23rd September 1945.
Jesus is on His way back from an apostolic trip in the neighbourhood of Bethany. It must have been a short trip, because they are not carrying any food bags.
They are speaking to one another saying: « The idea of Solomon, the boatman, was a good one, Master, wasn't it?»
« Yes, it was.»
The Iscariot, of course, disagrees with the others: « I do not see much good in it. He gave us what is no longer of any use to him as a disciple. There is no reason why he should be praised...»
« A house is always useful» says the Zealot gravely.
« Yes, if it were like yours. But what is his house? An unhealthy shanty.»
« It is all Solomon has» retorts the Zealot.
« And as he grew old in it without aches and pains, we shall be able to stay there now and again. What do you expect? All the houses to be like Lazarus'?» adds Peter.
« I do not expect anything. I cannot see the necessity of that gift. Once you are there you can be in Jericho just as well. There are only a few stadia between the two places. And what are a few stadia for the like of us, who are compelled to wander about all the time, like persecuted people?»
Jesus intervenes before the others lose all patience as clear signs indicate is about to happen: « Solomon, in proportion to his riches, has given more than anybody else. Because he has given everything. He gave it out of love. He gave it to let us have a shelter in case we are caught in the rain, or in a flood, in that not very hospitable area and above all in case the Judaean ill-will should become so strong as to advise us to stay on the other side of the river. And that is with regard to the gift. That a humble, coarse but so faithful and willing disciple has been able to be so generous, which is clear evidence of his firm will to be a disciple of Mine for good, fills Me with great joy. I can truly see that many disciples, with the few lessons which they have received from Me, have excelled you who have received so many. You cannot sacrifice, particularly you, Judas, even what costs nothing: your personal opinions. You maintain yours stubbornly, unyieldingly.»
« You said that the struggle against oneself is the hardest...»
« And thus you want to tell Me that I am wrong when I say that it costs nothing. Is that right? But you have understood perfectly well what I mean! According to men, and you really are a true and proper man, only what is marketable is valuable. One's ego cannot be sold for money. Except... when a man sells himself to someone hoping to make a profit. An illicit trade like the one stipulated by a soul with Satan, even worse. Because it involves not only the soul but also man's thoughts, or judgement or freedom, you may call it as you like. There are some wretched people like that... But for the time being, let us forget about them. I praised Solomon because I see how good his deed is. And that is enough.»
There is silence, then Jesus resumes speaking: « In a few days' time Ermasteus will be able to walk without any trouble. And I will go back to Galilee. But you will not all come with Me. Some will remain in Judaea and will come up later with the Judaean disciples, so that we shall all be reunited for the feast of the Dedication.»
« Such a long time? Oh dear! Whose turn will it be?» the apostles ask one another.
Jesus hears their whispering and replies: « It will be the turn of Judas of Simon, of Thomas, Bartholomew and Philip. But I did not say that you will have to be in Judaea until the feast of the Dedication. On the contrary I want you to gather the disciples and inform them to be there for the feast of the Dedication. So you will now go and look for them, gather them together and tell them; in the meantime you will watch over them and assist them and later you will come up after Me, bringing with you those you have found, and leaving instructions for the others to come. We have now friends in the main places in Judaea and they will do us the favour of informing the disciples. And on your way up to Galilee through Trans-Jordan, remember that I will be going through Gerasa, Bozrah, Arbela, as far as Aera, and collect also those who did not dare to come to Me asking for a miracle or doctrine, and later have regretted not doing so. Bring them to Me. I will stay in Aera until you arrive.»
« In that case we had better go at once» says the Iscariot.
« No, you will leave the evening before My departure and will stay with Jonah at Gethsemane until the following day, and then you will set out for Judaea. You will thus be able to see your mother and help her just now that she is selling her farm produce.»
« She learned to do that by herself years ago.»
« Don't you remember that last year she could not do without you at vintage time?» asks Peter rather slyly.
Judas becomes as red as a poppy and looks ugly in his anger and shame. But Jesus provides against any possible reply by saying: « A son is always of help and comfort to his mother. She will not see you again until Passover and after Passover. So go and do as I tell you.»
Judas does not reply to Peter, but he gives vent to his anger against Jesus: « Master, do You know what I must tell You? That I am under the impression that You want to get rid of me, or at least keep me away from You, because You suspect me and You wrongly think that I am guilty of something, because You lack charity towards me, because...»
« Judas! That is enough! I could tell you many words. But I say only: “Obey!”» Jesus is majestic in saying so. Tall as He is, with shining eyes and severe countenance, He strikes everybody with fear...
And Judas trembles. He goes behind all the apostles, while Jesus, all alone, walks ahead of them. The speechless apostolic group is thus between them.