5th September 1946.
Without worrying about other people's malevolence Jesus goes back to the Temple for the third day. But He cannot have slept in Jerusalem because His sandals are very dusty. Perhaps He spent the night on the hills around the city. And His brothers James and Judas with Joseph, the shepherd, and Solomon must have been with Him. He meets the other apostles and disciples near the eastern wall of the Temple.
« They came, You know? Both to us and to the best known disciples. It's a good job You were not there! »
« We must always do that. »
« All right. But we shall talk about it later. Let us go. »
« Many have preceded us extolling Your miracles. How many have become convinced and believe in You! Your brothers were right, with regard to that » says John, the apostle.
« They went even to Annaleah's looking for You, You know? »
« And to Johanna's mansion. But they only found Chuza... and in a temper! He drove them away like dogs saying that in his house he does not want spies and that he has had enough of them. We were told by Jonathan, who is here with his master » says Daniel, the shepherd.
« You know? The scribes wanted to disperse those who were waiting for You, by convincing them that You are not the Christ. But they replied: “He is not the Christ? And who is He then? Will another man ever be able to work the miracles which He works? Did the others, who said that they were the Christ, work them? No. One hundred, one thousand impostors may rise, perhaps created by you, saying that they are the Christ, but whoever may come will never work miracles like Him and as many as He works.” And as the scribes and Pharisees maintained that You work them because You are a Beelzebub, they replied: “Oh! in that case you should work striking ones, because you are certainly Beelzebubs, compared with the Holy One » says Peter and he laughs and they all laugh remembering the witty remark of the crowd and the scandalised scribes and Pharisees, who had gone away full of indignation.
They are now within the Temple and are at once surrounded by a crowd which is even larger than it was the previous days.
« Peace to You, Lord! Peace! Peace! » shout the Israelites.
« Hail, Master! » greet the Gentiles.
« May peace and light come to you » replies Jesus in one greeting.
« We were afraid that they might have caught You, or that You were not coming out of prudence or disgust. And we would have spread out looking for You everywhere » say many.
Jesus smiles lightly and asks: « So you do not want to lose Me? »
« And if we lose You, Master, who will give us the lessons and the graces which You give us? »
« My lessons will remain in you and you will understand them better when I have gone away... And the fact that I am no longer present among men will not prevent graces from descending upon those who pray with faith. »
« Oh! Master! But do You really want to go away? Tell us where You are going and we will follow You. We are in such need of You! »
« The Master is saying so to find out whether we love Him. But where can the Rabbi of Israel go, but here in Israel? »
« I solemnly tell you that I shall remain with you for only a short time and I will go to those to whom the Father has sent Me. Afterwards you will look for Me and you will not find Me. And where I am you will not be able to come. But now let Me go. Today I will not speak in here. I have some poor people who are waiting for Me elsewhere and they cannot come here because they are seriously ill. After the prayer I shall go to them. » And with the help of His disciples He pushes through the crowd going towards the Court of Israel.
Those who remain look at one another.
« Where will He be going? »
« Certainly to His friend Lazarus. He is very ill. »
« I was saying: where will He go, not today, but when He leaves us for good. Did you not hear that He said that we will not be able to find Him? »
« Perhaps He will go to gather Israel together, evangelizing those of our country who are scattered among the various nations. The Diaspora hopes in the Messiah as we do. »
« Or perhaps He will go and teach the heathens to lead them to His Kingdom. »
« No. That's not possible. We would always be able to find Him, even if He were in remote Asia, or in central Africa, or in Rome, or Gaul, Iberia, Thrace or among the Sarmatians. If He says that we would not find Him even if we looked for Him, it means that He will not be in any of those places. »
« Of course! What do His words mean: “You will look for Me and you will not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.”? “I am...” Not: “I shall be...” So where is He? Is He not here among us? »
« I am telling you, Judas! He looks like a man but He is a spirit! »
« Certainly not! Among the disciples there are some who saw Him when He was a new-born baby. Even more! They saw His Mother pregnant with Him a few hours before He was born. »
« But is He really that child, who has now become a man? Who can assure us that He is not a different person? »
« No! He could be another person and the shepherds could be mistaken. But what about His Mother, his brothers and the whole village?! »
« Did the shepherds recognise the Mother? »
« Of course they did... »
« Well... Then, why does He say: “Where I am you will not be able to come?” For us there is a future: you will be able. For Him it is a present: I am. So has this Man no future? »
« I don't know what to say. It is so. »
« I am telling you. He is mad. »
« Perhaps you are mad, you spy of the Sanhedrin. »
« Me spy? I am a Judaean who admires Him. And did you say that He is going to Lazarus? »
« We have not said anything, old spy. We know nothing. And even if we knew we would not tell you. Go and tell those who sent you, to look for Him themselves. You are a spy, a corrupted spy!... »
The man sees that things are taking a bad turn and he slinks away.
