A journey to the cross is a journey to repentance. It’s a journey to deep personal change. Will you take this journey with me?
In today’s reading, Marcus the centurion, meets with his fellow centurion, Renaldo, to discuss their response to what they see as the threat of a Jewish uprising led by a messianic prophet from Galilee.
“We have to do something. This Jewish prophet is too dangerous.”
“That’s why I came over. I have a plan. It came to me last night.”
“What about Flavio?” Renaldo resumed stroking Keeper. The dog’s silky ears twitched beneath his gentle hand.
“Forget Flavio. He’ll be drunk for the rest of the week. Herod’s coming down about midweek. There’ll be a big wine- swilling bash for the upper crust. He’ll sober up just long enough so he can bow and scrape for Pilate at the right moment. Forget him. We have to save our own hides.”
“All right. So what’s this plan?”
“It’s not some great master scheme, but I do have a few ideas.”
“Yes, get on with it,” he said with obvious interest.
“Well, the way I see it, we have way too little information about whatever is going on here. If there’s some Passover plot being hatched, we need to be the first to know about it. Not like yesterday. I don’t like surprises. Especially Jewish Messiah surprises.”
Renaldo scowled in agreement. “So why the trunk?” he asked.
I had set it down after our greeting, and now it was Keeper, sniffing about it, that brought it to Renaldo’s attention.
“This is one way I can get some information.”
I opened the trunk and pulled out several items of clothing, among them a Jewish prayer shawl and several phylacteries. Holding one of the fringed garments to myself, I announced, “Today I am Benjamin. Benjamin from Alexandria, and I’ve come to celebrate the Passover here, in the holy city, Jerusalem.”
All this was done with a thick Aramaic accent and a mock reverence that left Renaldo slapping his thigh in laughter.
“Marcus, Marcus! Only you could pull this off!” Then he added in a more thoughtful tone, “I could look in on some of our usual sources. They’re bound to know a thing or two about this donkey man.”
“Now you’re thinking.” With a glance to the eastern sky, I added, “Look, we don’t have much time. The sun’s almost up. All my men know their assigned duties, so if you could just look in on them at the barracks, that would be great. I should be back in uniform by noon, and I could meet you there to discuss what we’ve found.”
“No problem . . . Benjamin!” he said, shaking his head and grinning, no doubt contemplating the sight of me in religious garb.
I began to place the clothing back in the trunk, and then I turned to my friend. “Oh, by the way, Renaldo, could you check in on Claudius at the Golden Gate? I expect our visiting prophet will be coming back into town by the same way today. Claudius might need a hand.”
“No problem, Marcus.” And then he added in a more serious tone, “Now, you be careful.”
“Yes, well,” I said, sighing, “I think we’ve all got to be careful.”
I swung the trunk up under my arm. With a quick wave of my free hand, I said, “I’m off for an appointment with Jesus of Nazareth.”