Very well, all is said and done: we'll scatter ourselves, like ants
spreading after a downpour, through the entire Galilee!
was during the first few days of summer when we decided to leave Capernaum
and undertake the journey to other cities of our province, in order
to announce the Kingdom of God. We were then just a handful of nobodies.
But Jesus always countered that a little salt was enough to give flavor
to the food. That a small lamp on top of a table could brighten up the
Just a minute, adventurers. Forget about the fun and teach me what to
say. I can promote my wares, like combs and brushes, but not this job
of delivering a divine speech.... well, the truth ....
Jesus: Listen, Philip: it's very simple. Besides, you
don't have to talk much. All we've got to do is gather the people and
teach them how to share what they have. Remember what we did with the
loaves of bread and the fish?
Philip: Yeah, but... what if they don't want to get involved?
Peter: Well, shake the dust off your feet and go somewhere else. You
can't force people to share if they don't want to.
Thomas: That's what I'm saying, that in the K..K..ingdom of G..G..God,
n..n..nobody enters by f...f..force.
Philip: Not if we're pushed by soldiers who catch us gathering
our countrymen and inciting them to rebellion...
Matthew: Don't worry about that, Philip. We'll bring you some
soup in jail!
James: And if an old usurer cuts our throats, then we go straight
to Abraham's lap!
Jesus: Well, we're all ready. James and Andrew will go to Bethsaida...
Thomas and Matthew, to Chorazin... Philip and Nathanael, to Magdala...
Philip: And together we perish!
Jesus: John and Peter will go to Tiberias... Simon and Judas
to Sepphoris... Jacob and Thaddeus, to Naim...
James: So when do we leave?
Jesus: On the first day of the week, each shepherd to his own
Matthew: When do we see each other again?
Well, within a month everyone must be back here in Capernaum. Okay?
left by pairs for the neighboring towns... The truth is that in those
times, each one of us imagined the Kingdom of God in his own way. No
one had a clear idea of it and our knees trembled a little at the thought
of it. But we kept on encouraging one another in announcing the good
news among our countrymen...
a month, we all went back to Capernaum as agreed upon, and we met in
Peter and Rufina's house as always...
Hey comrades, help yourselves to some wine. We must thank the Lord for
allowing us to return and still be in one piece!
That's very well said, stone thrower! After all those skirmishes,
the group has become more known to them. At least they have me and the
skinny one blacklisted... They know us better than David knew Bathsheba...
It was a miracle to be able to escape from that place...
So let's all have a toast to celebrate this. Hey, Matthew, ...what's
Peter: Why don't you make a toast with us?... Don't you love
Matthew: If I take a shot, then I don't stop until I end up with
the entire barrel... I know myself quite well....
James: And so?... Have you changed after the trip?... What happened?
Thomas: It so happened that one day, w..we w..were...
Matthew: That's enough, Thomas. It's just that I've lost the
desire to drink much. I had the appetite for it before. But now, it's
the opposite. That's it.
No, it was because of s..s..so..something they told him: shoemaker,
re..re..pair your shoes f..f..first...
Thomas: One day, in Tiberias, we were at the corner of the
square. This M..M..Ma...Matthew was talking a..a..about unity and
A Man: You don't know what you're talking about! You're drunker than
Noah by the grapevine!
Another Man: We'll listen to you when you have purged yourself
of all that wine in your belly, rascal!... Let's go, guys; this man
doesn't even know where his moustache is!
That happened one day. Then another. What a meddlesome bunch! They
made me sick, you know!
B..b..but they were right, Matthew. First take the plank out of your
own eye, before you can take the speck out of anyone else's eye.
Jesus: So, you don't drink anymore, Matthew...
Well, the truth is there are days when I can't bear it and... other
times, I grab my two hands very tightly to control myself... dammit...
give me a few days more, but... its something... Isn't it?
Peter: So this other shot is for Matthew, who has stopped drinking!
Matthew: Bah, to hell with all of you!
Jesus: And what was the mess you got yourselves into, skinny
one and you, James? C'mon on, tell us what happened...
James: Ha! Or better, what didn't happen. You all know Bethsaida,
where Onesimus is, who thinks he's the pharaoh of Egypt because he owns
the boats. But the fishermen are not dumb. They're alert...
Listen, countrymen, my grandfather always repeated that saying of
the wise men: it is more difficult to break a three-threaded rope.
A Fisherman: Make yourself clear, my friend.
James: This means that when a poor creature fights for his
rights alone, he's easily defeated. But if there are three of them,
then it's more difficult. If there are thirty of them, that's much
better indeed. Do you understand? It's necessary to braid a thick
rope from among all the threads.
Another Fisherman: This red head's right. The ones up there
are advantaged in many ways. But we're more than they. That's where
our strength lies.
Another Fisherman: Trouble is, we're not united. Each one thinks
only of himself.
James: God wants all of us to look in the same direction. Where there's
a group pushing as one, God also lends a hand. This is what we've
done in Capernaum.
