those days, Peter, James, Jesus and I were on our way to Nazareth. We
took the route of the caravans bordering the Lake of Tiberias crossing
through the valley of Aesdrelon. The summer sun was a golden balloon,
shining on the wheatfields which were then ripe for the harvest...
Jesus: You havenít scaled the mountain, have you, Peter?
Peter: Where, Jesus?
Jesus: The mountain... When I was a little boy, I used to slip
out of the synagogue... There were three or four of us from the village
whoíd get together and hike to the mountain... Weíd reach the top with
our tongues hanging out, yeah, and our sandals half worn-out, but...
it was worth the effort...
To our left stood Mount Tabor, round as a dome, separating the old territories
from the tribes of Ishacar, Zabulon and Naphtali, the lone guardian
of the fertile plains of Galilee....
John: Peter, James... tie your sandals well!
James: Whatís that, John?
John: I know this Moreno damn well... Canít you see heís about
to go up...?
Suddenly we were going up the mountain slope toward its summit, inching
our way among pine trees and turpentine trees abounding on the slopes...
Peter: For Godís sake, Iím breathless... pfff!... Iím out of
breath... Wait, Jesus...
Jesus: You gotta be getting old, Peter... Pff! I used to run
up this mountain when I was a little boy....
Peter: Hey, John.... James.... come over here...!
John: Those sheep, where did they come from?
James: Where thereís a flock, there must be a shepherd too...
Oh, oh, the shepherd.... the shepherd!... Where is he?
Peter: Címon, letís go on climbing!
There on top of the mountain was old man Joe, above a rock with his
bamboo flute. His eyes were lost on the horizon....
Jesus: The shepherd!... The shepherd!
Joel: Here I am!... What do you want from me, or what do you
have for me?
Peter: All we can do is greet you, old man! What about you?
Joel: I can spare you some cheese and all the milk you want!...
Come, come, my countrymen, the milk from my sheep is purer than Susanna!
Jesus: Hey, are you the old man Joel?
Joel: Yes, thatís my name. How did you know my name? Did a
little bird on the road tell you?
Jesus: No, I used to scale this mountain when I was just a kid,
and I used to see you around this place....
Joel: Of course, this is my home. Others build their houses,
but not me. I have no hut of my own. I prefer the open air. The skyís
my only roof... Címon, try this goatís milk... itís gonna refresh your
John: Thanks, Joel....
James: Doesnít this solitary life bore you, old man?
Joel: Music is manís best friend, donít you forget that...
Look over the valley... Not even Methuselah with all his years had time
to contemplate all this beauty... You whoíre from the lowland, who live
in the cities and villages, learn how to read and go to the synagogue
to listen to the Holy Scriptures... I know nothing about the written
word, but thatís not necessary, do you hear? This is my book...
and this is enough for me...
Old Joel showed, with his calloused hand, the valley of Esdraelon which
opened before our eyes into a green vast expanse of land....
Joel: Look well, young men... This is the land promised by
God to our fathers, the land where milk and honey flow, the most beautiful
land of all...!
Peter: Hey, old man, whatís at the end of this... is it the
Joel: Yes, the Lake of Galilee, round as a brideís wedding
ring. They say God slipped it onto Eveís finger when she became his
wife.... But look over there, countrymen: do you see?
John: Where, old man?
Joel: Over there, right behind all this... Itís Mount Hermon,
where snow continues to fall, white as the beard of our Lord! God blesses
our land from there.... Now, look at the other end... where the lands
of Samaria are found... where Mount Ebal and Mount Garizim seem to join
the clouds... and right between the two was the city of Shechem, nestled
like a locket in a womanís bosom. This is where our father Joshua reunited
with all the tribes of Israel and made an alliance with God, a blessing
for those who complied and a curse for those who did not...
John: Old man, what are these mountains nearby?
those are the mountain heights of Gilboa where the Philistines murdered
Saul, the first king of our country, and Jonathan, his son and friend
of David who was also a music lover, played the flute for his dead friend...
Look over there, to the west... Do you see something like a green spur
coming out of the land and sinking into the Great Sea....? That is Mount
Carmel,† Elijahís country, the first prophet who took the cause of the
poor of Israel and defended their rights... Ah, Elijah!... His tongue
was like a whip in the hands of God. He made the kings tremble and all
those who oppressed the poor. And, when God took him in the chariot
of fire, his spirit was scattered like sparks among the new prophets....
Do you understand what Iím telling you, countrymen? Each of these mountains
you see from here is like a page of a book, where the history of our
people is written.
Jesus: But that history traces its beginning to another mountain,
old man, the greatest of them all, that which cannot be seen from here...
Joel: Youíre right, young man. Mount Sinai is very far from
here, somewhere in the south, which only the eye of an eagle can reach....
