A Christmas Message
Then one of the lawyers answered.
Rabbi, he said, saying thus you reproach us also.
Woe to you also, he said, you lawyers! For you laden men with burdens grievous to be borne, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
[And on Fox News, the night before, the reverend from Jerusalem, in his patronising tone, explained he did not hate the sinner, just the sin, how those with these sorts of desires were blessed to have a greater testing, greater trials that only made the victory over them a greater glory to--I walked out of the room, lit up a cigarette with shaking hand. I'd been in Capernaum a week now, been so readily adopted into the clan, I thought I was home. Mary and Salome vying to mother me, I was happy, accepted, just needed to find the right time. Then suddenly reality had spat in my face.]
Woe to you, lawyers! For you shut up the realm of Zion against men and have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering in.
[And on Fox News, the night before, the reverend spoke on of marriage as a sacred institution that simply couldn't be opened up to include such unions--and I felt Joshua's hand on my arm. Was I alright? And I told him of the reverend's so-called therapy, of the friends I'd had in Jerusalem who'd been sent away for treatment, close friends. And it wasn't right, and I knew my father was just like theirs, so if I was like that, if I was like that... And then I stopped.
So I never told anyone, I said.]
Woe to you! For you build the sepulchres of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the virtuous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Truly you bear witness that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets.
[And on Fox News, the night before, the reverend solemnly condemned all hate crimes, lamented tragic suicides--and Joshua led me back to stand before the TV screen, whispered a few words into my ears, and I saw the earth rolled back before my eyes. I saw the Roman features of Justinian blaming famine, earthquake, pestilence on the sinners, Valentinian ordering public immolation of the sinners, Constantius declaring unions born in love a crime, a sin.
I saw the world as he did.
The Empire never ended, Joshua said.]
Therefore the wisdom of the sublime said also, Behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes, and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them you shall scourge in your congregation houses, and harry them from city to city, that upon you may come all the virtuous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of virtuous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Johoiada, whom you slew between the temple and the altar.
For sure, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation. Fill up the measure of your fathers then. You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the sentence of Gehenna?
And as he said these things, the clerks and the Select began to urge him vehemently, provoking him to speak of many things, laying in wait for him, seeking to catch something from his mouth that they might accuse him.
[But the realm endures, said Joshua.]