Welcome to the home of - Redemption
Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Redemption   

Later that day, after having taken a long bath Xena and Gabrielle were sitting on their porch drinking Apple Cider. They were both wearing simple skiffs and enjoying the breeze. They look up from their conversation to see a man walking down the road towards their home. He was dark like a man from the Middle East. His hair was long, dark and the waves in it caught the sun and make it shine. His strangely beautiful face was partially covered by a full well kept beard and he wore earth colored robes that did nothing to hide the muscular body that they covered. His feet were shod in simple sandals.   

“He must be one of the children of Abraham that have earned a place in this land.” Xena said after a short contemplation. They had never had a visitor before, except for Angels.   

“Do you think it’s Joshua? I’ve heard that he was a great warrior. I would love to hear him tell us his version of the battle of Jericho.” Gabrielle said excitedly.   

“I don’t know, let’s find out.” Xena rose and extended a hand to her wife.   

Together they walked hand in hand out to the road to meet the stranger. When he came abreast of them they were taken by his exceptional beauty. He was not beautiful as a woman is beautiful or as a boy can be beautiful, but neither was he simply handsome. Somehow he was stunningly attractive in a non-sensual sort of way and yet he was sensual but he was also strong and commanding and kind and compassionate. For a heartbeat both Xena and Gabrielle were locked in a timeless loop and both felt a near uncontrollable need to drop to their knees. Gabrielle succumbed and tried to pull Xena down with her but Xena held her ground. She would kneel before no man.
 
“Please, Gabrielle, do not kneel. You have earned the right to stand before me.” The man extended his hand to her and helped her to regain her feet.
 
“My Lord…” Gabrielle sputtered. “To what do we owe this honor?” She glanced at Xena who seemed to be completely tongue tied.  Gabrielle thought it strange that the killer of Gods was silent.
 
“I would speak with my siblings, you and Xena, if you have time?” His smile outshone the sun.
 
“Of course my Lord we have time.” Gabrielle was getting no help whatsoever from her wife. “Will you join us for some Apple Cider?” It sounded so incredibly inadequate to her ears but she had no idea what to say.
 
“That would be wonderful.” He smiled again and beckoned the two women to precede him to the porch. When they arrive three chairs sat where there once was only two and a third goblet had joined the other two on the table. They took the additions for granted and sipped Cider in silence for a few minutes.
 
Xena suddenly sat back and looked Jesus in the face. “You called us your siblings. How can that be? We are Greek, not Jew. I don’t remember ever converting.” She said defiantly although she remembered Gabrielle once telling her that Jehovah had adopted them.
 
“Xena, have you learned nothing of the Christian religion in all of our lives?” Gabrielle was devastated. She knew the boldness of her wife but she really wished right at the moment that for once Xena had stayed silent. But Jesus held his hand up to quiet her, both her voice and her fear.
 
He smiled at Xena. “You are my Father’s daughter… you are a rebellious daughter but a daughter nonetheless.”
 
“Yeah, well I still don’t remember converting.” She said in that same defiant tone while Gabrielle tried to silence her with a look. Jesus simply patted Gabrielle’s hand in reassurance.
 
Jesus turned his attention from Xena long enough to speak a sentence to Gabrielle. “Relax Gabrielle this conversation between Xena and I is long overdue.” Then he turned his full attention on Xena. “Do you remember when you took your daughter to my cousin John?”
 
“Your cousin, do you mean the Prophet John? When he dipped her in the lake and she became the Bringer of Peace? That was your cousin?” Xena asked.
 
“Yes, he was my physical cousin. His mother, Elizabeth was my mother’s sister.” Jesus took a sip of his Cider. “Perhaps you also remember that my father gave you a gift that day. He made you the Slayer of Gods and when you accepted that gift you became his instrument throughout time and you became his child.”
 
Xena chewed on his words and studied the table with her eyes. “Yes, but He took that power away when I turned it on Michael. So doesn’t that mean that He threw me out of the family, because the next time that I died I went to Hades not Heaven?” There was challenge in her voice. It was the same argument that she had with Gabrielle. She just couldn’t believe that Jehovah would forgive her for trying to kill Michael.
 
Jesus contemplated the condensation on the side of his goblet for a moment before answering her. “You were not sent to Hell. You put yourself there by committing a selfless act that saved another soul from damnation. That’s hardly an act worthy of Hell.” He paused and thought some more. “If Solon had kicked you in the shin and ran away, would you love him less or would you pursue him and forgive him?”
 
