275. Avarice and the Foolish Rich Man.
10th and 14th September 1945.
Jesus is on one of the hills on the western coast of the lake. The towns and villages spread on both shores are displayed under His eyes. Directly under the hill are Magdala and Tiberias, the former with its luxurious district strewn with gardens, clearly separated from the poor houses of fishermen, peasants and common people by a little torrent now completely dry; the latter magnificent in every quarter, a town unaware of misery and decay, looking beautiful and fresh in the sunshine before the lake. Between the two towns there are a few but well kept vegetable‑gardens on the short plain, while olive‑trees climb the hill conquering it. From this hill‑top one can see behind Jesus the saddles of the Mount of Beatitudes, at the foot of which there is the main road which goes from the Mediterranean Sea to Tiberias. Perhaps Jesus has chosen this place because it is so close to a very busy road, and thus people can come here from many towns both on the lake and in the inland of Galilee, and then go back home in the evening or find hospitality in many of the towns. The climate is also mild because of the height and also because the tall trees on the upper slopes have replaced the olive‑trees.
There are in fact many people besides the apostles and disciples. People who need Jesus for health reasons, or for advice, people who have come out of curiosity, or led by friends or in a spirit of imitation. In brief, there is a large crowd. The season, which is no longer hot but tends to the languid pleasantness of autumn, encourages pilgrims to come in search of the Master.
Jesus has cured sick people and has spoken to the crowd on the subject of wealth unjustly attained and detachment therefrom, as is necessary in everyone who wishes to gain Heaven and is essential in those who want to be His disciples. He is now replying to the questions of this or that rich disciple, who is somewhat upset by such requirement.
John, the scribe, says: «Must I destroy what I have, thus depriving my family of what is due to them? »
«No. God gave you some property. Let it be useful to Justice and make just use of it. That is, assist your family by means of it, which is your duty; treat your servants humanely, and that is charity; help the poor, and the poor disciples in need. Your wealth thus will not be a hindrance, but an aid.»
Then addressing the crowds He says: «I solemnly tell you that also the poorest disciple can be in the same danger of losing Heaven through attachment to riches, if he acts against justice by coming to terms with rich people, after he has become a priest of Mine. A rich or wicked man will often endeavour to seduce you with gifts to make you agreeable to his way of living and to his sin. And among My ministers there will be some who will yield to the temptation of presents. That must not happen. Follow the Baptist's example. Although he was not a judge or a magistrate, he possessed the perfection of judge and magistrate as pointed out in Deuteronomy: "You must be impartial, you must take no bribes, for a bribe blinds wise men's eyes and jeopardises the cause of the just". Too often man allows the edge of the sword of justice to be blunted by the gold which a sinner rubs on it. No, that must not happen. Learn how to be poor, how to die, but never come to terms with sin. Not even with the excuse of using that gold for the poor. It is cursed gold and would bear no good. It is the gold of a disgraceful compromise. You have been appointed masters that you may be masters, doctors and redeemers. What would you be, if your own interest led you to agree to wickedness? Masters of evil science, doctors who kill their patients, not redeemers but parties to the ruin of hearts.»
One of the crowd comes forward and says: «I am not a disciple. But I do admire You. Answer this question of mine: "Is it lawful to keep the money of another person?" »
«No, man. It is larceny, like robbing the purse of a passer‑by.»
«Eaven if it is family money? »
«Of course. It is not right that one should take possession of the money belonging to all the others.»
«Then come to Abelmaim, Master, on the road to Damascus, and order my brother to share with me the inheritance of our father who died without leaving a written will. He took everything for himself. And remember that we are twins, born at the first and only birth. So I have the same rights as he has.»
Jesus looks at him and says: «It is a painful situation and your brother is certainly not behaving righteously. But all I can do is to pray for you and for him, that he may change, and I can come to your village and evangelize and thus touch his heart. The road is no burden to Me if I can bring about peace between you.»
The man becomes furious and bursts out: «What's the use of Your words? It takes much more than that in this case! »
«Did you not tell Me to order your brother to...»
«To order is not to evangelize. An order is always joined to a threat. Threaten to strike his person, if he does not give me what is due to me. You can do that. As You give health You can give a disease.»
«Man, I came to convert, not to strike. But if you have faith in My words, you will have peace.»
«Which words? »
«I told you that I will pray for you and for your brother, that you may be comforted and he may be converted.»
«Nonsense! I am not such a fool as to believe that. Come and order.»
Jesus, Who has been meek and patient, becomes impressive and severe. He straightens up ‑ before He was bending over the little stout angry man ‑ and He says: «Man, who appointed Me judge or arbitrator between you? Nobody. But to avoid a rupture between two brothers I was willing to come and practise My mission of conciliator and redeemer, and if you had believed My words, on going back to Abelmaim you would have found your brother already changed. But you will not believe. And you will have no miracle. If you had been able to get hold of the treasure before your brother, you would have kept it, depriving your brother of it, because as it is true that you were born twins, it is also true that you have twin passions and both you and your brother have but one love: gold, and one faith: gold. Be therefore with your faith. Goodbye.»
The man goes away cursing Jesus while all the people present are scandalised and would like to punish him.
But Jesus objects saying: «Let him go. Why dirty your hands striking a brute? I forgive him because he is possessed and led astray by the demon of gold. Forgive him as well. Let us rather pray for the unhappy man so that he may become humane again with a beautiful free soul.»
«That is true. Even his countenance was dreadful because of his greed. Did you notice it? » the disciples and those who were close to the miser ask one another.
