passages from the gospel according to jesus christ, jose saramago

"Without anyone's noticing, Mary got to her feet. Night had fallen. There was no moon in the clear sky, only the twinkling stars, which sent out a kind of echo, a muffled, barely audible hum which Joseph's wife would feel on her skin and in her bones, impossible to explain, like a furtive voluptuous shiver that lingers. She crossed the yard and looked out. She could see no one. The gate was closed, but there was a vibration in the air, as if someone had just run or flown past, leaving only a fleetin gsing that would leave others baffled."

"The piercing trill of an unseen bird filled the air, or perhaps it was a shepherd whistling, but surely not at this hour, when the flocks are asleep and only the dogs are keeping watch. Yet the night, calm and remote from all living creatures, showed that supreme indifference which we associate with the universe, or that other absolute indiffence, the indifference of emptiness, which will remain, if there is such a thing as emptiness, when all has been fulfilled. the night ignored the meaning and rational order that appear to govern the world in those moments when we can still believe the world was made to harbor us and our insanity. the terrifying dream grew unreal and absurd, was dispelled by the night, the shining moon, and the presence of his child asleep in the manger. joseph was awake and as much in command of himself and his thoughts as any man could be, his thoughts were now charitable and peaceful, yet just as capable of monstrosity, for example his gratitude to god that his beloved child had been spared by the soldiers who had butchered so many innocents."

delirious, bumping into everything, overturning fruit stalls and bird cages, even a money changer's table, and oblivious to the cries of fury from the vendors in the Temple, Joseph is concerned only that his child's life is in danger. he cannot imagine why anyone would want to do such a thing, he is desperate, he chose to father a child and now someone wants to take it from him, one desire is as valid as another, to do and undo, to tie and untie, to create and destroy."

"this man who carries god's prostitute with him has nowhere to go except the house of a prostitute. [marymag] he cannot return to his lock, Begone with you, were Pastor's last words to him, nor can he return home, We don't believe you, his family told him, and his steps begin to falter, he is afraid to proceed, to arrive. it is as if he were back in the desert, Who am I, but the mountains and valleys do not answer, nor the heavens, which ought to know everything. if he goes back now and repeats the question, his mother will say, you're my son, but I don't belive you, so the time has come for Jesus to sit on this stone that has been reserved for him since the world began, to sit and shed tears of misery and loneliness. who knows, perhaps the Lord will appear to him once more, even if only in the form of smoke, all He has to say is, Come, there's no need for all this weeping and wailing, what's the matter with you, we all have our bad moments, and there's one important thing I should have mentioned earlier, everything is relative in life, and every misfortune becomes bearable when compared with something worse, so dry your tears and behave like a man, you've already made your peace with your father, what more do you want, and as for your friction with your mother, I'll deal with that when the time comes, what didn't please Me much was that business with Mary Magdalene, a common whore, but then you're still young and might as well enjoy life while you can, the one thing doesn't rule out the other, there's a time for eating and a time for fasting, a time for sinning and a time for repenting, a time for living and a time for dying. Jesus wiped his tears on the back of his hand, blew his nose, who knows where, and yes, there is no point spending the whole day here, the desert is what it is, it surrounds us, in some ways protects us, but when it comes to giving, it gives us nothing, it simply looks on, and when the sun suddenly clouds over, so that we find ourselves thinking, The sky mirrors our sorrow, we are being foolish, because the sky is quite impartial and neither rejoices in our happiness nor is cast down by our grief."

