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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Last Supper



 Witness: Anya, a Jewish peasant woman of the time of Jesus.
Story N. 17 (see previous posts)

On a gray, moistly day on the feast of Passover, Anya is standing outside an unknown house in the suburbs of Jerusalem. She has been there for a while, trying to gather the courage to knock at the door. An hour earlier, while accompanying Jesus and the apostles to the Passover supper, she saw a man she had met once before and decided to tail him. She wrapped the veil around her head and followed him cautiously, so as not to attract his attention.  She remembers him talking to Neri at the wedding at Cana, right before her husband told her that he was going to join the rebels. Something tells her that he has news about Neri.
Anya steps near the door and pushes it slightly open. A single, feeble gleam of light makes its way into the dark room, falling on the man reclined at the table. He seems weary, as if an invincible inertia had set upon him. After a long silence, he finally acknowledges her presence.
“What do you want, woman?” he asks.                                              
“I’m Neri’s wife. I need to know where he is.”
“And why should I tell you? You betrayed him.”
“I did not. We grew apart. But I still love him. Please tell me, is he alive?”
“He is indeed.”
“Where can I find him?”
“All I can tell you is that he’s here in Jerusalem. I’m not allowed to say anything more.”
“Then, I’m begging you, let him know that I’m here too. He can find me at the temple, among Jesus’ disciples.”
“Right. He told me that you followed those crazy sheep.”
“Will you do what I said?”
“I will. Go now.”

Dusk is falling. A thick fog hangs over the city. Anya walks through crooked lanes and devious ways, coming out, at length, in the proximity of a crowded crossroad. She retraces her steps to the place where she parted with the disciples a few hours earlier. The rain is pouring now, and she runs to reach the house where the Passover supper was served. Jesus is nowhere in sight, but the apostles are still there. Their behavior strikes her as unusually agitated. They seem to be in agony. She approaches James, who always manages to keep his composure.
“What’s the matter, James?” she asks him.
He looks at her with sadness.
“Jesus gave us the last commandments. This was our last supper together.”
“No! Where is he?”
“He’s praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. We’ll join him soon. He said that the hour is coming when each of us will be scattered, and we will leave him alone. He said that one of us is going to betray him and have him arrested.”
Anya remains silent, overwhelmed by a feeling of despair. James takes her by her shoulders and looks into her eyes. His voice is full of hope.
“He also said that we shouldn’t worry, because he’s not alone. The Father is with him. He said that the world will hate us, but we must take courage, for he has conquered the world. ‘Heaven and earth will pass away,’ he said, ‘but my words will not pass away.’”
Anya’s eyes fill up with tears.
“What’s going to become of us?” she asks.
“We’ll live in his memory,” James replies. “Tonight he showed us how. He broke the bread and said ‘This is my body, which will be given up for you. Take it and eat it.’ Then he took a cup and gave it to us, and said ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for you. Do this in memory of me.”
Crushed with sorrow, Anya grabs James’ arms.
“I don’t want his blood!” she cries. “Why does he have to die? I want to live with him in the Kingdom of heaven! When will the Kingdom come, James?"
He looks at her with a peaceful smile.
“Only the Father knows. But one day Jesus said that the coming of the Kingdom cannot be observed, and no one will announce ‘Look, there it is’. For behold, the Kingdom of God is among us.”