27th June 1945.
It is the eve of Passover. Jesus is alone with His apostles, because the women have not joined the group, and He is waiting for Peter, who has taken the lamb of Passover to be sacrificed. While they are waiting and Jesus is speaking to Marjiam of Solomon, Judas crosses the large yard. He is with a group of young men speaking gesticulating ostentatiously and assuming an inspired attitude. He shakes his mantle continuously, then drapes it round himself posing skillfully. I do not think that Cicero looked so stately when delivering his orations...
« Look, Judas is over there! » says Thaddeus.
« He is with a group of saforim » remarks Philip.
And Thomas says: I am going to hear what he is saying » and he runs away before Jesus may express a foreseeable « don't ».
Oh! Jesus' countenance! A countenance of suffering and of severe judgement. Marjiam who was looking at Him while He was speaking kindly and somewhat sadly of the great king of Israel, notices the sudden change, is almost frightened by it and shakes Jesus' hand to call Him back to His senses exclaiming: « Don't look! Don't look! Look at me, for I love You. »...
Thomas is successful in reaching Judas without being seen by him and follows him for a few steps. I do not know what he hears, but I know that he bursts into a sudden thundering exclamation which causes many people to turn round, and in particular Judas, who becomes livid with rage: « How many rabbis there are in Israel! I congratulate you, new light of wisdom! »
« I am not a flint-stone. I am a sponge. And I absorb. And when the desire of those starving for wisdom demands it, I squeeze out all my juices of life to give them...» Judas is pompous and contemptuous.
« You sound like a perfect echo. But an echo can only exist, if it is near the Voice. Otherwise it fades away, my friend. You seem to be going away from it. He is over there. Are you not coming? »
Judas changes colour, with the rancorous disgusting countenance of his worst moments. But he controls himself. He says: « Goodbye, my friends. Here I am with you, Thomas, my dear friend. Let us go to the Master at once. I did not know that He was here in the Temple. If I had known, I would have looked for Him » and he clasps Thomas' shoulders with his arm, as if he were very fond of him.
But Thomas, who is placid but not foolish, is not deceived by such protestations... and asks rather astutely: « What? Don't you know that it is Passover? And do you think that the Master is not faithful to the Law? »
« Oh! Never on your life! But last year He went about, and spoke... I remember this very day. He attracted me by means of His royal authoritativeness... Now... He looks to me like one who has lost vigour. Don't you think so? »
« No, I don't. I think He looks like one who has lost esteem. »
« Yes, in His mission, you are quite right. »
« No. You have misunderstood. He has lost men's esteem. And you are one of those responsible for that. Shame on you! » Thomas no longer smiles. He is grave and his words lash Judas like a whip.
« Watch how you speak! » threatens the Iscariot.
« Watch how you behave. We are two Jews here, with no witnesses. And that is why I am speaking to you. And I say once again: “Shame on you!.” And now be quiet. Don't feign tragedy and don't start lamenting, otherwise I will speak in front of everybody. There is the Master and your companions. Control yourself. »
« Peace to You, Master...»
« Peace to you, Judas of Simon. »
« It is a great pleasure for me to find You here... I would like to speak to You...»
« Do so. »
« You know... I wanted to tell You... Can You not listen to me aside? »
« You are among your companions. »
« But I wanted You only. »
« At Bethany I am alone with those who want Me and look for Me, but you do not look for Me. You avoid Me...»
« No, Master. You cannot say that. »
« Why did you offend Simon and Me yesterday, and Joseph of Arimathea, your companions and My Mother and the other women as well? »
« I did? But I did not see you! »
« You did not want to see us. Why did you not come, as we had arranged, to bless the Lord because of an innocent child who was being accepted by the Law? Tell Me! You did not even feel the need to inform us that you were not coming. »
« There is my father! » shouts Marjiam who sees Peter coming back with his lamb, which has been slaughtered, eviscerated and enveloped once again in its skin. « Oh! Micah and the others are with him! I am going, can I go and meet them and hear of my old father? »
« Yes, son, go » says Jesus caressing him. And touching John of Endor on his shoulder, he says to him: « Please, go with him and... keep them there for a little while. » And He addresses Judas once again: « Tell Me! I am waiting for your reply. »
« Master... a sudden obligation... an unbreakable one... I was very sorry... But...»
« But was there not one person in Jerusalem who could bring your justification, supposing you had one? And even that would have been a fault. I remind you that recently a man did not bury his father to follow Me, and that these brothers of Mine left their father's house, amongst imprecations, to follow Me, and that Simon and Thomas, and Andrew, James, John, Philip and Nathanael with them, left their families and Simon Cananean left his wealth to give it to Me and Matthew his sins to follow Me. And I could go on mentioning one hundred more names. There are people who leave their lives, their very lives, to follow Me to the Kingdom of Heaven. But since you are so selfish, at least be polite. You have no charity, at least be courtly. Since you like them, imitate the false Pharisees who betray Me, who betray us behaving like well-bred people. It was your duty to be free to be with us yesterday, so as not to offend Peter, for whom I demand respect from everybody. But if you had at least sent notice...»
« I made a mistake. But now I was coming to You on purpose, to tell You that for the same reason I cannot come tomorrow. You know... I have friends of my father and...»
« That is enough. Go with them. Goodbye. »
« Master... are You angry with me? You told me that You would act as my father... I am a reckless son, but a father forgives...»
« I forgive you. But go away. Do not keep your father's friends waiting, as I do not keep waiting the friends of holy Jonah. »
« When are You leaving Bethany? »
« At the end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Goodbye. »
Jesus turns round and goes towards the peasants who are in an ecstasy over Marjiam who is so changed. He takes a few steps and then stops because of Thomas' remark: « By Jehovah! He wanted to see in You the authoritativeness of a King! He got what he wanted!...»
« I beg you all to forget the incident, as I am striving to forget it. I order you to make no mention of it to Simon of Jonah, John of Endor and the little one. For reasons which you can easily understand, it is better not to grieve or scandalise those three. And no word about it at Bethany, with the women. My Mother is there, do not forget it. »
« Do not be concerned, Master. »
« We will do all we can to make amends. »
« And to comfort You » they all say.
« Thank you... Oh! Peace to you all. Isaac found you. I am glad. Enjoy your Passover in peace. My shepherds will be as many good brothers to you. Isaac, before they go away, bring them to see Me. I want to bless them once again. Have you seen the boy? »
« Oh! Master! How well he is! He is already much healthier! We will tell the old man. He will be so happy. This just man has told us that Jabez is now his son... It is a gift of Providence! We will tell him everything. »
« Also that I am a son of the Law. And that I am happy. And I always remember him. And he must not weep for me or for my mother. She is near me and she is near him like an angel and he will always have her, also in the hour of death, and if Jesus has already opened the gates of Heaven, well, then mummy will come to meet the old father and she will be more beautiful than an angel and will take him to Jesus. Jesus told me. Will you tell him? Will you be able to tell him properly? »
« Certainly, Jabez. »
« No. Now I am Marjiam. The Lord's Mother gave me that name. It is as if you said Her name. She loves me so much. She puts me to bed in the evening and She makes me say the prayers which She made Her Child say. And she wakes me up with a kiss, She dresses me and teaches me many things. Also Jesus does. But they teach me so gently that I learn without any difficulty. My Master!!! » The child presses against Jesus with an attitude of adoration and love that is really moving.
« Yes, tell him everything, also not to give up hope. This angel prays for him and I bless him. I bless you, too. Go. Peace be with you. »
The two groups part, each going its own way.