The main room of a modest house in Damascus around 70 CE. Marcos is standing at a writing desk, over which are spread many smaller and larger pieces of papyrus and vellum. In front of him is a sheet of vellum on which he is writing. He is a young, dark-haired man, vigorous and even impatient in his movements. His wife, Rachel, hovers in the background, trying to get his attention.
Marcos: Yes, what is it, Rachel?
Rachel: It’s the time for eating. I’ve cooked some beans, and there’s salad, and bread and fruit….
Marcos: But I’m just completing this section…it won’t take long…..
Rachel: The food’s ready, why not leave your story till after?
Marcos: You don’t get it, do you? With the help of God’s spirit I’m writing the good news of Jesus Messiah. I can’t just leave it for food….
Rachel: Even God knows that his prophets can’t work without food. Think of Elijah and the ravens!
Marcos: I’m just in the middle of a story about Jesus and a leper…
Rachel: …..where the leper says to Jesus, “You can heal me if you want.”
Marcos: Who told you that?
Rachel: “And behold there came a leper to him and knelt before him, saying, If you want you can make me clean.” That’s it I think, that’s how it’s told in Damascus. I like it because it’s so true of lepers, they can’t believe anyone wants to help them
Marcos: My version doesn’t have these words, and it comes from people who were taught by Peter himself. What’s more I’ve written it already, I don’t want corrections, and anyway it would just hold me up…
Rachel: God has blessed you with food and a wife to cook it, so come now…
( she is interrupted by a knock at the door)
Rachel: (opening door) Hello, blessings, – it’s a stranger- welcome, sir, come in, we are just going to eat, beans and bread, there’s some wine too, please join us.
Jesus. You haven’t even asked who I am!
Rachel: I thought you’d tell us…
Jesus: I’m Jesus of Nazareth, thanks for your welcome.
Marcos: You should watch your mouth, stranger, you are not Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus: How do you know?
Marcos: Because he’s….
Jesus: Were you going to say, dead, Marcos?
Marcos: No I wasn’t, I was going to say, with God.
Jesus: I am with God but God is here.
Rachel: Welcome Jesus, we both welcome you. Will you eat with us, over here on the cushions, you can recline there and Marcos will join you. He was just finishing part of your story.
Jesus: Yes, I know, that’s why I came. It’s very bold of him to write the story of the good news.
Marcos: So you know about my work!
Jesus. One day all the world will know it. Yes, I know all the questions you’ve asked, all the stories and sayings you’ve collected.
Marcos: But now you’ve come, you can tell me what to write.
Jesus: No, I’m happy with what the people remember…but I was going to ask….
Rachel: Jesus, there’s beans and salad, and here’s the wine skin….
Marcos: Blessed be God who gives us the fruits of the earth, blessed be my household and the stranger who is within our gates.
Jesus: Amen. Thank you, Rachel. Yes, Marcos, I was going to ask if you might slow the story a little…
Marcos: Slow it?
Jesus: Take the section you’re at today. What’s in it?
Marcos. Well, you go to the synagogue in Capernaum, where you heal a man with an unclean spirit, and you teach the people, then you go home and people bring you all the sick of the village and you cure them, then early in the morning you go out to pray, then a leper comes asking to be healed…
Jesus: Yes, that poor man who said, if you want to, you can make me clean. Yes, and how many times have you used the word, immediately?
Marcos: Well, twice, no, three times I think,
Jesus: I know what you want to do, Marcos, you want to show the good news making a difference..
Marcos: I want to show you making a difference, battling against the evil…..
Jesus: Good, but if you don’t watch you’ll turn me into something inhuman….
Marcos: But you are…. What do you mean?
Jesus: Well I remember, that same day, when we came from synagogue, Peter invited us all to his house, and went there, Peter, Andrew, James, John and me. Five of us, and he hadn’t warned his wife, so you can imagine she was a bit put out, but she welcomed us, just like you did, Rachel, and put food in front of us.
Marcos: But I can’t put that in the story, I mean, nothing happened……
Jesus: That’s what I mean Marcos, it wasn’t dramatic, it was just people together in Capernaum. I wasn’t rushing on immediately….( he begins to chuckle)
Rachel: Why are you chuckling Jesus?
Jesus: I just remembered. You see Peter’s wife’s father had died and so her mother had moved in with him and his family. Not easy, when the one who’s used to being head woman has to take second place to her daughter. Now when we arrived Peter’s wife Naomi apologised for her mother. She had a fever and was unable to join us. But I remembered her as the same age as my mother, and I thought she might need some attention. So when nobody was looking I sneaked behind the curtain and spoke to her. ” Ah, mother Rebecca, there you are, I had looked forward so much to seeing you again, you always looked so well and had such presence, more than the younger women we see now! And Zebedee’s boys, they said it would be a great feast if you were in charge. So here I am to offer you my hand, to bring you to the table! ” “Jesus bar Joseph,” she said, “You were always a rogue with the gift of the gab!” And she rose and joined us. How about that for your story, Marcos? This is splendid food, my favourite beans, Rachel….
Rachel: Still the gift of the gab, Jesus! Have some more wine. I’m sure Marcos will use it.
Jesus: Blessings on your story, Marcos, however you tell it. It will last as long as the world lasts.