6th July 1945.
« I do not suppose you wish to make a pilgrimage to all the known places in Israel » says the Iscariot ironically. He is discussing in a group where there are Mary of Alphaeus and Salome together with Andrew and Thomas.
« Why not? Who forbids us? » asks Mary of Clopas.
« I do. My mother has been waiting for me for such a long time... »
« Well go to your mother. We will reach you later » says Salome and she seems to be adding mentally: « No one will miss you. »
« Certainly not! I am going with the Master. Contrary to what had been arranged, Mary is not coming. And that should not have been done to me, because I was promised She would come. »
« She stopped at Bethzur for a good reason. That woman was really unhappy. »
« Jesus could have cured her at once, without making her recover by degrees. I do not know why He is no longer fond of working outstanding miracles. »
« He must have holy reasons for doing what He did » states Andrew calmly.
« Of course! And He thus loses proselytes. Our stay at Jerusalem, what a disappointment it was! The more there is need for highflown things, the more He crouches in the dark. I intended so much to see, to fight... »
« Excuse my question... But what did you want to see and with whom did you intend to fight? » asks Thomas.
« What? Who? But I wanted to see His miracles and then make head against those who say that He is a false prophet or possessed. Because that is what they say, see? They say that if Beelzebub does not support Him, He is a poor wretch. And since Beelzebub's whimsical disposition is well known and we know that he delights in taking and leaving, as a leopard does with its prey, and that this mentality is justified by facts, I become impatient when I think that He does nothing. We are cutting a lovely figure! The apostles of a Master... Who does nothing but teach... that is undeniable, but nothing else. » Judas' abrupt pause after the word « Master » makes the others think he was about to say something nasty.
The women are horrified and Mary of Alphaeus, being a relative of Jesus', says frankly: « I am not surprised at that, but I am astonished that He puts up with you, boy! »
But Andrew, the ever meek Andrew, loses his temper and blushing, very much like his brother just this once, says furiously: « Go away! And you won't cut any more bad figures because of the Master! And who asked you to come? He called us. Not you. You had to insist several times to be accepted. You imposed yourself. I do not know who keeps me from reporting everything to the others... »
« One can never talk to you. They are right when they say you are quarrelsome and ignorant people... »
« Well, to tell you the truth, neither do I understand how you can say that the Master made a mistake. Neither did I know of the whimsical disposition of the Demon. Poor thing! He must certainly be odd. Had he been intelligent he would not have rebelled against God. But I will take note of that » teases Thomas to avert the approaching storm.
« Don't jest, because I am serious. Can you perhaps say that He attracted attention in Jerusalem? Also Lazarus said so... »
Thomas breaks into a hearty laugh. Then, still laughing, and his laughter has already disconcerted Judas, he says: « He has not done anything? Go and ask the lepers at Siloam and Hinnom. That is: you will not find anyone at Hinnom, because they were all cured. If you were not there, because you were in a hurry to go to... your friends, and consequently you do not know, that does not prevent the valleys of Jerusalem and many more places from resounding with the hosannas of the lepers cured » concludes seriously Thomas. And he continues sternly: « You suffer from bile trouble, my friend. And thus you taste bitter and see green everywhere. It must be a recurring disease with you. And believe me, it is not very pleasant to lie with one like you. You must change. I will not tell anybody anything, and if these good women will listen to me, they will be quiet as well, and so will Andrew. But you must change. You must not think that you have been disappointed because there is no disappointment. Neither are you necessary because the Master knows what to do by Himself. Don't you try to be the Master's master. And if for that poor woman of Eliza He acted thus, it means that that was the right thing to do. Let snakes hiss and spit as they like. Don't go to the trouble of acting as broker between them and Him and above all do not think that you lower yourself by being with Him. Even if He did not cure even a cold in future, He is always powerful. His word is a continuous miracle. And set your mind at rest. We have no archers behind us! Don't worry, we will succeed in convincing the world that Jesus is Jesus. And be quiet, if Mary promised to come to your mother's, She will come. In the meantime we will go round this beautiful part of the country, it is our work! And why not? Let us make the women disciples happy by going to visit Abraham's tomb, his tree and Jesse's sepulchre and... what else did you say? »
«They say that this is the place where Adam lived and where Abel was killed...»
« The usual senseless tales! » grumbles Judas.
« In one hundred years' time they will say that also the Grotto of Bethlehem and many other things were a tale! But excuse me! You wanted to go to that stinking cave at Endor, which you must agree did not belong to a holy cycle; don't you think so? And they have come here where they say there is the blood and the ashes of saints. Endor brought us John and who knows... »
« What a handsome acquisition John is! » scoffs the Iscariot.
