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Brother Tom’s Adventures (The Acts of the Apostle Thomas): Part One

Posted by JVP on April 8, 2008

Based on The Acts of the Apostle Thomas
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This story begins around the time we apostles were all in Jerusalem: Peter and his brother Andrew, James and John Zebedeeson, Philip, Bart, Judas Thomas (Brother Tom), Matthew the taxman, James Alphaeuson, Simon from Canaan, and James’ brother Jude. Since Jesus told us to go out into the world and spread his word, we decided to figure out who would go where by drawing lots.

So Brother Tom, Jesus’s twin, ended up drawing India. Now, Tom was absolutely not interested in heading all the way to India, so he started prevaricating and coming up with excuses to stay home. “There’s no way I’m strong enough to travel that far,” he said. “Besides, I’m Hebrew. How in the dickens could I possibly practice our religion in such a foreign country?” Well, while he went on like this, coming up with all these elaborate reasons not to go to India, the Christos appeared to him in person one night, and said, “Brother Tom, look here. I’d really like you to head over to India. Why are you so freaked out? You know I’ve got your back.” But Tom still wasn’t having any of it. “Send me anywhere else, Lord, but I ain’t going to India.”

While Tom was busy coming up with reasons for not going, a traveling salesman named Abbanes came into town under orders from the King of India, Gundaphorus, to buy a carpenter and bring him back. Jesus was walking through the market around lunchtime, and ran into this Abbanes. “I hear you’re looking for a carpenter,” said Jesus. “I am indeed, my friend,” answered Abbanes. “Well, this is a lucky day for both of us,” answered the Lord. “I just so happen to have a slave for sale who would be perfect for you. He’s right over there.” Jesus, of course, pointed right to Brother Tom, who was a few stalls over and didn’t realize what was happening.

“He looks like a good fit,” agreed Abbanes, and so the deal was made. They bartered the price down to thirty silver and drew up a receipt that read “I, Jesus, Joseph’s son, heretoforth do declare that I have sold my slave, Judas Thomas, to Abbanes from India.” After shaking on the deal, Jesus called Tom over. Abbanes asked him, “Is this your master?” “Yes sir, he’s my Lord.” “Well I just bought you from him. You’re coming with me to India tomorrow.” Realizing he’d been bested, Tom tossed his hands into the air and started off to pack.

“Hang on, Tom,” said Jesus. “Look, here’s the thirty silver pieces I got for you. I’m giving it to you so that your price is with you wherever you go. Just remember my grace is with you, too.”

The next morning early, Brother Tom headed down to the docks and found Abbanes loading his baggage onto a ship, so he pitched in to help. When everything was loaded up, Abbanes asked, “So what skills do you have, anyhow?” “I’m a woodworker. I can make ploughs and yokes and ox-goads and boats and oars and masts and pulleys. I also have some experience working in stone. I can build pillars and design temples and courthouses.” “Wow,” said Abbanes, “you’re just the kind of guy we’ve been looking for.” The ship departed, and had fair winds and excellent weather, making great time until they reached the port of Andrapolis, a royal city.

As they left the ship and walked into the city, they were stunned to hear the sounds of flutes and trumpets and gaity everywhere, and Tom asked a passerby, “What are you all celebrating?” The man answered, “You should be celebrating, too! Our king found a husband for his only daughter, and they’re getting married today, so the king proclaimed a holiday! He’s invited everyone, rich or poor, master or servant, foreigners or native-born, but if you don’t attend– watch out! You’ll have to answer to the king himself.” Upon hearing this, Abbanes turned to Tom. “I’d say we should have to go, too, especially since we’re strangers here. I don’t want to offend this king.”

Abbanes and Tom found a room at an inn and rested for a while, and then went down to the wedding. Tom sat with the slaves and was looked down upon, but Abbanes reclined with the well-off and the merchants. Servants and butlers passed delectable treats and drinks to all of the guests, but Brother Tom didn’t take any. The people sitting next to him asked, “Why did you show up here if you aren’t going to eat or drink anything?” He replied, “I’m here for more than food or drink. I’m here obeying the King himself. There are heralds who’ll let everybody know exactly what the King wants, and if you don’t do what he wants, you’ll have to answer to him.”

After everyone had eaten, wreaths and scented oils were passed around. Everybody had a different place to put the scented oils– some people dabbed it on their beards, other people on their faces, some behind the ears– but Brother Tom put the oil on the top of his head and his nostrils, into his ears and on his teeth and around his heart. He put on a wreath of myrtle and other flowers, and held a stick of sweet flag in his hand. A flute-girl made the rounds, playing her flute for everybody. When she came to where Tom was sitting, she paused and played for an extra-long time. It turns out that she was a Hebrew.

