13th November 1945.
One half of the yard of the three brothers is in the shade, the other is in bright sunshine. And it is full of people coming and going, doing their shopping, while outside the main door, in the little square, people are bustling about the noisy market of Alexandroscene, buying donkeys, sheep, lambs, poultry; because it is obvious that people are not so fussy here and thus they take poultry to the market without any fear of contamination. Braying, bleating, cackling of hens and triumphant cock-a-doodle-doos of cockerels mingle with the voices of people in a merry chorus, the notes of which now and again become dramatically high because of some quarrel.
Also the yard of the brothers is very busy and people often wrangle over prices or because a customer has taken what somebody else intended to purchase. Then there is the querulous moaning of beggars in the square, near the main door, wailing over their misfortunes in a singsong as sad as the lamentation of a dying man.
Roman soldiers move imperiously about the square and warehouses. I suppose that they are on duty as I see that they are armed and never alone among the Phoenicians who are all armed.
Jesus also walks up and down the yard with the six apostles, waiting for the right moment to speak. He then goes out into the square, and passing near the beggars He gives them alms. People pause for a moment to look at the Galilean group and ask who the foreigners are. And there are some who tell them, as they have already enquired of the three brothers about their guests.
A murmur follows Jesus' steps as He walks about peacefully caressing the children He meets on His way. There is also someone who sneers and utters unpleasant epithets at the Hebrews, as well as people who honestly wish to hear this « Prophet», this « Rabbi», this « Holy Man», this « Messiah» of Israel, as those are the names by which they refer to Him, according to their faith and their sense of righteousness.
I hear two mothers say: « But is it true?»
« Daniel told me himself. When in Jerusalem he spoke to people who had seen the miracles of the Holy Man.»
« Yes, I agree! But is this the same man?»
« Oh! Daniel told me that it cannot be but Him, because of what He says.»
« Well... what do you think? Will He grant me the grace, even if I am only a proselyte?»
« I would say so... Try. Perhaps He will not come back here again. Try! He will certainly not hurt you!»
« I am going» says the little woman leaving the vendor of kitchenware with whom she was haggling over some soup-plates. The man, who had heard the conversation of the two women, disappointed and irritated because a good deal had come to nothing, rails at the remaining woman: « Cursed proselyte. Jewish blood. Corrupted woman» etc. etc.
I hear two grave bearded men say: « I would like to hear Him. They say that He is a great Rabbi.»
« A Prophet, you should say. Greater than the Baptist. Elias told me certain things! Wonderful things! And he knows because his sister is married to a servant of a very wealthy man of Israel, and to get news of her he calls on his fellow-servants. That rich man is a great friend of the Rabbi...»
A third man, a Phoenician perhaps, who being close to the two has heard what they said, thrusts forth his thin satyric face between the two and says laughing scornfully: « Lovely holiness! Dressed with wealth! As far as I know a holy man should live in poverty!»
« Hold your cursed tongue, Doro. You, heathen, are not fit to judge these things.»
« Ah! You are fit, particularly you, Samuel. You had better pay me that debt of yours.»
« Here, take it, and don't come near me any more, you faun-faced vampire!»...
I hear an old half-blind man, led by a little girl, ask: « Where is the Messiah?» and the girl says: « Make room for old Mark! Please tell old Mark where the Messiah is!»
The feeble trembling voice of the old man and the girl's argentine and steady one spread in vain over the square, until another man says: « Do you want to go to the Rabbi? He has gone back towards Daniel's house. There He is, standing over there, speaking to the beggars.»
I can hear two Roman soldiers say: « He must be the one whom those crooks of the Jews persecute! Only by looking at Him you an see that He is better than they are.»
« That is why He annoys them.»
« Let's go and tell the ensign. That is the instruction.»
« How silly, o Caius! Rome bewares of lambs and puts up with, nay I would say: caresses tigers».
« I don't think so, Scipio! Pontius puts people to death quite easily!»
« Yes, but he does not close his house to the creeping hyenas who flatter him.»
« Politics, Scipio! Politics!»
« Cowardice, Caius, and stupidity. He should make friends with this Man. He would receive help to keep this Asiatic rabble obedient. Pontius serves Rome badly by neglecting this good man and flattering wicked people.»
« Do not criticise our Proconsul. We are soldiers and our superior is as sacred as a god. We have sworn obedience to divine Caesar and the Proconsul is his representative.»
