Rambling through the back corridors of my mind is the story that brought me to Jerusalem. I was a boy no more than five or six years old. A captive of raiders that came to my father’s farm in Iberia to pillage and plunder all in their sight. I was one of their victims until I became a burden rather than a prize. Left to die on a desert trail as a loss too weak and sick to deserve saving. Migrant farm workers salvaged me and nurtured me in the fields of their labor. There I grew up with no memory of how I came to be where I was. How I got here and haunting memories of my beloved mother and father in a distant land I knew not where it was. Or if it was at all. Somehow I knew I would find them one day. I was unable to yield my faith to man invented Gods. My reverence to graven images was impossible. From the fields I learned that there were no gods in my life. Only nature was worthy of my allegiance to its rules. Nature was the undisputed master of life not some stone or clay god invented by zealous men for personal gain.
For stealing two fish and a honeycomb I was sentenced to three years at hard labor. It didn’t seem fair. It was my first and only effort as a thief. What little I owned, I earned with the sweat and strength of my body. Serou, the Egyptian master of public works paid my debt and fine as a thief and never asked to be repaid. I will always owe a debt of gratitude and loyalty to Serou. He saw merit in me and invested a full purse of patience and guidance bringing me to where I am. He gave me the freedom of my thoughts and guided me into straight paths when I was in error and never raised his voice. I never said it, but he was the father I lost in my infancy. He was a pillar of strength and although I never leaned on it, I found comfort in knowing he was there. He denied me nothing within reason. He gave me his full trust and never asked I return it in equal sums.
I am Onofrio el Segundo, native of Iberia, adopted son of the Egyptian Serou, master of public works in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). For reasons still not clear to me I had been a favored recipient of the miracles of Jesus. To pay my debt of honor, I accepted Serou’s advice to use my experience at a building facility where slaves and free men manufactured instruments of punishment. There was much crime in Yerushalayim and I answered a call within me to aid in the reduction of criminal activity. I could draw pay for my labor and pay Serou for my freedom. Without malice or forethought I built the cross on which Jesus suffered and slowly died. For that laborious effort I suffered an enormous soul wrenching guilt. The penalty was an awesome fear that God would seek to destroy me for having built the instrument of His son’s death. An experience I will bear for life. Pain I will never forget. Then came forgiveness of such magnitude that I owe reimbursement to God, personally. And I am proud to say, I always pay my debts.
Jesus was fully grown while I was a near grown boy. It’s safe to say in separate parts of town we grew up together and yet apart. My work as Serou’s personal slave boy led me to infinite places where the Nazarene did his work. He was everywhere, seldom in the same place twice. His followers posted themselves close to his work as protectors against overzealous people seeking his favor and guard against them that would do him harm.
I will not say that my sense of guilt is completely erased since there are times when I feel the presence of Jesus standing nearby. I have re-lived that terrible day of his crucifixion many times. Always grateful to wake up in his forgiveness and still question the true reason for all that Jesus went through. I’ve not been able to justify why his heavenly father would sacrifice his son for sinful and ungrateful strangers. But, then I’m only a man unable to comprehend the will of God. And I know now that Jesus made a journey through earth to achieve a Godly mandate for the sake of us all.
Married and blissfully happy I live with my wife Senobia, the jewel of Jerusalem as she is often called. She had allowed her golden bronze hair to grow to her waist and often had her step mother, Camia braid it and arrange it atop her head. She still used a berry stain on her lips and a minimum amount of other beauty aids. She was delightfully formed by angels in heaven and her natural beauty was widely known. Bluish/green eyes like waves of the Mediterranean Sea. Three children had not destroyed her girlish figure and in fact what little weight she gained made her look even more attractive, in my eyes. Camia is an experienced mid-wife and treasure chest of many feminine secrets. After Senobia delivered our children, she was carefully attended by Camia and retained very few abdominal stretch marks. Short durations of breast feeding and Camia applied her midwife magic to keep her breasts as close to a youthful appearance as possible. Camia was her childhood companion and taught her many feminine things vital to her appearance. It grieved my heart to learn that she would no longer wear her hair in platted braids atop her head. She was a living replica of her murdered mother Sintia and her appearance moved her father to enormous grief. In Senobia, he saw his wife Sintia alive again. Tremiyo, Senobia’s father and husband of Camia is Stewart to the vast Estate of Serou. A responsible position he held for almost twenty years. A distinguished man in his golden years, full of moxie and good spirits. With the exception of an occasional lapse in good cheer, the man was the fountain of positive thoughts and guidance. His hair had gone almost all gray and added distinction to his position. His flowing robes and emblem of his position always centered on his chest made him look like a king come to call. He never flaunted his authority, it was clear without question.
