“I stopped going to the temple years ago,” confessed the young professional dressed in fine linen. He had taken a seat next to the apostle on the half-wall skirting the square. The crowd had melted away.
Before Thaddeus could speak, the clean shaven entrepreneur said, “I’m not here for baptism. I just have questions.” Thaddeus waited in silence as the fellow ran his fingers through his dark curls. “What became of him?”
The educated young man clearly a Roman was searching for Christ and Thaddeus, understanding, answered “He’s not here.”
The professional’s brow furrowed, “I need to talk to him.”
Again Thaddeus held back allowing the Roman freedom to ramble.
“I . . . my life’s a mess! I mean, I’ve got everything, a house, a family, enough money. I worked hard for it. Don’t get me wrong, the Gods have been kind. I’m just not into religious structure.”
“Then why do you seek Christ?” Thaddeus sensed the fellow had reached a dead end, maybe there were dark skeletons in his past.
“I’m not looking for a cure. I’m fine,” he quickly said, then shrugged, “I guess he’s not around, huh?”
Thaddeus searched for the right words. Without insinuating Roman complicity he answered, “They crucified him.”
The young man’s face fell. “You know, I heard him once say to a paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Thaddeus said, “He did that a lot.”
“I don’t understand. I thought everybody just wanted a cure.”
Thaddeus could see this professional hungered for forgiveness. He remembered that Jesus knew people were sicker in soul than in body. He explained, “Sometimes broken hearts needed healing first.”
“Yeah, I . . .” the young man half rose to leave.
“What’s eating you?” asked Thaddeus wondering what he could say to help him.
The confused Roman sat down again. His story was long, his sins many. He was searching for understanding.
Thaddeus listened knowing the man wasn’t ready for baptism. Few Gentiles were. What he hungered for was absolution. Then he remembered Jesus words about his role as apostle. Jesus had breathed on him and the others and had spoken words of forgiveness.
He put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “May I bless you?”
The man said, “No baptism . . .not yet!”
“No,” said Thaddeus, “Just something to help the hurt.”
The entrepreneur knelt down in front of the apostle who, raising his hand in blessing switched to Latin saying, “Ego te absolvo . . .”