This was not going well.
Zadkiel paced the small room, unnoticed by those who were there, and forgotten, again, by Jesus.
They had come to Tyre to rest. Jesus was tired and frustrated with the people around him. Oh, it was fine when he was healing people. They all liked that. But when he tried to explain, to get them to see…
The disciples were still confused by what he was doing, and lost confidence as soon as he was out of sight. And the Elders. Well — Zadkiel hopped up onto a roof beam, and plucked out a loose feather — he had always had trouble with the Elders. Once, when Jesus was a boy, it seemed it might be different: ‘A budding rabbi, so clever, so green. Join us.’ But as soon as he’d grown, they took his measure, and felt fear rise in their hearts. Then, they did all they could to oppose him.
Zadkiel watched Jesus closely. How much longer could he bear this? Would he be strong enough for what lay ahead?
‘Doubtful, Zadkiel?’ God asked as he joined him on the roof beam. ‘What are you doing here? I can handle this. You shouldn’t get too involved.’ ‘I know. But today is important. I wanted to watch.’
Michael appeared next, scaly wings shining. Zadkiel looked at God reprovingly. ‘Oh, don’t worry. Jesus is all yours. Michael has other work to do here.’ As God spoke, a woman entered the room.
Michael stood alert as she moved to the centre. She cut through disciples and went to Jesus himself.
‘She’s bold,’ Zadkiel said.
‘That’s why we need Michael,’ God nodded.
Michael himself had slipped into her wake and stood behind her now, unseen by human eye.
The disciples were ruffled by her: ‘What is she doing here?’ ‘Do you know her?’ ‘Why would I know her? A Gentile. A woman.’
Jesus looked up wearily, waiting for her to speak.
‘Sir, my daughter, my little girl, she has a demon. You could cast it out. I have come to ask that you cast it out.’
Her tone surprised Jesus. It annoyed him a bit too. Zadkiel could hear his unspoken words: ‘as if I don’t have enough to do among my people. Am I really supposed to heal the Gentiles too?’
God strained at Jesus’ though. Much hung on the question.
Jesus himself seemed blind to it at first. He wasn’t really paying attention. At last he spoke: ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’
Michael rose his wings around the woman, and the room was charged with his anger. Zadkiel looked surprised, and jumped down to reason with Jesus, but God held him back. ‘No, Zadkiel. Let the woman teach him.’
The woman herself stepped forward, undaunted by Jesus’ words. ‘Sir. Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ And this time it was Zadkiel who gasped. He scurried down beside Jesus. He would stand against Michael if he had to. Was he supposed to? If he had to, he would.
As Zadkiel struggled, Jesus looked at the woman again. But this time he saw her. His eyes flicked wide, and he drew breath. Then he let his mind stretch: to all the women he’d missed, to all the Gentiles who had stood on the edge of the crowds. He should have seen them sooner.
Michael stood down, as he sensed the shift in Jesus. His wings dropped, and he bowed to Zadkiel in peace. Zadkiel looked relieved, though he was still a bit flustered.
Jesus brought himself back to the room, and spoke gently to the woman. ‘For saying that, you may go. The daemon has left your daughter.’
The woman bowed to him, and left without speaking.
God shook his head and smiled. ‘You chose her well, Michael. You do like a fiery game, though.’