Saturday, 4 July 2015
At The Vatican
Every time a new Pope is elected, there are many rituals to be followed, in accordance with tradition. But there's one ritual that very few people know about.
Shortly after the new Pope is enthroned, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem seeks an audience with him. He is shown into the Pope's presence, whereupon he presents him with a silver tray bearing a velvet cushion. On top of the cushion is an ancient, shriveled parchment envelope.
The Pope symbolically stretches out his arm in a gesture of rejection. The Chief Rabbi then retires, taking the envelope with him, and does not return until the next Pope is elected.
Pope Benedict was intrigued by this ritual, the origin of which was unknown to him. He instructed the best scholars of the Vatican to research it, but they couldn't come up with anything. So when the time came and the Chief Rabbi was shown into his presence, he faithfully enacted the ritual rejection.
But then, as the Chief Rabbi turned to leave, he beckoned to him. "My brother," he whispered, "I must confess that we Catholics are ignorant of the meaning of this ritual enacted for centuries between us and the Jewish people. I have to ask you, what is it all about?"
The Chief Rabbi scratched his head and replied, "Frankly, Your Holiness, I have no idea either. The origin of this ritual is lost to us, too."
The Pope thought for a bit and said, "My brother, let us retire to my chamber and enjoy a glass of wine together. Then, with your agreement, we shall open the envelope and discover, at last, the secret."
The Chief Rabbi agreed.
So, after a leisurely glass of wine, they reverently picked up the curling parchment envelope and opened it with fingers trembling with anticipation.
The Chief Rabbi reached inside, took out a sheet of ancient parchment, and carefully unfolded it. He looked at it, and then handed it to the Pope.
It was the bill for the last supper. Everyone ate but no one pick up the tab.