A great painter was engaged to create a mural for the cathedral in a Sicilian town. The subject was the life of Christ. The painter labored for many years, and finally the painting was finished except for the two most important figures: the Christ Child and Judas Iscariot. He searched far and wide for suitable models.
One day while walking in the city, he saw some children playing in the street. Among them was a young boy whose face stirred the painter's heart. He took the child home with him, and for days the boy sat patiently until the face of the Christ Child was finished.
But the painter still had found no model for the portrait of Judas. The story of the unfinished masterpiece spread afar, and many men, believing themselves to be wicked-looking, offered to pose as Judas. But the old painter continued to search for the right model, envisioning him as a man beaten down by life, weakened by greed and lust.
Then one afternoon as he sat in a tavern, a miserable man in rags staggered into the tavern begging for wine. The startled painter looked into a face that seemed to bear the marks of every sin of mankind. Greatly excited, he said, “Come with me, and I will give you wine."
For many days the painter worked feverishly to complete his masterpiece. As the work went on, a change came over the model as he looked with horror on the painted likeness of himself. One day, perceiving his subject's agitation, the painter paused in his work. “My son,” he said, “what troubles you so?”
The man buried his face in his hands, sobbing. After a long moment he lifted pleading eyes to the old painter's face. "'Do you not remember me? Years ago I was your model for the Christ Child."
Arnavaz described the beautiful look of love and compassion that came over Baba's face upon hearing this story, and he said: "Without Judas there could have been no Christ. . . . I loved Judas very much, when I was Jesus."