4th September 1946.
The Temple is even more crowded than on the previous day. And among the excited crowd filling the first court I see many Gentiles, many more than yesterday. They are all waiting anxiously, both the Israelites and the Gentiles. And the Gentiles are speaking to Gentiles, and the Hebrews to Hebrews, in small groups, scattered here and there, without losing sight of the doors.
The doctors under the porches are busy raising their voices to draw the attention of people and show off their eloquence. But the people are not paying attention and they are preaching to few pupils. Gamaliel is there, in his usual place. But he is not speaking. He is walking up and down on his magnificent carpet, with folded arms, lowered head, meditating, and his long tunic and longer mantle which he has unfastened and is hanging held by two silver rosettes, form a train which he pushes aside with his foot every time he retraces his steps. His disciples, the most faithful ones, leaning against the wall, look at him in silence, intimidated as they are, and they respect the meditation of their master.
Some Pharisees and priests seem to be very busy and they come and go... The people, who are aware of their real intentions, point them out and an occasional remark goes off like a rocket on fire to burn their hypocrisy. But they feign they do not hear. They are few in number compared with the many who do not hate Jesus and on the contrary hate them, so they deem it wise not to react.
« There He is! There He is! He is coming from the Golden Gate today! »
« Let us run! »
« I am staying here. He will come and speak here. I am not going to lose my place. »
« Neither am I, nay, those who are going away are making room for us. »
« But will they let Him speak? »
« If they have allowed Him to come in!... »
« Yes, but it is a different matter. As a son of the Law, they cannot prevent Him from entering. But as a rabbi, they can drive Him out if they wish so. »
« How many discriminations! If they let Him speak to God, why should they not let Him speak to men? » says a Gentile.
« That is true » replies another Gentile. « As we are impure, you do not let us go there, but we can stay here, as you hope that we will become circumcised... »
« Be quiet, Quintus. That is why they let Him speak to us. They hope to prune us as if we were trees. Instead we come here to graft His ideas like scions into our wild minds. »
« You are quite right. He is the only one who does not loathe us! »
« Oh! When we go shopping with purses full of money, the others do not loathe us either. »
« Look! We Gentiles are the only ones left here. We shall hear Him well and see Him better! I like to see the faces of His enemies. By Jove! A battle of faces... »
« Be quiet! Don't let anyone hear you mentioning Jupiter. It is forbidden here. »
« Oh! Between Jove and Jehovah there is only a tiny difference. And between gods there will be no ill-feeling... I have come urged by a good desire to hear Him. Not to laugh at Him. They speak highly of the Nazarene everywhere! So I said: the weather is fine and I will go and listen to Him. Many people go farther to hear the oracles... »
« Where have you come from? »
« From Perga. And you? »
« From Tarsus. »
« I am almost Jewish. My father was a Hellenist from Iconium. But he married a Roman from Antioch in Cilicia and he died before I was born. But the seed is Hebrew. »
« He is late... Will they have caught Him? »
« Be not afraid. The shouts of the crowd would tell us. These Jews shout like restless magpies, always... »
« Oh! there He is, over there. Will He really come here? »
« Don't you see that they have taken all the places on purpose, except this corner? Can't you hear how many frogs are croaking pretending to teach? »
« But that one over there is silent. Is it true that he is the greatest doctor in Israel? »
« Yes, but... how pedantic he is! I listened to him one day, but to digest his science I had to drink many goblets of Falemian wine at Titus' in Bezetha. » They both laugh.
Jesus approaches slowly. He passes before Gamaliel, who does not even raise his head, and then He goes to the same place as yesterday.
The crowd, now a mixture of Israelites, proselytes and Gentiles, understand that He is about to speak and they whisper: « He is now going to speak in public, and no one says anything to Him. »
« Perhaps the Princes and the Chiefs have recognised Him as the Christ. After the Galilean went away yesterday, Gamaliel spoke to the Elders for a long time. »
« Is it possible? How could they recognise Him all of a sudden, if only a short time ago they considered that He deserved to be put to death? »
« Perhaps Gamaliel had some proofs... »
« What proofs? What proofs do you expect him to have in favour of that man? » asks a man angrily.
« Be quiet, jackal. You are only the last of the scriveners. Who spoke to you? » and they make fun of him.