Suddenly, while Tom wasn’t looking, one of the servants reached out and popped him one for no good reason! Tom looked up to see who hit him, and said, calmly, “Look, my God won’t hold that against you in the next life, but in this world we’re going to make an example of you, son. That hand of yours you used to hit me is gonna be carried back into this room by dogs.”

He then began to sing:

“My love is Light’s daughter, who shines with the brightness of Kings.
She’s prettiest of all, beautiful and joyous.
She’s dressed in fragrant daffodils and apple blossoms,
And wears the crown of the King who feeds us immortality.
She’s crowned by Truth, and dances Joy.
When she opens her mouth, her teeth sing to her,
And her tongue waves back and forth for those who enter.
Angels climb up and down her neck,
And her hands are a language of signs that speak.
They shout out the dance of the Golden Age,
And her fingers point the way to the Golden City.
Her Bridal Chamber sparkles with light,
perfumed with balsam and spices and myrrh and hemp.
The floor is carpeted with myrtles and roses,
And honeysuckle climbs the door-posts.
She’s chosen seven grooms to accompany her,
And seven bridesmaids dance for her.
Twelve servants work for her;
They accompany her bridegroom and seek enlightenment.
They’ll live forever with her, eternally happy,
And they’ll be at the wedding of royalty,
They’ll feast with the ones found worthy,
And will dress in jeweled robes of deep purple and brilliant white.
They’ll all sing the praises of the Father of Everything,
Whose grace enlightened them through their lord.
They’ve eaten immortal food that’s sated their hunger,
And drunken immortal wine that’s slaked their thirst forever.
Praise the Holy Spirit! They’ve glorified that Living Spirit,
The Father of Truth and Mother of Sophia!”

After he was done singing, everybody in the room looked at him and noticed he looked slightly different, but he kept quiet. They hadn’t understood his song, because he sang it in Hebrew. The flute-girl, however, being a Hebrew, picked up every word, and even though she played for the other guests, she kept looking back at him. She thought he was handsomer than anyone else there, and since he was also a man from her own people, she fell for him head over heels. When she finished playing, she sat down next to him and mooned over him all doe-eyed. Tom, however, didn’t look at anybody. He just kept staring at the ground.

Meanwhile, the servant who’d slapped Tom for no good reason was sent down to get some water from the cistern. Unfortunately for him, a hungry lion had just arrived at the cistern as well, and it pounced on him and tore him limb from limb! After it had run off, a pack of dogs came out to scavange the remains, and one of the big ones, a black cur, picked up the poor guy’s right hand– the one he’d used to slap Tom– and carried it back to the banquet.

Needless to say, everyone was pretty shocked, and quickly realized that it belonged to the missing servant. All of a sudden, the flute-girl stood up and snapped her flute right in half! She tossed it into the trash and fell at Tom’s feet, shouting, “If this man isn’t a god, he’s definitely an apostle of God, because I heard him predict this in Hebrew! The servant hit him, and this man said, ‘Your hand will be brought back in here by dogs!’ You’ve all seen it– just what he said came to pass!”

Now, some of the guests thought she was crazy for thinking this. Others thought it might be true. The king, though, was really impressed when he found out, and came to find Brother Tom. “Come with me,” he said, “and say a prayer for my little girl. She’s the only daugter I have, and I’m giving her away in marriage today.” Tom didn’t want to go, though, because he hadn’t yet felt the presence of the Lord, but the King insisted, and forced him into the bridal chamber.

Seeing no alternative, Brother Tom stood over the young couple and said the following prayer:

“Oh my Lord and God, who travels with your servants, who guides and helps the ones that believe in you, home and peace of the persecuted, hope of the poor and redeemer of the prisoners, doctor of the sick and saviour of creation, who gives life to the world and perfects the soul, you know what’s coming, and use us to make it happen. You, Lord, reveal what’s hidden in a Mystery and give us the meaning of the Secret Names. You’re the one who planted the good tree, and everything good comes from you. You’re the one that’s in everything and the one who passes through everything and the one that fills everything up. Jesus Christ, perfect, compassionate saviour, Christ, Son of the God who Lives, perfect, undefeated power who lead the rebellion against the enemy, shouted down the Archons and shook up their realms, delegate from the Pleroma who even descended into hell to open the doors for the improperly condemned and show them the way, O Lord Jesus, we pray to you today and ask you on behalf of these young people that you’ll do everything to help them in their lives, and bless them with goodness and peace.” Laying his hands on them, he said, “The Lord be with you,” and left.