«That is true, indeed! He did not look the same person as before.»
«Yes. And when he rejected the Master, he almost struck Him while cursing Him, and his countenance was demoniac.»
«A tempting demon. He wanted to lead the Master to wickedness...»
«Listen » says Jesus. «It is true that the alterations of the spirit are reflected on one's face. It is as if the demon appeared on the surface of his possession. Only few people who are demons, either in deeds or appearance, do not disclose what they are. And those few are perfect in evil and perfectly possessed. The countenance of a just man, instead, is always beautiful, even if his face is materially disfigured, because of a supernatural beauty, which from the interior exudes exteriorly. And it is not just a saying, but a real fact, that we notice a bodily freshness as well in those who are free from vices. The soul within us envelops our whole being. The stench of a corrupt soul affects also the body, whereas the scent of a pure soul preserves it. A corrupt soul drives the flesh to obscene sins, which age and disfigure the body. A pure soul incites the body to a pure life, which grants a fresh complexion and imparts majesty.
Endeavour to keep your youth spiritually pure, or to revive it, if you have already lost it, and beware of greed, both for sensual pleasures and for power. The life of man does not depend on the abundance of his wealth, neither in present life and much less in the next one, eternal life. It depends instead on his way of living, as well as his happiness, both on the earth and in Heaven. Because a vicious man is never really happy. On the contrary, a virtuous man is always happy with a celestial joy, even if he is poor and alone. Not even death upsets him. Because he has no sins or remorse making him fear to meet God, neither does he regret what he leaves on the earth. He knows that his treasure is in Heaven and like a man who goes to take the inheritance due to him, a holy inheritance, he goes happily and solicitously towards death, which opens to him the gate of the Kingdom where is his treasure.
Store up your treasure at once. Begin in your youth, you young people; work incessantly, you older people, who are closer to death because of your age. But since the date of death is unknown, and a child often dies before a venerable old man, do not postpone the work of storing up your treasure of virtues and good deeds for the next life, lest death should reach you before you have placed a treasure of merits in Heaven. Many people say: "Oh! I am young and strong! I will enjoy myself for the time being on the earth, and I will turn later". A big mistake!
Listen to this parable. A rich man's estate had yielded a good harvest. A really miraculous harvest. He looks happily at so much abundance piling up in his fields and threshing‑floors and which is to be stored in provisional sheds and even in the rooms of his house, since his barns cannot hold it all, and says: 'I have worked like a slave but I have not been disappointed by my fields. I have worked as much as for ten harvests, and I am going to rest just as long. What shall I do to put away all this crop? I do not want to sell it otherwise I would be compelled to work to have a new crop next year. This is what I will do: I will knock down my granaries and build larger ones, capable of holding all my crops and my goods. And then I will say to my soul: 'Oh, my soul! You have aside goods for many years. Rest, therefore, eat, drink and have a good time' ". The man, like many more people, mistook his soul for his body and mixed the sacred and the profane, because in actual fact a soul does not rejoice in revelries and idleness, but languishes. And the man, like many, after the first good harvest in the fields of virtue, stopped, as he thought he had done everything.
But do you not know that once you have laid your hand on the plough you must persevere for one, ten, one hundred years, as long as your life lasts, because to stop is a crime against oneself, as one denies oneself a greater glory, and it is a regression, because generally he who stops not only does not proceed further, but turns back? The treasure of Heaven must increase year by year to be good. Because if Mercy is benign to those also who had few years to store it up, it will not be an accomplice of lazy people who in a long life do little. It is a treasure increasing continuously. Otherwise it is no longer a fruit‑bearing treasure, but an unfruitful one, which is detrimental to the readily available peace of Heaven.
God said to the foolish man: "Fool! You mistake body and wealth of the earth for what is spirit and you turn the grace of God into evil. This very night the demand will be made for your soul, and it will be taken away and your body will lie lifeless. And this hoard of yours, whose will it be then? Will you take it with you? No. You will come to My presence despoiled of earthly crops and spiritual works and you will be poor in the next life. It would have been better if you had used your crops for works of mercy on behalf of your neighbour and yourself. Because if you had been merciful towards others, you would have been merciful to your own soul. And instead of fostering idle thoughts, you could have plied a trade which would have given an honest profit for your body and great merit for your soul until I called you". And the man died that night and was severely judged. I tell you solemnly that that happens to those who store up treasure for themselves but do not grow rich in the eyes of God.
Go now and avail yourselves of the doctrine explained to you. Peace be with you.»
And Jesus blesses and withdraws into a thicket with His apostles and disciples to take some food and rest. And while eating He continues to speak on the same lesson, repeating a subject already explained several times to the apostles and which I think will never be clarified enough, because man is too easily seized with foolish fears.
«You must believe » He says, «that man should worry only about making himself rich in virtue. But mind you: you must not worry anxiously or painfully. Good is the enemy of anxiety, of fears, of haste, which still show too many traces of avarice, jealousy and human mistrust. Let your work be constant, confident, peaceful, without rough starts and stops, as onagers do. But no one makes use of them, unless one is mad, to go on a safe journey. Be peaceful in victory and peaceful in defeat. Also tears shed for an error you made and which grieves you because by it you have displeased God, must be peaceful, comforted by humility and trust. Prostration, anger against oneself are always a symptom of pride and lack of confidence. He who is humble knows that he is a poor man subject to the miseries of the flesh, which at times triumphs. He who is humble puts his trust not so much in himself as in God, and is serene also when defeated and says: "Forgive me, Father. I know that You are aware of my weakness which overwhelms me at times. I will believe that You pity me. I am fully confident that You will help me in future even more than heretofore, notwithstanding I please You so little". Do not be indifferent or avaricious with regard to the gifts of God. Give generously what you possess of wisdom and virtue.