He goes away. But others take his place, they do not belong to the Temple, but they are certainly incredulous Jews: « We have the proofs. We know where He is from. But when the Christ comes, no one will know where He comes from. We will not know His origin. But this one!!! He is the son of a carpenter of Nazareth, and the whole village can witness against us if we are telling lies... »
In the meantime the voice of a Gentile is heard saying: « Master, speak a little to us today. We have been told that You say that all men come from one God only, Yours. So much so, that You call them the children of the Father. Some of our Stoic poets had a similar idea. They said: “We are descendants of God.” Your fellow-countrymen say that we are more impure than animals. How can You reconcile the two trends? »
The question is put according to the custom of philosophical debates, at least I think so. And Jesus is about to reply, when the incredulous Jews and the believing ones begin to dispute more furiously and a shrill voice repeats: « He is a common man. The Christ will not be like him. Everything will be exceptional in Him: His figure, nature, origin... »
Jesus looks in that direction and says in a loud voice: « So you know Me and you know where I come from? Are you sure? And the little you know, does it not mean anything to you? Does it not confirm the prophecies? But you do not know everything about Me, I solemnly tell you that I did not come by Myself and from where you think that I came. It is the very Truth, Whom you do not know, Who sent Me. »
A cry of indignation rises from the enemies.
« The very Truth, Whose deeds you do not know. Neither do you know His way, along which I came. Hatred cannot be acquainted with the ways and deeds of Love. Darkness cannot stand the sight of Light. But I know Him Who sent Me because I belong to Him, I am part of Him and one Whole with Him. And He sent Me to fulfill what His Thought wants. »
There is an uproar. His enemies rush upon Him to lay hands on Him, to capture and hit Him. The apostles, disciples, people, Gentiles, proselytes react to defend Him. Some rush to help the former and would perhaps succeed in doing so, but Gamaliel, who so far seemed remote from everything around him, departs from his carpet and comes towards Jesus, and as he is driven back by those defending Him under the porch, he shouts: « Leave Him. I want to hear what He says. »
Gamaliel's voice achieves more than the squad of legionaries who have come from the Antonia to put down the riot. The tumult drops like a whirl that breaks and the outcry abates to a whisper. The legionaries remain as a precaution - quite unnecessary now near the external enclosure.
« Speak » Gamaliel orders Jesus. « Reply to those accusing You. » His tone is peremptory, but not mocking.
Jesus moves forward, towards the Court. He calmly resumes speaking. Gamaliel remains where he is and his disciples are busy taking the carpet and stool to him, so that he may be comfortable. But he remains standing, with his arms folded, his head lowered, his eyes closed, engrossed in listening.
« You have accused Me unfairly, as if I had blasphemed instead of speaking the truth. I am speaking, not to defend Myself, but to give you Light, so that you may know the Truth. And I am not speaking on My own behalf, but recalling the words in which you believe and on which you swear. They bear witness to Me. I know that you see in Me nothing but a man like yourselves, inferior to yourselves. And you think that it is impossible for a man to be the Messiah. Or at least you think that the Messiah ought to be an angel, that his origin should be so mysterious that he should be king only by the authority excited by the mystery of his origin. But when ever in the history of our people, in the books forming that history, and which will last as long as the world, because doctors of all countries and all times will draw from them corroboration for their science and their researches into the past by means of the enlightenment of truth, when ever in those books is it said that God spoke to one of His Angels to say to him: “From now on you will be My Son because I begot you.”? »
I see that Gamaliel has a tablet and some parchments given to him and he sits down writing...
« The angels, spiritual creatures, servants of the Most High and His messengers, were created by Him, as man, as animals and everything that was created. But they were not begotten by Him. Because God begets only another Himself, as the Perfect One could but beget another Perfect One, another being like Himself, in order not to lower His perfection by begetting a creature inferior to Himself. Now, if God cannot beget the angels or elevate them to the dignity of sons of His, what will the Son be to Whom He says: “You are My Son. I begot You today.”? And of what nature will He be, if begetting Him, He says pointing Him out to His angels: “And let all the angels of God adore Him.”? And what will this Son be like to deserve to hear the Father say to Him, the Father by Whose grace men can mention His name with their hearts humbled in adoration: “Sit at My right hand and I will make Your enemies a footstool for You.”? That Son can but be God like His Father, with Whom He shares attributes and power, and with Whom He enjoys the Charity which gladdens them in the ineffable and unknowable love of Perfection itself.
But if God did not find it appropriate to elevate an angel to the rank of Son, could He ever have said of a man what He said of Him Who is now speaking to you here - and many of you who now oppose Me were present when He said so - at the ford of Betharabah two years go? You heard Him and trembled. Because the voice of God is unmistakable, and without His, special grace it crushes those who hear it and shakes their hearts. What is therefore the Man Who is speaking to you? Is He perhaps one born of human seed and by the will of man like all of you? And could the Most High have placed His Spirit to dwell in a body, devoid of grace, like those of men born of carnal will? And could the Most High be satisfied with the sacrifice of a man to make amends for the great Sin? Consider this: He does not choose an angel to be the Messiah and Redeemer, can He therefore elect a man? And could the Redeemer be only the Son of the Father without assuming human nature, but with means and power exceeding human limitations? And could the First-Born of the Father have parents if He is the eternal First-Born? Are your proud thoughts not upset by such questions which rise towards the realms of Truth, closer and closer to it, and find a reply only in a humble heart full of faith?
