“… He opened his swollen eyes slightly seemingly regaining consciousness. The man moaned asking where he was. Then he drifted out once more. …”
Joshua hurried outside the inn to the courtyard. A stranger summoned him for help. He had a mule tethered to a post. A badly beaten, wounded man who looked half-dead was splayed helplessly face down across the girth of the pack animal.
“What happened?” Joshua asked.
The stranger replied, “I came across this man on a deserted part of the roadway to Jericho. He was stripped naked, unconscious and bloodied all over. He was still alive, but barely. I couldn’t just leave him.”
He paused and pleaded with Joshua, the innkeeper, “Can you help us?”
Joshua sprang to action, “Let’s bring him inside quickly. I can have Luke look him over.”
They carried the man inside and laid him in a bed in one of the rooms. Joshua quickly fetched the man he called Luke. He was a physician who spent much of his time writing.
They hurried to the wounded man’s room. With his deft hands, Luke diagnosed the injured man’s condition and briskly gave instructions to Joshua to prepare warm water, oil, ointment and strips of clothing to bind the man’s wounds.
The man’s breathing was shallow. He opened his swollen eyes slightly seemingly regaining consciousness. The man moaned asking where he was. Then he drifted out once more. Luke felt his pulse. It was weak but steady. They ministered to him as best as they could. The man drifted in and out of consciousness but the bleeding had stopped. Seeing that there was no more they can do for the man at the moment, the three men left the room.
“I am Micah from Samaria,” the man said. “I am Joshua,” the innkeeper replied, “and this is Luke.” Luke gazing at the two men with kind knowing eyes, nodded, acknowledging them both as he went back to his writing.
Micah stayed with the injured man through the night, lying down on a cot on one side of the room for short naps in-between while Luke checked in on the man’s condition from time to time during the night. Joshua made sure there is food for Micah and enough oil for the lamp that burned faintly in one corner of the room. It looked like the man was going to make it. He said a prayer of thankfulness.
Micah was up early. He had pressing business to attend to. He looked in on the wounded man. He set aside two silver coins for the man’s care. Micah made a mental note to stop by the inn on his way back. He wanted to cover any other cost.
Sometime during the day, the wounded man opened his eyes and saw he was in a strange room. His body ached all over and his head was spinning. He was hungry and thirsty and was about to call out when Joshua entered the room.
“How are you feeling?” Joshua asked him. He had a tray of warm food and a flask of wine with him.
The man groaned in reply. Joshua placed the tray of food beside the man. He had great difficulty eating and swallowing but he must have been truly famished. He cleaned up what was on the tray.
Joshua asked as he sat down on a chair, “ So tell me. What happened?”
The man answered, “A band of four robbers sprang up on me while I was traveling on a deserted road on my way to Jericho. They beat me up so badly and left me for dead. They took all I had, even my clothing.”
The man continued, “Hours had passed when I saw someone, coming up the road. He was garbed like a priest. I shouted for help and he saw me. Alas, he went on the other side of the road and hurried along. No one else came for hours. My heart was sinking. And then, in what seemed to be forever, a Levite came by and saw me but he too could not be bothered and went to the other side of the road and went on his way.”
He paused for a while and said, “I was losing hope. I asked God for mercy to send someone, anyone to help me. The sun was going down and it will soon be cold and dark when I saw someone coming up the road. He was riding in a mule. I managed yet again to shout for help. This time, the man stopped, got off his animal and quickly hurried to where I lay bleeding. I must have passed out since that was the last time I remembered anything.”
Joshua told him, “The man who brought you here saved you just in time. God heard your prayer. A physician has been treating you.” Joshua looked at him squarely and added, “The man who saved you is named Micah, a Samaritan. He was up all night looking after you. ”
Samuel’s swollen eyes grew wide. Joshua noted the man seemed stunned at knowing who had saved him.
“I’m the innkeeper. I’m Joshua. What is yours?” he asked him.
“Sam … Samuel of Jerusalem,” the man stammered. Joshua nodded, stood up and took the tray away. “Well, rest and feel better,” he told him in a quiet voice, headed for the door and left the room.
Joshua thought to himself as he went about his day. In the many years he had been an innkeeper, he knew Jews and Samaritans took great pains to avoid one other. They were like oil and water. They just did not mix. Jews considered Samaritans as half-breeds, inferior in every way, since they had married pagans and had included pagan rituals in their worship. In the Jewish tradition, they were outcasts, tolerated but not welcome.
Joshua guessed Samaritans probably felt just as resentful toward Jews. They probably regarded Jews as high-handed, arrogant stiffs, rigidly set and unbending in their ways and traditions. So deep was the resentment between them that Samaritans and Jews did not even talk to each other. But now somehow Joshua knew it did not have to be so.
He knew and felt better about this bit of wisdom about who true neighbors are. He refused the two silver coins Micah was giving him. Joshua felt good doing his bit for the wounded man.
Joshua went about his day with a lighter heart. He felt sure God made him an innkeeper to meet people on the crossroads. Since that glorious night long ago when he witnessed something rare, precious and mysterious in a childbirth at the stable at the back of the inn that only a few men had ever seen, stories have been unfolding right before his eyes.
People and their stories have been opening up his heart and enriching his soul. Joshua often regaled his wife and children with these stories at the dinner table.
He thought that maybe one day when the time is ripe, he could share these stories with as many others who cared to listen. These stories are just too good to keep to one’s self. Maybe he can tell Luke who can then write about these stories to pass them on to many generations.
Samuel, the wounded man, was in deep thought too. He felt sure the priest and the Levite who had both passed him by were going to help him in his hour of need. They were supposedly men of God. Samuel was a man of some means and had given generously to the temple’s coffers. He even sat with these men in places of honor. Like them, he grew up bound by tradition and despised Samaritans.
And yet, here he is, still alive by an unexpected grace. Here he still is because of a surprising deed of kindness from a man whose tribe people thought, including himself, were good for nothing. He closed his eyes and felt deep shame and remorse. Samuel knew he could never repay the kindness this Samaritan man Micah had given him. Yet, Samuel now knows in his heart he can look at Samaritans and perhaps, even other groups who worshiped the same God, with fresh eyes and treat them like his own.
* * *
Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org