from the land of Judea and the city of Jerusalem, even those from faraway
Galilee came to listen to John the Baptist. When they repented and confessed
their sins, the prophet baptized them in the waters of the river Jordan.
My brother James and I, Peter and his brother Andrew, Philip, Jesus
and Nathanael were also there...
Baptist: It is the Lord who said to me: ďRaise your voice like
a trumpet and denounce the sins and rebelliousness of my people. Shout
out the injustices committed against the poor throughout the countryside
and the cities!Ē... Go back to the Lord! Be sorry from the bottom of
your hearts and the gift of life shall be given back to you!
Philip: This prophet keeps on saying the same thing. I wonder
if he doesnít tire himself. We have been here for two hours and he sings
nothing but the same song...
Nathanael: Shsss! Quiet, Philip; Iím listening...
Philip: But Nathan, donít you see Iím bored?...
James: Donít be silly, Philip. You gotta shout out these things
to the people so they get it into their heads.
Philip: Be converted, be converted...blah-blah-blah.... But what
the hell is to be converted? I donít understand it.
John: It means ďto change.Ē And to change means to topple the
Romans and kick them out of our landÖ
Andrew: Come on, Philip, ask the prophet what oughtta be done
in order to be converted. Heíll tell you. John wants people to ask him
Philip: You think so, Andrew?
Andrew: Why, of course, man. Come on, ask him anything.
Philip: Eh, prophet of God! Prophet John!
Natheniel: Hey Philip, for your Momís sake in Bethsaida, shut up.!
Donít make trouble....
Philip: But I gotta ask the prophet... ďHey, prophet John!!Ē
Nathanael: Youíll make a boo-boo, as always.
Baptist: Who called my name?
Peter: This big head over here wants to ask you somethiní!...
Baptist: What do you want to know, brother?
Philip: John, you keep on talking of conversion, of changing
oneís ways, of preparing the way, for the one who is to come... Tell
me, how should I prepare myself? We who are hungry, how can we do this?
What are we gonna do?
Baptist: First of all, there must be justice. You hear me? There
must be justice!
Philip: Better explain that further, prophet. You see Iím a stupid
Baptist: How many blankets have you got?
Philip: Well, I feel embarrassed to say this, but... I only got
one at home, plus this other one on me....
Baptist: So you have two. You have an extra blanket. Give it to
the one who has none. In Israel, there are a number of naked people
with not even a rag to cover themselves!... You want me to be more specific?...
You, the one on the side... yes, do not hide yourself.... how many pairs
of sandals do you have?... Two?.. Three?.. What you are not wearing
are the extra pairs. In Israel, so many walk barefooted, with not even
a pair of sandals to wear. Share what you have with them. Have you got
two pieces of bread? Share it with the hungry. Let no one have anything in excess
so that no one will be in need. This is what the Lord wants. This is
the meaning of conversion: sharing. Justice, brothers and sisters, justice!
I am preparing the way for the Lord, and the Lord speaks through my
lips: that every one may eat, that everyone be clothed, that everyone
may live... Oh, he who turns his back on another, turns his back on
the Lord!.. Woe to him who closes his door to the traveler, who turns
out to be the Messiah, who comes knocking at your door!
James: Very well said! This is exactly what we zealots are asking
Philip: Well, Peter, you may now hand me that blanket you have
on... The prophet tells us to share what one has... I say you must begin
with your friends. Charity begins at home, donít you think so, Andrew?
Andrew: This man is indeed a prophet. All prophets before spoke
of justice. The message of the prophets is always the same.
Nathanael: Well, speaking of giving half of what you have... For
example, I have a shop, with four tools, but... this does not mean I
am rich. I simply have enough to.....
James: Donít worry, Nathanael. The rich are something else.
Look at those people coming... They are traitors!
Amid the crowd, two men with silken turbans passed and headed for the
shore. The tall one had pockmarks on his face. We knew little about
this man, and more about the other. His name was Matthew and he collected
taxes in our city, in Capernaum. He was slightly limping and had a short
gray beard full of bare patches. As always, he must have been drinking...
We all hated Matthew because he was helping the RomansÖ
James: Traitor to the country! Get outta here! Out!
All: Out! Down with the traitors! Outta this place. Leeches!
Jesus: This man looks drunk.
John: Of course, otherwise he wouldnít have dared come here.
We know him very well, Jesus. Believe me, in this country you wonít
find a man more cowardly than Matthew.
Philip: Hey, James, my ears are already buzzing. For heavenís
sake, quit yelling! As far as I know, this is a place for sinners, right?
