+JMJ+ I’m writing a work of historical fiction set in New Testament times with characters from the Bible, mostly, with some large lacunae filled in with my own imagination. This is a rough draft of what will, I hope, become a novel. Other parts of the story are linked on the Fiction page.
A Journey – Part 14
Early Morning, Sixth Day, Friday
I’ve been trying to find out where they took him after they arrested him. I wanted to be able to tell his mother something definite if I could find her to tell her I still wanted to help. I can’t ask Nico. He and Joseph are meeting with the Sanhedrin. They’ve been out of touch with me all night and this morning, too. This is not good news.
I did find her, in the garden, in the same spot where her son prayed the night before. I didn’t have the heart to speak to her then, I told myself I didn’t want to disturb her prayer. How do I know she was praying? Oh, she was praying, alright. She was praying harder than I’ve ever seen anyone pray, anyone except her son, that is. Her prayer was accompanied by many tears, but there was no recrimination in her weeping. Only sorrow. A deep, heartbreaking sorrow that even now moves me to my own tears remembering it. And I do not cry easily.
I wanted to speak to her about the crazy story going around, that he healed a severed ear, that he had done what no one but the Lord–or, some say, a demon–could do. But I could not ask. I’ll try to find his disciples and talk to them. I noticed that she was alone in the garden. Not one of his disciples was there with her. I don’t know who I feel more sorry for, her or him. How could they leave her alone like that at a time like this?
I found Rachel. I wanted to know if she’d heard any news but before I could ask her anything, but when I saw the state she was in, I stopped. I’ve never seen her like that. She could barely speak. I bade her sit and rest, and had some wine brought even though the hour was so early, but she couldn’t or wouldn’t drink. She finally did manage to utter one word and it sounded like thunder in my ears.
No! Not this!
“Condemned. For blasphemy.”
The words were hard for her to say, no less difficult for me to hear. We both knew what this meant. To be condemned for blasphemy is to be condemned to die, and die in a horrific way. The chief priests and the Pharisees have plotted against him and they have won. The Pharisees! I am a Pharisee and I have always been proud of it. But right now I am sickened at the thought that I have been happy to be one. That I counted it an honor.
I know I am going to be sick. I can’t drink the wine either. Take it away, I tell the servants. Then I think of the healing of the ear and what that must mean, and I wonder, out loud so my sister can hear me, why anyone who can do the things he seems able to do, would let himself be arrested. Why let himself be accused and condemned of blasphemy? Surely he will not allow them to carry out their plan. Surely he will not allow them to kill him.
Well, they can’t kill him. The Romans are in charge here, as they never tire of reminding us. Can it be that the Pharisees and the chief priests have forgotten that they have the power to condemn but not the power to carry out the sentence? They will have to ask Rome to step in. And I know they won’t want to do that. They hate Rome. We all hate Rome. Who wouldn’t hate the boot that presses down squarely and unceasingly on the neck and never can stop smugly reminding us that the boot is theirs, and that the neck, outstretched and under the heel, is ours.
No, they won’t want to involve Rome. That would be taking things too far. Maybe I should have gone to more gatherings of the Council lately, but I thought they would be slower to act. They really do want to get rid of him. They must hate him more than they hate Rome. And that is quite a lot.
Ah, here comes Nico. Good, I need to talk to him. I hope he brings better news.
I sent a servant to take Rachel home to rest. She needs to rest but I doubt that she will. She’ll soon go to the others to see if she can help in some way. Well, I’m trying to help, too, in my own way. Hopefully, Nico brings word that we can still do that. It won’t be easy, not now that the unthinkable has happened. They have condemned a man for preaching and healing and for doing things that no mere man has ever done. Well, and for claiming to be the only One Who can do such things, mostly that. Or for being a demon, yes, some did say that, but I think the argument is weak. I don’t know how I’ll face the Council the next time I can bring myself to attend. I have never before been so ashamed of the Pharisees. Nor so ashamed of being one.
For a long time no one was with her in the garden. Then one of the rabbi’s disciples, the one younger than all the others, stepped out of the shadows to stand behind her. After a few minutes he knelt on the ground beside her. She didn’t stop praying but for a moment she turned her head to look at him as if to ask a question. He shook his head. To this she made no reply but stretched out her hand, and he took her hand in his, and they knelt together in silence and in sorrow, and their prayers went up together before the Lord. The hours passed, and the sun rose, and rose higher, and no word came, and their silence stretched on, and their sorrow grew.
End of Part 14
Links to the other parts of the story are posted on the Fiction page.
Goodness, are you still here? Well, thank you! 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, remember daily to 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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