the day of Pentecost, Jerusalem became inundated with thousands of pilgrims
who were carrying bundles of their first produce of wheat and barley
to be offered in the Temple of God of Israel and to celebrate, as in
all summers, the feast of the new harvest… People and camels, the entire
caravans from Judea and Galilee were squeezing hard on each other in
all the streets of the city of David. This is not to exclude the foreigners
from all the provinces of the empire:
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, people from Mesopotamia and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia and even from far away Egypt and
the Libyan colonies of Cyrene…. Greeks and Romans, Arabs and Cretans
(Cretes), Jews and Pagans… everyone ascended to Jerusalem and their
voices and songs in a thousand different languages resounded within
the walls of the city….
That day, at the first hour of the morning while we were chatting in
the upper story of his house, Mark, who was Peter’s friend, arrived;
he was almost out of breath…
Mark: Hey, is everybody here?… C’mon here, and hurry!…
Peter: What the hell is the matter, Mark? C’mon, speak up, man!
Mark: Bad news, folks. The fat man, Caiphas, and his gang from
the Sanhedrin are as mad as hell! It’s because of us!
Peter: Bah, if that’s the case…!
Mark: They found out you’ve been in the city for a couple of
days now and you’ve been spreading the word that Jesus has resurrected.
They say you’re out to stir up the people…
Peter: Let them say what they want, Mark…. We couldn’t care
Mark: The guards were given orders to arrest you…!
Peter: That doesn’t matter…
Mark: They’re coming anytime from now to get you…!
Peter: Well… in that case, it does matter! Matthew, Andrew,
Nathanael, friends, we’ve got to leave this place! They’re after our
John: So let them find us! We’ll wait for them here, Peter!
Peter: Okay, you’ll wait for them, John. I’m leaving.
Philip: So am I.
John: Cowards! That’s what you are, a bunch of terrified rats!
Peter: That’s okay, say whatever you want… But I prefer to be
a living rat to a dead lion. Let’s go… just tell the women we’re leaving!
Mary: What noise is this? What’s going on here, tell me…?
Peter: Nothing, Mary, but something’s gonna happen soon…
Thomas: Mark, are you s…s…sure about the g…g…uards?
Mark: Of course, Thomas. Nicomedes told me.
Peter: What Nicomedes? Nicodemus, perhaps?
Mark: Oh, it’s the same. It’s this tension that gets me all
mixed up. Yeah, the magistrate who is our friend.
John: That story could have been made up to scare all of us.
Thomas: And i…i…indeed w…w…we are… s…scared.
Peter: Whatever it is, we’re leaving right away before they
catch us empty-handed…. Come, Mary, do something… Mary!…. What’re you
Mary: I was just wondering what Jesus would do if he were with
Philip: I know what he would do, but I…!
Magdalene: I know what the Moreno would do! Jesus never backtracks…
The problem with us is we move like turtles, my goodness!
Salome: I agree with the Magdalene, because if only….
Peter: Okay, okay, whatever it is that you want to say, say
it along the way! Now is not the time to talk but to leap over the wall
and get away from here! Let’s go, James!
Magdalene: Go, if you wish! Mary and I are staying, is that right,
Mary: But of course, woman….
Salome: In that case, I’m staying too! Blood, not water, runs
in the veins of the Zebedees !
Philip: Listen to me, you fools. Don’t you know that the soldiers
Magdalene: Even if he is the king of Rome, what do I care?… Go away,
go away…. We’re staying here.
Peter: Are you out of your minds?…. Why the hell are you staying
Magdalene: Now look who’s talking!… Tell me, Peter, why then did
we come to Jerusalem? To dance in the party? Didn’t we say we had to
revolutionize the capital and gather all the poor of the city? Aren’t
we supposed to point an accusing finger at those swines who have broken
Philip: Jesus started the plan and you’ve seen how soon they’ve
gotten rid of him!
Magdalene: But God is more powerful, Philip! Tell me, big head,
why, do you think, did God raise Jesus from the dead? That he might
merit an applause?… Or was it because we had to continue fighting like
he did, and that we should not be afraid to face death?