Who is to be the Christ? An angel? More than an angel. A man? More than a man. A God? Yes, a God. But joined to human flesh that it may complete the expiation of the guilty flesh. Everything is to be redeemed through the same matter by which it sinned. So God should have sent an angel to expiate the sins of the fallen angels, to expiate on behalf of Lucifer and his angelic followers. Because, as you are aware, Lucifer also sinned. But God did not send an angelic spirit to redeem the angels of darkness. They did not worship the Son of God, and God does not forgive the sin against His Word begotten of His Love. But God loves man and He sends the Man, the only perfect Man, to redeem man and obtain peace with God. And it is according to justice that only a Man-God may fulfill the redemption of man and appease God.
And the Father and the Son loved and understood each other. And the Father said: “I want”. And the Son said: “I want”. And then the Son said: “Give Me”. And the Father said: “Take”, and the Word was made flesh, the formation of which is mysterious and this flesh was named Jesus Christ, the Messiah, He Who is to redeem men, lead them to the Kingdom, defeat the demon, crush slavery.
To defeat the demon! An angel could not, cannot accomplish what the Son of man can do. That is why God does not call angels but the Man to accomplish the great work. Here is the Man Whose origin you doubt, you deny or are worried about. Here is the Man. The Man acceptable to God. The Man representing all His brothers. The Man like you in appearance, superior to and different from you by origin, begotten not of man but of God and consecrated to His ministry, is in front of the high altar to be Priest and Victim for the sins of the world, supreme eternal Pontiff, High Priest of the order of Melchizedek. Be not afraid! I am not stretching out My hand toward the pontifical tiara. Another crown is awaiting Me. Do not worry! I will not take the Rational away from you. Another one is ready for Me. Fear only that the Sacrifice of the Man and the Mercy of the Christ be of no avail to you. I have loved you so much, I love you so much that I obtained from the Father to annihilate Myself. I have loved you and I love you so much that I asked to consume all the Sorrow of the world in order to give you eternal salvation.
Why do you not want to believe Me? Can you not believe yet? Is it not said of the Christ: “You are Priest of the order of Melchizedek forever.”? But when did priesthood begin? Perhaps in the days of Abraham? No. And you know. Does the King of Justice and Peace, who appears to announce Me, with prophetical figure, at the dawn of our people, not warn you that there is a more perfect priesthood coming directly from God, just as Melchizedek, whose origin was never ascertained by anybody and who is called “the priest” and priest he will remain forever? Do you no longer believe inspired words? And if you believe that, why, doctors, can you not give an acceptable explanation of the words which say, and they refer to Me: “You are Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”? There is, therefore, another priesthood, before and beside Aaron's. And it is said of it “you are”. Not “you were”. Not “you will be”. You are priest forever. So this sentence announces that the eternal Priest will not belong to the well known stock of Aaron or to any other sacerdotal stock. But it will be of new origin, as mysterious as Melchizedek's. It is of such origin. And if the power of God sends it, it means that He wants to renew the Priesthood and the rite so that they may become useful to Mankind.
Do you know My origin? No. Do you know My deeds? No. Do you realise which effects they will produce? No. You know nothing of Me. So you can see that also thus I am the “Christ” Whose Origin, Nature and Mission are not to be known until it pleases God to reveal them to men. Blessed are those who will be able to believe and do believe before the dreadful Revelation of God crushes them on the ground with its weight, and nails them there, striking them with the dazzling powerful truth thundered from Heaven, howled from the Earth: “He was the Christ of God.” You say: “He is from Nazareth. Joseph was His father. Mary was His Mother.” I have no father who begot Me as man. I have no mother who gave birth to Me as God. And yet I have a body which I assumed through the mysterious deed of the Spirit, and I came among you passing through a holy tabernacle. And I will save you, after forming Myself according to the will of God. I will save you, by letting My true self come out from the Tabernacle of My Body to consume the great Sacrifice of a God Who immolates Himself to save men.
Father, My Father! I told You at the beginning of time: “Here I am to obey Your Will.” And I told You at the hour of grace before departing from You to take on a body to be able to suffer: “Here I am to obey Your Will.” And I tell You once again to sanctify those for whom I came: “Here I am to obey Your Will.” And I will always tell You until Your Will is accomplished... »
Jesus, Who had raised His arms towards heaven, praying, now lowers them and folds them across His chest, He bends His head, closes His eyes and becomes engrossed in secret prayer.