Be active in spiritual matters as men are with regard to their bodies. And as far as your bodies are concerned do not imitate the people of the world who always tremble for their future, fearing they may lack what is superfluous, that they may be taken ill, or die, that enemies may be harmful, and so on. God knows what you are in need of. Therefore be not afraid for your future. Be free from tears, which are heavier than the chains of galley‑slaves. Do not be anxious about the necessities of life: what you will eat, or drink and how you will clothe yourself. The life of the spirit is worth more than the life of the body and the body is worth more than clothes, because you live with your bodies and not with your clothes and through the mortification of your bodies you help your souls to attain eternal life. God knows how long He will leave your souls in your bodies, and He will give you what is necessary until that hour. He gives it to crows, impure birds which feed on corpses and the reason for their being is just to remove putrifying corpses. And will He not give you what is necessary? Crows have neither larders nor granaries and God feeds them just the same. You are men, not crows. At present you are the cream of men because you are the disciples of the Master, the evangelizers of the world, the servants of God. And can you possibly think that God may neglect you, even for what concerns your clothes, since He takes care of the lilies of the valleys and makes them grow and clothes them with such beautiful robes that Solomon never possessed the like, and yet they do no work but scent worshipping God? It is true that by yourselves you cannot add one tooth to a toothless mouth, or lengthen by one inch a contracted leg, or make dimmed eyes bright. And if you cannot do such things, can you think you may be able to repel misery and diseases and turn dust into food? You cannot. But do not be of little faith. You will always have what you need. Do not worry like the people of the world who strive to satisfy their pleasures. You have your Father Who knows what you need. All you must seek, and it must be your first care, is the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all the rest will be given to you as well.
Be not afraid, My little flock. My Father was pleased to call you to the Kingdom, that you may have His Kingdom. You may, therefore, aspire to it and assist the Father through your good will and holy activity. Sell your property and give the money to charity, if you are alone. Give your relatives means of subsistence as compensation for your abandoning the house to follow Me, because it is unfair to deprive children and wife of their daily bread. And if you cannot sacrifice money, sacrifice the wealth of your affections. They are money which God evaluates for what they are: gold which is purer than any other gold; pearls which are more precious than those taken from the sea, and rubies which are rarer than those found in the bowels of the earth. Because to renounce one's family for My sake is love which is more perfect than the purest gold, it is a pearl made of tears, a ruby made of blood wailing from the wound of one's heart, torn to pieces by the separation from father and mother, wife and children. But such purses never wear out, such treasures never fail. Thieves cannot break into Heaven. Wood‑worms cannot eat what is deposited there. And have Heaven in your hearts and your hearts in Heaven near your treasures. Because a heart, whether good or wicked, is with what you consider your dear treasure. So as a heart is there where its treasure is (in Heaven), so the treasure is there where the heart is (within you), nay, the treasure is within the heart and with the treasure of saints, in the heart there is the Heaven of saints.
Be always ready like those who are about to depart or are waiting for their master. You are the servants of the Master‑God. He can call you where He is any moment, or come where you are. Be, therefore, always ready to go, or to pay Him homage, with work or travelling belt round your waists and lamps lit in your hands. Coming out of a wedding party with one who has preceded you in Heaven and in being consecrated to God on the earth, God may remember that you are waiting and may say: "Let us go to Stephen or to John, or to James and to Peter". And God is fast in coming or saying: "Come". So be ready to open the door to Him when He arrives or to leave, should He call you.
Blessed are those servants whom the Master finds vigilant on His arrival. I tell you solemnly that to reward them for their faithful waiting, He will gird His waist, make them sit at the table and serve them. He may come at the first, or second or third watch. You do not know, so be always vigilant. And you will be happy if you are so and the Master finds you thus! Do not flatter yourselves by saying: "There is time. He will not come tonight". Evil would befall you. You do not know. If one knew when a thief is going to come, one would not leave the house unguarded so that a robber may force the door and coffers. Be prepared as well, because when you least expect Him, the Son of man will come saying: "It is time".»
Peter, who has even forgotten to finish his food, to listen to the Lord, when he sees that Jesus is silent, asks: «What You said, is it for us or for everybody? »
«It is for you and for everybody. But it is primarily for you, because you are like stewards put by the Master at the head of the servants and it is your duty to be twice as vigilant, both as stewards and as simple believers. What must a steward be like, once he has been put by his master at the head of the servants, so that he may give each his fair portion at the right moment? He must be shrewd and loyal, in order to fulfil his own duty and make his subordinates fulfil theirs. Otherwise the interests of the master would suffer a loss, whereas he pays so that the steward may act on his behalf and safeguard his interests while he is away.
Happy is the servant whom the master finds acting loyally, diligently and honestly, on his returning home. I tell you solemnly that he will appoint his steward over other estates, over all his estates, and will relax and rejoice in his heart because of the reliability of his servant. But if the servant says: "Well! My master is very far away and has written to me that he will be delayed in coming back home. So I can do what I like and I will do the necessary when I think he is about to come". And he begins to eat and drink until he gets drunk and gives crazy orders and, as the good servants under him refuse to carry them out not to cause damage to their master, he beats servants and maids until they are taken ill and decline. And thinking that he is happy he says: "At last I relish being the master and feared by everybody". But what will happen to him? It will happen that the master will arrive when he least expects him, catching him perhaps in the very act of pocketing money or bribing some of the most unreliable servants. Then, I tell you, the master will throw him out, depriving him of his position as steward, and refusing to keep him among his servants, because it is not right to keep unfaithful traitors among honest people. And the more the master previously loved and instructed him, the more he will be punished.