« That is all right with regard to our duty towards our sacred and immortal fatherland. But not with regard to one's personal judgment.»
« But obedience is based on judgment. If your judgment is against an order and criticises it, you will not obey wholeheartedly. Rome relies on our blind obedience to defend its conquests.»
« You speak like a tribune and you are quite right. But I would point out to you that if Rome is queen, we are not slaves. We are subjects. Rome has no slave citizens, and must not have any. It is slavery to prevent citizens from speaking their minds. I say that it is my opinion that Pontius is wrong in not taking care of this Israelite, call Him Messiah, Holy, Prophet., Rabbi, as you like. And I feel that I can say so because my loyalty to Rome is in no way impaired. Neither is my love. Nay, that is what I would like, because I feel that by teaching people to respect the laws and the Consuls, He cooperates to the welfare of Rome.»
« You are a learned man, Scipio... You will go a long way. You are already well ahead! I am a poor soldier. But look over there. There is an assemblage of people round the Man. Let us go and tell our superiors...»
In fact near the main door of the three brothers there is a group of people round Jesus, Who is well visible because of His height. Then all of a sudden a shout is heard and the people become excited. Many people rush from the market towards the group while others leave the group and run towards the square and beyond it. Questions... answers...
« What happened?»
« What is the matter?»
« The Man from Israel has cured old Mark!»
« The veil has vanished from his eyes.»
Jesus in the meantime has gone into the yard followed by a train of people. Behind them all, moving with great difficulty there is one of the beggars, a cripple, who is dragging himself along more with his hands than with his feet. But if his legs are crippled and weak, so that without crutches he would not be able to move, his voice is quite strong! He sounds like a siren rending the sunny morning air: « Holy! Holy! Messiah! Rabbi! Have mercy on me!» He is shouting at the top of his voice unrelentingly.
Two or three people turn round: « Spare your breath! Mark is a Jew, you are not.»
« He grants graces to true Israelites, not to the sons of a dog!»
« My mother was Hebrew...»
« And God struck her because of her sin, giving her a monster like you. Away, you son of a she-wolf! Go back to your place, you filthy mud...»
The man leans against the wall, he is down-hearted and frightened by threatening fists... Jesus stops, turns round, looks at him. He orders: « Man, come here!» The man looks at Him, looks at those threatening him... and dare not come forward.
Jesus squeezes through the little crowd and goes to him. He takes him by the hand, that is, He lays His hand on the man's shoulder and says: « Be not afraid. Come with Me» and looking at the merciless people He says severely: « God belongs to all men who seek Him and are merciful.»
They take a hint and are now the ones to be left at the rear of the crowd, or rather, they remain where they are.
Jesus turns round again. He sees that they are embarrassed and on the point of going away, and He says to them: « No, you may come forward as well. It will do you good, too, it will straighten and fortify your souls as I am going to straighten and fortify this man, because he has faith. Man, I tell you, be cured of your infirmity.» And He takes His hand off the shoulder of the cripple, after the latter has something like a shock.
The man straightens himself up on his legs now steady, throws away his worn out crutches and shouts: « He has cured me! Praised be the God of my mother!» and he kneels down to kiss the hem of Jesus' mantle.
The tumult of those who wish to see, or have seen and are making comments, rises to the highest pitch. In the long entrance hall, leading from the square to the yard, the clamour resounds with the resonance of a well and is echoed by the walls of the Fort.
The soldiers think that there is a brawl - which is likely to be the case in places like this one with so many contrasting races and religions - and a squad rushes to the spot; they elbow their way violently through the crowd asking what is the matter.
« A miracle, a miracle! Jonah, the cripple, has been cured. There he is, over there, near the Galilean.»
The soldiers look at one another. They do not speak until the whole crowd has passed by and more people have piled up behind it coming from the warehouses and the square, where only the vendors are left; they are fretting with indignation at the sudden distraction, which has caused the market to be a complete failure that day. Then, when they see one of the three brothers pass by, the ask him: « Philip, do you know what the Rabbi is going to do now?»
« He will be speaking and teaching in my yard!» replies Philip all overjoyed. The soldiers consult with one another: « Shall we stay? Shall we go away?»
« The ensign told us to watch...»
« Whom? The Man? As far as He is concerned we may as well go and amuse ourselves dicing for an amphora of wine of Cyprus» says Scipio, the soldier who had previously defended Jesus talking to his companion.
