The disciples start to fall out among themselves, especially when it comes to giving all their own money away
Thomas, Friday July 21
Today began uneventfully. Everyone was talking about yesterday, and with the Sabbath starting this evening no one had the inclination to start on anything new.
Jesus and I had a good chat about the central message of the mission, and I think we’re just about there. It’s the usual ‘poorest and most disadvantaged will be first’, and the need to be free from sin, with a kind of pre-approved preferential status given to people who can be identified as Jesus’ followers when God arrives to begin the new age. I quite like it.
Our chat was disturbed by raised voices outside, but it wasn’t those coarse fishermen as I would have expected. It was the educated Judas having a go at the wealthy Matthew.
“It’s all very well giving all your money to the poor in principle,” he yelled, his face redder than my recovering sunburn, his pointing finger longing to poke Matthew in the chest, “but I’m trying to manage a budget for thirteen men here.”
I corrected my former impression that Matthew was wealthy and waited for more.
“Why do you think we allowed a filthy tax collector to join us? It was your money we wanted, not your renouncement of your former despicable behaviour.”
Jesus pushed past me through the doorway and placed himself between the men, facing Judas.
“Apologise now,” he said, “and just hope that Matthew will show you the same forgiveness that he showed his servant, forgiveness that impressed even me.”
Judas mumbled something and Matthew, clearly a good man despite his despicable past career, accepted it.
“Anyway, we can rely on our other followers to share what they have with us, and above all we have the support of my good wife,” said Jesus, who hadn’t noticed Mary in the doorway behind him.
“Um, I was going to have a private word about that,” said Mary, stepping into the light like an actor about to make an important speech, “but seeing as you’ve brought the matter up, I’ll mention it now. It’s good that Judas and Tom are around, as they need to know for organising everyone.”
She paused, checking that she had our undivided attention. She had, and I noticed other disciples converging on the courtyard.
“I’m quite happy to feed you all and let you sleep here from time to time, but I can’t afford to let you use my small farm as your permanent base. It’s too disruptive, and it costs more than you might think. I also have a boundary dispute with my neighbour Matthias, and having you lot here all the time will not only antagonise him, it will distract me and use up funds I need to use to fight my case. I’m sorry. I do know some other independent women who might be willing to help support your very important cause, but you need to start doing more to help yourselves.”
“It’s all right,” I said, after the silence had outstayed its welcome. “We’ll sort something out. It’s not the end of the world.”
Who said what after that is a bit difficult to recall, but my carelessly-chosen words started everyone arguing about everything, or at least about important things such as money, food and the end of the world. We agreed to leave on Sunday morning, after the Sabbath, and start sleeping in tents or at the houses of followers and supporters. Mary said we could stay now and again, but preferably not all of us at once, and she would have a word with her friends as soon as she could. The disciples as a group agreed that Mary had been extremely generous and tolerant, and thanked her profusely. Jesus had a whispered argument with Mary during which they both kept looking in my direction for some reason.
I said I would make dealing with Matthias a priority. Jesus said Mary should not only give the man the land but offer him twice as much as he asked for. I agreed with Mary that as a major supporter, she needed to maintain what little wealth she had and shouldn’t have to adhere to the same strict rules as disciples and followers. Then we had a heated discussion about whether supporters would qualify for automatic saving alongside followers when the end of the age arrived. We eventually agreed that we would identify the main supporters to God or his representative so that they could be given the same privileges as followers, and that these supporters should be called associate followers to avoid confusion. And so it went on. I’ve ended up writing far more than I intended to, but fortunately the sun is about to set, so I will have to stop anyway.