‘I am very sorry Ma.’ The servant’s voice was broken, like the shattered vase on the floor.
Priscilla was belligerent.
‘This vase was a wedding present from my grandmother. I will take it from your severance pay.’
The servant was an elderly woman who had served them since they moved to Rome twenty years ago. She tried to stiffle her tears
‘Take the rest of the things to the carriage,’ Priscilla commanded
‘Quil, I am so glad we aren’t taking these incompetent servants with us to Corinth!’
‘You don’t have to be such a drama queen’ said her husband, barely lifting his face from his glass.
“Besides, I don’t know why you decided to carry so much, we’ll be back in Rome before you know it.”
“Are you talking or is it the wine?”
“Are you intentionally trying to provoke me?” Aquila fumed.
“My dear husband, you haven’t seen provocation! Claudius will never let Jews return to Rome. When you’re in Corinth, penniless, without any business contacts and without enough money to buy wine, then you’ll be provoked!”
Aquila gripped her arm. “Don’t say that! My contacts in government tell me that it will be just for a while!’
“They lie!” She said, jerking herself free.
“When we leave Rome tomorrow, we are not coming back! Everything we’ve worked for all these years, all the contacts we’ve made, everything we are worth is in that carriage!”
She sat on the floor weeping. Quil dropped the cup and tried to comfort his wife.
“Don’t worry, it will be fine. I promise you, things will be better soon.”
“You can’t promise Quil, you can’t.”
Priscilla checked their stash of gold.
They were doing okay…for now.
But considering the cost of things in Corinth, they would not last very long if things did not change soon.
The locals weren’t too crazy about doing business with Jews, how much more trusting one to make tents for them. Something had to be done, if not Quil would force her to sell her priced possessions. She couldn’t do that. They had lost her home and reputation to those Romans, if she had to sell her jewelry, clothes and precious household items…
The sound of horses roused her from her thoughts.
Aquila was back. ‘Maybe he has found a job,’ she thought to herself.
“Priscilla, come quickly!” He shouted from outside.
“Priscilla, please bring a blanket!”
Priscilla was alarmed. She rushed outside without the blanket.
‘Quil, are you alright? What is the matter?’
It was then she saw another man lying across husband’s horse. He looked…
‘Is he dead? What have you got yourself into?’
No, he is not dead, but he’s barely breathing. He was preaching at the market when a mob descended on him.
“And you brought him home? You know that we are strangers here, why would you…”
“Priscilla, please…he is a Jew like us.”
Priscilla checked his wounds. Although he was still unconscious, the man was recovering better than expected.
Thankfully, the authorities in Corinth didn’t pursue the case further. No one seemed to be looking for him. But what could he have been saying that would have caused him to be so badly beaten.
He coughed suddenly, and struggled to sit up. Priscilla helped him up and rushed to bring a cup of water.
‘Quil! Quil! He is awake!’ She screamed.
Priscilla, put the cup to his mouth.
‘Thank you’ he said when he was done drinking.
Aquila came rushing in.
“I must tell you something,” the man said.
“Why don’t you rest first,” said a concerned Priscilla.
“No, this is important.”
Aquila drew a seat close to his bed and sat.
My Hebrew name is Saul, but many Greeks call me Paul. I come from Tarsus. I grew up a devout Jew, full of zeal for the laws of Moses. Because of my parents standing, I was also born a Roman citizen. As an adult, I became strong and independent, running my own business and being a prominent figure in the temple. I observed every holy day in the temple. My life seemed perfect, after all, I did my best to keep the laws of Moses. I wasn’t too happy when some fellow named Jesus said that he would destroy the temple and raise it up in three days. A temple that had taken our fore-fathers hundreds of years to build! I was appalled.”
“The same Jesus, claimed that he was the Son of God, the Messiah who would save Israel from our sins. He wasn’t even from a noble home like me. His father was a carpenter. People said he did mighty works, but I never came close enough to see. A self proclaimed King won’t last in any Roman colony anyways. There were many Jews who were willing to do away with him as well. Soon enough, he was crucified, Just like I suspected he would be.
‘I thought we were done with all that Jesus rubbish. Only that three days later, they said he had risen from the dead.’
Priscilla and Aquila’s eyes both grew wide when they heard that.
“It can’t be” said Priscilla
“His disciples must have stolen his body” said her analytical husband.
“That’s what I thought too” said Paul.
I took it upon myself to chase down the followers of this blasphemer. I got clearance from Jewish leaders to do just that. But one day, on my way to kill Christians somewhere, I met him.”
“Who did you meet?”
Paul was silent.
“Who are you referring to?” Ananias asked again.
“Jesus, I met Jesus.”
“The dead man?” There was part of Priscilla that wanted to kick and scream at her husband for bringing a mad man to their home. But there was also a part of her that saw the look in Paul’s eyes and needed to hear more.
And more they heard. He had seen a vision of Jesus, the son of God, who told him that he would suffer for the sake of his name. He had been made blind, then prayed for by one brother Ananias who knew just where to find him even though he had never contacted him. The one who once persecuted followers of Christ was now one himself.
“But my story is not as important as his” said Paul.
He is the Messiah who will save us from our sins. Not just the Jews, but everyone who believes in him will be saved.
“Anyone…including Romans?” asked Priscilla
“Yes, including Romans. In fact, I once converted a Roman soldier who imprisoned me.”
He looked at Priscilla. “We’ve been redeemed by his blood, we have forgiveness of sins, why won’t we forgive those who have hurt us.”
“But they don’t deserve it!”
“ Neither do we deserve God’s love. It’s a gift.”
Aquila had been quiet all the while, face in his hands. It was when he lifted his face she saw that he had been crying.
“What about the laws our forefathers were asked to keep?” he asked.
“Those laws could never save them. Father Abraham was declared righteousness by faith, he believed that the promised messiah would come. We must believe that he has come. He is Jesus! We have peace with God because of him!”
Peace. That was a foreign concept to Priscilla, even before they left Italy. Even before all the problems in her marriage, she knew something was missing. Now, she felt like she had found it.
“How do we meet him? This Jesus?” she whispered.
Thanks for reading Priscilla and Aquila. Watch out for part two next week Tuesday, and the episode finale on Valentine’s day.