Because the more one is aware of the will and mind of the master, the more one is obliged to fulfil it accurately. If one does not act as the master explained in so great detail that nobody else was told so clearly, one will be severely beaten, whereas an inferior servant, who knows little and does wrong while he thinks he is doing right, will receive a less severe punishment. Much will be requested of him who was given much, and he who has much in his care, will have to return much, because My stewards will be asked to give an account also of the soul of a baby one hour old.
My election is not a cool relaxation in a flowery little wood. I came to bring fire on the earth; and what can I wish for but that it may light up? That is why I tire Myself and I want you to tire yourselves until you die and until the whole earth is a celestial bonfire. I am to be baptised with a baptism. And how distressed I will be until it is accomplished! Are you not asking why? Because through it I will be able to make you Fire‑bearers, agitators who will act in every and against every social stratum, to make it one thing only: the flock of Christ.
Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? And according to the way of thinking of the earth? No. On the contrary, I came to bring discord and separation. Because from now on, and until the whole world becomes one only flock, of five people in one house two will be against three, and the father will be against his son, and the son against the father, the mother against her daughters and the daughters against the mother and mothers‑in‑law and daughters‑in‑law will have a further reason not to understand each other, because a new language will be spoken by some lips, and it will be like Babel, because a deep disturbance will agitate the reign of human and superhuman affections. Then the time will come when everything will be unified in a new language, spoken by all those who have been saved by the Nazarene, and feelings will be filtered like water, as the dross will sink to the bottom, while the limpid waves of celestial lakes will shine on the surface.
Truly, it is not restful to serve Me, according to the meaning man attaches to that word. Heroism and indefatigability are required. But I tell you that at the end it will be Jesus, still and always Jesus, Who will gird His waist to serve you, and will sit with you at an eternal banquet and all labour and sorrow will be forgotten.
Now, since no one has been looking for us, let us go to the lake. We shall rest at Magdala. In the gardens of Mary of Lazarus there is room for everybody and she has put her house at the disposal of the Pilgrim and His friends. There is no need for Me to tell you that Mary of Magdala died with her sin and she has risen again from her repentance as Mary of Lazarus, the woman disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. You are already aware of that because the news spread like the fury of the wind in a forest. But I will tell you something you do not know: all the personal wealth of Mary is for the servants of God and the poor people of Christ. Let us go...»
276. In the Garden of Mary of Magdala: Love for One's Neighbour.
16th September 1945.
Jesus is no longer where He was during the last vision. He is in a large garden which extends as far as the lake, and in the middle of it there is a house surrounded by the garden, which at the rear of the house is at least three times as large as on the front and sides. There are flowers, but above all trees, thickets and green nooks, some around fountain‑basins of precious marbles, some like bowers around tables and stone seats. And there must have been statues here and there, both along the paths and in the centre of the basins. Only the pedestals of the statues are now left as a remembrance, near laurel and box shrubs or reflected in the basins full of limpid water.
The presence of Jesus with His disciples and of people from Magdala, among whom there is little Benjamin who dared to tell the Iscariot that he was a bad man, makes me think that they are the gardens of the Magdalene's house... which have been conveniently altered for a new function by removing what might have disgusted or scandalised or reminded one of the past.
The lake is a grey‑blue crêpe reflecting the sky, where clouds are sailing swiftly, laden with the first autumn rain. But it is beautiful even so, in the still placid light of a day which is not clear but not entirely rainy. Its shores are no longer covered with flowers, they are however painted by the great painter which is autumn and they show ochre and purple hues and the exhausted pallor of the withering leaves of trees and vineyards, which change colour before yielding to the earth their living clothing. In the garden of a villa overlooking the lake like this one, there is a spot which has turned red, as if it poured blood into the water, due to the presence of a hedge of flexible branches, which autumn has coloured with a blazing copper hue, while the willow‑trees spread along the shore, not far from the garden, seem to be trembling, as their slender silver‑green leaves quiver and look paler than usual before dying.
Jesus is not looking at what I am watching. He is looking at some poor sick people whom He cures. He is looking at some old beggars to whom He gives some money. He is looking at some children offered to Him by their mothers that He may bless them. And He is looking pitifully at a group of sisters, who are informing Him of the behaviour of their only brother, who has caused their mother to die of a broken heart and has brought about their ruin, and the poor women beg Him to give them some advice and to pray for them.
«I will certainly pray for you. I will ask God to give you peace and I will pray for him, that he may turn and remember that you are his sisters, giving you what is fair and above all that he may love you once again. Because if he does that, he will do everything else. But do you love him, or have you a grudge against him? Do you forgive him wholeheartedly or is there anger in your tears? Because he is unhappy, too. More than you are. And notwithstanding his riches, he is poorer than you are, and you must pity him. He no longer loves and is without the love of God. See how unhappy he is? The sad life he made you lead will end in happiness for you and first of all for your mother. But not for him. On the contrary, from the false present enjoyment he would pass to an eternal dreadful torture. Come with Me. By speaking to you I will speak to everybody.»