Xena crinkled her brow but did not answer.
 
Jesus continued. “If Eve had not changed her ways and had remained Livia the Bitch of Rome, would you have ceased to love her?”

His words were having a deep effect on Xena. She lowered her head to hide the turmoil written on her face.
 
“Neither of your children gave you cause to be angry with them in this manner. Had Solon lived he would have followed the path that you set for him and in fact he did live a good and productive life the second time around. Eve accepted you as her mother and followed the path that you set her upon when you took her to John.” Xena did not reply. “You placed your faith in John, Eve placed her faith in you and in the end you both placed your faith in the hands of my Father. Hence, Xena you converted. You discarded your loyalty to the old gods of Olympus and accepted the One God of the Hebrews. You and Gabrielle have served Him for many centuries and you might yet serve Him.” He took a long pull on his Cider. The goblet remained full. “Your only problem Xena is that you continue to expect our Father to act like Zeus. He is not petty like the old gods. He is a father.”
 
Xena looked up at him sharply. “Zeus was a father.” She snarled.
 
Jesus smiled at her ferocity. “Yes that is true. But he was a petty being and he hated mankind. Our father loves mankind and only wishes to save them… just as you did.”
 
“Does He now? Then why is there still so much pain and suffering? Why doesn’t He step in and fix things?” Her lip was curled in anger.
 
“But He does step in Xena, He sends people like you and Gabrielle and Eli and Eve and John and me to bring light and hope and to ease the suffering. It is not His fault that people do not heed His words or accept His gifts. He gave them free choice so He cannot force them to accept Him.” Jesus did not respond to her anger. Her question was far from original.
 
“It sounds like a vicious circle.” Gabrielle chimed in.
 
“It is and it is one that pains Him deeply.” Jesus said sadly.
 
“But I thought that mankind was redeemed through you. Why can’t He just end it all and call it all good now?” Gabrielle leaned forward in anticipation of what she considered to be the explanation of the ages. 
 
“Because it’s not good, there are some that are not yet born that will believe. He must allow them the opportunity to come home.” Jesus took a deep breath and traced condensation droplets on his goblet.
 
“So for the sake of his unborn children, God our Father would have mankind wait?” Xena said. She sat back in her chair and nodded. “I actually understand that.”
 
Beside her Gabrielle had also leaned back in her chair and was nodding her head. “Yeah, that does make sense.”
 
They drank in silence for a time, enjoying the cool breeze and the smell of jasmine in the air.
 
“There’s still one thing that I don’t get.” Xena said after a time.
 
“What’s that Xena?” He had been waiting for her to come full circle.
 
“How did you get the redeemer gig?” Gabrielle kicked her under the table and she winced but didn’t back off. “Well Jesus, tell us the story.” Xena crossed her arms and waited expectantly with a smile on her face.
 
Jesus laughed with true mirth. This was not exactly how he had envisioned this conversation, but he could adlib with the best of them. “Unlike some people I know, I do what I am told to do.” He looked Xena in the eyes and the look wiped the smile from her face and she became a little uncomfortable under his gaze. He dropped his gaze to release her and continued. “Actually part of the credit goes to mother and a bit goes to Joseph and of course throughout my lineage there has been many on my mother’s side of the family that contributed to my birth. But even though I had my Fathers blood in me I could have failed Him.” He took a sip of his Cider.
 
Gabrielle was confused. “I didn’t know that it was available for you to fail Him. I mean some of the teachings of the Church paint you as perfect and unable to have fault.”
 
“And some of the teachings of the Church say that I am my Father and that the One God is actually one God in three persons. Ridiculous! The Gentiles were no better at keeping things straight than the Jews.” He pointedly turned to look at Gabrielle. “I am part human which means that I can make mistakes but more importantly it means that my Father has given me free will just like He gave to every other human.”
 
“You mean that you didn’t have to do what He told you to do? You could have walked away?”  Xena had once again leaned forward. This answer was more intense than she had imagined it would be.
 
“Of course I could have walked away. What good is a redeemer that has no choice in the matter? Why not just redeem them yourself if you’re going to send a slave with no will of his own? Why go through all of the lead up and all of the preparation and suffering and death if you plan on just sending someone that can’t say no?” He leaned down onto his knees. “I had to have the right to say yes. I had to care enough about humanity to want to save it as much as my Father wanted to save it. I had to give my life freely… just as the both of you have offered your lives and given them freely for others so many times. My sacrifice was simply on a grander scale it was for all of humanity, all of those that came before and all of those that would come after.”
 
