A Perspective on Monday

written by Christopher Lazzarro

“I wonder if the emperor would think his empire as glorious here, as in his gardens,” Marcus the legionary mused. The soldier marching with Marcus grunted a laugh as they patrolled Beth Aniya, observing pilgrims heading to Jerusalem for the Passover.

Amidst the pilgrims, a man surrounded by a large group caught the legionaries’ attention. The man stopped his group underneath a fig tree. His face turned upward, searching for something in the lush leaves. Not finding what he desired, the man spoke commandingly, “May no one ever eat your fruit again.”

Strange, Marcus thought, to condemn what simply is. On patrol later, Marcus found the once lush fig tree now lifeless and withered. Disquiet settled over him. It was as if the man’s words had peeled away the tree’s very essence.

Later, nearing the end of their patrol in Jerusalem, they heard shouts and sounds of violence coming from the Temple. Quickly, they pushed through to the Temple courtyard.

“Get out!” the man thundered, his voice echoing off the Temple walls as he flipped over a table, scattering coins across the stone floor. The clinking sound of silver mingled with the shouts of panic. “Get out, you thieves!” Merchants, faces twisted in fear, scrambledfor their scattered wealth. “He’s crazy!” they yelled, rushing out the gates past Marcus.

Marcus turned to his companion in astonishment. “It’s the man who cursed the fig tree!”

“Just a religious squabble. Let’s go.” his companion replied.

“Go ahead. I’ll meet you back at the barracks.” The words left Marcus’s mouth almost without thought. His companion shrugged and disappeared into the crowd.

The man now turned to those who remained, his calm presence filling the space left by the chaos. As the man began to teach, Marcus lingered and listened, his mind wrestling with his experiences. In Beth Aniya, a lush tree without fruit; in this Temple, a sacred place desecrated by greed. Instead of providing life and nourishment, they were both parasitic and barren. Seemingly alive but dead inside.

Living death.

The phrase echoed hauntingly in Marcus’s mind as he walked back to the barracks. Could it be that his life, dedicated to the glory of Rome, was also a living death?

Yet hope flickered amidst these dark thoughts. In the Temple, the man later spoke of something more: eternal life. What did he mean? As the weight of this question settled, determination gripped Marcus.

I must find the man again.

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