night of Thursday, the 13th of Nissan, Jesus’ mother and the women remained
in Mark’s house, with the windows shut. Our Paschal supper was finished
in a hurry. There were still some pieces of lamb left on the plates
and on the straw mats. The cups still glowed with the wine we were unable
to drink… When we learned of what Judas did, we hurriedly left the place,
hiding ourselves in the shadows….
Andrew: Do you think these bandits will recognize us…? Hik…!
Peter: Hell! You’re drunk…
John: Well, look at Thomas…
Peter: Silence them, James!… They’re risking our lives!
Mark: Don’t run, guys!… Disperse!… Stay close to the walls!
The streets were dark. Mark, who was walking in front with Jesus and
Peter, was showing us the best way, so as not to arouse suspicion. We
were leaving the barrio of Zion behind.... The houses where the Galileans
lived were still lighted and the Paschal songs could still be heard
in the streets… We left Jerusalem through the gate of the Valley, edging
our way through the walls toward the Cedron river… Not even a cloud
could be seen above. The full moon, motionless, watched over the night
in the middle of the sky…
Nathanael: Do you think they’re following us, Philip?… I’m scared.
Philip: So am I, Nat. I don’t think we’re gonna make it.
Nathanael: According to Jesus, it is at this moment that God will
stick out his hand for us…
Philip: God or the soldiers, whoever comes first…
With cautious steps we crossed the small bridge over the Cedron… The
garden of Gethsemane was almost at the foot of the slope of the Mount
of Olives, where Mark had a piece of land which he inherited from his
grandparents… Among those old and twisted trees, we would spend the
Paschal night in hiding, sheltered in some caves….
Mark: Guys, I think we’ll be safe here… Before the cock crows,
we can head towards the north…
Jesus: I’ve said it, Mark, I’m not going back to Galilee.
John: Well, if you stay, Jesus, so do I…
Peter: C’mon, John, don’t be silly…
John: Go to hell, delinquent, I think we have to….
Mark: Stop it. Now is not the time to argue. Look, Moreno,
you still have a few hours to decide....
John: Okay, I’ll stay here as watchman. I’ve got a sword. Who’s
gonna join me?… How about you, Peter?
Peter: Sure, John. I’ve got the other sword with me. You, James,
stay and watch too.
Mark: Okay, the three of you, as sentinels… I don’t think something’s
gonna happen, but just in case.... The rest may get some sleep over
there, among the rocks, just be alert, will you?
Andrew: No, no, no.... I’m not going to sleep without you first
telling me where the hell has Judas gone… I want to know right now…!
Peter: Hell, skinny!… Will you shut up and go to sleep... it
might sober you up!… Dammit, where could that Iscariot be?… That’s what
everybody wants to know…
At this time, Judas was in a rambling hut in barrio Ophel, and talking
with one of the zealot leaders…
Zealot: What’re you waiting for, man? Barabbas is already in
action, organizing the assault for tomorrow. Now it’s your turn. Go
to the Sanhedrin and do your act. You’ve got to start there. The rest
Judas: I hate doing this.
Zealot: We know. You’ve said it seventy times and we believe
you, man. It’s the price you’ve got to pay to help start the uprising.
Each one has a role to play. Tomorrow, you’ll see, when Jerusalem awakes
and finds out about the arrest of the Nazarene… That will be a grand
day! We won’t stop until we have driven the Romans away from here…
Judas: In the meantime, in the eyes of everyone, I’m a traitor…
Zealot: Traitor?… The moment we are free, everyone will be grate-ful
for what you have done. C’mon, Judas, go and see the chief guard of
the Temple and tell them they’re in the house of this Mark…
Peter, James and I acted as guards with our swords unsheathed. The night
was cool…. Close to us, hidden among the rocks, were the rest who were
able to steal some sleep. Wrapped up in their cloaks, they were even
snoring. Without his tunic but wrapped up in an old sheet, Mark slept
beside a little hut which housed the oil press… Jesus was seated on
a rock, cupping his head with his hands… He did not want to sleep… The
crickets were the only voices heard during the night….
Jesus: Why would Judas do such a thing?… I don’t understand…
I just don’t get it…. We’ve been together for so long… Since that day
we met in Nazareth… We’ve been working for many months, proclaiming
the Kingdom of God… and now this!… What could’ve happened, Judas?… What
wrong have I done to you?… Were you betrayed by our group?… We trusted
you… why didn’t you trust us?… Why did you fail us, buddy? Why did I
let you leave Mark’s house? Why didn’t I intervene?… Why did I allow
you to squeal on us?… Oh damn! Why?!…
Commandant: Come in, friend. We’ve been waiting for you. You said,
Judas: I kept my word. I know where he is.
Commandant: Is he alone?
Judas: With a handful of friends.
Commandant: Are they armed?
Judas: Just a couple of old swords.
Commandant: What’s your signal to my men, so that they won’t make
Judas: I’ll go near him and greet him with a kiss.
Commandant: Okay. Then, as per our agreement. When the Nazarene is
in our hands, you get your remaining 30 shekels. But if this is a hoax,
then, prepare your head, parrot.
Judas: I’m not lying. Let’s go.
Commandant: After you, Iscariot. Hey, guards, ready!…
So, Judas of Iscariot left the patio of Caiphas’ palace beside the chief
guard of the Temple. They were followed by a group of soldiers armed
with swords and clubs. The torches illuminated the already deserted
streets of the barrio of Zion… There in Gethsemane, James, Peter and
I were reclining on the trunk of an old olive tree. The air smelled
of humid earth during the night… Jesus came to us with a scared look
in his eyes...
