Cyrus explains about the gold coin and offers Tom the job of managing his interests, if the world doesn’t come to an end
Monday September 11
This morning’s Thought for the Day was a tour de force. Jesus was on top form. I was pleased because he used some of my latest writings, and the crowds were obviously pleased and relieved to have their leader back. He started with a batch of Luckies, listing entire classes of people whose fortunes would reverse in the near future: the poor, the hungry (not that we had any hungry around here now), the sad, and the rejected.
Then he told a long involved parable about a Good Samaritan who, despite coming from a distrusted region and not showing much respect for the detail of God’s law, did more practical good and demonstrated more of the true meaning of God’s message than any priests or teachers of the law. Even the ice-cool Cyrus reddened at the obvious compliment. The general message is that God judges you by what you do, not by your background. I had written it some time ago after Jesus first met Cyrus, but its use now seemed particularly appropriate after the huge efforts Cyrus had made recently to keep everything on track.
Afterwards Cyrus pulled me to one side and suggested we take a walk. We strolled slowly through the vineyards, which were now immaculately tidy and very quiet, and headed out towards the hills where our only company was a few sheep.
“Did you write that parable?” he asked. I told him I did, and started to explain how it wasn’t meant to be taken literally, but he stopped me.
“I got it, don’t worry. You can obviously write well, and I know now that you can be trusted completely. That was my gold coin in the food parcel you took to your family, and the knowledge that it would keep your wife and children out of poverty for a very long time must have made you extremely tempted to keep it. I want you to have it.”
He brushed aside my protests and continued.
“Think of it as a retainer. I want you to come and work for me. When all this eschatological nonsense dies down after the current world order doesn’t come to an end on Yom Kippur, and the same old corrupt rich men remain in charge, it will be hard for people to go back to their families, their friends and their old jobs, but after everything you have sacrificed to support Jesus you deserve better. I need someone to administer my growing business interests in Galilee, someone to draft and check legal agreements, check no-one is diddling me and so on. Just so long as you don’t write any crazy agreements without my say-so…”
I gave him a puzzled look but it was my turn to blush when he pulled out a familiar-looking document from under his cloak. He explained how Mary had never actually signed the agreement with Matthias to give her land away after a year.
“As a matter of fact I went over to see the man about ten days ago, and explained how his life could become very difficult if he pursued his unreasonable claim against Mary’s land. He turned out to be a man I could do business with, and I ended up agreeing to take out a lease over a nice big sloping piece of his land right next to where I wanted to plant new vines on Mary’s land.
“It’s because I’m an outsider. I don’t have to buy into the established view that nobody can break out of the class they were born into, or that the only way the rich can get richer is by taking more from the poor, who already have to work twelve hours a day just to keep their families from starving. If people could change their attitudes and break away from doing everything exactly the same way it has always been done down the generations, we could all be better off, but who’s going to listen to a godless Samaritan? They’d rather believe that God somehow allowed them to get into this mess so that he could then get them out of it by saving the downtrodden poor and punishing the cruel, greedy and complacent rich. Anyway, I don’t want to become a revolutionary and risk my neck, so I’ll just quietly do things my way and hope that one day the world will come round to my way of thinking.”
He stopped briefly to laugh at my look of incomprehension, then continued.
“Thomas, this could become one of the prime wine-producing regions in this part of the Roman Empire, and I intend to make the most of it. Take a detailed look at the lease for me and let me have any final drafting points before we sign it. The others can plan for the end of the world without you for a couple of days.”
Accepting the gold seemed an odd thing to do, given that it would soon be of no use to me. After all, the pointlessness of storing up riches on earth had been a central part of our message, but I kept it nonetheless. In just over two weeks I will be on my cloud while Cyrus weeps bitter tears of regret at not having believed, but it seemed rude not to accept such a generous payment from such a trusting man.
We arrived back around lunchtime to find Jesus and Mary talking in the shade of the courtyard. Jesus seemed pleased to see me again and said he wanted to make further plans this afternoon, while Mary was keen to discuss farming and camping matters with Cyrus. After a quick lunch of bread and water Jesus and I went off to talk, leaving them to their arrangements.