And Jesus goes towards the centre of a meadow, where once there must have been a statue and the site is now strewn with groups of flowers. Only the pedestal is now left and it is surrounded by a low hedge of myrtle and miniature roses. Jesus goes towards that hedge and begins to speak. The people become silent and crowd round Him.
«Peace be with you. Listen.
It is written: "Love your neighbour as you love yourself". But who is our neighbour? The whole of mankind, in a general meaning. In a narrower sense all our countrymen; in an even narrower sense, all our fellow citizens; then in a more and more narrow meaning, all our relatives; finally, the last circle of this crown of love closed like the petals of a rose round the heart of the flower, the love for our full‑brothers: our first neighbour. God is the centre of the heart of the flower of love, so love for Him is the first to be had. Around His centre there is the love for our parents, the second to be had, because father and mother are really the little "God" on the earth, as they procreated us and cooperated with God to our creation, besides taking care of us with untiring love. The various love rings press round that ovary which shines with pistils and exhales the perfume of the most choice love. The first is the love for our brothers born of the same womb and same blood as ourselves.
How is our brother to be loved? Only because his flesh and blood are the same as ours? Even the little birds which are together in one nest can do that. In fact, this is all they have in common: they were born in the same brood and have on their tongues the flavour of their father's and mother's saliva. We men are worth more than birds. We have more than flesh and blood. We have the Father besides having a father and mother. We have a soul and we have God, the Father of all men. So we must love our brother as a brother, because of our father and mother who gave birth to us, and as a brother because of God Who is the universal Father.
We must love him, therefore, spiritually not only corporeally. We must love him not only because of his body and blood, but because of the spirit which we have in common. And we must love, as it is to be loved, the spirit of our brother more than his body. Because the spirit is more important than the body. Because the Father God is more important than the man father. Because the spirit is worth more than the flesh. Because our brother would be much more unhappy if he lost the Father God than he would be if he lost his man father. It is heart‑rending to be deprived of the man father, but it is only half an orphanhood. It is detrimental only to what is earthly, that is to our need for help and caresses. But the spirit, if it can believe, is not damaged by the death of the father. On the contrary, in order to join the just father where he is, the spirit of the son rises as if it were attracted by a loving force. And I tell you solemnly that that is love, love for God and for the father, who has ascended with his soul to the place of wisdom. He ascends to the place where he is closer to God and acts with greater rectitude, because he does not lack true help, that is the prayers of the father whom he now loves perfectly, neither does he lack restraint due both to the certainty that the father does now see the deeds of his son, better than he did in his lifetime, and to the desire to be able to join him through a holy life.
That is why one must take greater care of the spirit than of the body of the brother. It would certainly be a very poor love if it took care of what is perishable, neglecting what is not perishable and which, if neglected, may lose eternal joy. Too many people tire themselves with useless things and worry themselves about what is of comparative merit, losing sight of what is really necessary. Good sisters and brothers must not worry only about keeping clothes tidy and having meals ready, or helping their brothers with their work. But they must bend over their spirits and listen to their voices, perceive their faults, and with loving patience busy themselves to give them a wholesome holy spirit, if in those voices and faults they see a danger for their eternal lives. And if their brother has sinned against them, they must forgive him and get God to forgive him, through his return to love, without which God will not forgive.
It is written in Leviticus: "You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart, you must openly tell him of his offence, this way you will not take a sin upon yourself because of him". But there is an abyss between not hating and loving. You may think that aversion, detachment, indifference are not sins, because they are not hatred. No. I have come to bring new light to love, and consequently, to hatred, because what makes the former shine in every detail, makes every detail of the latter shine as well. The very elevation to high spheres of the former, brings out, as a consequence, a greater detachment from the latter, because the higher love ascends, the lower hatred seems to sink.
My doctrine is perfection. It is refinement of feelings and judgement. It is truth without metaphors and paraphrases. And I tell you that aversion, detachment and indifference are already hatred. Simply because they are not love. Hatred is the opposite of love. Can you find another name for aversion? For being detached from a being? For indifference? He who loves has a liking for the person loved. So if he dislikes him, he no longer loves him. He who loves, even if he is separated materially from the person he loves, continues to be near him with his spirit. So if one is detached with one's spirit from the other, one no longer loves the other. He who loves is never indifferent towards the person he loves, on the contrary he is interested in everything concerning that person. So if one is indifferent towards another, it means that one does not love the other. You can thus see that those three attitudes are branches of one plant: hatred. Now what happens when we are offended by one whom we love? In ninety per cent of cases, if hatred does not arise, aversion, detachment or indifference will result. No. Do not do that. Do not freeze your hearts by means of those three forms of hatred. Love.
But you are asking yourselves: "How can we?". I reply to you: "As God can, as He loves those who offend Him. A sorrowful but still good love". You say: "How do we do that?". I am giving a new law on the relationship with a guilty brother, and I say: "If your brother offends you, do not humiliate him by reproaching him in public, but urge your love to cover up your brother's fault in the eyes of the world". Because great will be your merit in the eyes of God, by barring, out of love, every satisfaction to your pride.
Oh! How man loves to let people know that he was offended and grieved thereby! Like a foolish beggar he does not go to a king asking for alms in gold, but he goes to other foolish beggars like himself asking for handfuls of ash and manure and mouthfuls of burning poison. That is what the world gives to the offended person who goes complaining and begging for comfort. God, the King, gives pure gold to him, who, being offended, goes without any grudge to weep only at His feet and ask Him, Love and Wisdom, for comfort of love and how to behave in the sorrowful circumstance. Therefore, if you want comfort, go to God and act with love.
