Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana

I finished, on Easter, Anne Rice's new novel Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. This is the second installment in a trilogy. For some reason, I find it hard to get into fiction (I think, as a psychologist, I don't want, for my entertainment, more psychology), so failed to get through the first book in this series, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. But I started Road to Cana on Saturday and read until I finished it late on Easter. For some reason, the book really touched me. Maybe it was reading it over Easter weekend. Right book, right season, and my heart was open to it.

The events in the novel begin on the threshold of the gospel narratives, the weeks before Jesus begins his public ministry. The first half of the book gives us depictions of Jesus' life in Nazareth. At the middle of the book the gospel narrative is picked up: The beginning of John the Baptist's ministry, Jesus' baptism, the temptation in the wilderness, the calling of the first disciples, and the miracle at Cana. But the real treat is how Rice pulls all these events into a very interesting personal narrative told from Jesus' first-person perspective.

As a taste, here were two of my favorite passages from the book:

In this scene Jesus is speaking to a Scribe who lives in Cana and who knows Jesus and his family. In a dramatic confrontation he tells Jesus that he was one of the Temple Scribes who questioned Jesus at the Temple when Jesus was a boy. And, as the bible and Rice tell it, Jesus dazzled the Teachers. But Rices adds the detail that, seeing this budding protégé, the Scribes beg Jesus to stay with them, study with them, and move up through the scribal and priestly hierachy. But Jesus refuses and takes up the life of a carpenter. To the Scribe this was just a disgusting waste of talent. Now, years later, he contronts Jesus with this disappointment:

"Why didn't you stay with us in the Temple?" he asked. "We begged you to do it, " He sighed. "Think of what you might have done if you had remained in the Temple and studied; think of the boy you were! If only you'd devoted your life to what is written, think of what you might have done..." "...The world swallowed you," he said bitterly...

..."It's where I live, my lord," I said. "Not in the Temple, but in the world. And in the world, I learn what the world is and what the world will teach, and I am of the world. The world's made of wood and stone and iron, and I work in it. No, not in the Temple. In the world. And I study Torah; and I pray with the assembly; and on the feasts I go to Jerusalem to stand before the Lord--in the Temple--but this is in the world, all this. In the world. And when it is time for me to do what the Lord has sent me to do in this world, this world which belongs to Him, this world of wood and stone and iron and grass and air, He will reveal it to me. And what this carpenter shall yet build in this world on that day, the Lord knows, and the Lord shall reveal it."

These words seem so close to the words Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison: "God is beyond in the midst of our life. The church stands, not at the boundaries where human powers give out, but in the middle of the village."

The second moving passage comes toward the end of the book. Jesus is taking in the joy of the wedding feast. And in this moment he sees a vision of the culmination of his ministry. But it is too soon, his Work is still ahead of him. So there is this longing in Jesus' reverie. He sees the end, but it can't be taken just now. His path awaits. But here at Cana, at the beginning, he envisions the Kingdom of God. Jesus poignantly reflects:

"Oh, if only I could indeed stop time, stop it here, stop it forever with this great banquet, and let all the world come here to this, now, streaming, out of Time and beyond Time, and into this--to join with the dancing, to feast at these abundant tables, to laugh and sing and cry amidst these smoking lamps and twinkling candles. If only I could rescue all these, in the midst of this lovely and embracing music, rescue all these--from the blooming youth to the ancient with their patience and their sweetness, and their flush of unexpected and ravishing hope? If only I could hold them in one great embrace?"

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One thought on “Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana

  1. Thanks for the teaser. I loved the first book. Got it from the local libary. It had a good element of Catholic thought and that broadened my thinking in that quarter. Can't wait to check out the sequel.

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