22nd February 1945.
The interior of the Temple. Jesus is with His disciples very close to the real and true Temple, that is, to the Holy Place which only the priests could enter. It is a beautiful large courtyard which one enters through a hall and from which through an even richer court one reaches the high terrace on which is the cube of the Holy.
My effort is quite useless! If I should see the Temple a thousand times and describe it two thousand, I would always be defective in describing this stately labyrinth, both because of the complexity of the place, and of my ignorance of names and my incapacity to draw a chart…
They seem to be praying. Also many other Israelites, all men, are there praying each on his own account. The evening of a dull November day falls early.
I hear people shouting and I perceive the cross stentorean voice of a man cursing also in Latin, mingled to shrill piercing Jewish voices. It is like the bustle of a struggle and the shrill voice of a woman shouts:
« Oh! Let him go! He says that He will save him. »
The concentration of the stately courtyard is broken. Many heads turn round towards the spot whence the voices are coming. Also Judas Iscariot, who is with the disciples, turns round. Tall as he is, he sees and says: « A Roman soldier is struggling to come in! He is violating, he has already violated the Holy Place! How horrible! » Many echo his words.
« Let me pass, you Jewish dogs! Jesus is here. I know! I want Him! I don't care about your stupid stones. The boy is dying and He will save him. Get away! Hypocritical hyenas… »
As soon as Jesus realizes that He is wanted, He goes towards the hall where the struggle is taking place, He reaches it and shouts: « Peace and respect to the place and to the hour of the offering. »
« Oh! Jesus! Hail! I am Alexander. Make room, you dogs! »
And Jesus says calmly: « Yes, make room. I will take the heathen elsewhere, as he does not know what this place is for us. »
They move aside and Jesus reaches the soldier, whose cuirass is stained with blood. « Are you wounded? Come. We cannot stay here » and He takes him through the other court and beyond it.
« I am not wounded. A little boy… My horse, near the Antonia, got out of hand and knocked him down. Its hooves split his head. Proculus said: “Nothing doing!” It's… it's no fault of mine… but it happened through me and his mother is desperate. I saw You passing by… and coming here… I said: “Proculus cannot, but He can.” I said: “Woman, come. Jesus will cure him.” Those mad people kept me back… and perhaps the child is dead. »
« Where is he? » asks Jesus.
« Under the arcade, in his mother's lap » answers the soldier already seen at the Fish Gate.
« Let us go » and Jesus walks away even faster, followed by His disciples and a train of people.
On the steps limiting the arcade, leaning against a column, there is a tormented woman, weeping over her dying child. The little boy is wan, his half open purple lips are breathing heavily as is typical of people whose brains have been injured. A bandage is tied round his head, stained with blood at the back of his neck and at his forehead.
« His head is split at the front and at the back. His brains can be seen. A head is tender at that age and the horse was a huge one and had been shod recently » explains Alexander.
Jesus is close to the woman, who does not even speak any more, agonizing as she is over her dying son. He lays His hand on her head. « Do not cry, woman » He says with all the kindness of which He is capable, that is with infinite kindness. « Have faith. Give Me your child. »
The woman looks at Him stupified. The crowd curse the Romans and pity the dying boy and his mother. Alexander is filled with anger, for the unfair charges, and with compassion and hope. Jesus sits beside the woman because He sees that she is unable to make any gesture. He bends down. He takes the little wounded head in His long hands, He bends lower, over the waxen little face, breathes over the wheezing little mouth… a few moments. Then He smiles, a smile hardly perceptible through His locks of hair which have fallen forward. He straightens Himself. The child opens his little eyes and makes the gesture of sitting up. His mother fears that it is his last movement and screams pressing him to her heart.
« Let him go, woman. Child, come to Me » says Jesus, still sitting beside the woman and stretching out His hands with a smile. And the boy throws himself confidently into those arms and weeps, not out of sorrow, but because of the fear which is coming back to him with his returning memory.
« There is no horse here, the horse is not here » Jesus assures him. « It is all over. Is it still painful here? »
« No, but I am afraid, I am afraid! »
« See, woman. It is nothing but fear. It will soon be over. Bring Me some water. The blood and bandages are affecting him. John, give Me one of the apples you have… Take, little one. Eat it. It is good… »
They bring water. It is the soldier Alexander who brings it in his helmet.
Jesus makes the gesture of undoing the bandage.
Alexander and the mother say: « No! He is coming round… but his head is split!… » Jesus smiles and unties the bandage. One, two, three, eight turns. He removes the blood-stained cloth. From the middle of his forehead to the back of his neck, on his right-hand side, it is all one clot of blood, still soft, among the child's hair. Jesus wets a bandage and washes…
« But underneath there is the wound… if You remove the clot it will start bleeding again » insists Alexander.