It was in that wilderness that God felt he should call on Moses through
a burning bush. From here, he was sent to Egypt to liberate his brothers
and sisters. Moses faced the Pharaoh, took all the slaves with him,
and crossed the Red Sea and the desert, bringing them to Sinai, the
holy mountain, the one with two peaks on the summit, like the open knees
of a woman about to give birth: and it was there where a free nation
was born, our country, Israel....
John: Gee, old man, I get emotional, just listening to you....
Joel: My children, youíre so young and you dunno... So many
things have happened... and what is yet to happen, of course! God never
keeps still. Iím sure heís in for something this time. Know somethiní
countrymen? God is like a goat: he loves the mountain. Sometimes heís
with Elijah in Mt. Carmel, other times, with Moses in Sinai. But he
always fights for justice and defends the humble. Remember what our
ancestors used to call the Lord? El Shaddai, the mountain God,
because everytime heís not pleased with the way things are down there
in the great city he goes up to the mountains. And from there, he laughs...
Thatís right, God laughs at the kings and the Pharaohs. Great nations
make wars and the powerful oppress the poor. Theyíll not sing victories,
though. Godíll send a liberator on Mount Zion. Heíll be my beloved son,
with whom Iíll be pleased.
Up to this day, my eyes can still picture that moment: the blue horizon,
the immense valley cut into cultivated lands like pieces of cloth of
a hundred colors, the sun half hidden behind the clouds and the breeze
coming from Mount Hermon seems to augur rains in Mt. Tabor... Jesusí
reply took from Joelís words, like an abyss relating to another...
Jesus: Youíre right, old man.
Itís in the mountain where the eyes are cleansed and the ears are opened
to listen to the voice of God.
It is here where the God of Israel spoke in whispers to Elijah and where
he spoke with Moses face to face.
Yes, God is alive and lets his presence be felt.
From each of these mountains he continues to pave the roads of people
on earth, interweaving them assiduously with the hands of a zealous
Now the work is done, in Godís time.
He comes to build his house on a high mountain, on the summit of the
mountains, so that we, the children of Israel and all the other nations
can climb up to it.
Because God is the God of all, whether near or afar.
Heís not content in gathering only the dispersed tribes of Jacob.
No, because liberation abounds.
Thereís too much forgiveness and mercy for all children. And Godís Annointed
One, the Messiah, awaited for so long by our people, shall remain on
top of the mountain to be the guiding light of the people, so that there
will be salvation in all the confines of the earth.
Peter: That was great, Moreno! I told you, you inherited Mosesí
beard and Elijahís tongue. Keep on talking, donít be silent, the worldís
liberation is at hand, and thereís no stopping it!
James: Itís the storm thatís coming soon. Címon fellows, letís
stop being poetic for this one minute and letís all go down, if we donít
want to get drenched.
Peter: Hey, whatís that nonsense youíre saying, James? No, no
way!... Didnít you hear what Jesus said? Everythingís going fine!
John: Are you outta your mind, Peter? Donít you see the storm
coming, and thereís not even a hut here to shelter us.
Peter: Then, letís go make one, dammit! Letís build three, if
need be!... But no one is to move from here, no one!
Peter, in all his excitement looked up the sky. The dark clouds were
already touching our heads. In a few seconds, the first drops of rain
Peter: Does the rain really matter, guys? Wasnít there lightning
and thunder when God appeared on Sinai? The same thing happened on Carmel!
This is because God roams freely in the mountains!.... Yes, yes, and
now, Elijah will descend in his chariot of fire, and Moses likewise,
with a burning bush in his hand!
The clouds fell furiously over Mount Tabor, and we were drenched to
the bones. The lightning rays crossed the sky like lances, illuminating
with splendor the faces of the shepherd, Joel, my brother James, Peter
Peter: Well, and now.... now what? Is everything over?
Jesus: No, on the contrary. This is just the beginning.
Peter: Whatís gonna happen now, Moreno?
Jesus: Nothing, Peter. If you donít wanna catch cold, start
moviní and letís go. Or would you rather stay here above and watch the
Peter: I dunno. I was expecting more... to see the Lord... even
half way, but....
Jesus: Listen, Peter: Godís in the mountains, thatís right.
But the people are down there. Look....
Jesus looked over the Valley of Aesdrelon, interspersed with small villages
where the poor of Israel earned their daily bread with their sweat and
Jesus: Thatís where we gotta go, Peter. Thatís where we gotta
blow and kindle the flames in the peopleís hearts. Leave the burning
bush and the chariot of fire alone, and letís all go down. This was
what Moses and Elijah did: to show concern for their brothers and sisters,
to work unceasingly in helping them to fend for themselves. So, move
on!... and Hurry! Letís light a fire all over the earth and keep it
Peter, my brother James, Jesus and I descended through the slopes of
Mt. Tabor, which became slippery after the downpour. The old man, Joel,
was left on top of the mountain, with his flock and his bamboo flute...
Below were the fields and cities of Galilee, lying in wait for a change,
a renewal, a transfiguration...