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Brother Tom’s Adventures (The Acts of Thomas) Part Two

Posted by JVP on April 14, 2008

So eventually, Brother Tom and Abbanes made their way to India, and headed for the capitol. As soon as they arrived, Abbanes went to the palace to tell the King, whose name was Gundaphorus, that he’d managed to find an excellent carpenter as he’d been instructed. The King thought this was just fine, and asked to meet Tom.

Abbanes brought Tom to the palace, where the King asked him, “So what all do you know how to do?” Tom answered, “Well, I can build pretty well. I’m something of an architect. I can build farming and nautical equipment because that’s what was needed where I’m from. I’ve also got some experience with stone, and I’ve built temples and court-houses and memorial pillars.” “Sounds good,” replied Gundaphorus. “Will you build a palace for me?” “Sure,” answered Tom. “I can even furnish it.”

The King thought this was just fine, and they shook on it. He led Brother Tom out of the city to show him where he wanted the palace, and talk some details about the laying of the foundation. They chatted about it while they walked, and finally came to the spot. “Well,” said the King, “this is it. Whatcha think?” “Sure,” said Tom. “This is a fine location. Now, there is a lot of water around here, and a bit of forest that’ll need clearing, so I can’t start right now.” “Okay, so when can you start?” “Well now, I think if I start work around October, I should be able to finish in April or thereabouts.”

Now, the king thought this sounded a little odd. “Most people prefer to build in the Summer. You’re telling me not only that you’re going to build through the winter, but also that you can build the whole thing by spring?” Tom nodded. “Yep. This is how it’s gotta be.” “Okay, if that’s your plan, you’re the builder. Any thoughts on plans yet?” Tom squatted on the ground and sketched out some blueprints in the dust. “So the doors’ll face east so they look towards the sunrise, and if we put the windows in the west they’ll catch the breezes. We’ll build the oven in the South since it’s gonna be the hottest part of the building, and build an aqueduct system to the north.” The plan pleased the King, who told Tom as much, and gave him sufficient funds to start the project. Since he was a busy man, he didn’t have time to visit the site, so he trusted Tom with the funds and set him more according to the schedule, figuring he’d be feeding the workmen and buying supplies.

Brother Tom, however, had other plans. Instead of using the money for supplies or provisions, he started giving it all away to the poor! He had so much for building the palace that he made a circuit to all of the poorest towns, giving the cash to the neediest and sickest people in each one. “The king’ll make this all back,” he thought, “but right now the poor need the money.”

After some time, the King sent his messenger to Tom with a message: ‘Let me know how the palace is progressing. Do you need anything else?’ And Tom replied: ‘Work on the palace is coming along just fine. Everything’s done except the roof. So the King sent him some more gold and silver to finish the roof.

Now, Tom was obviously a pretty smart guy, and knew there could be trouble for what he was doing. But, he knew that he was fulfilling the will of the Lord, and was thankful. “Thank you, O Lord, for everything, and thank you for dying for just a little while so that I can live forever. Thank you for selling me into slavery so that I can set free so many souls through you.” And he took the money for the roof and kept giving it away, telling people, “This is given to you from the Lord, because he provides for everyone who needs it. He feeds the orphans and watches over the widows, and gives peace and rest to anyone who has problems.”

Now eventually, the King started to get curious, and started asking his friends about the palace this guy was supposed to be building for him. And they were sheepish, but were honest with him. “Well, your majesty, he hasn’t actually done a danged thing he said he would, much less built your palace. Instead, he’s been wandering around and giving away everything you sent him to the poor. He’s been teaching them about a new God, and healing the sick and throwing demons out of people. He’s apparently been performing all kinds of miracles, and we think he’s a Magician or a Witch Doctor. The thing is, though, that he’s very, very compassionate, and he doesn’t charge anything for all of these healings. By all accounts, he’s a simple man, with simple faith, and he sure seems to be a good man and maybe even an apostle of this new God he talks about. He fasts all the time, and never stops praying, and all he eats is bread with a little salt, and all he drinks is water. He only has one set of clothes no matter how bad the weather is, and doesn’t take anything from anybody that he doesn’t give away.” When he heard this, the King buried his face in his hands and shook his head for a long time.

When he got back to where he was staying, he called for Brother Tom and Abbanes, and his guards brought them to him. “So,” asked the King, “did you build me that palace?” “I sure did,” answered Tom. “Well then why don’t we go take a look at it?” asked the King. “Sorry, King,” Tom replied, “we can’t go see it now. You won’t be able to see it until you’ve left this life behind.”