I say to you, correcting the old law: "If your brother has sinned against you, go and correct him by yourself. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother once again. And at the same time you have gained many blessings from God. If your brother does not listen to you, but he rejects you persisting in his fault, take with you two or three grave, clever, reliable witnesses, so that no one may say that you are agreeable to his fault or indifferent to the welfare of his soul, and go back to your brother with them, and kindly repeat your remarks in their presence, so that the witnesses may be able to repeat that you have done everything in your power to correct your brother in a holy way. Because that is the duty of a good brother, since the sin committed by him against you is detrimental to his soul, and you must take care of his soul. If that is of no avail, inform the synagogue, so that he may be called to order in the name of God. If even so he does not make amends and he rejects the synagogue or the Temple as he rejected you, consider him as a publican and a Gentile".
Do that both with your full brothers and with the people you love. Because also with your remote neighbour you must behave with holiness, generosity, flexibility and love. And when it is a law‑suit and it is necessary to go to court and you go with your adversary, I tell you, o man, who often find yourself in greater evils through your own fault, to do everything in your power, while you are on the way, to make your peace with him, whether you are right or wrong. Because human justice is always imperfect and a shrewd man generally defeats justice and the offender might be considered innocent, whilst you, who are innocent, might be found guilty. And then not only your right would not be acknowledged, but you would lose the case and from being innocent you would be found guilty of slander and so the judge would hand you over to the law‑executor who would not let you free until you had paid down to the last penny.
Be conciliating. Does your pride suffer by it? Very well. Is money squeezed out of you? Better still. Providing your holiness increases. Do not feel nostalgia for gold. Do not crave for praises. Let God praise you. Ensure that you have your purse in Heaven. And pray for those who offend you. That they may make amends. If that happens, they themselves will give you back honour and goods. If they do not, God will.
Go, now, because it is time for your meal. Let only the beggars stay and sit at the apostolic table. Peace be with you.»
277. Jesus Sends the Seventy‑Two Disciples.
17th September 1945.
After the meal Jesus dismisses the poor guests and remains with His apostles and disciples in the garden of Mary of Magdala. They sit at the very end of it, near the calm water of the lake, on which some sailing boats are fishing.
«They will have a good catch » comments Peter who is watching them.
«You will have a good catch, too, Simon of Jonah.»
«Me, my Lord? When? Do You want me to go out and fish for our food for tomorrow? I will go at once and...»
«We do not need any food in this house. You will have a good catch in future, in the spiritual field. And most of these will be very good fishermen like you. »
«Not everyone, Master? » asks Matthew.
«Not everyone. But those who will persevere and become My priests will have good catches.»
«Conversions? » asks James of Zebedee.
«They will convert, forgive, lead back to God. Oh! so many things.»
«Listen, Master. You said before that if a man does not even listen to his brother in the presence of witnesses, the synagogue is to admonish him. Now, if I have understood correctly what You have been telling us since we met, I think that the synagogue will be replaced by the Church, the thing that You want to found. If so, where will we go to have our pig‑headed brothers admonished? »
«You will do that yourselves, because you will be My Church. So believers will come to you, for advice for themselves or for advice for other people. I will tell you more. You will not be able only to give advice. You will be able to absolve in My Name. You will be able to release people from the chains of sin and you will be able to join two people who love each other so that they become one body. And what you do will be valid in the eyes of God, as if God Himself had done it. I tell you solemnly that whatever you bind on the earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever you absolve on the earth will be absolved in Heaven. And I say to you also, to make you understand the power of My Name, of brotherly love and prayer, that if two disciples of Mine, and I mean as such all those who will believe in the Christ, will gather together to ask for any just thing in My Name, that thing will be granted to them by My Father. Because prayer is a great power, brother union is a great power, My Name is a very great infinite power and so is My presence among you. And where two or three people are gathered in My Name, I shall be in the midst of them, and I will pray with them and the Father will not refuse anything to those who pray with Me. Many do not get what they ask for, because they pray by themselves, or they ask for what is illicit, or they pray with pride or sin in their hearts. Make your hearts pure, so that I can be with you, then pray and you will be heard.»
Peter is thoughtful. Jesus notices it and asks him why. And Peter replies: «I am thinking of the great duty to which we are destined. And I am afraid of it. I am afraid I cannot accomplish it properly.»
«In fact Simon of Jonah or James of Alphaeus or Philip, and so on, would not do it properly. But Peter the priest, James the priest, Philip the priest or Thomas will do very well because they will be acting together with Divine Wisdom.»
«And... how many times will we have to forgive our brethren? How many times if they sin against the priests; and how many if they sin against God? Because, if things will happen then, as they do now, they will certainly sin against us, since they sin against You so many times. Tell me whether I have to forgive always or a number of times. For instance, seven times, or more? »
«I will not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. An endless number. Because also the Father of Heaven will forgive you many times, a great number of times, and you ought to be perfect. So do as He does with you, because you will represent God on the earth. Nay, listen. I will tell you a parable which will help everybody.»
And Jesus, Who was surrounded by the apostles only, in a box thicket, goes towards the disciples who are respectfully gathered in a open space adorned with a fountain‑basin full of clear water. Jesus' smile is a like a sign that He is going to speak. And while He walks with long slow steps, so that in a few moments He covers a good distance without rushing, they are all delighted and press round Him as children gather round those who make them happy. It is a circle of keen faces, until Jesus leans against a tall tree and begins to speak.
