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Welcome to my Blog!

Wednesday 5 January 2011

The Day of Epiphany! A New Season - Excerpt from Fifth Gospel - a Novel


T was the fifteenth year of the rule of Tiberias, on a day when Venus stood in Aquarius that John the Baptiser awoke, feeling his muscles and sinews taut, his mind awake and alert and his heart calm.
The sun had popped up out of its desert crib to cast its fiery eye over Israel and to beat upon the brows of men and the backs of beasts. Each day he faced this sun, standing waist deep in that freezing river, observing with an unfaltering eye the whirling tumult of dead thoughts and sins that were discharged into the river from the souls of those whom he baptised. Each day he wondered where the strength would come for his work and each day he was given the forces necessary. But this day something was altered. In himself he felt it, the nearness of the fulfilment of his task, accompanied by a strange bewilderment…since he found himself desiring to forestall it!
In this mood he left his hut of rushes to say his prayers to the God of Israel and to perform his ablutions before taking himself to that little bend in the river near Bethany, situated in the lower Jordan. 
Large crowds came to be baptised and he worked for hours without pause, looking into each soul to determine its measure and value, dividing the lambs from the vipers. Near the midpoint of the day the leaders of these vipers arrived at the river, a deputation of priests and Levites upon asses preceded by a retinue of guards whose swords caught the bold sunlight and reflected their sharp sting into John’s eyes. They pushed aside the crowds to allow the priests to come to shore.
Well…well…his words had moved across the land, so that even the Temple in Jerusalem had heard of him! He was pleased for the sake of his task.
He said to them, ‘The Masters of the ancient wisdom of the snake, the brood of vipers, the initiates of Lucifer, have come!’
One Pharisee said from his high position, ‘We are here on behalf of the Sanhedrin, to ask you some questions.’
‘Questions?’ the baptiser said, looking about with mockery in his eye. ‘If you come asking questions concerning laws that are written in books, you will not find anything here to satisfy you. I do not answer to laws that indicate this or that to be right or wrong. I answer only to the power that exists in every man to know right from wrong in his own heart!’
‘Heresy!’ the Pharisee said, ‘A son of Abraham must follow the laws of Moses!’
The Baptist looked at him with flares for eyes. ‘You make much of having Abraham for a father, but this alone does not make you worthy! Your body of flesh is like the stones at your feet…in the same way that you can pick up any of these stones and make them yours…God can make any man, a child of Abraham.’
Gasps came from the priests. Rants, and raves and astonishment filled the air. ‘You dare to say, any man can be a child of Abraham! Any man can enter the lineage of the blood tree of your forebears, which is sanctified by God!’
The Baptist roared like a lion at them, ‘Why do you call on this dying tree! God has given me the axe–and I will cut it down!’ He pointed to the people and cried, ‘Israel! This tree no longer bears good fruit!’
The delegation was turned over into a rumble of voices. The guards stood at the ready with their weapons.
‘Jerusalem!’ He pointed at the delegation. ‘Your laws and your knowledge were brought to you by way of Moses, but the time of these laws is finished now! Soon, grace and truth will come into the world by way of the anointed one. He will descend to earth so that the blind sons of Israel may see Him! But only those who can hear the voice of conscience in their hearts will recognise him!’  
The rabbis, priests and the Levites talked in an excited fashion among themselves, shaking their heads and distorting their countenances. They could not agree. Meanwhile in the crowds, a man called out to John,
‘But how shall we become good men? What is this voice you speak of, that is in the heart?’
John the Baptiser answered, ‘Do you not shrink to see others cold or hungry? Do you, who have much, not hear a voice that tells you to help those who have little? This voice speaks tenderly in the wilderness of your soul, and it will say to you: he who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has meat, let him do likewise.’
Then a publican called out, ‘But what of our livelihood?  We have to earn a living, from shelter and food! What will you have us do? Give men a bed, and a bowl of soup for free, to be good?’
‘Listen to the voice, it will say: Do not ask for more than is rightfully yours.’
And the soldiers, who were Herod’s men and had come with the priests and Levites, asked him, ‘How can we soldiers be good men, if we must use a sword and accuse others for our wages?’
John the Baptist told them, ‘The voice will say: do not do violence to any man and do not accuse another falsely. What you do, must be good and right, if you are to take to yourself your wages and be content.’
‘Who are you?’ Another Pharisee called out, ‘Are you the Messiah?’
John knew these questions needed to be asked, to prevent confusion in the people’s minds, and so he answered, ‘Listen to me…all of you…know that I am not the Christ. He shall come after me!’
‘Do you say that you are Elijah, then?’ Another priest said.
John shook his head, ‘I am sent in the spirit of Elijah.’
‘But it is said, that a prophet will come before the Messiah comes, are you not that prophet?’
‘I have told you…do not look at me, look for that other who will come!’
‘Who do you say that you are? We must return to tell those who have sent us, the council of great men at the Sanhedrin,’ that same Pharisee said.
‘Tell them, that I am the voice of the soul, crying in solitude, cut off from the likes of those who hold fast to the blood of Abraham. I am the free voice, without a folk, who seeks Him who comes to sustain me!’
‘Why do you preach repentance and baptise, and make pure men, if you are not a Prophet, or Elijah, or the Messiah?’ A Levite gave back.
‘I baptise with water, but there stands one among you that you do not recognise. He has the forces derived from a higher source than mine! He is mightier than I, for I am not worthy to stoop down to unloosen even the laces of his sandals. I baptise you with water. I do this in preparation for Him, who will baptise men not with water, but with the Holy Spirit fire!’
‘Is he here?’
John’s heart was full with joy, ‘I feel he is among us!’
The priests looked about them.
Each man searched his neighbour.
‘Where is he?’ they asked.
‘You shall not see Him until He makes himself known to you.’
The priests mocked him and said he was a madman. They told the crowds that no man should believe such lies and with their dispositions proud, gathered to them the reins of their animals, and took themselves and their soldiers from the shores of the river. But two members of the Sanhedrin remained behind, and sat among the crowds. John sensed that these men had been touched by his words.
After that, he continued with his work until the sun reached its zenith, and the crowds began, as was their custom, to disperse for the midday meal. Now standing alone in the chilling water, he saw a man step forward and come to the edge of the river.
He put a hand up over his eyes to see, for the sun’s rays were shimmering on the surface of the river, blinding him.
He recognised the man’s form and the contours of his face. How bright did the sun shine at that moment! As if it’s body were leaning over to touch the river! John squinted, and still he could not see, and yet he did see. This was a man he knew, and yet, it was not simply that he saw a man he knew, for this man, whom he had met at Qumran, seemed not to be there at all, but in his place was a soul that he recognised in its essential foundations. It was as if he were looking at his own reflection, a part of himself, long lost and forgotten. Did this soul that came towards him not seem like the youngest, and purest, soul in the world? And was this not the opposite of his own soul, which felt to him ancient, cracked, and used up, like an old jug emptied of its contents?
His heart near burst with the mighty impression this thought created, and his eyes filled with tears, and he let go his staff into the water.


  1. Adriana...
    Magnifique blog (c'est assez rare).
    Il révèle une élévation d'esprit certaine.
    Je me devais de le remarquer.Pace Salute.