+JMJ+ Welcome! I’m writing a rough draft for a story I’ve wanted to write for years and couldn’t until now. And in the writing of the rough draft I’ve identified some places where I need to go down a few rabbit holes to learn more. But be that as it may, I’m continuing on my way. It’s a work of historical fiction set in New Testament times with characters from the Bible, mostly, and some large lacunae being filled in with my own imagination. Other parts of the story are linked on the Fiction page.
A Journey – Part 13
Fifth Day – Thursday
I don’t know what else to do. I’ve talked to him, I’ve talked to his mother, I’ve talked to some of his disciples, and they all tell me the same thing. He will do what he will do and they’ve given up trying to persuade him to do otherwise. The one they call Kephas (what a name, whoever heard of such a thing?) was especially unhelpful since the last time he tried to talk his master out of anything he got called Satan for his trouble.
But I cannot believe there is nothing else to be done. I had a meeting with Nico and Joseph. It wasn’t a long meeting since we are all busy attending to last minute preparations for tonight’s Passover, though we all have servants who can do most of it and usually do. But Nico and Joseph are also helping out with preparations for the rabbi and his disciples. Of course. They spend more time with them than they do their families or the Council or on Council business. That’s a complaint which has begun to go around. They’re not hiding their activity very well anymore.
I tried to arrange to see him once more before Passover begins, but everybody is too busy, and everywhere I go looking for him I seem to have just missed him. It’s as if he knows I’m looking for him and vanishes when I almost find him.
The talk in the city is reaching fever pitch. His name is heard on every street, at every gate, in every house. And the fights, oh, the fights. Some say he is the Messiah, some say he is crazy, some say he is possessed by demons, some say he is the leader of the demons. There is no place I can go where I don’t hear about him. This means there is no place anyone can go without hearing about him.
Unless one is a Roman, I suppose. Only a few of them seem aware of what is going on, but all of them know something is happening. The tension is so great, we all expect something to happen, even those of us who don’t think he’s anything but a good talker who does make good sense, some of the time, and talks like a madman, some of the time. We’ve all heard the stories of the miracles and it’s hard not to believe that some of them are true, especially when perfectly sane people report that they saw it with their own eyes or experienced it.
I don’t believe most of it, though. It’s just too unbelievable. He is not God, of that I am sure. What he is, I don’t know. I thought he was that boy from Nazareth all grown up, but now I wonder if he hasn’t grown more twisted than up. The hold he has on people is amazing and more than a little frightening. The hold he has on my sister and apparently my friends is frightening.
I will not follow him. I am a good Pharisee and Jew and faithful and I will not follow a madman who thinks he is God.
I waited outside the house where they were to celebrate the Passover and watched everyone come and go. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious, Nico and Joseph almost fighting over who would provide the place for the rabbi’s Passover, who would provide the wine and food, and all the other details. The dispute was finally settled by them paying to use a new unused house and they bought it together and shared the expenses equally.
Well, it’s their money. They’ve provided plenty more and all manner of assistance, arranging for his escape. When I asked him about it, Nico said even if we can talk him into leaving, we should still make it look to others as if nothing has changed. He makes a good point. I am trying to be more calm and casual, too. Surely before the night is over he will see things our way.
Finally I caught a glimpse of him, nearing the door. He smiled at me but did not stop to talk to me. I will come back to see if I can try one more time and then I will give up.
I came back tonight and missed him by a few minutes. He and the others left to go to a spot on a hillside where they say he likes to pray. Very well, I’ve come this far, I might as well go a little further. Maybe I can speak to him there.
When I got there, he had gone further up the hillside than I expected. Most of the disciples were talking or dozing after their celebration. Three of them, the ones who the others treat with deference, were a few feet away from where he knelt in prayer. They were sound asleep. I don’t see how he prayed over the sound of their snoring. I almost laughed aloud until I heard other sounds behind me, more sinister sounds. The sounds of stomping feet, and many of them.
Soldiers. With torches. Led by a familiar figure. It’s the one Nico saw talking with the chief priests, the one who took a bag from them. He’s leading these soldiers now to his master.
