12th November 1945.
They reach the road once again after a long tour through fields and after crossing the torrent by a little bridge of squeaky boards, fit only for people: a footbridge rather than anything more substantial. And they continue walking along the plain, which becomes narrower and narrower as the hills come closer to the coast, so much so that after another torrent, with the usual essential Roman bridge, the road leaves the plain and becomes mountainous and forks at the bridge: one road, which is not so steep, runs northwards along a valley, the other one, which Jesus takes following the indication of the Roman mile stone: « Alexandroscene - V m.», is a real flight of steps in the steep rocky mountain, the sharp ends of which drop into the Mediterranean, while the view of the sea becomes wider and wider as they climb. Only pedestrians and little donkeys can go along that road, or flight of steps, as it should be called. But probably because it is a good short cut, it is very busy and people curiously watch the unusual Galilean group going along it.
« That must be the cape of the storm» says Matthew pointing to the promontory jutting out into the sea.
« Yes, down there is the village of which the fisherman spoke to us» confirms James of Zebedee.
« I wonder who built this road?»
« Who knows how long it has been here! Phoenician work perhaps...»
« From the top we shall see Alexandroscene beyond which there is the White Cape. You will see a large expanse of sea, My dear John» says Jesus laying an arm on the shoulders of the apostle.
« That will make me happy. But it will soon be dark. Where are we stopping?»
« At Alexandroscene. See? The road is already going down. Down there the plain stretches as far as that town which you can see over there.»
« It is the town of the woman from Antigonea... How can we satisfy her request?» asks Andrew.
« You know, Master, she said to us: “Go to Alexandroscene. My brothers have stores there and they are proselytes. Tell them about the Master. We are children of God, too... “ and she wept because, as she is a daughter-in-law, she is rather frowned upon... so her brothers never go to see her and she never hears of them...» explains John.
« We will look for her brothers. If they welcome us as pilgrims, we shall be able to satisfy her...»
« But how can we prove that we have seen her?»
« She works for Lazarus. And we are Lazarus' friends» says Jesus.
« That is true. You can speak...»
« Yes. But quicken your pace so that we may find the house. Do you know where it is?»
« Yes, it is near the Fort. They deal very much with the Romans to whom they sell many goods.»
« Very well.»
They cover the beautiful level road quickly, a real consular road, linked with roads coming from the mainland and it proceeds towards the mainland after the steep flight of steps across the rocky promontory near the coast.
Alexandroscene is more a military than a civil town. It must be of strategic importance, but I do not know why. Enclosed between two promontories it looks like a sentry watching that part of the sea. Now that it is possible to see both capes, many military towers are visible on them, forming a chain with those in the plain and in town, where the imposing Fort dominates near the sea-shore.
They enter the town after crossing another little torrent near the gate and they proceed towards the severe mass of the Fort looking around inquisitively and being watched curiously. There are numerous soldiers and they appear to be on good terms with the citizens, which makes the apostles mumble: « These Phoenicians have no sense of honour!»
They reach the stores of Hermione's brothers, while the last customers are coming out laden with all kinds of goods, from pieces of cloth to kitchenware, to hay, corn, oil, foodstuffs. The large entrance hall smells of leather, spices, hay, straw, raw wool and it leads into a yard as wide as a square, with storehouses under the porches.
A swarthy bearded man goes to meet them: « What do you need? Foodstuffs?»
« Yes... and lodgings, if you do not mind giving hospitality to pilgrims. We come from far and have never been here before. Welcome us in the name of the Lord.»
The man looks carefully at Jesus Who has spoken on behalf of everybody. He scans His face, then says: « Actually we do not give lodgings. But I like You. You are a Galilean, are You not? Better Galileans than Judaeans. Too much mould in the latter. They never forgive us for not having pure blood. It would be much better if their souls were pure. Come, come in here, I will be back at once. I am closing up, it is already dark.» It is in fact twilight and it is even darker in the yard overlooked by the powerful Fort.
They go into a room and, tired as they are, they sit down on seats scattered here and there...
The man comes back with two more brothers, an older and a younger one, and shows them the guests, who stand up greeting, saying: « Here they are. What do you think? They seem to be honest...»
« Yes. You have done the right thing» says the oldest brother to his younger one, and then addressing the guest, or rather, Jesus, Who clearly appears to be the head, he asks: « What are your names?»
« Jesus of Nazareth, James and Judas also of Nazareth, James and John of Bethsaida and Andrew as well, and Matthew of Capernaum.»
« How come you are here? Persecuted?»
« No. We are evangelizing. We have been all over Palestine more than once, from Galilee to Judaea, from one sea to the other. And we have been beyond the Jordan, as far as Hauran. We have now come here to teach.»
« A rabbi here? It's amazing, isn't it, Philip and Elias?» asks the oldest brother.
« Yes, very. To which caste do you belong?»
« To none. I belong to God. The good people of the world believe in Me. I am poor and I love the poor, but I do not despise rich people, whom I teach to love, to be merciful and to be detached from riches, as I teach the poor to love their poverty trusting in God Who does not let anybody perish. Among My rich friends and disciples there is Lazarus of Bethany...»
« Lazarus? A sister of ours is married to one of his servants.»
« I know. That is also one of the reasons why I came. To tell you that she sends you her regards and loves you.»
« Have You seen her?»
« I have not. But these who are with Me, were sent to Antigonea by Lazarus.»
« Oh! Tell us! How is Hermione? Is she really happy?»
« Her husband and mother-in-law are very fond of her. Her father-in-law respects her...» says Judas Thaddeus.
« But he does not forgive her her mother's blood. Say so.»
« He is about to forgive her. He praised her very highly. And she has four lovely kind children, who make her happy. You are always in her heart and she asked us to bring you the Divine Master.»
« But... what?... Are You the one who is said to be the Messiah?»
« I am.»
« You really are the... We were told in Jerusalem that You are, that they call You the Word of God? Is that true?»
« Yes, it is.»
« But are You the Word for those over there, or for everybody?»
« For everybody. Can you believe that I am the Word of God?»
« It costs nothing to believe, particularly when one hopes that what one believes in can remove what makes us suffer.»
« That is true, Elias. But do not say that. It is an impure thought, much more impure than mixed blood. Do not rejoice at the hope that what makes you suffer as a man despised by other people may vanish, but rejoice at the hope of conquering the Kingdom of Heaven.»
« You are right. I am half a pagan, Lord...»
« Do not lose heart. I love you also and I have come for you, too.»
« They must be tired, Elias. You are keeping them here talking. Let us go and have supper and then we will take them to rest. There are no women here... None of the women from Israel wanted us, whereas we wanted one of them... Forgive us, therefore if the house will seem cold and bare.»
« Your kind hearts will warm and adorn it for us.»
« How long are You staying?»
« Not more than one day. I want to go towards Tyre and Sidon and I would like to be at Achzib before the Sabbath.,»
« It's not possible, Lord. Sidon is far away!»
« I would like to speak here tomorrow.»
« Our house is like a port. Without going out You will have as many listeners as You wish, all the more so as tomorrow is market day.»
« Let us go, then, and may the Lord reward you for your charity.»