The King was furious, and immediately called for his guards. “Take these two and tie them up, and throw them into the deepest, dankest pit in the deepest, dankest dungeon we have! I’m gonna find out exactly where my money is, and crush these two like the thieves they are!” So the guards trussed the two, and led them away. Abbanes was terrified, but Brother Tom reassured him. “Cheer up, cheer up! This is really a wonderful thing. Just trust in the God I’ve been talking about and you’ll be set free in this life and live eternally in the next.”

King Gundaphorus thought about all kinds of different tortures and punishments, and finally decided they’d be skinned alive and then burned to death. The king’s brother Gad, however, was even more upset than the King. This blow to their family’s honor had him literally sick with disgust. He called for his brother, and said, “Gundaphorus, my brother, you may as well take my house and my children, because I feel like I’m gonna die I’m so upset. If I die and you don’t get revenge on that damned Magician, I swear I will come back and haunt you.” The King replied, “Calm down, Gad. I’ve been thinking about this all night, and I’ve decided to skin them alive and burn them to death.” “Good,” said Gad. “But don’t stop there if there’s anything worse you can think of doing to them,” but as he said this, he died.

Suddenly, Gad found his soul surrounded by angels, who guided it up to the heavenly city. They showed him the glorious, magnificent buildings and houses, and asked him, “In which of these would you like to live for eternity?” They came to the most magnificent palace of all, a massive edifice covered in gold and jewels and glimmering with the peaceful light of God. Gad was astounded, and told the angels, “I’d love to live on even the lowest level of this wonderful Palace!” “No, you can’t live there,” answered the angels. “Why not?” Gad asked. “Because that’s the palace that Christian, Tom, built for your brother Gundaphorus. We’re saving it for him for when he dies.” Gad gasped, enchanted, and entreated the angels, “Listen, my lords, please toss me back down to Earth. I can’t stay here if I can’t live in that palace. I’ve got to ask my brother to sell it to me.” The angels whispered to one another for a few seconds, and one of them turned to him. “You’ve got it, bub,” he said, and they tossed Gad’s soul over the side of heaven.

Back on Earth, the King’s servants were dressing Gad’s corpse for the funeral. All of a sudden, Gad’s soul fell back into the body, and he opened his eyes, to the amazement of all present. “Go get my brother,” he asked them. “I need to ask him something!” They immediately brought the message to Gundaphorus, “Your brother just came back to life!”, and he rushed to the burial chamber as fast as his feet could take him. A huge crowd followed, wanting to see this miraculous thing. They all showed up at his bed, but were speechless with amazement.

“Hey, brother,” Gad said to the King, “I know for sure that if anybody had asked for even half of your kingdom, you would have given it to him for my sake. Since I know you love me, I have a favor I need to ask you. I need you to sell me whatever it is that I ask for.” The King was, of course, flabbergasted. “Of course, my brother.” “Do you swear it?” “On my honor, I swear it. I’m just so glad you’re alive I’ll sell you anything you want.” “Okay then, sell me that palace you have in Heaven.” The King goggled. “What are you talking about? Why should I have a palace in Heaven?” His brother answered, “You know that Christian you tossed into prison, who that merchant bought from Jesus and brought for you? The one who got me so upset I died, who you plan to execute? He built it for you.”

Suddenly, as though a bright light flashed on him, the King understood. He knew that the palace in which he’d spend eternity was far more important than anything built for him in this life. He had a complete change of heart. He understood exactly what Brother Tom had been trying to teach him, and replied to Gad. “You know what? I can’t sell you that Palace after all. I need to hang onto it, so that maybe someday I’ll be good enough to live in it. But, if you want a palace like that, I can do you one better. The guy who built it is still alive, so let’s talk to him.”

The King summoned his guards, and had them release Abbanes and Brother Tom from prison, and brought before him. Humbly, he addressed our hero. “Brother, I’m asking you like I’d ask a minister of God: please pray for me. Please ask the one you’re here to represent for forgiveness for me, for what I did to you and what I’d planned to do to you. Please pray to him to make me worthy of that palace that I didn’t even build, that you built for me all by yourself with the grace of God. And pray that I become a servant for this God you’ve been talking about.” His brother also fell to his knees, and asked Tom, “Please also make me worthy for this ministry. I want to serve God, too, and I want to earn my place in those palaces the angels showed me.”

The apostle smiled, joyfully, saying, “You are so wonderful, Lord Jesus, for revealing the Truth to these men. You are the only God of Truth, the one who knows everything, even the most secret things that nobody else knows about. You are the most compassionate and most merciful God, because we humans who dwell in and contain imperfection can’t find you, but you find us. I pray you, take King Gundaphorus and his brother Gad into your community. Clean them with your baptism and perfect them with your anointing. Shelter them from the wild wolves and let them rest in your fields. Let them drink from your heavenly fountain, which flows eternally and never gets befouled. They’re sincere, Lord, and want to serve you, anbd they’re willing to take abuse for it, and to be hated and mocked just like you were. Help them put their trust in you, and receive initiation into your mysteries, and give them your gifts, and let them know the beauty and truth of the Father.”

