A MOTHER’S TALE – Nazareth, Galilee
“Is this the house of Joseph the carpenter?” asked Cornelius offhandedly.
“This is the house of Joseph, but he has long been dead for some years. My brothers and myself run the business now.”
“We seek your brother, the rabbi,” said Jacob. “We heard him speak at Bethsaida and we would like to hear more. Do you know where we can find him?”
“I know not where he went. Now, if you would excuse me, I have much work to do.”
As he returned to his work, Cornelius noticed the curtain in the window part just so slightly to reveal a hand of a woman.
“What of Miriam, your mother?”
“She… she is away in Cana.” Then he went back to sawing the plank. They then started to walk back.
When Cornelius and Jacob returned to the village square, they arrived in the middle of a commotion. One of the soldiers was dragging a screaming girl towards the wagon, while two others were holding off a desperately pleading father and a hysterical mother. Cornelius pulled out and blew his whistle twice. Then he shouted, “Enough!”
“What is going on here?” He demanded. Then pointing at the soldier holding the girl, he said, “Where do you think you are going with her?”
The optio in charge approached with a nervous Levi following behind. He pointed at the father, “this man could not pay his taxes. So, we are taking his daughter.” He pushed Levi up forward to confirm it.
“Ye… yes, Centurion.” He nervously said, “he… he was short by five drachmas.” Then he retreated back a few steps.
Cornelius could not interfere. As much as he hated this practice, these people are under Roman rule. This is the reality of their lives. The soldier continued to drag the girl towards the horses as the father and mother wailed even more loudly. He looked at the parents and then at the crying girl who will probably end up in the brothels.
“Stop!” he ordered. Then he called Levi to approach, he said, “I will pay their debt.” He handed Levi some coins. The optio was livid.
“What are you doing?” The optio demanded. “Are you out of your mind? They are in violation of the law!”
Cornelius looked at him with a challenging stare. “I believe the tax collector has something to say about that.”
Levi showing a little more confidence spoke out, “Ahem… As I am the official tax collector of this district, my records now show that their taxes are fully paid. There is no violation.”
“Optio… have your man release the girl.”
The optio was still livid. He placed his hand on the hilt of his sheath sword. Cornelius swept his cape to his back revealing his sword and his armor. When the optio noticed the emblems on Cornelius’ chest armor, he knew he was not facing an ordinary procurement official but a battle hardened centurion. He moved his hand away from his own sword took a step back and gave the order to release the girl. The girl flew to her mother’s side crying.
The story continues on in my next post a week from now.
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