« I would say that He needs protection, not the rights of Rome! See Him over there? Amongst all our gods there is not one so mild and yet so manly looking. The mob here are unworthy of Him. And the unworthy are always wicked. Let us stay and protect Him. If necessary we will defend Him and will dust these galley-slaves' jackets» says another one half sarcastically and half admiringly.
« You are right, Pudens. Nay, Actius, go and call Procorus, the ensign who is always dreaming of plots against Rome... and of promotions for himself, as a reward for his keen watching over the health of divine Caesar and of goddess Rome, the mother and mistress of the world, so that he may convince himself that he will not gain any arm-band or crown here.»
A young soldier runs away and comes back at once saying: « Procorus is not coming. He is sending triarius Aquila...»
« Very well! Better him than Cecilius Maximus himself. Aquila has served in Africa, in Gaul, and in the wild forests where Varus and his legions were wiped out. He knows Greeks and Britons and he is clever at telling... Oh! Hail! Here is our glorious Aquila! Come, teach us poor wretches how to judge the value of men!»
« Long live Aquila, the master of armies!» they all shout shaking the old soldier whose face, bare arms and calves are marked with scars.
He smiles in a friendly manner and exclaims: « Long live Rome, the mistress of the world! Not me, a poor soldier. What is the matter?»
« We are to watch that tall man, whose hair is as fair as very light copper.»
« Good. But who is He?»
« They say He is the Messiah. His name is Jesus and He comes from Nazareth. You know, He is the one about whom the order was issued...»
« H'm! May be... But I think that we are chasing shadows.»
« They say that He wants to proclaim Himself King and supplant Rome. The Sanhedrin, Sadducees, Pharisees and Herodians have denounced Him to Pontius. You know that the Jews have that fixed idea in their heads, and a king pops up now and again...»
« I know, I know... But if they are worried about this one... In any case let us listen to what He says. I think that He is going to speak.»
« I heard from the centurion's soldier that Publius Quintillianus said to him that He is a divine philosopher... The imperial ladies are enthusiastic for Him....» says another young soldier.
« I am sure they are! I would be enthusiastic myself if I were a woman and I would like to have him in my bed...» says another young soldier laughing wholeheartedly.
« Shut up, you wanton fellow! Lust is devouring you!» remarks another one jokingly. « And not you, Fabius! Anna, Syra, Alba, Mary...»
« Be quiet, Sabinus, He is speaking and I want to listen to Him» orders the triarius. They all become silent.
Jesus has got on a case placed against a wall. He can thus be seen by everybody. His kind greeting has spread through the air and is followed by the words: « Children of one only Creator, listen», and in the heedful silence of the crowd, He continues.
« The Time of Grace has come not only for Israel, but for everybody in the world. Men of Israel, who are here for various reasons, proselytes, Phoenicians, Gentiles, everybody, listen to the Word of God, understand Justice and become familiar with Charity. If you have Wisdom, Justice and Charity, you have the means of attaining the Kingdom of God, which is not exclusive to the children of Israel, but belongs to all those who from now on will love the One True God and will believe in the word of His Word.
Listen. I have come from very far, but not with the ambition of a usurper or with the violence of a conqueror. I have come to be only the Saviour of your souls. Property, wealth, offices, do not seduce Me. They mean nothing to Me and I do not even look at them. Or rather I look at them to pity them, for I feel sorry for them, because they are chains that hold your souls prisoners, preventing them from coming to the One, Eternal, Universal, Holy, Blessed Lord. I look at them and I approach them as if they were the greatest miseries. And I endeavour to rid them of their fascinating but cruel deceit that seduces the sons of man, so that they may use them with justice and holiness, not as cruel weapons that wound and kill men, and first of all the souls of those who do not make a holy use of them.
But I solemnly tell you that it is much easier for Me to cure a deformed body than a perverted soul; it is easier for Me to give light back to blind eyes or health to a dying body, than light to souls and health to diseased spirits. Why? Because man has lost sight of the true purpose of his life and devotes himself to what is transient. Man does not know or does not remember, or although he remembers, he does not want to obey the holy order of the Lord - and I say this also to the Gentiles who are listening to Me - to do Good, which is Good in Rome as in Athens, in Gaul as in Africa, because the moral law exists under every sky, in every religion and in every righteous heart. And religions, from that of God to that of individual morals, say that our better part survives and its destiny in the next life will be according to how it acted on the earth. The aim of man, therefore, is to achieve peace in the next life, not revelry, usury, arrogance, pleasure in this world for a short time, to be paid for with the most dreadful tortures forever and ever. Well, man does not know, or does not remember, or does not want to remember that truth. If he does not know, he is less guilty. If he does not remember, he is somewhat guilty, because the truth is to be kept alight, like a holy torch, in minds and hearts. But if man does not want to remember it, and when it, shines he closes his eyes not to see it, as he considers it as hateful as the voice of a pedantic rhetor, then his fault is grave, very grave indeed.
