“Out of the way! Get out of the way, will you…. This town is blessed today! Salvation has come to us – see! Our great teacher is here! Make way for the great teacher!” Peter waved his hands about, shouting in a loud voice. Is a rock could roar, would this be its voice? May be this is why Jesus nicknames Simon, son of Jonah, a study fisherman from Capernanum, ( a little village on the north-eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee) Peter: in Hebrew “Sela” , From then on, he would be known as the rock. Bullying the crowd which was trying to get as close as possible to Jesus, and the other disciples formed a kind of security ring round Him, jealousy keeping him from the crowd.
A little way along the road some children were playing marbles. Hearing the noise of the crowd, they stopped their game and stood waiting to see the fun. Just then a thin middle – aged woman walked past them towards the crowd the children asked her, “what are all these people here for?” She hurried on, saying, “well children, they say that Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth is coming,”
“Rabbi Jesus is a nice man; come on, let’s go and see Him,” The children ran eagerly towards the crowd, but their soft young bodies dashed against the ‘roaring rock’ – and were crushed! “Hey, you kids, what are you up to? Do you know who’s here? Run away and play, will you… Or you’ll feel my hand,” The roaring bear so frightened the children, that they were about to turn tail and run, when a gentle voice called them back. “Let the children come near me. They are like the sweet scented flowers in the garden of the kingdom of God,” The ‘little flowers’ immediately turned into bees which settled on the ‘flower’ which attracted them. Jesus put his arms around them, kissed and caressed them. He looked around and said to the adults who were nearby, “Blessed are those who have pure hearts like these children; only people like them can see God.” Hearing this, even the rock softened like a sponge. “ OK kids, that’s enough. Off you go and play like good children. Rabbi Jesus has lot more work to do.” Ah! can a rock speak so sweetly? The children thanked the Rabbi and ran off to continue their game.
Jesus stood up and walked on. The crowd now came very close to Jesus, wanting to touch Him and be by His side. They were encouraged to by the enthusiasm of the children. Peter and the other disciples no longer stood between Jesus and the People. They felt sort for them. ‘We are with Him day and night,’ they thought to themselves, ‘but these folk can only be with Jesus today.’ So they drew back and slowed the people to walk closely to Him.
Jesus was walking calmly along, talking to the people around Hum, when suddenly he froze and stood straight and still, like a soldier in front of an officer. “who touched me?” he asked. The people close to Him were puzzled and looked at each other. Jesus asked again in a loud voice “Tell me who touched me,” Peter came forward and said “Rabbi, you see why I was guarding you so carefully from these people? If you ask who didn’t touch you, you might get an answer,” He laughed heartily at his own joke. “It’s not funny, Peter. Among all these people who are crowding in on me, someone has touched me for a purpose. I felt deep inside me that power had flowed out in answer to someone’s request. Who was it?” Jesus looked around.
The thin middle-aged woman, whom we met before with the children, came slowly forward and stood in front of Him, tears rolling down her cheeks. She knelt in front of Him and said, sobbing, “Good Rabbi, you really are a Man of God. I touched the hem of your robe and was cured of a dreadful, shameful disease. Halleluiah! Rabbi! Jesus bent down and helped her up with His hands. He wiped her tears with the hem of His robe and asked her, “Who are you?” What has happened to you? ”Through violent sobs she began to tell him her story.; …… “ I am Amelekha, daughter of Aminabad and wife of Ben Neriah……
It was early morning in Tibet (January), made wonderful y the sun and cool breeze. The birds were singing and the trees were dancing to the rhythm of the birds and the wind. Amelekha woke up and looked at Ben Neriah, her husband. She remembered their love-making of the previous night, and her beautiful face flushed at the memory. She covered him the blanket and gave him a gentel kiss; then she dressed and went into the kitchen to get their breakfast. As her hands kneaded the flour to make lekhem (bread), she sang the popular song sung at weddings and on other happy occasions;
“wake up North wind
South wind blow on my garden
Fill the air with fragrance
Let my lover come to the garden
And taste the finest fruits…”
(Cant. 4: 16)
But Neriah woke up, went into the kitchen and, coming up behind her, held her tight and continued the song:
“I have entered the garden
My sweetheart, my bride
I am eating honey
I am drinking milk and wine….”