The matter of Mary Salome wandered into my mind. I had only heard of Salome as a dancer at Herod’s court and had recently learned that the world was full of women named Mary and Salome. A whole population with that name existed. I spoke to my father-in-law, Tremiyo about it as he played with his first grandson in the court yard. His daughter Senobia and I are parents to baby Horacio. Tremiyo gave my plea some thought and left my son, Horacio go play by himself. Senobia, my wife of four years came with our daughter named Sintia after her Greek mother and still a warm spot in her father’s heart. Close to four years and we were parents to three children. Horacio, I named after my father, may he rest in eternal peace. Our first little girl immediately became Tremiyo’s favorite child. He claimed the infant looked like his daughter Senobia and his deceased wife, Sintia. He claimed the child was a god-sent answer to his countless prayers, now come true. Our second girl became Angelica on Serou’s insistence. My foster father was not about to be left out of the proceedings and bullied us to have his way. With tongue in cheek and much laughter our second
girl became Angelica granddaughter of the Egyptian, Serou Master of public works in Judea. My foster father after deciding that I had some merit worth saving adopted me to fill a spot in his life. He wanted a son he would never have with his wife the lady Clavenia. I resented the fate that brought me to this place of hellish heat and strange customs. In time I realized that the fate that brought me here was part of a greater plan. The men that were instrumental in my fate were simply tools to a greater purpose. Serou is a generous father and influential spoke within the wheel of power of Judea. As master of public works, nothing gets built without his knowledge and approval. By choice he is not a member of the Hebrew council that governs the region. But they seek his advice and guidance on important issues. He is generous with his time and knowledge and shares what he knows for the good of all.
Serou joined us as we sat in the shaded and ample court yard behind Tremiyo’s home. Birds fluttered in groups and singles before a peaceful canopy of muted blue. The desert breeze slowly pushed a few white clouds like lambs to pasture across the infinite sky. Senobia sent refreshments and without forethought we commenced to talk about Jesus. Serou still hung onto his Egyptian gods and was wise to respect the convictions of Tremiyo, his long-time friend and Stewart of his estate and slave compound. With me sat an Egyptian dedicated to the gods and deities of his ancestors and Tremiyo a devout follower of the laws of Abraham, Moses and most recently, Jesus. And myself, a young man misplaced by Viking raiders, at the same table breaking bread, having wine and talking current events. World of wonders. “It’s come to my attention that the road bandit and insurrectionist Bar Abba was
killed during the planned highjacking of a Roman caravan. How true it is, I do not know yet. However, my reporter is never wrong. I feel safe to accept his word as matter of fact. A battle ensued and in the end his band was conquered and Bar Abba lost. His body was badly damaged by battle wounds and fire. Only his few remaining followers identified him in haste. Among other casualties he was quickly buried since he had no immediate relatives in the area. Some said he was from Greece and his real name was Jesus Bar Abbas. Before the raid, he was celebrating his good luck and new lease on life while people struggled to take the dead Nazarene off his cross. The ladies of the night will sorely miss Bar Abbas. “Serou commented soberly while fishing through the tray for another tasty snack then pouring wine all around.
“Bar Abba, son of the father”, has finally met his fate”, Tremiyo sighed. Nobody really knows if that is his real name. He is even called Jesus by some people. The man courted death once too often. His escape from the cross during the Passover was a near miracle. It has been said that he had the courage to go to Golgotha and watch the Nazarene suffer and die on a cross intended for him. That requires a very cold heart. Barabbas was an earthly man. I doubt seriously that he bowed to a God or believed in one. He believed in himself and indulged himself with all that his ill-gotten ways provided. His cleverness served him well until he cheated lady luck once too often and she caught up to him.”