And yet God forgives it, if the soul disowns its wrong doing and proposes to pursue, for the rest of its life, man's true purpose, which is the conquest of eternal peace in the Kingdom of the true God. Have you so far followed an evil path? Are you downhearted and are you thinking that it is late to follow the right way? Are you desolate and are you saying: “I knew nothing of all this! And now I am ignorant and I do not know what to do”? No. Do not think that it is the same as with material matters and that it takes a long time and much work to start all over again, but in a holy manner. The bounty of the Eternal True Lord God is such that He will not make you walk back all the way to put you at the junction where, erring, you left the right path for the wrong one. His bounty is such, that from the moment you say: “I want to belong to the Truth”, that is, to God, because God is Truth, God, through an entirely spiritual miracle, infuses Wisdom into you, whereby from being ignorant you become possessors of the supernatural Science, like those who have possessed it for years.
Wisdom means to want God, to love God, to cultivate one's soul, to tend to the Kingdom of God, repudiating everything that is flesh - world, Satan. Wisdom means obedience to the Law of God, which is the law of Charity, Obedience, Continence, Honesty. Wisdom means to love God with one's whole being and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Those are the two essential elements to be wise in the Wisdom of God. And our neighbours are not only those of our own blood, of our race and religion, but all men, whether rich or poor, wise or ignorant, Hebrews, proselytes, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans...»
Jesus is interrupted by a threatening howling of some excited people. Jesus looks at them and says: « Yes. That is love. I am not a servile master. I speak the truth because that is what I must do to sow in you what is necessary to gain eternal Life. Whether you like it or not, I must tell you, to do My duty as Redeemer. It is for you to do your duty as souls needing Redemption. So we must love our neighbour. All our neighbours. And love them with a holy love, not in a questionable communion of interests, whereby a Roman, Phoenician or proselyte are “anathema” or viceversa, as long as there is no sensuality or money involved, whereas if you are anxious to share sensuality or money with them, they are no longer “anathema”...»
The crowd is once again in an uproar, while the Romans, from their place in the hall exclaim: « By Jove! He does speak well!»
Jesus waits for the noise to calm down, then He resumes: « We must love our neighbour as we would like to be loved ourselves. Because we do not like to be ill-treated, harassed, robbed, oppressed, calumniated, insulted. Everybody has the same national or personal feelings. Do not let us do, therefore, the evil which we would not like done to us.
Wisdom means obedience to the ten Commandments of God:
“I am the Lord your God. You shall have no gods except Me. You shall have no idols and shall not worship them. You shall not utter the Name of God to misuse it. It is the Name of the Lord your God and God will punish those who use it without any reason, to curse it or to validate a sin. Remember to sanctify feast days. The Sabbath is sacred to the Lord, Who rested on it after Creation and blessed it and sanctified it. Honour your father and your mother that you may live peacefully for a long time on the earth and eternally in Heaven. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet his wife, his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey or anything that belongs to him.”
That is Wisdom. Who does that is wise and conquers Life and the Kingdom forever. So, as from today, propose to live according to Wisdom, by preferring it to the poor things of the earth.
What are you saying? Speak up. Are you saying that it is late? No. Listen to a parable.
A landowner went out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard and he made an agreement with them for one denarius a day. He went out again at the third hour and thinking that the workers he had hired were too few and seeing other people idle in the square waiting to be hired, he took them and said to them: “Go to my vineyard and I will give you what I promised the others.” And they went. He went out again at the sixth hour and at the ninth and seeing some more workers, he said to them: “Will you work for me? I give my workers one denarius a day.” They agreed and went. Finally he went out about the eleventh hour and saw some more standing in the sunshine and he asked them: “Why are you standing here idle? Are you not ashamed of standing here all day without doing anything?” “Because no one hired us for the day. We would have liked to work and earn our living. But no one asked us to go and work.” “Well, I am asking you to go to my vineyard. Go and you will have the same pay as the others.” He said so because he was a good landowner and felt sorry for the dejection of his neighbour.