« But we are staying in here! If we had gone out, perhaps we would have seen Him. Run this way! Run that way!... Tell us which way He went. Tell Him not to go to Lazarus. »
Those with good legs run away... And they come back... « He is no longer here... He mingled in the crowd, and no one can say... »
The disappointed crowd slowly disperses...
... But Jesus is much closer than they thought. After going out through one of the gates, He went round the Antonia and came out of town through the Sheep Gate, descending into the valley of the Kidron which has very little water in the central part of the riverbed. Jesus crosses it jumping on the stones emerging from the water and begins to climb the Mount of Olives. The olive-trees are very thick in that part and are mingled with the bushes which make this side of Jerusalem gloomy, I would say funereal, closed as it is between the dark walls of the Temple which dominates on that side with all its mountain, and the Mount of Olives on the other. Farther south the valley brightens up and widens out, whereas here it is very narrow: the scratch of a gigantic claw which has dug a deep furrow between Mount Moriah and the Mount of Olives.
Jesus is not going towards Gethsemane, He is going in the opposite direction, northwards, walking all the time on the mountain which widens out into a wild valley, where, close to a low circular range of wild hills covered with stones, flows the torrent forming a bend to the north of the town. The olive-trees are replaced there by sterile, thorny, twisted, ruffled little trees, mingled with bushes, the tentacles of which spread in all directions. It is a very sad and solitary place. It gives the impression of an infernal apocalyptical place. There are a few sepulchres, and nothing else, not even lepers. And this solitude, contrasting with the crowds of the town so close and so full of people and noise, is strange indeed. With the exception of the murmur of the water among the pebbles, and the rustle of the wind among the plants which have grown in the midst of stones, no other noise is heard. There is not even the cheerful chirping of birds, which are so numerous among the olive trees of Gethsemane and of Mount Olivet. The rather strong wind blowing from northeast, raising little vortices of dust, drives back the noise of the town, and silence, the silence of a place of death, reigns oppressively, almost frighteningly.
« But is this the way? » Peter asks Isaac.
« Yes, it is. One can get there also along other routes, starting from Herod's Gate and better still from the Damascus one. But it is better for you to know the less frequented paths. We have been round all the outskirts to find them and show them to you. You will thus be able to go wherever you wish, in the neighbourhood, without taking the usual ways. »
« And... can we trust those of Nob? » asks Peter again.
« As you can trust your own family. Thomas last winter, Nicodemus all the time, his disciple John the priest, and others have won the little village over. »
« And you did more than all the rest » says Benjamin the shepherd.
« Oh! me!! If I have done anything, then everybody has been at it. But You can be sure, Master, that You have safe places all around the town... »
« Ramah also... » says Thomas who is proud of his town. « My father and my brother-in-law thought of You with Nicodemus. »
« In that case also Emmaus » says a man who is not new to me, but I cannot say exactly who he is, also because I found more than one Emmaus in Judaea, without taking into account the place near Tarichea.
« It is too far to go and come as I do now. But I will come there sometime, without fail. »
« And to my house » says Solomon.
« I will certainly come there at least once to say hallo to the old man. »
« There is also Bether. »
« And Bethzur. »
« I will not go to the houses of the women disciples, but when necessary I will send for them. »
« I have a loyal friend near En-Rogel. His house is open to You. And none of those who hate You will think that You are so close to them » says Stephen.
« The gardener of the royal gardens can give You hospitality. He is hand in glove with Manaen who got him that job... and then... You cured him one day... »
« Did I? I don't know him... »
« He was among the poor people whom You cured in Chuza's house at Passover. A cut by a scythe soiled with manure was causing his leg to putrefy and his former master had dismissed him because of that. He was begging for his children. And You cured him. Then Manaen got him a job in the Gardens, in a good moment of Antipa. He now does everything Manaen tells him. And for You... » says Matthias, the shepherd.
« I have never seen Manaen with you... » says Jesus staring at Matthias, who changes colour and becomes excited. « Come ahead with Me. »
The disciple follows Him.
« Speak! »
« Lord... Manaen made a mistake... and he is suffering very much and Timoneus and a few more people with him. They cannot set their minds at rest because You... »
« They surely do not think that I hate them... »
« No! But... They are afraid of Your words and of Your face. »
« Oh! What a mistake! Just because they made a mistake they should come to the Remedy. Do you know where they are now? »
« Yes, Master, I do. »
« Well, go to them and tell them that I will be waiting for them at Nob. »
Matthias goes away without wasting time.
The mountain path rises so that the whole of Jerusalem can be seen from the north... Jesus with His disciples turns round and goes in the opposite direction.