- But already on the next evening Yeshua rolled another stone in the way.
A man, he said, wanted to have a feast and sent messengers to invite friends
and neighbors. But they came back with only excuses. One would marry the
next day and had no time or desire. Another had to buy a piece of land on
that day. A third had to pick up a pair of oxen he had bought. They all had
something more important to do than attend the feast. The host said to the
messengers: Bring me all those who no one invites, those who hang out in the
alleys, the beggars, the landless, the sick, the girls for sale. They are to
be my guests. They all came. It was a beautiful feast.
Mathaios said: The story is different, I know it from the Persians. The
invitees didn’t want to come because they mistrusted the host, who knows
why, maybe they smelled a trap. In any case, they beat up the messengers.
And then, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, the host sent out other
messengers and they beat up the ones who had beaten the first messengers.
That, said Yeshua, is not my story.
Yehuda said: I don’t understand why the man invites people he knows won’t
come. He is as foolish as the farmer who sows wheat on stone. You’ve got to
know people, you’ve got to reckon with their badness. The earth is no
paradise where the lamb sleeps with the lion.
Yes, Yeshua said, you have to know people, you are right, Yehuda. But what
does “know a person” mean. He looked at Yehuda in a way that sent shivers
down my spine and we all felt an oppression like a loss of breath.
Only Yehuda didn’t seem to feel anything. He said dryly: I would like to
know how the story really ended. Probably it has no end. The people from the
street, the poor, the despised, had a nice evening because of a rich man’s
mood, they filled themselves, drank wine instead of water. Good. And then?
Then they were sent outside and everything stayed the same for them. The
landless stayed without land, the sick stayed sick, the beggars poor. What I
would like to know is: what did the rich man do after the feast? That’s the
main thing. Did he repeat it, did he keep his house open for the poor, did
he do anything to alleviate poverty? Your story makes me uneasy, Rabbi.
Should we praise this rich man because he was good once? And his goodness
isn’t even good. It’s nothing more than disappointment and revenge.
Yehuda, Yeshua said, you are missing the point, and you know it.
Yehuda was stubbornly silent.
But Yeshua kept it up. It was obvious that he wanted to pound the truth into
us. But which truth?
The next night he came with another story, one that tasted bitter to us all
Frank Thomas Smith