The Mission

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The Pomegranate

Two young women were walking in the marketplace looking at all the shops and their goods being displayed.  The busy street was too narrow for all of the people there so they were all closer to each other than they might have been without the crowds. 

“Hey Mir ,“ a third girl, also about seventeen, called out to one of the two as she noticed her buying some pomegranates to take back to her family.  Then she shouted over the din of the crowd.  “Those will get you into trouble, you know.”

Miriam was a bit confused at the statement and she cast a confused glance at Dahra, the girl with her who was giggling.  “What?” she said, still not getting what the joke as about.

“Eating pomegranates will get you pregnant, silly.”   Dahra said offering the explanation.

“Oh,” said Miriam, “ I thought they were an ancient symbol of righteousness or something like that.

With that the two of them broke into laughter, which lasted for several seconds as they realized it was not funny at all.  Miriam thought it ironic more than funny, having practically been shunned by her family for recently spending time alone with a young man with no chaperone present.   In fact, she had done it more than once, the first being a boy she had met when she was thirteen.   She had been forgiven for that discretion four year earlier, but the current situation had many talking about her supposed ‘constant transgressions.’

Arriving at home with the pomegranates and some vegetables, Miriam was setting them on the table as her mother came into the room.  “Miriam,” her mother said “Your father and I have decided that you should not see that boy, what’s his name, oh yes Yaacob.  We don’t want you to see him anymore.”

“You mean because he’s poor and has no father to trade me for some silly goats, don’t you mom.”  Miriam snapped back.  “I have compassion for Yaacob.  He is not a boy mother; he is twenty two years old and is a man even if he has no goats.”

The argument went back and forth for the rest of the afternoon and when Miriam’s father came back from tending his herd he joined in and with both of her parents battling against her, the strong willed Miriam stood up and packing a few belongings said goodbye and walked out of her home forever.  She knew where Yaacob was camped out in the desert and went to be with him, having nowhere else to go.  As she approached Yaacob’s tent however she heard another woman’s voice coming from inside.

Miriam, whose emotions were still developing, had been more attracted to Yaacob by her compassion for the underdog and the poor rather than any particular love or spiritual attraction that she had for him although they had been intimate on the occasion her parents had accused her of and she had lied to them about it.   Anyhow, she was hurt deeply by finding him with another woman and with that added to her argument with her parents, she had become very distraught.  She spent the entire night just wandering around thinking about her life and the world that she lived in.  Eventually Miriam lay down and slept for about four hours on the ground in a grove of fig trees.

 

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The Fig Tree

“Did you notice that there are no figs growing on that fig tree?”  Miriam thought she was hearing a voice in her dream.  “I say young lady, did you happen to notice that there are no figs growing on that tree?”  Miriam’s eyes opened about half way as the bright sunlight made them close again.  “I’ve got something here that you can eat even if the fig tree cannot help you at this time my dear.”  Miriam’s eves opened again and they began to focus on the figure of a hunched over old woman standing above her.

“No, I hadn’t noticed.”  Miriam answered the old woman’s question as she stretched her limbs and rubbed her eyes becoming fully awake.  The old woman handed her a piece of bread which the hungry girl quickly accepted.  As Miriam felt the need for a drink to go along with the bread, the old woman immediately handed her a gourd with cool water which had obviously come from the stone well that she saw a few paces away.  “Thank you so much…,” she said, thinking that she ought to have known the woman’s name.

“Oh, that’s all right my dear, it was obvious that you needed it.”  The old woman replied not offering her name as Miriam had expected.  “What in the world are you doing out here in the desert all alone at night anyway.  Oh, never mind, it doesn’t make any difference how you got here, the only important thing is where you are going now isn’t it. ” Miriam nodded her head in agreement while she ate the rest of the bread and finished the water handing the gourd back to the old lady thanking her once again.  Pointing to some trees visible in the distance the old lady said… “Everyone else is over there at that oasis this morning waiting for Yeshua Ben Yosef who will stop there to speak this afternoon.”

“Who is that?” Miriam asked with interest.

“He is the young teacher that everyone is talking about my dear.  He speaks with the wisdom of a Rabbi twice his age, perhaps one even three times as old.”  The old lady answered.  “They say that he went off to study when he was a boy who had taught in the great Temple in Jerusalem.  He apparently went to seek the mind of God as an old Rabbi had taught him to do more than fifteen years ago.  And now he has come back!”