The people whisper. Not everybody has understood, nay most of them (including myself) have not understood. We are too ignorant. But we realise that He has enunciated great things. And we are silent, full of admiration.
The evil-minded persons, who have not understood or did not want to understand, sneer: « He is raving! » But they dare not say more and they move aside or go to the gates shaking their heads. I think that so much prudence is due to the Roman lances and daggers shining in the sunshine against the outer walls.
Gamaliel elbows his way through those who have stayed. He arrives near Jesus, Who is still absorbed in prayer, far from the crowd and the place, and calls Him: « Rabbi Jesus! »
« What do you want, rabbi Gamaliel? » asks Jesus looking up, His eyes still absorbed in an internal vision.
« An explanation from You. »
« Tell Me. »
« Go away, all of you! » orders Gamaliel, and in such a tone that apostles, disciples, followers, curious people and Gamaliel's very disciples, move aside quickly. Jesus and Gamaliel are alone, facing each other. And they look at each other. Jesus is, as usual, meek and kind, Gamaliel unintentionally authoritative and proud looking. A countenance certainly due to years of exaggerated homage.
« Master... Some words of Yours have been related to me. You spoke them at a banquet... of which I disapproved because it was not a genuine one. I fight or I do not fight, but always openly... I meditated on those words. I compared them with the ones which are in my memory... And I have been waiting for You, here, to ask You about them... But first I wanted to hear You speak... They have not understood. I hope I will be able to understand. I wrote Your words while You were speaking, so that I may meditate on them, not to injure You. Do You believe me? »
« Yes, I do. And may the Most High make them blaze in your spirit. »
« Let it be so. Listen. The stones which are to vibrate, are they perhaps those of our hearts? »
« No, rabbi. These (and He points at the walls of the Temple with a rotary motion of His hand). Why are you asking Me? »
« Because my heart vibrated when the words You spoke at the banquet and Your replies to the tempters were related to me. I thought that throbbing was the sign... »
« No, rabbi. The throbbing of your heart and of the hearts of a few more people is too little to be the sign which leaves no doubts... Even if you, with rare judgement of humble knowledge of yourself, define your heart: stone. Oh! Rabbi Gamaliel, can you really not make of your petrified heart a bright altar receiving God? Not for My benefit, rabbi. But that your justice may be complete... »
And Jesus looks kindly at the elderly master who ruffles his beard and inserts his fingers under his head-dress pressing his forehead and whispering with his head lowered: « I cannot... Not yet... But I hope... Will You still give that sign? »
« Yes, I will. »
« Goodbye, Rabbi Jesus. »
« May the Lord come to you, rabbi Gamaliel. »
They part. Jesus nods to His disciples and leaves the Temple with them.
Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, disciples, rabbis rush like vultures around Gamaliel who is putting into his large belt the sheets he has written.
« Well? What do you think of Him? Is He mad? You did the right thing in writing His follies. We will need them. Have you made up your mind? Yesterday... today... More than is needed to convince you. » They are speaking uproariously and Gamaliel is silent while he adjusts his belt, he taps the ink-pot hanging from it, he hands back to his disciple the tablet on which he leaned to write on the parchments.
« Are you not answering? You have not spoken since yesterday... » insists one of his colleagues.
« I am listening, not to you, to Him. And I am trying to recognise in His present words the word which He spoke to me one day, here. »
« And are you successful? » many of them say laughing.
« Like a thunder, which sounds differently, according to whether it is closer or farther away. But still the roar of thunder. »
« So, an inconclusive sound » jeers one.
« Do not laugh, Levi. The voice of God may be found also in thunder, and we may be so stupid as to think that it is the noise of clouds being rent... And you, Helkai, and you, Simon, stop laughing, lest the thunder should change into a thunderbolt and reduce you to ashes... »
« So... you... are almost saying that the Galilean is that boy whom you and Hillel thought a prophet, and that the boy and the man are the Messiah... » some of them ask scoffingly, although slyly, because Gamaliel commands respect.
« I am not saying anything. I am saying that the roar of thunder is always the roar of thunder. »
« Closer or farther away? »
« Alas! The words are stronger, as befits His age. But the twenty years which have gone by have made my intellect twenty times more closed on the treasure which it possesses. And the sound penetrates more weakly... » And Gamaliel droops his head on his chest, meditating.
« Ha! Ha! Ha! You are getting old and foolish, Gamaliel! You are mistaking phantoms for realities. Ha! Ha! Ha! » they all say laughing.
Gamaliel shrugs his shoulders scornfully. He gathers his mantle which was hanging from his shoulders, he envelops himself in it several times, so large it is, he turns his back on everybody, without replying one word, full of contempt in his silence.