Salome: Well said, Magdalene! They should have given you the
sword of Judith, young woman!
Peter: Okay, okay, let’s discuss this part by part…. What do
you propose to do, scandalous women?
Salome: At the moment, we should play it cool, Peter. Let’s not
allow this fear to knock us all down.
Peter: And you, Mary, what do you say?
All of us turned to Jesus’ mother…
Mary: I don’t know, Peter, when things got tough, Jesus would
tell us to pray a little, remember?… Why don’t we ask God to enlighten
us that we may know what to do or what not to do…?
Salome: Exactly, Mary: If we cling to the Lord, we will never
Mary: Let’s ask God to lead us through, as our ancestors were
led out of Egypt. They too, were terrified when the Pharaoh’s guards
chased them and cornered them beside the sea…. But remember, it was
then when God blew hard and split the sea in the middle to give passageway
to our ancestors…
All eleven of us were present. Mathias, Thomas’ friend, who had joined
the group a few days ago, was there too, and so were the women: the
Magdalene, Susana and my mother, Salome. In the middle of all was Mary,
Jesus’ mother, who was in squatting position, common among the women
peasants of my country….
Mary: Father!… Come before us, open us a path of freedom, like
you did for our ancestors when You blew the strong wind and let them
cross the Red Sea… Be on our side, like You acted by making that column
of fire, paving the way for their passage…. Come, Lord… If You don’t
come, Lord, then grant that we may stay here… If You are indeed on our
side, then give us a little of your Spirit, the same Spirit that You
put in Jesus, give us the courage of the prophets!
We prayed. We prayed from the bottom of our cowardice, with a little
grain of faith before a mountain of difficulties. The God of our ancestors
who saved Jesus from death, who strengthens trembling hands and firms
up shaking knees, filled us with powerful Spirit…. Since that morning,
God had been gradually snatching away the fear from us, and in His Time,
gave us the courage we needed in our daily struggle…
Peter: Well, folks… so much for this cowardice, damn it…. I
mean, I’m saying it for myself… Now, I understand why Jesus has left
us, so that we would have to handle the reins ourselves…. The Moreno
has put a lamp in our hands, and we’re not hiding it under the table…
It must be put up in a candle holder so that everyone may see…. Do you
John: Of course, Peter…. If we risk our lives the way Jesus
did, well, bad luck! Others will follow…. And God will take care of
claiming our blood!
Peter: So, buddies, what’re we waiting for? Didn’t you say the
guards are coming? Well, let them find us in the street! What we have
spoken of in the shadows, we shall proclaim under the sun!… And what
we’ve been saying in whispers, we shall shout to the whole world!
Euphoric, Peter, opened the door and went down the stone stairway facing
the patio, taking two steps at a time… We went behind him…. The street
was crammed with a sea of pilgrims during that warm holiday…
Peter: Well… what now, John?
John: Commend yourself to Moses, who was a stutterer, that
he may loosen up your tongue! Cheer up, troublemaker!
Then Peter climbed over an old barrel of oil beside the door and from
there, he began to gesture to the people who were passing by….
Peter: Listen, friends, compatriots, come, run, for we’ve got
some news for you!… Hey, John, where do I begin? What shall I tell them?...
I’m having mental block!
John: Don’t get scared, Peter…. Words are like a swarm of bees:
one comes out and a swarm follows!
A multitude started to mill around out of curiosity. Peter, who was
on top of the barrel, was sweating profusely, not knowing how to begin,
and looking from one side to the another, lest the guards were coming...
Man: What’s wrong with you, you over-acting Galilean?… Let’s
see, are you raffling off some stuff?
Woman: C’mon, out with it!
Man: This guy is drunk! Don’t you see his face is flushed?
Ha, ha, ha…!
Peter: No, my friends, we’re not drunk… we’re not, because it
is nine o’clock in the morning
and at this time of the day, not even old Noah gets himself intoxicated.