The mother closes her eyes not to see.
Jesus continues to wash. The clot melts… now the child's hair is clean. It is wet, but there is no wound underneath. Also his forehead is healed. There is only a tiny red mark where was the scar.
The crowd shout out of amazement. The woman dares to look and when she sees, she no longer controls herself. She throws herself on Jesus, embracing Him with her child and weeps. Jesus puts up with the effusion and the shower of tears.
« Thank You, Jesus » says Alexander. « I was sorry I had killed this innocent boy. »
« You have been good and trustful. Goodbye, Alexander. Go back to your work. »
Alexander is about to go away, when some officials of the Temple and some priests arrive like so many hurricanes. « The High Priest orders You, through us, to leave the Temple, You and the heathen desecrator. At once. You have upset the offering of the incense. That man has entered a place reserved exclusively to Judaeans. It is not the first time that the Temple has been disturbed because of You. The High Priest together with the Elders on duty, orders You never to put foot in here again. Go away, and stay with Your heathens. »
« We are not dogs either. He said: “There is only one God, creator of the Judaeans and of the Romans.” If this is His House and I was created by Him, I ought to be allowed to come in as well » replies Alexander, stung by the scornful tone in which the priests pronounce « heathens ».
« Be quiet, Alexander. I will speak » cuts in Jesus, Who has handed the boy back to his mother after kissing him, and is now standing up. He says to the group who are turning Him out: « No one can forbid a believer, a true Israelite, whom no one can prove guilty of sin, to pray near the Holy. »
« But to explain the Law in the Temple, yes, he can be forbidden. You assumed the right, without having it, and without asking for it. Who are You? Who knows You? How dare You usurp a name and a position which do not belong to You? »
Jesus looks at them with knowing eyes, He then says: « Judas of Kerioth, come here. »
Judas does not appear to be very enthusiastic about the invitation. He had tried to disappear as soon as the priests and the officials of the Temple arrived (however, they are not wearing military uniforms: it must be a civil office). But he is obliged to obey because Peter and Judas of Alphaeus push him forward.
« Judas, please answer. And you, look at him. You know him. He is of the Temple. Do you know him? »
They are obliged to reply: « Yes, we do. »
« Judas, what did I ask you to do when I spoke here for the first time? And why were you amazed? And what did I say to you in reply to your amazement? Speak and be frank. »
« He said to me: “Call the official on duty that I may ask him for permission to teach.” And he gave His name, He explained who He was and mentioned His tribe… and I was astonished as I considered it a useless formality, since He says that He is the Messiah. And He said to me: “It is necessary and when the hour comes, remember that I never lacked in respect to the Temple and its officials.” Yes. That is what He said. I must say so to honor the truth. » At the beginning Judas spoke somewhat uncertain, as if he were annoyed. Then, with one of his typical sudden changes, he became certain, almost arrogant.
« I am astonished that you should defend Him. You have betrayed our trust in you » says a priest to Judas reproachfully.
« I have not betrayed anyone. How many of you are of the Baptist! So, are they traitors? I am of Christ. That's all. »
« Well, He must not speak here. He may come as a believer. It is even too much for one who is friendly with heathens, prostitutes and excisemen… »
« Reply to Me, now » says Jesus, severe but calm. « Who are the Elders on duty? »
« Doras and Felix, Judaeans. Joachim of Capernaum and Joseph, Ituraean. »
« I understand. Let us go. Refer to the three accusers, because the Ituraean cannot have accused, that the Temple is not all Israel and Israel is not the whole world, and that the slobber of reptiles, however plentiful and most poisonous, will not drown the Voice of God, neither will its poison paralyse My going amongst men until the hour comes. And after… oh! tell them that after, men will do justice to the executioners and will raise the Victim making It their only love. Go. And let us go. » And Jesus covers Himself with His wide heavy dark mantle and goes out in the middle of His disciples.
Behind them is Alexander who stayed for the discussion. Outside the enclosure, near the Antonia Tower, he says: « I say goodbye to You, Master. And I ask You to forgive me for being the cause of a reproach for You. »
« Oh! Do not worry! They were looking for a pretext. If it was not you, it would have been someone else… In Rome you have games in the Circus with beasts and snakes, have you not? Well, I tell you that no beast is more wild and deceitful than a man who wants to kill another man. »
« And I tell You that I have travelled through all the regions of Rome, at Caesar's service. But nowhere amongst the thousands of people I have met, did I find anyone more divine than You. No, not even our gods are as divine as You are! They are vindictive, cruel, quarrelsome, liars. You are good. You are really a Man, not man. Hail, Master. »
« Goodbye, Alexander. Proceed in the Light. »
It all ends.