6th February 1947.
« And I tell you that you are all foolish if you believe such things. More foolish and ignorant than wethers that do not even know the rules of instinct, mutilated as they are. Some men are going around towns saying anathema of the Master, while others bring orders that, by the living God, cannot be given by Him! You do not know Him. I do. And I cannot believe that He has changed so much! Let them go about! Are you saying that they are His disciples? And who has ever seen them with Him? Are you saying that some rabbis and Pharisees have mentioned His sins? And who has seen His sins? Have you ever heard Him speak about anything obscene? Have you ever seen Him commit sin? So? And can you believe that God would let Him work such great deeds, if He were a sinner? You are foolish, I tell you, foolish slow-witted and ignorant like country bumpkins who for the first time see a mountbank at a market and believe what he says. That's what you are like. Consider whether those who are wise and open-minded allow themselves to be seduced by the words of false disciples, who are the true enemies of the Innocent, of our Jesus, Whom you do not deserve to have as a son of our town! Consider whether Johanna of Chuza, I mean the wife of Herod's superintendent, Johanna, the princess, leaves Mary! Consider whether... Am I doing the right thing in telling you? Of course! I am doing the right thing because I am not speaking just for the sake of speaking, but to convince you all. Last month, did you see that beautiful wagon that came to our village and stopped outside Mary's house? Do you remember? The one whose tilt was as beautiful as a house? Well, do you know who was in it and who came out of it to prostrate himself at Mary's feet? Lazarus of Theophilus, Lazarus of Bethany, do you understand that? The son of the chief magistrate of Syria, of the noble Theophilus, the husband of Eucheria of the tribe of Judah and of the family of David! Jesus' great friend. The richest and most learned man in Israel, both with regard to our history and to that of the whole world. The friend of the Romans. The benefactor of the poor. And above all the man who was raised from the dead after being in his sepulchre for four days. Did he leave Jesus to believe the Sanhedrin? You say that he did so because Jesus raised him from the dead? No. No, because he knows who is the Christ, Who is Jesus. And do you know what he came to tell Mary? To tell Her to be ready because he will take Her back to Judaea. See? As if he, Lazarus, were Mary's servant! I know because I was there when he came in and greeted Her prostrating himself on the floor, on the poor bricks in the little room, dressed as he was like Solomon, a man accustomed to carpets, he was there, on the floor, kissing the hem of Our Lady's dress saying: “Hail, Mary, Mother of my Lord. I, Your servant, the last of Your servants, have come to speak to You of Him and to place myself at Your disposal.” See? I was so moved... that when he greeted me as well calling me: “brother in the Lord”, I was not able to speak one word. But Lazarus understood, because he is intelligent. And he slept in Joseph's bed and sent his servants ahead to Sephoris to wait for him. Because he was going to his estates at Antioch. And he told the women to be ready, because at the end of this month he will come and pick them up to spare them the fatigue of the journey. And Johanna will join the caravan with her wagon to take the women disciples of Capernaum and Bethsaida. And does all that mean nothing to you? »
At last good Alphaeus of Sarah can take breath amid the group standing in the middle of the square. And Aser and Ishmael and also Jesus' two cousins, Simon and Joseph – Simon more openly, Joseph more reticently – help him by approving what he said.
Joseph says: « Jesus is not an illegitimate son. If He needs to notify anything, He has relatives here who are willing to become His ambassadors. And He has faithful and powerful disciples, like Lazarus. Lazarus has not mentioned what the others say. »
« And we are His disciples as well. Before we were ass-drivers and as stupid as our asses. But now we are His disciples and we also are capable of saying: “Do this or do that” » says Ishmael.
« But the sentence hanging at the door of the synagogue was brought by a messenger of the Sanhedrin and it bears the stamp of the Temple » some say objecting.
« That is true. So? Since all over Israel we have the reputation of being able to judge the Sanhedrin for what it really is, and we are consequently despised as rogues, are we going to believe that the Temple is wise only with regard to this? So do we no longer know what scribes, Pharisees and chiefs of Priests are? » replies Alphaeus.
« That is true. Aphaeus is right. I have decided to go down to Jerusalem and hear from true friends what is the situation. And I am going tomorrow » says Joseph of Alphaeus.
« And will you stay there? »
« No, I will come back. And I will go back again for Passover. I cannot be away from home for a long time. It is a difficult task I am undertaking, but it is my duty to do so. I am the head of the family and I am responsible for Jesus being in Judaea. I insisted that He should go there... Man errs in judging. I thought that it was a good thing for Him. Instead... May God forgive me! But I must at least follow the consequences of my advice at close quarters, in order to comfort my Brother » says Joseph of Alphaeus in his slow haughty way of speaking.
« That is not what you used to say. But you have been allured as well by the friendship of the mighty ones. Your eyes are clouded by vanity » says a Nazarene.
« The friendship of mighty people does not allure me, Eliakim. But my Brother's behaviour convinces me. If I made a mistake and I now mend my ways, I prove to be a just man. Because to err is human, but to be stubborn is beastlike. »
« And do you think that Lazarus will really come? Oh! we want to see him! A man that comes back from death, what is he like? He must be dazed, somehow... frightened. What does he say of his stay among the dead? » many ask Alphaeus of Sarah.
« He is just like you and me. Cheerful, lively, tranquil. He does not speak of the other world, as if he did not remember. But he remembers his agony. »
« Why did you not tell us that he was here? »
« Of course! To let you invade the house! I withdrew myself. Some delicacy is necessary, isn't it? »
« But when he comes back will it not be possible for us to see him? Let us know. You will certainly be the caretaker of Mary's house, as usual. »
« Certainly! It's a grace to be near Her. But I will not inform anybody. You will have to do it yourselves. A wagon is easily seen, and Nazareth is not Antioch or Jerusalem so that such a large wagon may pass by unnoticed. Mount guard... and help yourselves. But that is something vain. Ensure at least that His town may not have the reputation of being foolish by believing the words of our Jesus' enemies. Don't believe them! Don't believe those who say that He is Satan or those who provoke you to rise in His name. You would repent one day. Then if the rest of Galilee fall into the trap and believe what is not true, so much the worse for them. Goodbye. I am going because it is getting dark... » And he goes away happily, having defended Jesus.
The others remain to discuss. But although they are divided into two fields and the more numerous is unfortunately the one of those who swallow everything, the proposal of Jesus' few friends prevails in the end, and they decide not to become excited and accept false charges or invitations to rise until the other towns in Galilee do so, as « at present they are more cunning than Nazareth and laugh in the false ambassadors' faces » says Aser, the disciple.