Sunday, September 21, 2014

The heart aching to be broken for all


They did not speak for some time. The women's laments rose up from every threshing floor. The old men, propped on their staffs, watched the wheat run off with the water. The farmers stood dark-faced and motionless in the middle of their own mown and devastated fields. Some remained silent; others cursed.

The son of Mary sighed. "Ah, if there was only one man who had the strength to starve to death so that the people would not die of hunger!"

Jacob glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "If you were able to become wheat," he scoffed, "so that the people could eat you and be saved, would you do it?"

"Who wouldn't?" said the son of Mary.

Jacob's hawk eyes flickered, as did his thick, protruding lips. "Me," he answered.

The son of Mary was silent. The other took offense. "Why should I perish?" he growled. "It was God who sent the flood. What did I do wrong?" He looked fiercely at the sky. "Why did God do it? How did the people offend him? I don't understand -- do you, son of Mary?"

"Don't ask, my brother: it's a sin. Until a few days ago I too asked, but now I understand. This was the serpent which corrupted the first creatures and made God banish us from Paradise."

"What do you mean by 'this'?"

"Asking questions."

"I don't understand," said Zebedee's son, and he quickened his pace.

Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ,  tr. by P.A. Bien (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998), pp. 119-20.