A slightly different spin on this Sunday’s gospel
He taught me to climb trees, and not many girls did that in Jericho. Sycamores were his favorite; he’d show me the knotty hand-holds. Once we were swaying at the top, he’d sweep the horizon with one open hand. “Box seats on the whole town, sweetie!” I’d grin back at him and feel like I was queen of the world. From my leafy perch, I ruled with kind nobility, tall and true. And he would be my king. Later, I’d appreciate his giving me a spunk my friends didn’t have. By the time I was twelve, I stood as tall as he. We’d play like buddies together, tuning out any disapproving clucks about the bark in our hair or the scrapes on our shins.
But as I grew older, I noticed grumbling. People hated daddy’s profession and his wealth. The Roman military occupation meant some people lived in constant fear they’d lose their livelihood or land to high taxes. Probably because they were scraping to eat regularly, we seemed by contrast too carefree in our high balcony of branches. But swaying there, imagining I could touch lacy clouds, I didn’t much care.
Of course, dad took me with him the day that Jesus entered town. He never wanted me to miss anything, so we ran ahead of the crowd like lookouts, gasping and flushed. I had scrambled up the tree beside dad when suddenly, I glimpsed an upturned chin. Even better: the face below us was grinning and inviting himself to our house.
Closing the door of our home firmly on the gossips outside, Dad broke out the best wine—how else to celebrate such an uninvited, honored guest, bringing a welcome message of acceptance to his house? While he and his guest exchanged toasts, I scurried to the kitchen, dreading what I’d find. As I’d guessed beforehand, my mother was flummoxed, whispering in irritation: “No one told me about dinner guests! I had enough lamb and bread for us three, then unannounced, another hungry one appears at the door!”
But I liked this surprise guest, because he had the same lilting laughter as my dad. So I didn’t mind helping to prepare a meal. Who else would run next door to borrow more food? The stranger breathed deep of the roasting fragrance, and complimented both mom and me. To him, I wasn’t the annoying kid. I was the princess who ruled with wisdom and grace. I wonder if he’s a tree climber too?
Excerpt from More Hidden Women of the Gospels by Kathy Coffey. Orbis Books, 800-258-5838 http://www.Orbisbooks.com