A Fisherman: Things are a lot easier in your town. You're well
organized and you defend one another. Here, it's old Onesimus who
Another Fisherman: All boats and nets are owned by Onesimus.
Therefore, he gets all the profit. While we, we've got nothing but
James: And so? What else do you need? Hear this, my friends: Without
your arms, those boats will not move, nor those nets be cast, is that
right? Onesimus wouldn't earn a single cent.
A Fisherman: Yeah, of course, but... what can we do with our
James: Cross them. That's it. Cross them and tell that bloodsucker
that no boat will be rowed nor will a single net be cast; nor a hook
thrown until the wages go up to two dinars!
so it was. The following day, the wharf of Bethsaida was like a funeral
parlor: everyone was silent with arms crossed... Onesimus, the patron,
was fuming mad...
Two dinars! Two dinars! Are you out of your mind? Tell me: who's the
instigator here? Yeah, I know, that red-head from Capernaum and the
skinny one. And that man called Jesus is behind all this. You damned
agitators! I'll have your tongues cut off! I'll have them cut off!
And look, fellows.... Ahhh.... It's still here in one piece! But
the best part of it is that we've won the battle! That scoundrel, Onesimus
had to increase the wages!... The news spread like wild fire. We were
told that the fishermen of Gennesareth are doing the same thing, with
crossed arms and demanding two dinars!
Jesus: Let's give another toast for James and Andrew who knew
how to work in justice's name. They have their names written in heaven!
Matthew: As well as in the police blotter of Bethsaida!
Peter: Well, Philip, it's your turn now. Let's see, what have
you and Nathanael done in Magdala? How did you fare in that place?
Philip: Badly, yes and very badly. Your enemy was Onesimus, while
ours was God. Who can go against him?
Jesus: What'dya mean...?
Philip: Well, God no, but those strange ideas of the people about
God, which turn out to be more difficult to scrape than scabies. Here's
our story. When we arrived in the city:
Over here, everyone!... Listen, companions!... I'm not here to
sell my wares today... Look, I didn't even bring my cart... My bald
friend here and I are here to bring you the good news.
A Woman: Well, do it quickly and let's see if its better than
the lipstick I bought from you last week!
Philip: Listen well, my friends!... Unplug your ears... I mean,
one ear of yours, so that what enters through one doesn't come out
through the other.... Today, the Kingdom of God has come to this city
of Magdala!.... Yeah, that's right, just as it sounds, The Kingdom
Another Woman: Look here, fat head, stop these stories. The
only thing that has reached this place is the kingdom of worms!
Philip: How's that again?
Woman: You heard it. All the orchards of Magdala are infested
with worms: all tomatoes, eggplants... everything is worm-in fested.
It's God's punishment, his sacred wrath! The worst thing is, if God
doesn't cool it, even my melons will be damaged; the worms are on
their way to my melons!
Philip: What are you talking about, ignorant woman? What has
God to do with your melons?
Woman: Why, don't you know? Go and ask the Rabbi to tell you!
This worm epidemic is a punishment from heaven, for the many sins
of this perverted city!
Woman: And tell him out loud, that God must be more enraged here
than when he was in Sodom! Why? Because the devil runs loose here.
All one can see here are taverns and drunkards and women who wink
at you from every corner. That's why God must be taking his revenge.
Woman: We rightfully deserve it, don't you think so, stranger?
Ehem... Well, I think... God is not as terrible as you imagine.
Woman: God sent us this misfortune and must be preparing something
Philip: Oh no, woman, don't say that. God is good and doesn't
like to pester people.
Women: I told you so! First, the worms... and now, some madmen have
Philip: Not even my horn could pacify them... They were all
there, so obstinate with this punishing God. Pff.... You know what,
Jesus? If things must change, then one of the first to change should
be this crazy idea that people have of God.
We had the same idea before, Philip. Or don't you remember anymore?
Only a few months ago, we also viewed God as an executioner with his
axe raised high. Now, that's a thing of the past. Now we see God like
Philip: But Peter, you dunno those Magdalenes. They're so stubborn.
The more we explain to them...
Matthew: Well as they say, a stone gets a hole by the constant
dripping of water. I'm talking from experience.
Well said, Matthew. All of us start this way and gradually, God
melts our hearts.
Philip: I hope so, Moreno, but the truth is, they're too much...
Jesus: But God's on their side, damn! This is what matters more.
What about a toast for God our Father who has wished to be revealed
to the humble and be hidden from the arrogant! Look at all of us, Philip:
there's no one among us learned or great. The Kingdom of God grows from
below, as the trees do.
Well, brace yourself, Nat. We'll have to go back and visit our countrymen
from Magdala... and their worms!
Jesus: That's exactly it, Philip. This thing's not finished in
one day. Look, why did we have to go by pairs, like the asses when they
pull the plow? Because the yoke can't be carried alone, but with another.
One alone gets weary and disappointed. With someone along, the burden
is lighter. There's still much terrain ahead.
James: But now is the right time and we must take advantage.
