11th November 1945.
« Lord, during the night I have been thinking... Why do You want to come so far, and then come back to the Phoenician border? Let me go with one of my companions. I will sell Antonius... I regret having to do it... but we do not need it any more and it would attract people's notice. And I will go and meet Philip and Bartholomew. They can only come along that road and I shall certainly meet them. And You may rest assured that I will not speak. I do not wish to grieve You... You can rest here with the others and it will save us all going all the way to Jiphthahel... and we will save time» says Peter while coming out of the house where they slept. And they look less haggard, as they are wearing clean clothes and their beards and hair have been dressed by skillful hands.
« It is a good idea. I will not stop you. You may go with whichever companion you wish.»
« With Simon, then. Bless us, o Lord.»
Jesus embraces them saying: « With a kiss. Go.»
They watch them descend quickly towards the plain.
« How good Simon of Jonah is! During the past days I have appreciated him as I had never done before» says Judas Thaddeus.
« So did I» says Matthew. « He is never selfish, proud or exacting!»
« He has never taken advantage of the fact that he was our head. On the contrary, he seemed to be the last one, still maintaining his position» adds James of Alphaeus.
« We are not surprised. We have known him for years. He is hot tempered but very kind-hearted. And so honest!» says James of Zebedee.
« My brother is good, even if he is coarse. But since he has been with Jesus, he has become twice as good. My nature is entirely different and sometimes it made him angry, because he knew that I was suffering because of my character. He got angry because he was fond of me. When one understands him, one gets along with him very well» says Andrew.
« During the past days we have always understood one another and we have always been of one mind» states John.
« That's true! I noticed that myself. During the whole month, also in moments of excitement, we have never been at variance among ourselves... Whereas sometimes... I don't know why...» monologises James of Zebedee.
« Why? But it is easily understood! Because we are righteous in our intentions. We are not perfect; but we are righteous. We therefore accept the good which one proposes and we reject the evil which is pointed out to us as such, whereas previously we had not realised that by ourselves. Why? It is easily said! Because the eight of us are of the same mind: to do things in such a way as to please Jesus. That's all!» exclaims Thaddeus.
« I do not think that the others are of a different mind» says Andrew in a conciliatory tone.
« No. Neither Philip nor Bartholomew, although the latter is rather elderly and very much an Israelite... Neither is Thomas, although he is inclined to be much more human than spiritual. I would do them wrong, should I accuse them of... Jesus, You are right. Forgive me. But if You knew what it means to me to see You suffer! And because of him! I am Your disciple, like all the rest. But over and above I am Your brother and friend and I have Alphaeus' fiery blood in my veins. Jesus, don't look at me so severely or so sadly. You are the Lamb and I... the lion. And believe me, I find it hard to refrain from tearing with a blow of my paw the network of slander that is enveloping You and from knocking down the shelter in which the true enemy is hiding. I would like to see the real side of his spiritual face, which I call... and perhaps it is calumny; and if I could identify him without the least fear of error, I would mark him in such a way that for the rest of his life he would not dream of hurting You» says Thaddeus passionately, although Jesus had cast a glance at him to stop him, when he began to speak.
James of Zebedee replies to him: « You would have to mark half of the people in Israel!... But Jesus will proceed just the same. During the past days you have seen whether anything can stop Jesus. What shall we do now, Master? Have You spoken here?»
« No. I have not been on these slopes one day yet. I slept in the wood.»
« Why did they not want You?»
« Their hearts rejected the Pilgrim... I was penniless...»
« They are hard-hearted then! What were they afraid of?»
« That I might be a highwayman... But it does not matter. The Father Who is in Heaven made Me meet with a goat, which was either lost or had run away. Come, I will show her to you. She lives in the thicket with her kid. But she did not run away when she saw Me arrive. On the contrary, she let Me milk her... into My mouth, as if I were her little one, too. And I slept near her, with the little kid almost on My heart. God is good to His Word!»
They go towards the place where they met yesterday, a thorny thicket. In the middle there is an age-old oak tree, surviving I know not how, split as it is, as if the ground had opened breaking apart its robust trunk, all covered with green ivy and bramble bare of leaves at present. The goat is grazing nearby with her little kid and seeing so many men she levels her horns ready to defend herself. But she soon recognises Jesus and calms down. They throw some bread crusts to her and withdraw.
« I slept over there» explains Jesus. « And I would have stayed here, if you had not come. I was hungry. The purpose in fasting was over... And it was not necessary to insist on other things that can no longer be changed...»
Jesus is sad once again... The six cast sidelong glances at one another, but do not say anything. « And now? Where are we going?»
« We shall stay here today. Tomorrow we will go down and preach on the road to Ptolemais and then we will go towards the Phoenician border and come back here before the Sabbath.»
And they slowly return to the village.