j. l. navarro

Remembering the Crucifixion

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Dearest Penelope,


I am currently staying in Alexandria visiting with Philo, the Pythagorean.  He's a charmer when it comes to mathematics, a very learned man indeed.  I'm sure his intellectual and spiritual precepts will bring the Jewish and Christian worlds closer together.  Moreover, in the long run, I see his teachings paving the way for the philosophical and theological foundation of the Christian church.


In your last letter, you ask me about the crucifixion of Jesus and what this might mean for his followers.  When I saw him on the cross that day, I realized that their struggle was just beginning.  And though I see strenuous difficulties ahead, I know that they will succeed in their endeavors over the course of time.  As you know, I had met the man in Bethlehem when he was a newborn infant, swaddled in a manger, decades before.  I was present with two colleagues to witness the fulfilling of ancient Hebrew prophecy.  As Gentiles, our visit embraced his arrival beyond what Jews hold spiritually true for themselves.  Though they are hailed as the Chosen, we have annexed the Messianic prophecy of his birth into our own spiritual destiny.  It was indeed the beginning of a legacy that will unfold into the culmination of the prevailing pagan mindset, and which will ultimately, in time, reach the four corners of the earth.  It never occurred to me that it would end this way for him, however, on that barren hill with two other men meeting their end nailed to pieces of timber.  Not by chance was I present in Jerusalem during the Passover.  I am a Magi and I do not believe that circumstances happen blindly.  As I said before, I could not help thinking that fate had nevertheless heaved us all a dark-humored twist when the crowd chose to free Barabus over Jesus.  As you may recall, Barabus, the rabble-rouser, is the one I wrote you about in my last letter.  It struck me that they had chosen, metaphorically, what they have always had; a life filled with strife, turmoil, and conflict.  I'm sure there will be an unending debate as to who is to blame for the events of that day.  But who can really be blamed?  Who can really claim to believe in free will under these conditions if it is prophecy itself that is the underpinnings of the whole occurrence?  Because of this, I was troubled to hear that Judas Iscariot, a tax collector and member of his inner-circle, had hanged himself for informing on Jesus the night before.  It seems that the Sanhedrin would not have gotten their hands on him if it had not been for Judas.  In any case, I am not altogether sure that I believe the story of his suicide.  After all, he was the much-needed catalyst of this whole episode.  It's understandable that they could not continue his membership in their select group after what had occurred.  But it must be understood that nothing would have come about if not for him.  Myths for the sake of admonishment must rise under these conditions, if only to serve as illustration for the coarser minded. And perhaps the story of his death is designed to meet such a need.




This story is included in The Blood Cake Vendor and Other Stories.