There's always work to be done. Everywhere the poor are lifting up their
heads and strengthening their knees. The day of liberation is at hand!
Jesus: Many prophets wanted to see that day, but didn't live
to see it. Many wanted to hear these things but heard not...
Peter: And many would have wanted to taste Rufina's soup, but
couldn't, as she has it reserved for all of you! Yes, sir, a soup with
two drops of oil can restore the life of a dead person!... Hey, Rufi,
why don't you serve the pot of soup, in celebration of the return of
this group of crazy men!
summer, we went from one town to another, through all of Galilee. And
the Kingdom of God that came to us, for free, we also announced to our
brothers and sisters. Free.
of messengers by pairs was a deeply-rooted custom in Israel. They were
messengers bringing news - as there was no mail then - or on a mission
of assistance or trying to understand better, according to specific situations.
Generally, they always left by pairs for two reasons: for protection,
since the trips were long and much danger could arise. On the other hand,
this had something to do with the compliance of a norm found in the book
of Deuteronomy (Dt 17:6 and 19:15), which in the beginning only applied
to judicial processes. Later, it became applicable to other areas as well.
According to this law, only the testimony of two witnesses could be given
credit, and although only one would speak, the other ought to be present
in order to confirm the testimony, thus giving it validity.
in the gospel the instructions Jesus gave to his disciples, before sending
them to announce the kingdom of God, one observes how incomplete they
were. Jesus was not a moralist. The gospel is not a collection of norms
for every situation in life, as if it were enough to face life's reality
with the application of formulas or slogans. The messengers of the gospel
are not handed a set of instructions; they are given a spirit. Their whole
life must be a sign of new values. They must proclaim them with the word,
but above all, live them. In this episode, Jesus' disciples find themselves
in situations not described in the gospel to the letter, but rather, the
spirit with which they are lived and overcome. This is what the group
is to learn eventually, as they are inspired by Jesus' word.
Jesus, the disciples addressed themselves to the poor as the privileged
recipients of the good news of God. The gospel must be announced to them,
the least ones, so they can start to live; knowing that as far as God
is concerned, they are the first.
proclaimed in the gospel encompasses everything human, and all people,
and consists necessarily of phases and mediations. One of them is the
organization of the poor. God does not want masses of men and women submerged
in ignorance or in apathy, men and women who are passive and submissive.
God wants a nation of free people. God came into history precisely to
make of the oppressed Hebrews, enslaved by the Pharaoh, an organized and
fighting nation. From servitude, God gave them passage to freedom. Liberation
has, during one phase of the process, this period of awareness and organization,
in which the poor bind themselves together by a common ideal and discover
their dignity as children of God. A free person cannot imagine a punishing
God who makes children suffer, who demands an accounting of every small
sin in order to take revenge... People must be freed of this false image
of God. A profound evangelization, though not intended directly, always
bears as a consequence, people's liberation from erroneous ideas about
God and the relationship of God with people and history.
has shown us in his life and in his words, there exists no conflict between
action and prayer, between love for God and for one's neighbor. We must
not pose any opposition between the work of evangelization and that of
promoting humankind, as if such a task of promotion were of a lesser category
for a Christian by being "political." The task of evangelization
however is sometimes taken as superior, more pure, for establishing our
direct relationship with God. Such opposition is false, since there is
a continuous relationship between evangelization and the promotion of
humankind. To evangelize people is to proclaim the good news of people's
dignity as the sons and daughters of God. In the name of this infinite
dignity, human beings must be freed from hunger, from ignorance, from
economic dependence... To promote people is to bring them to all physical,
intellectual and political fulfillment... One must likewise be open to
the reality of faith, since the religious dimension is essential to being
human. There exists no contradiction. Both endeavors are profoundly related.
Thus, the bishops who met at Puebla recalled again: "The situation
of injustice... makes us reflect on the great challenge faced by our pastoral
people, to help them overcome situations that are less humane and to find
themselves in more humane conditions. The profound social gaps, extreme
poverty and the violation of human rights in many parts are challenges
to evangelization. Our mission to bring people close to God likewise implies
the construction here of a more fraternal society." (Puebla, 90)
makes a toast to the Lord, gives God thanks for the return of his friends.
The act of thanksgiving occupies a significant role in Jesus' manner of
praying. The wise men of Israel claimed that in the world to come, only
the act of thanksgiving would remain. It would no longer be necessary
to ask for forgiveness nor favors, nor confess our sins. We would only
be grateful to God. With his manner of praying, Jesus anticipates the
world to come: the Kingdom of God.
10:5-15; 11:25-27; Mk 6:7-13; Lk 9:1-16; 10:17-24)
from the book: A Certain Jesus, Vol. 2(Chapter
Copyright @ 1998 by Claretian Publications,
This book offers a new approach to
appreciating the life of Jesus. The first part of the Chapter is in dialogue
form in an up-to-date conversational language. This makes the reader realize
that Jesus was once a very ordinary guy, a typical man in his time. The
last part of each chapter contains an explanation of the biblical references,
thus giving one the perspective for reflection.