Tremiyo’s contribution only refreshed Onofrio’s sense of guilt. He found escape by corralling his run around son and brought him unto his lap. Senobia came to claim her children. She knew Serou could use a careless vulgarity from time to time and she did not want
Horacio to learn any of them at his early age. My wife’s strict paternal guidance often showed up. As it did, today.
I learned to thank the son of God, Jesus for the miracles in my life. I wept like a child the night our son Horacio was born. Camia, faithful and loving step mother to Senobia used her vast midwife experience and in spite of all her efforts we were losing Senobia. She was deathly pale from loss of blood. Her lips looked parched. Her brow sparkled from perspiration. Her eyes were portraits of pain. She was weak and hardly recognized me as close as I was to her. The only star in my heaven was near death. I had seen enough agony at Golgotha to last a life time and would not leave my wife to suffer alone. I gripped her hand and whispered in her ear, “I’m here my love and so is Jesus. I invited him to the birth of our child.” A faint smile adorned her lovely face and the next gentle push delivered our son. She sighed in relief and looked at me with soulful eyes that increased my torrent of tears. She was safe, she was almost out of danger, the child was bawling and Camia looked to heaven and thanked somebody. Soon Camia’s helpers came to care for Senobia and I was shoved out of the room. Perhaps it was not the manly thing to do, but I went outside and knelt before a mantle of countless stars. I thanked the nameless father of Jesus with all my strength. Senobia’s beauty of mind, heart and soul had multiplied in my life. She was more than the gem of Jerusalem, she was my personal Goddess. She later told me that when I came to her side and held her hand, she felt my strength warmly flow into her body. And I knew again that the Devine healer from Nazareth was alive and hard at work. Senobia was a devout follower of Jesus and he answered her plea through me. Since that day our two little girls arrived with little or no stress to their mother.
Bar Abba was a living legend and Rome prepared to meet his successor with added zeal. The governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate was informed that Bar Abba favored the overthrow of Rome. That’s what spies are paid to do. He also knew full well to whom Bar Abba answered and who bought his stolen armaments. He saw clearly how the council showed their favor by demanding Bar Abba’s release. They obviously roused the crowd against the street healer from Nazareth. Pilate’s favor in Rome lost some of its glow from that decision. He set free a known murdering criminal and crucified a demented street healer. Jesus was a petty concern to Rome. No king would claim a penniless carpenter as family. The whole world knew nobody could build stone kingdoms in the sky and when you died, you were dead forever. Pilate grew angry at anything Jewish for their manipulating schemes. Pilate overreacted on occasion and paid a second price for those decisions. On the other hand, he was thankful for the childish quarrels within the Hebrew leaders. If these sometimes fierce disagreements continued, the seven tribes of Israel would never re-unite. They couldn’t even agree on how or which God to worship.
There was not one council member suffering from poverty. Through taxes, permits, licenses, solicited contributions, fees and under hand extortion they increased the power of their purses. They had ample gold to pay the traitor, Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus and the soldiers that slept through the theft of Jesus’ body without suffering monetary loss. Wealth had become their scepter of power.
I felt left out listening to Serou and Tremiyo speak so knowledgeably about all that moved in Judea. I finally found a spot into which I could fit.
“It’s been much talked about that soldiers slept through the rolling back of the stone before the burial vault. To move that massive rock without making a tell-tale noise is impossible. Serou and I went there in response to the rumors. I went inside the tomb and inspected it as thorough as my apprehension permitted. I was truly scared but I was looking for something of vital importance. The floor was dusty. I looked for busy foot prints. There were none. I went as deep as I could look for something that a thief could leave behind. A coin, a rag, a pin or brooch. A piece of straw or grass. A crushed stone? Nothing. The thieves would have to work in total darkness and absolute silence. I looked for a candle stub or a snuffed out torch. Smoke on the low ceiling. There was none and yet the mantle that covered Jesus was neatly folded and left on the shelf where He laid. I heard an angelic voice say, “No human thief is that immaculate.”
