I remember thinking ‘Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,’ when the first blow landed and the world went dark.
I woke later in a cool room, completely bewildered. I staggered up from the mat where I lay and went outside. There was a woman – a stranger. She greeted me with a smile when I asked her where I was.
‘You are at the Half-way Inn on the Jericho road,’ she said and told me how I had arrived.
‘You were found lying on the roadside. A Samaritan brought you on his donkey. He has left us money to care for you until you are fit enough to travel.’
I was astounded.
I was alive!
I was rescued by a Samaritan!
He had paid for my care!
The biggest shock was that my benefactor was a Samaritan. Yes – I can see you are shocked too. The enmity between our peoples has festered for generations. And yet he had stopped to help me – a Jew! And paid my debt even ahead of time so that I was well looked after! Somehow that made me feel very humble. That an enemy of my people should care that much. Even now it gives me a lump in my throat.
I never met him, this kind, compassionate man. Yet I owe my life to him and thank Yahweh daily that he came along. The innkeeper told me that both a priest and a Levite had passed the inn and mentioned ‘a dead man’ on the side of the road – good men of my own faith; but it was the Samaritan who stopped and helped.
No, I never met him, but I try now to pay his kindness forward by helping others whenever I can.
After a day or so, my father, relieved that I was alive, sent more funds and I was able to continue my journey and conclude my business successfully. The crop of dates was abundant that year and we did well, in spite of our financial loss.
As I think back to that day on the road to Jericho, I remember my song:
For Your Name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble;
In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies destroy all my foes for I am Your servant.
I have tried to serve Yahweh every day since then.
Oh, and Rebekah and my son? Ha! Well, my precious first born arrived a day or so after I returned home. My little Bracha – my blessing – is a child who is truly blessed by Yahweh for the joy she has brought to my family.
Next time, perhaps, there will be a son to carry on the family business and to travel with me and my companions on the road Jericho.
By this time I had sunk right down in my seat. The man at the front fell silent, and the people around me stood up to sing a final song then began to filter out of the church, greeting one another – and ignoring me.
I did not know how I was to get out of there. I was ashamed. Ashamed that I had been involved in such violence the night before. For I recognized myself in that story. I was one of the thieves. Although I had not stolen anything I had hurt someone almost to the point of death and I had done a lot of damage.
But this young man, who had told his story this morning, had not bragged about his part in my story. In fact, he had not shared any of the events of the night before. He had just told us a tale of violence and compassion – and hope. Yes, hope. I knew then that I lacked all hope. There was no hope in my life.
I was so absorbed in my misery that I did not hear anyone approaching.
I looked up. The young man stood there looking at me as if he could see right through me.
“Can I join you?”
I nodded, too ashamed to speak.
“He’s alright, you know. Giovanni. He’s bruised and scared and angry, but he’s alright. The knife tore his jacket and grazed his ribs. One rib is cracked from a kick. But it was the shock mainly that kept him down. And the fear. But he will recover.”
I stared at the young man. How did he know my part in the shameful events of last night?
“Luigi called me. He saw you hiding behind the corner and as soon as he was out of sight he came to fetch me. I heard you following me and saw you myself as I turned through the gate. I’m glad you came this morning. I hoped I might have a chance to speak with you.”
I mumbled something about being ashamed.
“It’s good that you feel ashamed. What you did was wrong, and you know that. But I have a task for you to do.”