It’s something else… We’ve got some news for you. The news is that the
Kingdom of God has come! Yes, my friends, some of you have come from
afar, and have not heard what happened in this city only a few weeks
ago…. There was a man called Jesus... I guess most of you knew him,
right?… Well, this Jesus of Nazareth spent his time with us, doing good
deeds and fighting for justice like anybody else. He also healed the
sick, because God was with him. And this man, who was more upright than
a post, and more a prophet than all the prophets put together, was held
prisoner by the leaders of Jerusalem. These leaders faked a trial for
him by midnight and condemned him to death. Many of you have seen him
hanged on the cross, is that right? Well, these swine thought that the
victory was theirs. But God did not conform to this in any way. Please
tell me, how could God allow such injustice of great magnitude? How
could God stand the sight of worms feasting on the body of the best
creature on earth? He did not allow it! No way!…. So God took him from
his tomb, and raised him to life, and now he is more alive than ever,
believe me!…. and God acknowledged him in the eyes of everyone. I say
this to you because I have seen him alive. All of these men who are
with me now have also seen him! We are witnesses to this victory of
God. We are telling you, compatriots and foreigners, those from the
nearby places and those from afar, without mincing our words, that God
has made this Jesus whom they crucified Lord and Messiah of all men
and women all over the world!
The people who were crowding around us began to applaud Peter, who was
talking passionately, with such firmness, that for a moment, I remembered
Jesus when he was talking right there at the Temple’s esplanade…
Man: Hey, neighbor, who’s this big nose who just spoke to
us so clearly?
Woman: I don’t know much about him…. He must be Galilean, judging
from his intonation.
Man: He must be one of the zealots, I’d say…
Woman: No, man, but he is one of those who was always with the
Woman: Shut up, old woman, and listen!
Peter: Friends, listen to me: The rulers and the big lords of
the capital thought that the matter about Jesus is already over. Well,
it’s not over yet. Do you know why? Because they are still here, those
responsible for Jesus’ death: the Herods, the Caiphases, the Pilates,
are all sprawled out in their palaces of marble, sitting over the prison
cells where a number of our tortured countrymen are languishing; they
are feasting lavishly while our people are starving to death. This will
go on and on as they continue to kill and rob and abuse our people!
But Jesus continues to be with us too as we confront them!…. They are
alive, but Jesus is more alive than they! They mock us, the poor, but
God will laugh the last because this matter about Jesus is not yet over!….
On the contrary, this is just the beginning! It’s only now that the
matter is getting complicated, countrymen! Now, it’s not only one person
who is involved, but a dozen… then we shall become twelve dozens! And
no one will be able to stop us! The Kingdom of God spreads like a spark
in dry field! And there’s no turning back, my friends!
good, Galilean, very good, that’s the way to talk!
it to them, Peter, give it to them!
did it go, John?
Peter, but don’t gesture too much, you might fall off the barrel…!
delinquent, there are a number of foreigners around and I don’t know
if they understand….
among us here are a number of foreigners from other countries and they
speak other languages. It doesn’t matter. I know everybody understands,
because in spite of the differences of languages, our stomachs speak
the same language of hunger! We have the same callous hands and our
mothers weep the same tears for their sons who lost their lives. The
clamor for justice of the poor is the same in all languages! Here no
one is a stranger! We come from many different places, yes, but we all
go toward the direction of the same land, and this is what matters!
A new land, with no boundaries, nor inequality, a land where all of
us can dwell! To achieve this,
we need to be together, to join hands, work shoulder to shoulder, and
inject the Spirit of God in the flesh of the people!
More and more people gathered to listen to Peter… The street became
so small that when the guards sent by the high priests and the magistrates
of the Sanhedrin came, they could not harm us…. That morning of the
Pentecost, the ears of Jerusalem listened to the good news, known today
by a great number of men and women all over the world: that Jesus is
alive, that the Kingdom of God moves on, that the flame enkindled by
Jesus here on earth is not extinguished, because it is God who keeps
it aflame and God wants us all to be burned by it.