Matthew must be the greatest bandit of them all, but he too, has the
right to see the prophet.
James: The only right he has is to be hanged!
Matthew and his companion were able to reach the shore. At that time,
John was baptizing a few heavily made-up prostitutes. Matthew waited
a while for them to get out of the water...
Matthew: Prophet of the most high! We have heard that Galilean
ask you what he had to do...!
All: Stay away from here! You traitor to the country. Traitors!
Baptist: Quiet! I want to hear what this man has to say. God wants
to listen to him too. Speak up!
Matthew: Prophet of the most high! What must we do?
Matthew: We are Jews, but... we collect taxes for the Romans.
What must we do?
Baptist: Let not your hands be stained by collecting more than
what is prescribed by law! The Romans have laid a heavy burden on our
people. Do not compound this burden by robbing the people of the little
that they have. The Romans have trampled on our lands. Donít make the
yoke heavier, nor the hand of the foreigner more oppressive.
Matthew: Will there be salvation for us?
Baptist: Salvation is for the one who seeks it. The one who will
come after me will separate the grain from the chaff. He will keep the
grain in his barn while he will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.
But there is still time to repent! Get converted and be cleansed with
The two tax collectors went near the water. Matthew was staggering due
to fear and, perhaps, for being drunk. Then John the prophet held them
by the hair and submerged them in the warm and dirty water of the Jordan,
where the sins of the prostitutes, the poor and the usurers were floating
in disarray; big sins and small sins, all the faults of our people...
Soldier: Master! John! Speak to us!
Baptist: What do you want?
Soldier: You have spoken before the Romans. We are Roman soldiers.
We have come to see you because your word has also reached us. We wear
the uniform of those who have made themselves masters of this land,
but we wish to be baptized too. What must we do in order to save ourselves
Baptist: The only owner of this land and of all the countries
of the world is God! You may be the strong ones now and you punish the
weak. Tomorrow, the stronger ones will come and they will beat you.
Today, the kings and the rulers of this earth are like a herb which
is green, but it will dry up tomorrow and get burned. God is the only
king! The only law is that of the Lord! And Godís law is justice!
Peter: Beware, prophet! If you keep on talking like that, youíll
soon be brought to Pilate!
Baptist: God is the master of all lives. It is not Pilate, nor
Herod, nor the Roman army! Soldiers, you must not threaten the people,
nor accuse anyone of things they havenít done. Donít tell lies in court,
nor abuse your power. Be content with your wages and donít rob the poor
of their shelter nor their food. All these, you must observe, you, Roman
Philip: I am beginning to like this prophet. He yells at me,
and also at the Romans. This John is one helluva brave man...
Philip: Come on, letís go.... Today, we have had enough of the
yellings of this John, the baptizer...
Jesus: Just a moment, Peter... I would like to ask the prophet
Peter: Did you say your were going to ask him something?....
But you know fully well what his reply will be ďjustice, justice, and
justice....Ē Iím leaving now....
Jesus: Just a minute, Peter.... John! I want to ask you something!
Baptist: Speak up, Galilean. Iím listening to you!
Jesus: Prophet John.... I... I do not know if I am meddling
in something I am not aware of, but....
Philip: Speak louder, or he wonít hear you!
Jesus: I was saying that.... Oh well, you were saying: Feed
the hungry. You also say: Donít cheat in your taxes. Likewise, do not
use violence. All this is good, but... these are only the branches.....
What about the trunk?
Baptist: What do you mean?
Jesus: I believe that if the branches yielding bad fruits are
pruned every time, they will continuously bear bad fruits, because the
trunk is bad, and the roots are rotten.... Prophet John, what must we
do in order to pull out these roots so that no one will ever starve,
no soldier will ever use force, no ruler will ever collect taxes?
Baptist: Who are you?
Jesus: My name is Jesus. I came yesterday, with my two friends
from the north. I have heard you speak, that is why Iím asking you.
Baptist: I cannot answer what you are asking me. Somebody else
will. I baptize with water, but after me will come someone who will
baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit. I only trim the branches. He
uproots the tree, burns the bad roots and rids the garden of all weeds.
Jesus: And who is this one that is to come? Whom are you talking
But John did not reply anymore. The wind began to blow along the River
Jordan. The bamboo trees swayed and the waters formed into small and
giant whirlpools. John stayed on top of a rock, looking afar. His eyes
were burning on account of the sun and blazing with hope as they gazed
through the horizon, in anticipation of the One who was to come.