The king left, too, and kicked everybody out of the bridal chamber so the bride and groom could have some privacy. When everybody’d gone and the doors were closed, the bridegroom lifted the veil to the bride-chamber, and was amazed to see Brother Tom speaking with the bride, even though our man had just turned around and walked out! “What are you doing here?” asked the bridegroom. “Didn’t you just leave?” “I’m not the one who prayed for you,” ‘Tom’ replied. “I’m his brother.” As it turns out, ‘Tom’ was actually the Lord Jesus; he’d taken on the appearance of Brother Tom, his twin.

Jesus pulled over a couple of chairs and asked them to sit, while he sat down on the bed. “Let’s talk about what my brother said to you. Remember everything he said in that prayer? Well I want you to know that if you refrain from having sex like you’re about to, you’ll be purified temples. You’ll learn to control your desires and free yourself from pain, and won’t have to worry about life or children, who only die anyhow. Don’t you think that if you have kids, they make you greedy, which is bad for your soul? Kids tend to get sick, sometimes visibly and sometimes not so, and go crazy or contract leprosy, or go blind or deaf or dumb, or get paralyzed or are born idiots. Even if they’re born healthy, they’ll end up prideful or useless, adulterers or murderers or thieves or porn addicts, and all of this stuff will reflect poorly on you.

“But listen, if you choose chastity, you’ll have Living Children who don’t have these problems. You’ll live peacefully and contentedly, without sadness or fear, and you’ll be married in a perfect marriage, and you’ll be groomsmen in a bridal chamber full of never ending Light.”

When they heard this, the young couple gave themselves over to the Lord and believed in him! They swore off desire and swore to remain chaste, and spent the rest of the night without any hanky-panky. The Lord then vanished, saying, “The grace of the Lord will always be with you.”

The next morning, the King brought them a huge breakfast, but was surprised to see that the bride wasn’t covering her face with a veil, as was the tradition for a married woman, and the groom seemed ecstatic. The bride’s mother asked her, “Why are you sitting unveiled like that? You aren’t acting like a newlywed; you’re acting like you’ve been married to your husband for a long time!” And the king said, “Do you love your husband so much you don’t even veil yourself anymore?”

She answered, “Papa, I am in love– real, true love– and I pray to the Lord that I keep this love forever. I’m in love with a new husband that I’ve only just learned about, so I’m not going to wear the veil! I’ve had the veil of shame removed from me, so I’m not ashamed or abased anymore. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. I’m really happy and joyful, because I’ve learned to put aside this husband and this marriage that’s temporary. I’m wedded to another now, so I haven’t consummated with this mortal husband in a marriage that’ll end in sadness and disappointment. Instead, I have a true, eternal husband.”

The bridegroom concurred, saying, “Thank you, Lord, for sending the stranger to spread your Word, and for redeeming me from imperfection and rot and seeding me with life! You’ve cured me of this terminal sickness and made me healthy! You’ve opened me to my core and shown me who I really am! You’ve saved me from falling into a pit and led me into paradise, and released me from the bondage of corruption, readying me for immortality. You, the great one, made yourself low for little me so you could show me your greatness and bring us together as one. Even though you’re immortal and I’ll die, you showed me how to seek myself and know myself, who I was, who I am and who I will be. I didn’t know who I was, but you found me and showed me. There’s no turning back now; now that you’re in my heart and mind, I’ll never be able to ignore you. Your love burns so brightly in me that I don’t have words to describe it or do it justice. Even though I can’t find the words to describe how I feel for you, you don’t blame me, but it’s because I love you that I’m even able to say this much.”

On hearing these statements, the King became mortified and furious. He tore his clothes and squinted his eyes and ground his teeth, and shouted to his guards, “Get out there and search the city! Find that magician that sailed into this city on such an ill wind! I invited him here and brought him in to pray over my confounded daughter, and this is how he repays me? I’ll reward anyone who finds him with whatever he wants, just find him!”

The guards ran through the city looking for him, but Brother Tom had already sailed off. All they found was the poor flute-girl, weeping and carrying on in the inn where Tom had stayed, pitching a fit because he wouldn’t take her with him. When she heard about the king’s daughter and her husband, she stopped crying, realizing she now had a purpose. The flute-girl joined the young couple and they stayed together many years, starting a community that even discoursed to the king. Eventually they heard that Brother Tom had made his way to India, and decided to join him there.

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