First of all, I must tell you that this narrative is not about religion, although a religious figure appears in it. Also, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not very religious, and that I do not attend religious services on a regular basis. Keep this in mind while you read my story.
When I was a child, I never heard of "role models." I only knew that some people were "good examples." while some others were "bad examples. I grew up surrounded by adults who were bad examples. Fortunately, my elder brother Ray was seven years older than me. When he was a teenager, I was a child. I looked up to him, because he was an excellent student in high school. He excelled in mathematics, languages, and literature. Personally, I had trouble with math, and other subjects. I just muddled through with low grades. I believe that my admiration for Ray pulled me through, in my efforts to graduate from high school. A couple of things were clear. Ray was much more intelligent than I, but that fact didn't made me feel envious, it only increased my respect and affection for him. One thing was very evident about me: I liked to read. I read adventure novels, tons of comic books, and some sport magazines.
One day Ray brought a Bible home. It was a beautifully bound book that he had bought with his own money. For me, it was new reading material, a book with many interesting stories. For my brother it was a book to study. He was considering going to Seminary, to become a priest. He was counseled not to consider the priesthood any further. "You wouldn't be a good priest. You have too many questions," he was told. So Ray did not become a priest; but since he had a very inquisitive mind, he continued to be interested in religion as a subject. He became knowledgeable about all major religions. He even studied Hebrew and Ladino on his own. He also liked to read Maimonides, a medieval philosopher.
Since my elder brother was good with numbers, he became an Accountant, and his analytical mind led him to become a professional Auditor for several major corporations. I emulated Ray, up to a certain point, by studying accounting, and working in that field, until my love for books led me to a degree, and a second career, in librarianship.
In the Bible that my brother brought home, I found my second role model. I saw Jesus only as a man, a good man, and a reliable adult. He was loving, compassionate, capable of forgiveness, and who cared deeply for marginalized people. He could handle repeated rejection, as he stood up for what he believed in. He was a great teacher, with admirable teaching methods. This was really an adult whom I could trust and admire. As I grew older, I realized how Jesus could be the role model for other young adults who would become teachers, physicians, nurses ,social and humanitarian workers.
At birth Jesus was born homeless, yet he was surrounded by the love of his parents and others. Both my brother and I recognized something by seeing a contrast. While we were well provided for our material needs, love was the ingredient almost lacking in our family. I say almost because, in our biased opinion, we had the unconditional love only a grandmother can give, and that loving adult was our maternal grandmother Doris.
I remember my role models everyday. I am totally convinced that one doesn't have to be religious to learn something from the Bible. It's good reading.