going to tell you about the bizarre side-show we had at synagogue last Saturday.

First of all, I made it to synagogue last Saturday. That’s good, but there was a different Rabbi teaching – what a bummer! When I do make it to synagogue, I want the usual prayers, not something new, especially not from someone I’ve never seen before who brought a whole bunch of strangers with him. They called them Jesus Groupies. I’d heard about these Jesus Groupies. They’re no good, let me tell you! No good at all. They’re just a bunch of losers and leeches living off the hard work of the rest of us. Jesus and the rest of his crowd should be kept out of synagogue because their kind defiles its holiness. They’re no good folks, no good at all. Let me tell you!

OK, so here’s the ‘big deal’ that happened last Saturday in synagogue. A bent-over, scolding, and vicious woman walked up to where Jesus was talking. No reason, she just ‘cripped’ up there. So he stopped talking to us and began talking to her. Like, we’re not here? I thought. Then he tells her she’s healed, and she stands up straight. What a joke! Are we supposed to believe this? Give me a break!

And yet, could I have been healed too? Could I have walked up there and asked Jesus to heal the sores on my body? The ones I never talk about that are so bad they barely let me sit down to rest? Ah, I don’t think so. And yet, this Jesus, if only I … … …

But, our rabbi put him in his place. He told Jesus that he should not do this kind of nonsense on the Sabbath. He’s got six days in the week for his charades. He needs to keep them away from the Sabbath and the synagogue. It’s a holy day, for crying out loud. Enough! And these morons Jesus drags around after him, they hooted and hollered when the fake old lady stood up. They’re a dirty, disgusting bunch of stupid idiots. We need to keep them out of our synagogue. From now on we should just let the local people, people we know and trust, into our synagogue. That means no tax collectors! All they do is steal our money. We don’t need their kind in our synagogue. We’re the ones trying to do what’s right; we’re the ones trying to follow God’s holy laws – anyway, most of the time.

Jesus finished his ‘show’, and the whole rotten crowd pushed their way out of the building almost knocking me over. Good riddance, that’s what I say. They’re just a bunch of ungrateful whores and lepers and phony rich people who don’t give a damn about us workers. It’s our taxes that keep the Romans off their backs. Do I ever hear one word of thanks from a bunch like that? No way. The rabbis should have locked up the pack of them. I hope we never see that Jesus and his ilk in our synagogue again!

Editorially speaking, I enjoyed writing this. The takeaway message emerged from my character’s longing, emerged from within the angst of an unquenchable thirst for personal healing:

“And yet, could I have been healed? Could I have walked up there and asked Jesus to heal me? Ah, I don’t think so. And yet, this Jesus, if only … … …”