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"there are others, God continued slowly, who go into the wilderness, where they lead solitary lives in caves and grottoes, with nothing but animals for company, and others who choose a monastic existence, and others who climb to the top of high pillars and sit there year in and year out, and others, His voice fell and died away, God was now contemplating an endless procession of people, thousands upon thousands of men and women throughout the world entering convents and monasteries, some buildings rustic, many palatial, There they will remain to serve you and Me from morning until night, with vigils and prayers, all with the same mission and the same destiny, to worship us and die with our names on their lips, they will call themselves Benedictines, Cistercians, Carthusians, Augustinians, Gilbertines, Trinitarians, Franciscans, Dominicans, Capuchins, Carmelites, Jesuits, and there will be so many of them that I should dearly like to be able to exclaim, My God, why so many. At this point the devil said to Jesus, Note from what He has told us that there are two ways of parting with one's life, through martyrdom and by renunciation, it isn't enough for all these people to wait until their time comes, they must run to meet their deaths, be crucified, disemboweled, beheaded, burned at the stake, stoned, drowned, drawn and quartered, skinned alive, speared, gored, buried alive, sawed in two, shot with arrows, mutilated, tortured, or to die in their cells, chapter houses, and cloisters, doing penance and mortifying the flesh God gave them, without which flesh they would have nowhere to put their souls, these punishments were not invented by the devil who is talking to you. Is that all, Jesus asked God. No, there are wars and massacres. No need to tell me of massacres, I almost perished in one, and thinking it over, what a pity I didn't, for then I would have been spared the crucifixion awaiting me. It was I who led your other father to the place where he overheard the soldiers' conversation and therefore I who saved your life. You saved my life only in order to ordain my death at Your pleasure and convenience, as if killing me twice. The end justifies the means, My son. From what You have told me so far I can believe it, renunciataion, cloisters, suffering, death, and now wars and massacres, what wars are they. One war after another unending, especially those waged against you and Me in the name of a god who has yet to appear. How can there possibly be a god who has yet to appear, any true god can only have existed forever and ever. I know it's difficult to understand or explain, but what I'm telling you will come to pass, a god will rise up against us and our followers, entire nations, no, there are no words to describe the massacres then, the bloodshed and slaughter, imagine my altar in Jerusalem multiplied a thousandfold, replace the sacrificial animals with men, even then you will have no idea what those crusades were like. Crusades, what are they, and why do You refer to them in the past as if they have taken place. Remember, I am time, for Me all that will happen has happened already, all that has happened goes on happening every day. Tell me more about the crusades. Well, My son, this region where we find ourselves, including Jerusalem, and other territories to the north and west, will be conquered by the followers of the god I mentioned, who has been slow in coming, the follower son our side will do everything possible to expel them from the places you have traveled and I constantly frequent. You haven't done much to rid this land of the Romans. Don't distract me, I'm talking abou the future. Go on, then. Furthermore, you were born, you lived, and you died here. I'm not dead yet. That's irrelevant, because as I've just explained to you, for Me what will happen and what has happened are the same thing, and please stop interrupting, otherwise I'll say no more. All right, I'll be quiet, Now then, future geneartions will refer to this area as the holy places, because you were born, lived, and died here, so it didn't seem fitting that the cradle of the religion you represent should fall into the hands of infidels, this justified the coming of great armies from the west, who for almost two hundred years fought to conquer and preserve for Christendom the cave where you were born and the hill where you will die, to mention only the most important landmarks. Are these armies the crusades. That's right. And did they conquer what they wanted. No, but they slaughtered many people. What about the crusaders themselves. They lost just as many lives, if not more. And all this bloodshed in our name. They will go into battle crying, God wills it. And no doubt die crying, God willed it. Such a nice way to end one's life. The sacrifice isn't worth it. To save one's soul, My son, the body must be sacrificed. And you, Pastor, what do you say about these amazing events that lie ahead. No one in his right mind can possibly suggest that the devil was, is, or ever will be responsible for so much bloodshed and death, unless some villain brings up that wicked slander accusing me of having conceived the god who will oppose this one here. No, you are not to blame, and should anyone blame you, you need only reply that if the devil is false, he could not have created a true god. Who, then, will create this hostile god, asked Pastor. Jesus was at a loss for an answer, and God, who had been silent, remained silent, but a voice came down from the mist and said, Perhaps this God and the one to come are the same god. Jesus, God, and the devil pretended not to hear, but could not help looking at one another in alarm, mutual fear is like that, it readily unites enemies.

Time passed, the mist did not speak again, and Jesus asked, now with the voice of one who expects an affirmative reply, Nothing more. God hesitated, then in a tired voice said, There is still the Inquisition, but if you don't mind, we'll discuss that another time. What is the Inquisition. The Inquisition is another long story. Tell me. It's best you don't know, you will only feel remorse today for what belongs tomorrow. And You won't. God, being God, feels no remorse. Well, since I'm already bearing this burden of having to die for You, I can also endure the remorse that ought to be Yours. I wanted to protect you. You've done nothing else from the day I was born. Like most children, you're ungrateful. Let's stop all this posturing, tell me about the Inquisition. Also known as the Tribunal of the Holy Office, the Inquisition is a necessary eveil, we will use this cruel instrument to combat the disease that persistently attacks the body of your church in the form of wicked heresies and their harmful consequences along with a number of physical and moral perversions, which, lumped together without regard for order of importance, will include Lutherans and Calvinists, Molinists and Judaizers, sodomites and sorcerers, some of these plagues belong to the future, others can be found in every age. And if the Inquisition is a necessary evil, as you say, how will it proceed to eliminate these heresies. The Inquisition is a police force, a tribunal, and will therefore purge, judge, and sentence its enemies as would any police force. Sentence them to what. Prison, exile, the stake. Did You say the stake. Yes, in days to come, thousands upon thousands of men and women will be burned at the stake. You mentioned some of them earlier. They will be burned alive because they believe in you, others because they doubt you. Isn't it permitted to doubt me. No. Yet we're allowed to doubt that the Jupiter of the Romans is god. I am the one and only Lord God, and you are My son. You say thousands will die. Hundreds of thousands of men and women, and on earth there will be much sighing and weeping and cries of anguish, the smoke from charred corpses will blot out the sun, human flesh will sizzle over live coals, the stench will be nauseating. And all this is my fault. You are not to blame, your cause demands it. Father, take me from this cup. My power and your glory demand that you drink it to the last drop. I don't want the glory. But I want the power. The mist began to lift, and around the boat water could be seen, smoother, somber water undisturbed by a ripple of wind or the tremor of a passing fin. Then the devil interrupted, One has to be God to countenance so much blood."