« His face isn't, no. But in his soul he may be better than we are. »
« What? With his past! »
« Be quiet. The Master said that we are not to remember it. »
« Lovely! If I did any such things, I wonder whether you would not remember them! »
« Goodbye, Judas. You had better be by yourself. You are too cross. I wish I knew what is the matter with you! »
« What is the matter with me, Thomas? The trouble is that I see that we are being neglected to the advantage of strange newcomers. And I see that everybody is preferred to me. And I also notice how He waits until I am away to teach you how to pray. And do you expect me to be happy with such a situation? »
« No, I don't. But may I point out that if you had come with us for the Passover Supper you would have been on the Mount of Olives as well with us, when the Master taught us the prayer. I do not see how we are neglected because of any strange newcomer. Are you referring to the poor innocent boy? Or because unhappy John is with us? »
« Because of both of them. Jesus hardly ever speaks to us now. Look at Him even now... He is loitering over there, talking and talking to the boy. He will have to wait a long time before He can put him among the disciples! And the other one will never be a disciple. He is too proud, too learned, too hardened, with bad tendencies. And yet: “John here, John there” »
« Father Abraham, help me to bear this in patience!!! And in what do you think the Master prefers others to you? »
« Do you not see that even now? When it was time to leave Bethzur, after stopping to teach three shepherds who could have very well been taught by Isaac, whom does He leave with His mother? Me? you? No. He leaves Simon. An old man who can hardly speak!... »
« But the little he says is always said right » retorts Thomas, who is now alone because the women and Andrew have gone away and are walking fast in front of them as if they wished to get past a stretch of the road where the sun is very warm.
The two apostles have become so excited that they do not hear Jesus coming, because the noise of His footsteps is completely muffled by the dust of the road. But if He makes no noise, the two are shouting as loud as ten people and Jesus can hear. Behind Him there are Peter, Matthew, the two cousins of the Lord, Philip and Bartholomew and the two sons of Zebedee with Marjiam between them.
Jesus says: « You are right, Thomas. Simon speaks little, but the little he says is always right. His mind is placid and his heart honest. And above all he has a great good-will. That is why I left him with My Mother. He is a true reliable man and at the same time he knows how to live, he has suffered and is old. Therefore I am saying this because I suppose there is someone who thinks My choice was unfair – therefore he was the most suitable to remain. Judas, I could not allow My Mother to be left alone near a poor woman who is still ill. And it was just that I should leave Her. My Mother will complete the work that I started. But I could not leave Her with My brothers, or with Andrew, James or John, or with you. If you do not understand the reason, I do not know what to say... »
« Because She is Your Mother, She is young, beautiful, and people... »
« No! People will always have filth in their thoughts, on their lips and hands and particularly in their hearts, dishonest people who see their sentiments in everybody else; but I am not concerned with their mud. It falls off by itself, when it is dry. But I preferred Simon because he is old and he would not remind the desolate woman too much of her dead sons. You young men would have recalled them with your youth... Simon knows how to watch without being noticed, he never demands anything, he understands and can control himself. I could have taken Peter. Who would be better than he near My Mother? But he is still too impulsive. You know that I tell him openly, and he takes no offence. Peter is sincere, and he loves sincerity even to his own detriment. I could have taken Nathanael. But he has never been to Judaea before. Simon instead knows the country well and he will be invaluable in bringing My Mother to Kerioth. He knows where your country house and the town one are and he will not... »
« But... Master!... But is Your Mother really coming to mine? »
« We said so. And when you say something, you do it. We shall proceed slowly, stopping to evangelize these villages. Do you not want Me to evangelize Your Judaea? »
« Of course, Master!... But I believed... I thought... »
« Above all you were causing yourself a lot of trouble through your own imagination. By the second phase of the moon of Sivan we shall all be at your mother's. We, that is also My Mother and Simon. For the time being She is evangelizing Bethzur, a Judaean town, as Johanna is evangelizing Jerusalem with the assistance of a girl and a priest who was previously a leper, as Lazarus with Martha and old Ishmael are evangelizing Bethany, as Juttah is evangelized by Sarah and I am sure that your mother speaks of the Messiah at Kerioth, You cannot certainly say that I have left Judaea without voices. On the contrary, although it is more narrow-minded and stubborn than any other region, I have given it the sweetest voices, the voices of women, beside those of Isaac, a holy man, and of Lazarus, a friend of Mine. A woman knows how to use words with the subtle art of a woman, a mistress in leading souls to where she wants. Are you not speaking any more? Why are you almost weeping, you big moody boy? What is the use of poisoning yourself with shadows? Have you still any reason to be upset? Tell Me! Speak up... »
« I am bad... and You are so good. Your goodness always strikes me, because it is always so fresh and so new... I... I can never tell when I am going to find it on my way. »
« You are right. It is not possible for you to know. Because it is neither fresh nor new. It is eternal, Judas. It is omnipresent, Judas... Oh! We are near Hebron and Mary, Salome and Andrew are waving their hands to us. Let us go. They are speaking to some men. They must be asking where the historical places are. Your mother is becoming young again by this recollection, my dear brother! »
Judas Thaddeus smiles at his Cousin and Jesus smiles back.
« We are all becoming young! » says Peter. « I seem to be at school once again. But this is a lovely school! Much better than Elisha's, the grumbler. Do you remember him, Philip? What did we not do to him! Remember the story of the tribes? “Say the towns of the tribes!”; “You did not say them in chorus... Repeat them...”; “Simon, you look like a sleeping frog. You are left behind. Start all over again.” O dear! My head was full of names of towns and villages of bygone days, and I knew nothing else. Instead here, one really learns! Do you know, Marjiam? One of these days your father will be going to sit his exams, now that he has learned... »
They all laugh while going towards Andrew and the women.