“My parents say that God hates me for the things I have done.”  Miriam answered shyly, knowing that she had lied and committed several other sins in her seventeen years. 

“I may be and old woman, but there is one thing I know for certain my dear.  God has nothing but love and forgiveness for you, no matter what you may have done in the past.  In fact, the compassion that you have shown for people in your short life has pleased God greatly.”

Miriam thought that the old lady spoke as if she had firsthand knowledge of her transgressions and how God Himself thought of her.  How could she know that the compassion Miriam had felt for Yaacob had led to her own sinful behavior.  She also wondered how the old lady could know what was in God’s own mind, but somehow she knew that she did.

“Why don’t you get a bit more sleep my dear.”  The old lady said to the tired Miriam “But remember that the fig tree that bears no fruit at this time will feed another weary traveler when it’s time comes.”  Miriam closed her eyes and tried to sleep some more but after only half an hour she woke up again.  Finding that the old lady was gone, she got herself another drink and decided to walk to the oasis that the old lady had pointed out in the distance.

 

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The Oasis

The trip took about two hours and as Miriam arrived Yeshua Ben Yosef was already speaking to a pretty large crowd mostly seated on blankets on the ground.  She looked around and did not see the old lady among them.  “Praise be to God” a man said as she knelt down near him.  ”God had sent a cool breeze today and He has blocked the sun with clouds for us to listen to His messenger preach.” Yeshua was a pretty good distance from them on a bit of a rise but at about that time he began to walk among the crowd many of whom reached out to touch his garment as he passed by.

Miriam wondered just who this man might be as she felt the same compassion, which she felt for humanity, coming from him, as he walked among the crowd.  It seemed as if there was an aura surrounding him as he spoke of love and forgiveness.  Not so much that God had to forgive people for their sinful behavior, but that people had to forgive each other.  She remembered that the old lady had told her that God had already forgiven her for her transgressions even though she had not even asked Him to.

For some reason, Yeshua came closer and closer to where Miriam and the man who had praised God were seated.  “Praise be to God.”  The man spoke once again.  “God has sent his messenger to us…  Thou art Yeshua Ha' Mashiach.”

“I come as a son of man.” Yeshua spoke to the man who was old enough to be Miriam’s father, “and that makes us brothers my friend, and if we are brothers then we are both the son’s of the living god as well.   Is this your daughter who has come with you to learn about the mind of God.”  Yeshua said as he glanced toward Miriam’s tender face and their eyes briefly made contact.  Miriam quickly looked away from Yeshua’s glance, not knowing if it was out of shame for her past or the guilt she now felt as she found the preacher attractive in many ways.

“No Master, she is not my daughter, we have just met today.”  The man spoke to the Prophet.

“So then where do you come from?”  Yeshua questioned Miriam directly once again making eye contact with the shy young girl.

“Uh, I come from…” Miriam thought for a moment about what to say to the powerful charismatic man more than a dozen years older than she was.  She certainly had not expected to be talking to him at this moment, but continued.  “I came from under a fig tree just this morning, kind Sir,” then quickly added.  “An old lady asked me why I was under the fig tree as it bore no fruit at this time.  She gave me something to eat and told me that the fig tree would feed another who would come along at another time.”

“You have spoken as one who already knows the mind of God.”  Yeshua spoke directly to Miriam as the crowd who had at first chuckled at her answer quickly calmed down to listen to the Master once again.  “Just like the fig tree that this young woman speaks of…”  He went on preaching to the crowd stepping up onto a rock “Just like that very fig tree my time to feed you all is coming…”

As the day came to an end, the sun was setting and everyone except those who travelled with him had pretty much gone home, Yeshua was walking and noticed that Miriam was still there.  “So did you always live under a fig tree my dear?”  He asked as he stopped to talk with her.

“Oh, no Sir, My name is Miriam and I was born in the city of Magdala near the sea.  I am not welcome there anymore so I left yesterday.   But the old lady by the well said that where I was going was much more important than where I had come from.”

“She has taught you well Miriam, who comes from under the fig tree.  I travel with a group and we are on a mission to teach others about the mind of God.  There is much work to be done and perhaps you would like to join us.”

 

What do you think?