Jesus passed the wine skin to Judas, who took a long drink before speaking. “Why not just settle down, get married, and have a family? This is not hard, Jesus. Men in love do it every day.” Pleased with his own eloquence, Judas slapped his friend on the back and laughed, a big grin taking over his wide face. Jesus retrieved the wine before answering.
The two men sat on a high grassy hill east of Nazareth, looking out through the haze toward the Sea of Galilee. A soft breeze from the distant Mediterranean was at their backs.
“Judas, don’t you see, I can’t love her.” The sea breeze wrapped his long black hair around his eyes, and he pushed in back with his right hand.
“But you do, and why can’t you? Is it your damned holy calling?” While Judas believed in his friend's calling and followed him, he always maintained that Jesus needed some balance in his life, that God expected a man to be a man.
“You know it is. I’m on a mission from God. I have to put the people back on the path.” Jesus was becoming agitated, waving his arms, his long, narrow face looking almost pained.
Judas was implacable. The burly man sat like a stone statue. “How long have I known you? Forever, it seems. You, me, Mary. I should have gone after her. Magdalene is a good woman; she loves you, and she’d make a good mother. A married man can still preach.”
“Judas, we’ve been through this. I’ve been called. I can feel it in my heart, my soul. There is only room for God’s work.” He looked up through the hazy sky as if trying to catch God's eye.
Judas laughed, a big robust and innocent laugh. “I have found that there is room enough in a man’s heart for many things, both serious and fun.”
Judas stood up and stretched is large frame. He reached for his friend’s hand and effortlessly pulled him up. He slipped a cap over his wavy, dark chestnut hair and announced, “I’m hungry. My mother will feed us if we hurry.” He slipped the wine skin over his shoulder, and the two men started down the hill. “I listen to your good advice on how to be right with God, but you never listen to my advice, or anyone’s, about how to be right with yourself.” He added, before he could start in again, "Let's skip down the hill?"
"Skip? What's the matter with you?"
"Nothing. Come on; lighten up." He started to skip away, his size making the action look humorous.
"Judas," he shouted after his friend, "Don't be childish." But the big man was already too far down the hill to hear. Jesus shook his head. "Oh, what the hell." And he took off, skipping down the hill, into the setting sun.
Causes Meade Fischer Supports
Big Sur Land Trust, Wilderness Society, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, State Parks initiative, Nature Conservacy