The end of the world draws nearer

Peter’s voices are getting louder as the countdown to Yom Kippur and the end of the world continues.  Peter introduces harsh rules, seizing possessions and banning contact with the outside world.

Tuesday September 12

I felt really contented and relaxed when I went to bed last night, and the next thing I was conscious of was the insistent farting of the shofar at dawn.  Even that intrusion into my slumber didn’t particularly annoy me and, despite the fact that New Year was a whole day closer, for once I didn’t feel anxious at all.

I was pleased to see Peter at Thought for the Day, which Jesus used as a general rallying call to prepare for the imminent end.  Peter looked drawn and pale, although his pallor was relative to his normal nut-brown tan and he still made me look the colour of a snowy mountain top by comparison.

He was ravenous and devoured a large breakfast of fish and bread while Jesus and I watched.

“So, Peter, what are your voices telling you now?  Are you still hearing from the Son of Man?” he eventually asked in a gentle tone.  I was aghast.  Peter had messed things up in a big way and was being treated like a long-lost favourite son.  I certainly wouldn’t have got away with it.

Peter said that the voice of the Son of Man had been getting louder and more insistent every day, and had even been waking him in the night, telling him we must redouble our efforts to be completely prepared for his coming on Yom Kippur.

“What more can we do?” asked Jesus.  “Everyone here has sold all they have and given it to the poor, and we pray and prepare day and night.”

“The people in the camp are too comfortable,” said Peter, not even noticing my raised eyebrows.  “Many of them still have money and possessions, and with that evil Cyrus looking after things they are becoming fat and lazy.”

“Oh come on,” I protested, fingering a thick fold of my cloak.  “Cyrus has saved the camp from complete chaos, and by division of labour and efficient and effective use of resources has optimised the outcome on minimal outlay.”

They both stared at me.  Then Jesus spoke.  “Tom, I assume you are using the words of the Devil, because I didn’t understand a word you just said.  I’ve always had my reservations about Cyrus and I think we should get rid of him.”

In the squabble that followed I eventually got the other two to agree to keep Cyrus on, but against my better judgement I consented to a search of the entire camp taking place so that all personal belongings could be confiscated.  We also agreed that more and longer prayer sessions would commence with immediate effect, that no contact with the outside world would be permitted and that anyone breaking the rules would be publicly named and humiliated.

I don’t think even Jesus appreciated that Cyrus was there as a guest and business partner of Mary, and that Mary was pouring her time and money into supporting the mission, so they couldn’t have got rid of him without ruining everything.  Maybe ruin was what Peter wanted.

Peter called a private indoor meeting of the apostles in the afternoon and made detailed plans for them to carry out a pre-dawn swoop on the camp tomorrow.  Anyone who resists being searched or refuses to give up their belongings, even members of the seventy, will be sent away, for the good of the rest of us.  Matthew and Judas both protested at being forced to behave so unpleasantly, but Peter and the fishermen pushed them against the wall and impressed upon them what would happen if they didn’t join in.

To my horror, Peter then announced that he and the fishermen were going to search the rest of us, just in case.  Most of us carried a purse containing a few small coins, and I expect I wasn’t the only one to have locks of hair and fragments of writing to remind us of our families.  I looked at Jesus, whose face was set.  He clearly didn’t want to take any chances and was happy to let Peter do what he wanted.

So, all purses were seized and emptied.  Any money was removed to be placed in the communal pot, while keepsakes were thrown into a small heap to be destroyed.  Even the purses themselves were kept.  Then we were patted down to make sure nothing was hidden in our robes, before being released in a state of silent shock.

I went to get my cloak from the pile we had left outside the door, but all cloaks had to be searched carefully too.

“You’ve got a nice thick cloak Thomas,” said Andrew, who came to mine last out of the three he had been allotted, fingering the generous seams and inspecting some recent stitching.  “We could sell this and get you an ordinary one…just kidding.  I know you burn easily in the sun, so I wouldn’t deprive you of your protection.”

He handed the cloak to me and I suppressed the urge to defecate which had been brought on by the latest events.  I was grateful that I had done such a careful job of sewing my gold coin into a seam where I wouldn’t lose it.  Others weren’t so lucky, and had further coins and personal belongings removed from pockets before getting their cloaks back.

Dinner this evening was a silent, sombre event.  People were apprehensive about tomorrow morning and upset by the change in leadership style, and I for one preferred to remain silent rather than risk saying anything out of line.  I received some black looks from Matthew, Judas and Bart.  They didn’t need to say anything.  As one of Jesus’ two close advisers I could have spoken out this afternoon but had said nothing.  While at least I hadn’t joined in what was almost a coup by Peter, I had certainly been guilty of standing passively by.  I was no longer campaign manager.

Later on, I caught Jesus and said I had promised to do an important job for Cyrus in the morning, and I wouldn’t be available to join in the search.  He reluctantly agreed to excuse me but looked terribly worried about it.  He must have been wondering how he would explain it to Peter.