Xena looked down at his hands and then up to his eyes. The only place that she has ever seen so much love was in the eyes of her beloved wife. She turned her head to look at Gabrielle who was turning her head at the same time to look at Xena. They smiled when their eyes meet. “That crucifixion thing was a bitch though wasn’t it?” She said before turning back to him.
 
Jesus started to chuckle and the chuckle became an infectious full belly laugh. For several minutes the three of them sat on the porch and just laughed. Several times it seemed as though it would subside only to start up again.
 
Several minutes passed before Jesus could find enough breath to continue. “Yes, Xena the crucifixion was a bitch.” He chuckled again at the audacity of this woman. “But you got to do it twice didn’t you, or was it three times… do you remember the third time?” He teased.
 
She recognized the tease and squinted her eyes at him. “Yeah, I got to do it twice and yeah for the record I do remember that debacle with Caesar and the Fates and the third crucifixion. But you got to do the whole spear in the side business and you got your legs broken, I just got my legs broken.” She said triumphantly.
 
They grin at each other enjoying the morbid joke. “Oh please don’t tell me that you two are going to start comparing scars next.” Gabrielle interjected while rolling her eyes.
 
Xena grinned. “Why not, I got some pretty good ones.” She said with real cheer. Gabrielle gave her a look that said unbelievable as she shook her head and closed her eyes. When she opened them again to look at her beloved, Xena mouthed What? and Gabrielle just had to chuckle to herself and think That’s my Xena.
 
But Xena wasn’t done yet. She was feeling much more comfortable now around her Lord and Savior and brother. “Still you only had to do it once for everyone. How convenient is that?”
 
Jesus was still grinning at Xena. “True enough Xena but I’m not the one that let Alti out of the proverbial box. You let her out so you had to deal with her, don’t blame me if it took you… how many lifetimes did it take you to cage the beast?” Jesus teased.
 
“Oh, so that’s how you’re going to play it?” She nodded her head thinking furiously. “Well… so what? I got her didn’t I; she’s back in her cage and living with Luce.” Well that was a lame come back!
 
“Indeed she is… speaking of Luce, as you so quaintly term him… Father wanted me to extend His gratitude to you for exposing the creature for what he really was.” Jesus had leaned back in his chair and was once again playing with the condensation on his goblet.
 
“All in a day’s work, tell Him to think nothing of it.” Xena blushed at the thought of her new God noticing her.
 
“Oh no Xena, you want Him to continue to notice that one. It was that deed that saved you from further punishment when you attacked Michael. Dad is rather fond of Michael.” He said while glancing up at her.
 
“Michael attacked Gabrielle!” Xena snapped with true venom.
 
“Yes he did and then he lied about it. He told you that he was only after Aphrodite. Either way he was punished and then so were you. But your punishment was much less severe than it could have been.” He took a sip of Cider. “Even without the ability to kill Gods you managed to keep them in line and maintain a balance. Not just any mortal would have been able to achieve such a thing. Father is very proud of you, of both of you. He is acutely aware of what the two of you have accomplished apart and together for mankind and your love and devotion to one another is nothing short of legendary.”
 
Both Xena and Gabrielle blushed and smiled demurely and for several minutes they were once again content to enjoy each other’s silent company.
 
“How is Aphrodite? What will become of her? She was my friend.” Gabrielle asked sadly.
 
Jesus reached out and took Gabrielle’s hand. “She is fine. Father is rather fond of her silly nature. Because of her willing service she will be amply rewarded. I believe that she told you that He had a retirement plan? She wasn’t wrong. When I see her next I will tell her that you asked after her.”
 
“I guess that means that she can’t come to visit.” Gabrielle said wistfully.
 
“No, she cannot come here. She is not human.” Jesus tried to comfort her.
 
“But you can go back and forth because you are both human and God, like Hercules.” Xena injected.
 
“Yes that is true. You would probably like to know that Hercules has also bent his knee to our Father. He said that he finally has found a God that he can respect. He like Aphrodite cannot be our Father’s child but he was given reward for his service just as you were.” Jesus smiled at them both.
 
“Are you saying that Hercules lives here?” Xena said with excitement.
 
“Yes he does. Many people live here. I could give you a map and point out some highlights.” Jesus was grinning from ear to ear.
 