There would be overwhelming fear that the sentries would awaken and the thieves would meet their death at spear point. None of that occurred. And yet, the corpse of Jesus disappeared. The stone rolled back in total silence. The body slipped out from the cover laid upon him. The sentries reported that an apparition came down from heaven, waved the massive stone aside in one graceful gesture then lifted Jesus on an invisible litter into the unfathomed skies. The sentries reported that the apparition then sat on the stone as if to mock their puny strength. Then slowly faded into the infinite sky. Now, I say to you, No crude Roman’s imagination is that eloquent. I was subject to their mentality while I lived among them at the villa and I take what I learned from them to be a model for their kind. They would say that Jupiter blasted the rock door to pieces and rode away on a prize horse with Jesus laid across the saddle. That surmises the Roman imagination.”
And behold, there was a great earthquake; for
An angel of the Lord descended from heaven
And came and rolled back the stone, and sat
Upon it. His appearance was like lightening,
And his raiment white as snow. And for fear of
Him the soldiers trembled and became like dead men.
Matthew 28: 2-4 NIV
I asked my mentors a simple question, “Who is the down in the core Jesus? My experience with him is notable but I still wonder who he really is or was. I asked my foster father for knowledge he would possess.”
But questions were rambling through my mind, and I asked, “If Isis could raise her mortal lover from the grave, why cannot a godly father raise his beloved son after being penalized in such a torturous manner? If the father of Jesus that some people say is named “I am that I am” can raise his beloved son from three days dead, can he not also grant Jesus immortality? Answer me that gentlemen. It’s talk on the street that God created man in his own image. If that be so, then repairing the damage to the body of Jesus would be elementary. Thus the resurrection occurred. He appeared healthy to all his witnesses. I have listened to tales on the street for too long to ignore what I heard and saw for myself. The tomb was empty. Jesus was gone. My son, Horacio was delivered in one painless stroke. And Senobia, so close to death is alive. These are facts I can accept. “
Next day … the chief priests and the
Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said,
“Sir, we remember how that imposter said,
While he was still alive, “After three
Days I will rise again.” Therefore order
the sepulcher to be made secure until
the third day, lest his disciples go and
steal him away, and tell the people “He
has risen from the dead.”
Matthew 27: 62-64 ESV
“As you say, Isis did resurrect Osiris from the dead for her worldly yearnings. She wanted him alive to be her lover and life’s companion. We seem surrounded by the miracles of rebirth and couriers from the gods to lowly earth and deliver life. Such as we all see in Senobia and the children.”
At that moment three men looked at and admired the lovely Senobia playing ball with Horacio, Baby Sintia making an effort to walk and be part of the game. While the tiny baby Angelica laid on a blanket in a field of grass. Happiness rebounded in Senobia and even the birds felt it, since they flew, fluttered and chirped cheerfully nearby. No greater scene existed on earth for her father, Tremiyo. It added joy to his heart that his wife, Camia would come to pick up baby Angelica and shelter her from the glow of the sky. Add to his already happy heart Senobia coming to him and caress his face to sweetly ask, “What can I get you, paw paw?” He nodded his head and a kiss on his forehead made his heart quiver with affection. Life was wonderful.
But we’re starting the story in the middle. We should regress and relate the tale from the beginning.” Serou looked at Tremiyo as if asking permission to proceed. With a nod of friendly approval Serou, the knowledgeable Egyptian began to relate his findings of a lifetime. Comfortably seated in Tremiyo’s back yard he admired Senobia playing with her children not far away. Serou appeared to be searching for a place to start the story unfolding since the dawn of time. Serou’s forefathers knew well the Hebrew history and the miracles of Moses. Such miracles put the Egyptian God, Ra to shame. Such displays of heavenly might made the Goddess Isis bow her head. It behooved Egyptian scholars to know the laws of Abraham and the ordeal of Moses. They are aware of how modern Jews had divorced from the miracles their God Jehovah delivered during their liberation from slavery.[Next episode]
This is the first installment of the new serialized novel by Andy Garza, The Gathering of the Eternal Five. Andy Garza is also the author of The Scarab and the Cross, available from Energion Publications, various online retailers, and in a variety of ebook formats.
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