XXIV. Mary Brings the Good News to Gaul
[Excerpts from The Acts of Mary as translated by C.T. Edwards, A. Healy, L. Moresco, and S. Weiss]
We were fortunate for several years in our teaching of the good news to Jews and Greeks alike. Then some of the House of Shammai who had escaped to the city also began to tell the Romans that we had caused the uprising in Jerusalem. They told the other Israelites that we had caused the uprising to fail and gave the victory to the Romans. So much suspicion was raised against us that we began to fear for our safety.
At that time a friend came to us from the children of Israel in the land of the Gauls. He told us that his people had heard about the good news but had no one to teach them. He begged us to come teach his community. I and my family and many of the other women and followers of the Way met to question whether we should accept this invitation. We agreed it seemed best to do so. We would be safer there, where the Roman presence was thinner. We would also be able to bring the good news to more of the lost sheep of Israel.
Quietly we packed up our clothing and the few other possessions we had. Late at night our friend led us quietly to his ship. Carefully we sailed out of the harbor and into the sea in the middle of the world. With fair winds we reached the port city in the south of Gaul in only a few days. When we disembarked, more than a hundred people had gathered to welcome us. The president of their synagogue thanked us for coming to a strange land to teach them. He invited us to stay in his home and accept his hospitality while we began to seek out new homes for ourselves.
The president had no great love for either the Sadducees or the Pharisees of Jerusalem. Israelites had come to Gaul as traders. They had settled there and had been an independent community since before the Hasmoneans had rebelled against Antiochus. They did not think that outsiders had any right to tell them how to manage their affairs.
On our first day in Gaul, I sat and talked with the women about Joshua. I told them what he had taught us and what he had done for us. The women went to their homes and told their sons and husbands to come listen to me, and they did so. These Israelites, living among the Gauls, had learned some of their ways. The Gaulish women were held in much greater respect by the Gaulish men than women in Judea ever had been. Wherefore the Israelites in Gaul did not scorn my teaching as being from only a woman. Instead they listened and were ready to learn.
My brother, Lazarus, my sister, Martha, Salome, Joanna, and Susanna, the other women students, and my daughter, Sarah, also told the Israelites of Gaul what they knew about Joshua. They told of his kindness and friendship to all. They described his dedication to carrying out all the commandments that our God has blessed us with. They passed on what he had taught us about marriage. He taught that we must restore the worship of the Queen of Heaven as the consort and equal and helpmate of our God. And he taught that our love as husband and wife reflects and is sustained by the love between the King and Queen of Heaven.
After hearing our teaching, the president of the synagogue said that he believed that Joshua could be the Mashiach according to the teachings of their tradition. Outside of Jerusalem the Israelites and God-fearers did not accept the rules and interpretations proclaimed by the new Rabbis. They had had their own teachers for centuries before the Rabbinic houses of Jerusalem had been founded.
Soon more people, both Israelites and Gentiles, came from the surrounding regions to listen to us. The crowds became large enough that the Roman procurator began to send his spies among the listeners. His guards began to walk often near us, watching and listening for any sign that might give cause for accusations against us.
The president of the synagogue, the Rabbi and the elders of the synagogue, and leading men among the Gentiles had shared with us out of their bounty that we might spend all our time teaching their people the good news about Joshua. All these friends and supporters advised us to move to the next towns along the river valleys. If the Romans merely suspected that we might cause them any trouble, they would have arrested us and crushed us. Once we had been arrested, we would never be free again, even if they spared our lives.
We began to travel to the north, from town to town, preaching the good news as we traveled. We always moved on once we knew the Romans had noticed us. We have now found a refuge well away from the Romans. The people here guard us against spies and raids by the Romans, even though here such raids are unlikely. Others of our community have found us here, so the good news is being taught to many more people.&&&
I was only 15 when he and I married. I am now approaching ninety. Many of our brothers have been assassinated by our enemies. I will give these writings to persons who are completely trustworthy so that Joshua’s true teachings may not be lost. I pray that the lies and distortions of Saul’s followers may someday be exposed.
I have taught the other women to remember the old traditions of Israel, when we worshipped the Lord and both his wives, the Asherah and Astarte, whom all remember as the Queen of Heaven. I have taught our people here what Joshua taught me, to praise our Heavenly Father and Mother for their gifts to us, that we in this life may learn to share in the joys of paradise.
I have taught our people here to despise the teachings of the male students who have perverted Joshua’s true teachings. They have called our greatest gift a sin. They have closed the gates of paradise against all people. They have captured the minds of many in the city of Rome, as our brothers have told us, and slander us. Let us pray that they never gain favor in Rome, else they will use their power against us and all who refuse to believe their lies. They will perpetuate the cruelty of the Romans in the name of Joshua.
I have taught our people to be ready to disguise themselves and our beliefs if we are attacked, in order to protect themselves and our faith. Joshua has commanded us to live, not die. He has done all our dying for us.
We had thought that Jerusalem would be the City of God when the Kingdom comes. Now that the Romans have destroyed the city, we know that hope was futile.
We had thought that Joshua would quickly return in glory to fulfill his predictions, to found the Kingdom of God on Earth, to judge the living and the dead. Perhaps what seems a short time to the Lord may be a very long time for us.
Our people have asked me to write down my memories of Joshua so that what I alone know may not be lost. I have therefore written out all that I remember of what he taught me in order to honor his memory and to celebrate the love that he and I shared in the few months that we were together.
To you children of the future age, as you read my words, believe that I loved him and knew him more deeply than any other person ever could. Believe that I knew his heart and his mind, his kindness and his humor. Believe that he did not want to die. He enjoyed life to the fullest, singing, dancing, eating, drinking wine, relishing the beauty of our world and the joy of our marriage, yet he gave up his life, his love of life, his love for me, fir the sake of all people.
I have never remarried, though I would have every right to. James said he would honor his obligation to marry me if I desired that. He knew I would not. No human love could compare to the love that Joshua and I had between us. Our love has fulfilled the commandment and carried on the work of salvation.
I was already carrying our child when we gathered for our last Seder. I gave birth to her on the Day of Atonement. I have prayed to our Father and our Mother that she might bring atonement and salvation to our people as her father did. I named her Sarah, to remember the covenant with Abraham, in hopes that she will carry on the work of our new covenant to bring the Kingdom more and more fully into the world.
May all of us who believe in the good news that Joshua preached and fulfilled always do as he asked. Let us always remember him and call upon him whenever we eat and drink. He promised that his spirit would be with us entirely whenever we do that. He promised that he would lead us on the way into the Kingdom, before the Queen, forever rising higher and deeper into the passionate love of our Father and Mother, our King and Queen. To them be glory forever.
May all who read these memories thereby remember him and teach the truths that he taught. May his spirit always be with you to sustain you. I send greetings to all the rest of our family in the other lands. The peace of our King and our Queen be always with you. Amen.