Gabrielle took in a sharp breath and covered her mouth in exclamation. Her eyes lit up with fire. Xena also was excited at the prospect of traveling around their new home. She hadn’t realized how much she really missed it until Jesus had offered it to them.
 
“You planned this didn’t you? You heard my questions from earlier. That’s why you’re here.” Gabrielle asked already knowing the answer.
 
Jesus smiled one of his award winning smiles and answered her. “Yes, in part you are correct that is why I came this day.” He leaned closer to them. “Do you know how highly favored you are among our father’s children? Not everyone is reincarnated at all let alone as many times as you two were. Not everyone earns a place here in this land of limbo where you can live in peace and enjoy your reward while you wait for the next administration to begin and certainly not everyone is given as many chances to turn their life around as you have been given.” He pointedly looked at Xena and there was no longer any mirth in his eyes.
 
Gabrielle protectively put both of her hands on Xena’s arm. What she could do against Jesus or their Father she had no idea but if they decided to punish Xena for something she was determined to share in her fate. Where she goes, I go. This was the resolute thought in her mind.
 
“Still, you have been given this reward and we would see you happy in it.” A rolled parchment appeared on the table in front of them. “I hope that you don’t mind a little old school, if you prefer an electronic device I can accommodate but I thought that you might enjoy some nostalgia.” He turned and behind him by the road stood two golden mares wearing old style Greek saddles and tack.
 
“Argo” Xena rose and started to move towards the horses but stopped herself in mid stride. She turned to look back down at Jesus who had not moved. Gabrielle had also stood but she was only leaning on the table looking at Argo and her daughter. “There is no catch is there?” It was only partially a question.
 
“No, there is no catch. Xena you really need to stop thinking of our Father as one of the Greek gods that you destroyed. It hurts His heart to think that He doesn’t have your love, and it annoys the hell out of me to know that He really doesn’t have your full trust either.” Again Jesus was giving Xena that look.
 
Xena looked at the ground and then back up at Gabrielle. Gabrielle gave her a look that begged her to consider her next words very carefully… so she did. She took her seat. Both Gabrielle and Jesus let her think in silence.
 
Finally she spoke. Her voice was low and full of pain. “I’ve never had much use for Gods. They’ve been trying to screw me over since the day I was born. For a long time I endured test after test from one or the other. But then Ares came and took me under his wing. He taught me a lot of things but the one thing that he taught me that I seem to have a hard time letting go of is how to hate the Gods.” She raised her head to look Jesus in the eyes.
 
He said nothing but that look of love that she had seen earlier had returned to his eyes.
 
“But…” Xena continued. “The God of Eli, our Father He’s never really let me down. I’ve always known where I stand with Him. He doesn’t try to interfere with my life every time I turn around and I have no doubt that His greatest gift to me wasn’t you Jesus… it was her.” She nodded her head at Gabrielle. “I could live in Hades or on the most desolate rock in the Universe as long as she was at my side. But I would wither to ash in the Elysian Fields if she were not.” Again Xena stopped. Tears were growing in her eyes but she couldn’t take her eyes off of his.

Gabrielle wanted to take Xena’s hand but she knew that she couldn’t. This journey was one that Xena must make alone.
 
“For the gift of you and the redemption that you brought… I thank Him, for the gift of her… I honor Him.” She deliberately lowered herself to one knee, like a warrior surrendering to a mightier opponent. “For her gift of love to me, and for His allowing me to receive it… I give Him my life, my will, my sword and my love to do with as He wills for eternity.” She bowed her head in defeat and supplication. Tears dripped from her eyes onto the boards at Jesus’ feet.
 
Gabrielle was crying freely while covering her mouth to hold back any sound that would break the spell that Xena’s words were weaving.
 
Suddenly a light from the sky shone through the porch roof as if it were not there to illuminate Xena’s head. She turned her face up to bask in the light.
 
A voice like no other came from the light. It was warm and strong and happy. “Welcome home my prodigal daughter… welcome home.” Gabrielle could almost hear the tears of joy in the voice. She could see the tears of joy that flowed from Xena’s eyes like a fountain.
 
Jesus left his seat to kneel in front of Xena and to take her in his arms. “Welcome home sister. I have waited a long time to hold you.” Xena wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed while burying her face in his neck. Jesus turned his head and held out his arm to Gabrielle, inviting her to join them.
 
Gabrielle flung herself down and threw an arm around the both of them. All the while the light from heaven bathed them in the glow and warmth of God.