In the evening, when the work was finished, the man called his bailiff and said: “Call the workers and pay them their wages, as agreed, beginning with the last arrivals, who are the most needy, as they have not had any food during the day, whereas the others have been fed once and some several times, and who out of gratitude to me, as I felt sorry for them, have worked harder than all the others; I, in fact, have been watching them. Then dismiss them so that they may go and rest, as they deserve, and may enjoy with their families the fruit of their work.” And the bailiff did as the landowner ordered, and gave each man one denarius.
When the last ones came, those who had worked from daybreak, they were surprised at receiving one denarius each and they complained to the bailiff who said to them: “That is the order I was given. Go and complain to the landowner, not to me.” And they went and said: “You have not been fair! We have worked for twelve hours, first in the dewy moisture, then in the heat of the sun and once again in the dampness of the evening, and you have given us the same wages you gave the lazy workers who worked for one hour only!... Why?” And one of them in particular raised his voice saying that he had been betrayed and exploited undeservedly.
“My friend, in what have I wronged you? What did I agree with you at daybreak? One full day's work and the wages of one denarius. Did I not?”
“Yes, that is true. But you have given the same wages to those who have worked much less...”
“Did you agree to that pay because it seemed fair?”
“Yes. I agreed because others pay less.”
“Were you ill-treated by me?”
“In all conscience... no.”
“I granted you a long rest during the day and I gave you some food, did I not? You had three meals. And food and rest were not agreed upon. Is that right?”
“Yes. They were not agreed upon.”
“Why did you accept them, then?”
“Well... You said: 'I prefer to do so, so that you will not get tired going back home'. And we could hardly believe that it was true... Your food was good, and we saved, and...
“It was a favour that I was doing you gratuitously and that none of you could pretend. Is that right?”
“That is true.”
“So I did you a good turn. Well, why are you complaining? I should complain of you, because, although you realised that you were dealing with a good master, you worked lazily, whereas those who came after you and had one meal only, and the last arrivals who had none at all, set to work with a will and in a shorter time they did the same work that you did in twelve hours. I would have betrayed you if I had halved your wages to pay them. But that is not the case. So take what is yours and go away. Are you going to come to my house and impose me to do what suits you? I do what I like and what is fair. Don't be malicious and don't compel me to be unfair. For I am good.”
I solemnly say to all of you who are listening to Me, that the Father God makes the same agreement with all men and promises the same reward to everybody. Those who serve the Lord diligently will be treated by Him with justice, even if they do little work, being close to death. I solemnly tell you that the first will not always be the first in the Kingdom of Heaven, where we shall see that the last are first and the first are last. We shall see there that men who do not come from Israel are holier than many men of Israel... I have come to call everybody, in the name of God. But if many are called, few are chosen, because few want Wisdom. He is not wise who lives according to the world and to flesh, but not according to God. He is neither wise for the earth nor for Heaven. Because on the earth he will make enemies, will receive punishment and will feel remorse. And he will lose Heaven forever.
I repeat: be good to your neighbour, whoever he may be. Be obedient and leave to God the task of punishing those who are unjust in giving orders. Be continent by resisting sensuality, be honest by resisting gold, be coherent by saying anathema to what deserves it, not when it suits you, considering yourselves free to get in touch later with what you previously cursed. Do not do to other people what you would not like done to yourselves, and then...»
« Go away, You boring prophet! You have spoiled our market!... You have taken our customers away!...» shout the vendors, rushing into the yard... And those who had shouted previously in the yard, at the beginning of Jesus' sermon - not only Phoenicians, but also Jews who are in this town for reasons unknown to me - join the vendors insulting, threatening and above all driving away...
They do not like Jesus because He does not advise evil things... He crosses His arms and looks. He is sad, but solemn.
The people, divided into two parties, are quarrelling, defending or offending the Nazarene. Insults, praises, curses, blessings; some shout: « The Pharisees are right. You have sold Yourself to Rome. You are the lover of prostitutes and publicans». Some contradict them: « Be quiet, blasphemous tongues! You have sold yourselves to Rome, you infernal Phoenicians!», « You are demons!», « May hell swallow you!», « Go away!», « Go away, you thieves and usurers who have come to this market!» and so on...