I step back into the shadows and watch the soldiers as they march right past the sleeping disciples who only then are roused from their sleep. The one they call Kephas leaps to his feet and there is a reflection of the torchlight on metal as he swings a sword and lops off the ear of one of the soldiers. Hearing the man scream in pain and seeing the blood–
All at once the scene sickened me and I turned away. I left, stumbling, trying to find the path in the darkness, the screams of that man, and yelling of the soldiers and the disciples, and in the midst of it, he stood there, not moving, not trying to run away. All around him was chaos, and there he was in its midst, calm, resigned. His eyes, there was a sadness in them. He looked at me, not for long before someone threw ropes around him and bound him, but he looked at me and I tell you an eternity passed in that moment.
No, this can’t be happening. I came here to ask him one more time to follow me to where we have horses and a ship if he prefers it, and we were going to get them all out of here, his mother, all of them. This is wrong, it can’t be, we could have gotten him away! This didn’t have to happen. Not now.
If they question him and release him, our plan will still work. Maybe next time we talk he will listen and take this seriously.
I tried to go home and rest but I could not. I was worried about him. Why, I don’t know, if he had only listened to me, or to the others, this would not have had to happen. I was more optimistic earlier but as I think about how much they hate him, how jealous they are, how he has blasphemed–I know they will make an example of him. Seeing the soldiers was alarming but they didn’t take him to receive Roman justice. Ha. Roman justice, there’s a laugh. Roman peace, Roman justice, Roman barbarians who build things and speak Latin and Greek as if that were enough to ever make them truly civilized.
Though it could be worse. We could all be punished for his blasphemy. HaShem could send us conquerors who would destroy us rather than tolerate us. Let them question him, they’ll probably beat him. I would spare his mother going through that. But it’s not in my hands. If we can get him away after that…
But it troubles me that his betrayer brought Roman soldiers with him. And the violence. Unnecessary.
It was all unnecessary! All of this! Why do I care? What is it to me? He knows the Law, he violated it, so now he must pay. He’s not the first to do so, though no one has had the temerity to claim what he has claimed, no one who wasn’t drunk or insane. And yet. And yet.
And yet I can’t stop thinking about him. I’ll wait until morning and go see what Nico or Joseph know. Maybe we can find out when he is to be released and have someone meet him. More arrangements to be made. Every time I’m ready to wash my hands of the whole affair I find myself getting in deeper and I’d stop if I could but I can’t, don’t ask me why.
He wanted me to follow him. I wonder what would have happened if I had. What does it even mean, to follow him? I want to ask him. Lord, forgive me and I know this goes against what the Council says about him, but there are so many things I want to ask him, so many things he seems to know, and I want to understand.
Well, I didn’t have to go see Nico or Joseph this morning. They came to see me. And to tell me a crazy story, that the rabbi’s disciple, the one they call Kephas (I can’t call him by that as if were a name, it’s ridiculous) struck the soldier’s ear and cut it off. I told them, yes, I was there, I saw.
I couldn’t have seen all that happened then or I wouldn’t be so calm about it. They were beside themselves. The story they told me, it was absurd. That the ear was cut off, that the rabbi picked it up, wiped it off and put it back on the soldier. Put it back on. Re-placed it where it had been severed and it stayed as if it had never been cut. It was healed. He healed a severed ear!
Who is this man? What am I saying? They must be as mad as he is. No one can do such a thing. It’s a trick! But what kind of trick? And why? It won’t help his case. If anything it will make it worse. People will be talking about it, the Council will be furious, and I don’t know what to think anymore.
I hope his mother is alright. I wonder what she thinks about her son now. Does she think he did what people are saying he did? Does she believe the unbelievable? She’s probably worried sick, that’s probably what she is. I’ll go to her when I have news for her. Rachel may have gone to her already.
Things are not going according to plan. Not according to plan at all.
End of Part 13
Thanks for visiting and reading and hanging in there with me. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, pick up your cross and follow Him, and become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Image in the cover: From the east, Nazareth, Holy Land, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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