«What I said before to the people is to be completed for you who have been chosen from the people. The apostle Simon of Jonah asked Me: "How many times must I forgive? Whom? Why?". I replied to him privately and I will now repeat My reply as it is fair that you should know now as well.
Listen how many times, how and why you have to forgive. You must forgive as God forgives, Who forgives a thousand times, if one sins a thousand times and repents. Providing He sees that in man there is no will to sin, no pursuit of what makes one sin and that sin is only the result of man's weakness. In the case of voluntary persistence in sin there can be no forgiveness for sins against the Law. But with regard to the grief such sins cause you individually, you are to forgive them. Always forgive those who harm you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven, because you have sinned also against God and your brothers. Forgiveness opens the Kingdom of Heaven both to him who is forgiven and to him who forgives. It is like what happened to a king and his servants.
A king wanted to draw up the accounts with his servants. He called them one by one, beginning with those who were in the highest positions. There was one who owed the king ten thousand talents. But the servant could not pay back the advance the king had given him to build his house and purchase all kinds of goods, because in actual fact, for many more or less justified reasons, he had not made a very diligent use of the money lent to him for that purpose. The king and master was angry at his sloth and breakage of his word, and ordered him, his wife, children and all his possessions to be sold until he settled his debt. But the servant threw himself at the king's feet and weeping implored him: "Let me go. Have a little more patience and I will give you back everything I owe you to the last penny". The king was moved by so much distress ‑ he was a good king ‑ and not only agreed to his request, but when he heard that diseases had been the cause of his lack of diligence and failure to pay, he also remitted his debt.
The servant went away happily. But on his way out he ran into another servant, a poor fellow to whom he had lent one hundred denarii taken from the ten thousand talents received from the king. As he felt sure of the king's protection he thought everything was permissible to him and he seized the unhappy fellow by the throat saying: "Give me what you owe me". In vain the man stooped weeping to kiss his feet imploring: "Have mercy on me as I have had much bad luck. Have a little patience and I will pay everything back to you to the last penny". The cruel servant sent for militiamen and had the poor wreck taken to prison so that he would make up his mind and pay him, or lose his freedom or his very life.
The friends of the unhappy man came to know about it, and being very upset, they went and told the king and master, who, upon hearing the news, ordered the pitiless servant to be brought before him and looking at him severely said: "You wicked servant, I helped you the first time, that you might become merciful, that you might become a rich man, then I helped you by remitting your debt when you implored me to have patience. You did not have pity on your fellow servant, whilst I, a king, had so much pity on you. Why did you not treat your fellow servant as I treated you?". And in his anger he handed him over to the jailors to be kept by them until he paid everything back, saying: "As he did not have pity on one who owed him very little, while he had so much pity from me who am a king, so I will no longer have pity on him".
And that is how My Father will deal with you if you are pitiless towards your brothers, if you are more guilty than a believer, after receiving so much from God. Remember that it is your duty to be more faultless than anybody else. Remember that God gives you a great treasure in advance, but He wants you to render an account of it. Remember that no one must be able to grant love and forgiveness like you.
Do not be servants exacting much for yourselves and giving nothing to those who ask you for help. As you do to others, it will be done to you. And you will be asked to give an account of how other people behave, if they have been led to good or to evil by your examples. Oh! If you have sanctified people, your glory in Heaven will be really great! But, likewise, if you have been corrupters or only sluggish in sanctifying, you will be severely punished.
I say to you once again: if any of you does not feel like being the victim of his own mission, let him go away. But let him not fall in it. I mean: let him not fail in what is pernicious to his own and other people's perfection. And let him have God as his friend, always forgiving your weak brothers from your hearts. Then each of you, who will thus forgive, will be forgiven by God the Father.
Our stay has come to an end. The time of Tabernacles is close at hand. Those to whom I spoke separately this morning, as from tomorrow will go ahead of Me announcing Me to the people. Those who are staying must not lose heart. I have kept some of them for prudential reasons, not because I disdain them. They will be staying with Me and I will soon send them as I am now sending the first seventy‑two disciples.
The harvest is rich, but the labourers are too few compared to what is needed. So there will be work for everyone. But that is not sufficient. So, without being jealous, ask the Lord of the harvest to send new labourers to His harvest. In the meantime, you may go. During the past days, the apostles and I have completed your instructions on the work you have to do, and I have repeated to you what I told the Twelve before sending them.
One of you asked Me: "How will I cure in Your Name?". Always cure the spirit first. Promise the sick people the Kingdom of God if they can believe in Me, and once you have ascertained their faith, order the disease to depart and it will go away. And do likewise with those whose souls are ill. Stimulate their faith first of all. By means of sound words inspire them with Hope. I will then come to grant them Divine Charity, as I put it into your hearts after you believed in Me and hoped for Mercy. And be not afraid of men or of demons. They will not hurt you. The only things you are to fear are: sensuality, pride, avarice. Through them you would hand yourselves over to Satan and devilish men, who also exist.
Go therefore, preceding Me along the roads of the Jordan. And when you arrive in Jerusalem go and join the shepherds in the valley of Bethlehem, and come with them to Me, in the place you know, and we will celebrate together the holy feast, and we will then go back to our ministry more invigorated than ever.
Go in peace. I bless you in the holy Name of the Lord.»
278. Jesus Meets Lazarus at the Field of the Galileans.
18th September 1945.