The soldiers intervene saying: « Rather than an instigator, He is a victim!» And with their spears they drive everybody out of the yard and close the door.
Only the three proselyte brothers and the six disciples are left inside with Jesus. « Why on earth did you make Him speak?» the triarius asks the three brothers. « So many people speak!» replies Elias.
« Of course. But nothing happens, because they teach what people like. He does not. And He is a bore...» The old soldier stares at Jesus Who has got down off the case and is standing, apparently thinking of something else.
The crowds are still quarrelling outside. In fact more troops come from the barracks led by the centurion himself. They knock at the door and have it opened, while some remain outside to drive away both those who shout: « Long live the King of Israel!» and those who curse Him.
The centurion comes forward and he looks worried. His anger explodes against old Aquila: « Is that how you protect Rome? By letting people acclaim a foreign king in a subject region?»
The old soldier salutes stiffly and replies: « He was teaching respect and obedience and was speaking of a kingdom not of this earth. That-is why they hate Him. Because He is good and respectful. There was no reason why I should enjoin silence on a man who was not offending our law.»
The centurion calms down and mumbles: « So it is another sedition of this foul mob... Well. Tell the man to go away at once. I do not want trouble here. Carry out my instructions and escort Him out of town as soon as the road is clear. He may go wherever He likes. To hell, if He wants. As long as He gets out of my jurisdiction. Have you understood?»
« Yes, we have, and we will act accordingly.»
The centurion turns round displaying his bright cuirass and causing his purple mantle to flutter, and he goes away without even looking at Jesus.
The three brothers say to the Master: « We are sorry...»
« It is no fault of yours. And be not afraid. No harm will happen to you. I tell you...»
The three change colour... Philip says: « How are You aware of our fear?»
Jesus smiles kindly, a smile which is like a ray of sunlight on His sad face: « I know what is in hearts and what is in the future.»
The soldiers are waiting in the sunshine casting sidelong glances and making comments... « Can they possibly love us, when they hate even that man who does not oppress them?»
« And who works miracles, you should say...»
« By Hercules! Who was it that came to tell us that there was a suspect to be watched?»
« It was Caius!»
« The zealous man! In the meantime we have missed our rations and I foresee that I am going to miss the kiss of a girl!... Ah!»
« Epicurean! Where is the beautiful girl?»
« I am certainly not going to tell you, my friend!»
« She is behind the potter's, at the Foundations. I know. I saw you there some nights ago...» says another one.
The triarius goes towards Jesus and walks round Him, looking at Him all the time. He does not know what to say... Jesus smiles to encourage him. The man does not know what to do... But he goes closer.
Jesus points to his scars: « All wounds, are they? So, you are a valiant and loyal soldier...»
The praise makes the old soldier blush.
« You have suffered very much for the sake of your Fatherland and of your emperor... Would you not be prepared to suffer something for a greater Fatherland: Heaven? For an eternal Emperor: God?»
The soldier shakes his head and says: « I am a poor pagan. But I may still arrive at the eleventh hour. But who will teach me? You have seen!... They are expelling You. And that is a wound which is sore, not mine!... At least I gave them back to my enemies. But what do You give those who hurt You?»
« Forgiveness, soldier. Forgiveness and love.»
« So, I am right. It is foolish to suspect You. Goodbye, Galilean.»
« Goodbye, Roman.»
Jesus is left alone until the three brothers and the disciples come back with some food, which the brothers offer to the soldiers, and the apostles to Jesus. They eat without relish, in the sunshine, whilst the soldiers eat and drink merrily.
Then a soldier goes out to have a look at the silent square. « We can go» he shouts. « They have all gone away. The patrols only are there.»
Jesus stands up submissively, He blesses and comforts the three brothers, with whom He fixes an appointment for Passover at Gethsemane, and He goes out, escorted by the soldiers, and followed by the mortified disciples. They proceed along the empty road until they reach the country.
« Hail, Galilean» says the triarius.
« Goodbye, Aquila. Please, do not ill-treat Daniel, Elias and Philip. I only am the guilty one. Tell the centurion.»
« I will not tell him anything. He has already forgotten all about it and the three brothers supply us with many good things, particularly with the Cyprus wine that the centurion loves more than his own life. Go in peace. Goodbye.»
They part. The soldiers go back to the gate, Jesus and His disciples set out eastwards towards the silent countryside.