The King and Gad became Tom’s disciples, and travelled with him, and helped him assist the poor and needy, giving to those who needed refreshment. After a time, they asked if he would seal them with the Word. “We’ve heard the stories about how God recognizes the ones with his brand like a shepherd recognizes his sheep, so we’d like to be given the mystery and sealed in the Word.” Tom answered, “It’s a wonderful idea, and I think we should do it. We’ll have a thanksgiving and blessing, and you’ll be perfected in the bosom of the God of everything.”

The King commanded that the bath house be closed for seven days to purify it for the baptism. On the eighth day, Brother Tom, Gundaphorus and Gad entered the bath house and prepared for the ceremony by lighting lamps in all of the directions. Brother Tom sealed them, and all of the sudden they heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Peace be with you.” They couldn’t see him yet because they hadn’t been fully baptized. Brother Tom solemnly poured oil on their heads and anointed them and gave them the chrism, saying:

We call you, Greatest Name of Christ!

We call you, Highest Power, Perfect Compassion!

We call you, Best Gift!

We call you, Loving Mother!

We call you, Greates Father!

We call Her, who reveals the Secret Mysteries!

We call the Mother of the Seven Houses, to rest in the eighth house!

We call the Elder of the Five Aggregates: Mind, Thought, Reflection, Consideration, Reason; appear to these youths!

We call the Holy Spirit; cleanse their minds and their hearts, and seal them in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost.

When they were sealed, a young man holding a torch appeared in front of them. His torch was so bright that their lanterns looked dim in comparison. He slowly vanished, and Tom prayed, saying, “Your light, Lord, is so bright we can’t stand it. Its glory is too bright for us.”

When morning came, they broke bread and had a thanksgiving meal, and celebrated and rejoiced. They were the first, but Brother Tom and his disciples brought many residents of that area into the safe harbour of the Saviour.

One day he delivered a stirring sermons to them:

“Men and women, boys and girls, young and old, well or sick, free or poor, listen up! Don’t let lust overwhelm you, don’t give greed a home, don’t let gluttony into your belly! These three are the three-headed monster that gives birth to everything wrong. Lust blinds the mind and clouds the eyes of the soul, and sucks life out of the body, and makes people weak and spreads sickness and disease. Greed makes the soul afraid and shameful; when greed is present it wants to steal what other people have, and makes you afraid of the shameful consequences that will happen if you steal something and get caught. Gluttony debases you, making you obsessed with the base needs of the body and panicked about where your next meal will come from.

“If you want to free yourself from this three-headed monster, and save yourself from care and sadness and anxiety, listen to what Jesus said: ‘Don’t concern yourself with what’s going to happen tomorrow; tomorrow’ll concern itself with itself just fine.’ He also said, ‘Notice how the ravens and other birds don’t have farms or grow crops or store food, but they do just fine; God provides them with whatever they need. So why don’t you think he’d provide you even more, you cowards?’

“Look for him, hope for him and believe in his name. He’s the one who decides what happens to the living and the dead, and he gives everyone what they deserve depending on how they’ve acted, and nobody who’s heard all of this has any excuse for being judged unworthy when he comes again. And his heralds are getting his word out all over the world.

“If you want to live forever, apologize and reform, believe the promise and take the light and easy yoke on your shoulders. You’d better get these things and hold onto them! Come out of the darkness and see the light! Come into the company of the Good One, and wear his sign on your souls!”

When he said this, some of the bystanders answered, “It’s time to pay back the debt we owe.” He replied, “The creditor always wants more, but let’s give him what we owe anyhow.” He said a prayer over them and gave them blessed bread flavored with oil and herbs and salt, even though he was fasting.

That night while he was sleeping, the Lord appeared at his head. “Tom, listen here. I want you to wake up early and bless everybody, and then head east out of town for about two miles. I’m going to appear to you there, and this’ll help you show these people just how strong the enemy is.” Tom woke up and gathered everybody together. “So I was just visited by the Lord, and he needs me to do something today. Let’s pray that he works through us and for us without fail and without any protest from us.” Thus said, he prayed over them and blessed the bread. He passed it around and said, “This Thanksgiving Meal is yours for compassion and mercy, not judgement or revenge.” And they all replied, “Amen.”

…TO BE CONTINUED

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