Jesus: Don’t you hear that noise…?
John: Ahummm… What noise, Moreno?
Jesus: They seem like footsteps… coming from there…
Peter: It’s probably a vixen in search of her den. Don’t worry,
man, we’re safer in this garden than being under the wings of cherubims!
John: Are you all right, Jesus?… You look pale. Come, get some
sleep. We’ll watch over you…
Jesus: I’m scared, John. I feel anguish… as if a hand was trying
to choke me and I couldn’t breathe….
Peter: Come, Moreno, sit down and let’s talk. This will take
away your fear.
Jesus sat in a squatting position beside us… He looked at us with sadness,
like he was asking for help, I dunno…. As for the three of us, our eyes
were already getting heavy with sleep.
Jesus: Remember that night in the north, in Caesarea? It was
a night like this… I was scared… I felt I couldn’t handle the burden….
You encouraged me a lot… You promised you wouldn’t leave me…. that we
would fight together, always as a group…. Indeed my friends, you encouraged
me a lot… Tonight I need… I dunno… I need to be assured that everything
is worth the effort… that it’s worth continuing the struggle…
John: Jesus, that night you told us that… that….
James, Peter and I had fallen asleep. The Moreno’s words drifted from
us in the dark and vanished in the heaviness of our sleep…. Then Jesus
moved away from us about a stone’s throw away and sat on a rock. Beyond
the Cedron, Jerusalem was radiant with the moonlight and was completely
Jesus: What a bad time to have gotten into this mess. I should
have stayed in Nazareth… I should have lived life in my own way… with
my own house… some children… a wife… like anyone else… I could have
had a daily job… the simple joy of each day… My mother would have been
very happy taking care of her grandchildren… It was the wrong time to
go to the Jordan and meet John the prophet, and be baptized by him…!
No, it wasn’t John… it was you, Lord… you are behind all this… you pushed
me into this… you got hold of me, and you were stronger… You lured me
into this… and I allowed myself to be lured… You have put words, burning
like ember, into my mouth… I wanted to put them off, but I couldn’t…
they seeped into my whole being like fire, even burning my bones… I
grabbed the plow into my hand at the wrong time!… Now it’s too late
to turn back… No, I still have time. I’ve got to flee, get away from
here… Peter and the rest are setting out for Galilee tomorrow…. Yeah,
that’ll be better… I’ll go with them too…. Why should I stay, anyway?…
I’ll go back to the north and hide myself in the village... or in the
mountain, or under the rocks, if necessary… I want them to forget about
me and I’ll forget every-thing that has happened... Oh yes, that’s
what I’m going to do…!
During this time, Judas who was leading the guards, arrived at Mark’s
Judas: Dammit, they’re not here! Where the hell have they gone?
Mary: Judas, Judas, wait, don’t go away…! Judas!
In the street…
Judas: Which way did they go, old woman…?
Woman: That way, son, toward the Cedron, but I…
Judas: Hey, soldiers, this way, come over here!
The bent olive trees cast their shadows over the ground. In the east,
a few clouds rapidly crossed the sky, suddenly concealing the creamy
moonlight. Darkness veiled the whole garden, the old oil press and the
sleeping bodies… From afar, the shrieking sounds of the nocturnal birds
served as a warning during the night…. It was not cold, but Jesus started
to tremble… He stood up from the rock where he was seated and once again
came toward us… Deep in my sleep, I felt his halting steps…
Jesus: Peter!… John!…
Our eyes opened… only to close again…. We were totally exhausted… Jesus
moved away and disappeared among the olive trees…
Jesus: Father! If my time has come, give me strength… give me
the courage not to respond to their violence with violence…. If they
put me on trial, give me the right words to accuse them in court…. If
they torture me, silence me so as not to give my companions away....
They want to kill me, Father…. but I don’t wish to die…. Not yet! Not
yet! I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die…!! Give me time, Lord!…
I need time to finish the job!… I still have to open the eyes of the
people... to announce the good news to the poor… Our group has barely
started to move… no, no, I cannot fail now, I can’t… Father, they want
to silence us, to drown the voice of those who clamor for justice….
Let your will be done, not theirs! Let not the powerful and the blood-thirsty
win, but you, the God of the poor, our Protector!… Stretch out your
hand, Father! Help us, the humble of
this world, always defeated… if not, strike me from your book!… Yes,
I know that if the grain of wheat does not fall into the soil and die,
it doesn’t give any fruit… I myself said it and the spirit understood…
but when the time comes, the flesh trembles… I’m scared, Father… I’m
scared… At least, give me a sign…. Yes, a sign, a proof that you have
not deceived me, that this struggle has not been in vain…. You gave
Gideon a sign before leaving for battle… You showed Jeremiah a branch
of an almond tree…. Look at that branch, Lord, the branch of that tree…
if that olive tree could bloom and yield a white flower immediately
as a sign of peace… Answer me, Lord!… Why do you remain silent?… Am
I asking too much? You asked more from me!… You asked me to leave my
land and my parents… I spoke for your sake, I was angry for your sake
at the powerful of this world and I shouted in the plaza and in the
streets and I did not sit with liars to eat with them…. I am left alone
because of you… I have lost everything, thinking about you… Can’t you
at least give me a sign?… Not even that?… Speak up and answer me!! Or
is everything a mirage, like the mirage in the desert…?
Jesus bent and put his face to the ground, and desperately scratched
the stones with his hands and nails…. At that same moment, Judas of
Iscariot, followed by a troop of soldiers, crossed the Cedron. The soldiers
penetrated the dark and took their position along the slope of the Mount