“That’s enough, darling. I’ve a lot of work to do – and you’ve got to go to Decapolis, haven’t you? You’d better get going and come back early. I am afraid of staying at home alone these days. There’s always something going on – either the militants attacking, or the soldiers making searches. For goodness’ sake be back before dark” said Amelekha, with a worried look on her face.
As they were having breakfast they heard a great commotion out in the road. Men, women and children were hurrying past, some carrying babies or small bags. Ben Nerial went out and asked one of them, “What’s the panic? Why is everybody running?” The man answered, “The zealots have killed some Roman soldiers and there’s a whole legion out searching for the killers. The soldiers are beating up anyone they can lay hands on – saying theu must hand over the zealots. We’re going to take refuge in the synagogue.”
Ben Neriah rushed back into the kitchen and said, Amelekha, let’s get out of here; the soldiers are raiding the houses; if they suspect me of being a zealot, I’m finished. Let’s join the crowd and take refuge in the synagogue.” The two of them grabbed some clothes their few jewels and the newly baked bread. Then they locked the house and ran with the others towards the synagogue.
the prayer hall or synagogue (‘Knesseth’ in Hebrew) was filled with people – about 600 of them – so that it looked like a market place. Ben Neriah and Amelekha went into the synagogue and sat down in a corner where little space remained. “I’m so tired after running like that. You know, its over a month since my last period; I think I’m pregnant – though I’ll have to wait a couple of months before I can be sure” she whispered. He wanted to wave his hands and shout with joy, but people were beginning to stare at them so she stopped him, and they both sat quietly. The day dragged on, slowly and heavily, like a snail. Night came and as the night advanced, most of the children slept, although some babies cried for milk or because they could not sleep. Some adults dozed; others tried to stay awake and keep watch. As mid night approached silence fell, disturbed only by the occasional chirping of a cricket or the eerie cry of an owl.
Suddenly the main door of the synagogue was flung open and a gang of armed men walked in. one of them shouted, “We’re looking for zealots and Sicarii. Let’s have men over here and women over there; children under 12 stay with the women. Get a move on or you’ll be whipped!” he brandished a spike whip. Frightened, the people began to do what they were told. Amelekha clung to Ben Neriah and began to cry. One of the armed men came over and pulled them apart, saying “That’s enough of that romantic nonsense. Over there, you!” Now the men and women lined up separately. The leader of the gang inspected the men and ordered some of them, including Ben Neriah, to form, a third group. About 30 men were out into this new group and the leader instructed one of his men to take them out of the synagogue. As they were taken out the women began to cry out, screaming helplessly. “Let my father stay…” “Oh God, please help me…“ cried some. “My brother is innocent, please don’t take him…” sobbed a young girl. “My husband is not a zealot; please give him back to me…” cried a young wife. “Shut up, all of you. We’re taking them in for questioning. If they’re innocent, they’ll be released soon enough. You can all go home tomorrow.” The leader went out with some of his men, leading the 30 captives. Amelekha watched Ben Neriah being taken away with the others; she fell on her knees, beat her breast and cried out in terror.
And now, those members of the gang who remained behind, approached someof the young women and dragged them out of the synagogue. One of them came to Amelekha and grabbed hold of her. Her hands clasped in supplication she said “Sir, may God bless you. Please leave me alone; I think I’m pregnant.” “Shut up, you. Come with me,” He gnashed his teeth. “Do you want a beating?” they dragged the women out into the night, and for a while the darkness was filled with the laughter of men and the crying of the women…..
“Good Rabbi, I haven’t seen my husband since that day. Four of them raped me mercilessly that night. Because of that I had a miscarriage, and from that day to this – twelve years – I’ve suffered from severe bleeding. I’ve often wanted to end my life; I’m still living only because I believe that my husband is still alive and may be searching for me. And today you’ve cured me of this awful disease. I thank God and I thank You dear Rabbi.” Amelekha, you faith has healed you. I wish that, just as your bleeding has stopped today, your tears will soon stop too. Shalom. Amelekha!” Jesus once again wiped away her tears with the hem of his robe, and walked on. The disciples and the crowed followed Him in silence.
Oh, why are tears rolling down Jesus’ cheeks? Is He thinking of those women who are not certain whether they are widows or not? Or of those women who are used for sex by brutal men? Or is He shedding tears for the many mothers who search for years, for their lost sons?