+JMJ+ Welcome to part 27 of A Journey. Jonah is met by men from the Council as he arrives in Jerusalem. And they’re not there to throw him a welcome home party.
And now the journey continues.
A Journey – Part 27
Fourth Day for the Third Time, Wednesday
As I rode up to the Beautiful Gate, I saw it as anything but beautiful. Nothing about this place is beautiful to me now that my own flesh and blood is imprisoned somewhere within her. Even though I am a Pharisee of some standing (not as much as Nico or Joseph), I am not privy to the secrets kept by the inner circle. The location of what passes for a prison has never been known to me. For the longest I did not believe it existed. I did not believe the Council capable of many things until he came along. He changed everything and I do not think we are better for it. I wish I had never heard of him, that my sister had never taken to spending so much time with his followers, that I had not allowed myself to be too busy to notice–
Ah, this is wasting time and writing materials. The expense is nothing to me but time I do not have. Besides, I have said all of this before. I need to find my servant and find out if he has found out where they are keeping her, and if he has found out why I was recalled. The tentmaker and I had only just reached Capernaum and picked up the trail of poor Nico and Joseph, the fugitives.
I wonder if they have any idea yet that they are wanted by the Sanhedrin. I find that I myself am curious to know what object it was that they were seen transporting. I cannot believe that it is the body of the rabbi. No, I do not believe the wild rumors about his rising from the dead. No one comes back from the dead, that is just ridiculous. And I do not believe they would steal it and take it away in a vain and ludicrous attempt to persuade people that he had risen. They are deceived, yes, but they are not deceivers. But I am curious. What are they doing?
I hope they can stay ahead of the tentmaker. I had planned to stay with him to divert him from their trail if we ever got close. But just as I was finally going to put my plan into action I was recalled by the Council. I did not know they knew where I was. I suppose this means that their spies are watching me more closely than I had hoped. Or that the tent-making spy tipped them off before we left or somewhere along the way. I should have known.
I do not see my servant but two men sent by the Council were there at the gate to greet me, which is a euphemistic way of saying that they grabbed me almost before I could dismount and hauled me in for questioning before the chief priests. These were the same men I had seen talking with the disciple of the rabbi, the disciple they call Judas. I heard he came to an awful end. I wonder if it was by his own hand or if the Council silenced him. Surely they would not. Why do I keep referring to them in the third person? Am I not a member, too? I do not understand all of these changes. Or was I oblivious before?
As they questioned me I kept trying to question them about my sister, but no one would answer me. They wanted to know what I knew about the missing body, why I had helped them steal it. Helped who, I asked. For this I was slapped in the face. Me, slapped. As if I were a common criminal! Have they lost their minds? Are they in a panic? Why? Surely they cannot be afraid that anyone will believe this absurd story. This only served to anger them and they demanded that I tell them everything I knew. When I exclaimed that I already had, they threatened me with actual harm.
I dared them to throw me in a cell with my sister. That was when one of them blurted out that she is no longer in the prison. Where is she, then? I demanded to know. No one would tell me. A wave of fear washed over me, not for myself but for her. What could they possibly want with her? She was not part of his inner circle and had not been with them for long. Or had she? I was startled to realize that she might have been part of this group far longer than I had imagined. And maybe her place in it was more than I had imagined, too. How long had this been going on?
I felt that I might be sick and said so. To show their compassion one struck me across the face and shoved me out into the hall. It was not the priests who did this. They turned their backs while one of their lackeys did it for them. I was half-carried out of the room and my clothes ripped away from me. In their place they put rags on me, splashed all over me the cheapest awful-smelling dreadful excuse for wine, and then thrashed me soundly. Then carried me, bruised, bleeding, and stinking, out of the building and tossed me out on the street. The only reason they were so bold in their treatment of me is that the streets were crowded and no one took much notice of another beggar getting what he deserved at the hands of his betters.
I lay there in my heap of dirty rags until someone took pity on me at last and lifted me and carried me off the street. I awoke to find a stranger cleaning my wounds. When I thanked him, he said he was only doing what the teacher had taught them to do. I felt my stomach lurch. I cannot get away from him! I cannot find Rachel, I have been beaten and thrown into the street like a common criminal, and then rescued by some unknown stranger, and it is all because of him.
I half-hope he will appear to me so I can tell him what I think of him and his whole apostate gang. I will find my sister and get her away from these people, if I have to drag her away over my shoulder, I will do it. And then she will marry a man of my choosing and leave this heretical nonsense behind, I make this solemn promise to our beloved parents, I have said it and I will do it. O, Lord, help me, this I vow.
The stranger had left some clean clothes for me, and I had just finished putting them on when he came back into the room, sat beside me with a bowl of stew and said,
“Eat quickly. We must leave soon. I am to take you to your sister. Before it is too late. If it is not too late already.”
And with that I gulped down the rest of the stew and we were off.
End of Part 27
Other parts of the story are linked on the Fiction page.
Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and remember, we are all on the journey to the heavenly city. So pick up your cross daily and follow Him, so you can 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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