The famous Field of the Galileans ‑ I think that is the meaning of the word used by Jesus to point out the meeting place with the seventy‑two disciples sent ahead of Him ‑ is part of the Mount of Olives, towards the road to Bethany, which actually passes there. And it is precisely in this place that in a vision of long ago, I saw Joachim and Anne camp with Alphaeus, then a little boy, near other tents made with branches, at the Feast of the Tabernacles, which preceded the conception of the Blessed Virgin.
The summit of the Mount of Olives is smooth: everything is smooth and pleasant on that mountain: the slopes, the view, the summit. It really inspires peace, clad as it is with olive‑trees and silence. But not now. Because it is swarming with people intent on making their tents. But generally it is a place of tranquillity and meditation. On the left hand side, with respect to those facing north, there is a light depression, and then another summit which is even smoother than the previous one.
And it is on this tableland that the Galileans camp. I do not know whether it is an age‑old religious custom or whether they do so by order of the Romans to avoid conflicts with Judaeans and peoples of other regions, who are never very kind to Galileans. I do not know. I know that I can see many Galileans, amongst them Alphaeus of Sarah from Nazareth; Judas, the old land owner from Merom; Jairus, the head of the synagogue and other people from Bethsaida, Capernaum and other towns in Galilee, but whose names I do not know.
Jesus points out the place where they should put up their tents, on the eastern edge of the Field of the Galileans. And the apostles, together with some disciples, among whom there is John the priest and John the scribe, Timoneus, the head of the synagogue, Stephen, Ermasteus, Joseph of Emmaus, Abel of Bethlehem in Galilee, begin to make their tents with branches.
While they do so, Jesus speaks to some children from Capernaum, who have pressed round Him asking Him dozens of questions and confiding to Him as many pieces of information, when Lazarus arrives from the Bethany road with Maximinus, his inseparable companion. Jesus is facing the opposite direction and cannot see him. But the Iscariot does and he informs the Master, Who leaves the children and goes towards His friend smiling. Maximinus stops a few steps behind, to leave the two completely free in their first approach. And Lazarus covers the last few yards, as fast as he can, walking more painfully than ever, with a smile which trembles with pain on his lips and shines with tears in his eyes. Jesus opens His arms and Lazarus falls on to His heart, bursting into tears.
«What, My dear friend? Are you still weeping?...» asks Jesus, kissing his temple. He is so much taller than Lazarus, from His shoulders upwards, and looks even taller, as Lazarus is bent in his embrace of love and respect.
At last Lazarus looks up and says: «Yes, I am weeping. Last year I gave You the pearls of my sad tears, it is therefore fair that I give You the pearls of my tears of joy. Oh! Master, my Master! I think that there is nothing more humble and holy than good tears... And I give them to You, to say: "Thank You" for my Mary who is now a kind, happy, serene, pure good girl... Oh, much better than when she was a little girl. And I, I who felt that I was much above her, in my pride of an Israelite faithful to the Law, now I feel I am so tiny, so... nothing, as compared to her, who is no longer a woman, but a flame. A sanctifying flame. I... I cannot understand where she finds the wisdom, the words, the actions, which edify the whole household. I look at her as one looks at a mystery. But how could so much fire, such a jewel be hidden under so much rottenness and be there comfortably? Neither I nor Martha can ascend where she ascends. But how can she, if her wings were broken by vice? I do not understand...»
«And there is no need for you to understand. It is enough that I understand. But I tell you that Mary has turned the powerful energy of her being towards Good. She has bent her character towards Perfection. And since her character is of powerful absolutism, she thrusts herself unreservedly on that way. She makes use of her experience in evil to be as powerful in good as she was in evil and using the same method of giving herself entirely, as she did in evil, she has given herself entirely to God. She has understood the law of "love God with your whole being, with your body, your soul and with all your strength". If Israel were made of Maries, if the world were made of Maries, we would have the Kingdom on God on the earth, as it will be in the most high Heaven.»
«Oh! Master! And it is Mary of Magdala who deserves such words!...»
«It is Mary of Lazarus. The great friend, the sister of My great friend. How did you know that I was here, if My Mother has not yet come to Bethany? »
«The steward of the Clear Water has come to me, by forced marches, and told me that You were coming. Every day I sent a servant here. A little while ago he came saying: "He has arrived and is at the Field of the Galileans". I left immediately...»
«But you are suffering...»
«So much, Master! My legs...»
«And you came. I would have come, soon...»
«My anxiety to tell You my joy was tormenting me. I have had it in my heart for months. A letter! How can a letter say such things? I could not wait any longer... Will You come to Bethany? »
«Of course. Immediately after the Feast.»
«You are anxiously awaited... That Greek girl... What a mind! I speak very much with her, anxious as she is to learn about God. But she is very well educated... and I succumb, because I do not know certain things very well. It takes You.»
«And I will come. Now let us go to Maximinus, and then I beg You to be My guest. My Mother will be happy to see you and you will be able to rest. She will soon be here with the boy.»
And they go to Maximinus who kneels down greeting Him...
279. The Seventy‑Two Disciples Report to Jesus What They Have Done.
19th September 1945.
The seventy‑two disciples come back at the long twilight of a clear October day with Elias, Joseph and Levi. They are tired and covered with dust, but so happy! The three shepherds are happy that they are now free to serve the Master. They are happy also because, after so many years of separation, they are with their companions of long ago. The seventy‑two are happy because they have accomplished their first mission satisfactorily. Their faces shine more than the little lamps which light up the little tents built for the large group of pilgrims.
Jesus' tent is in the centre and under it there is the Blessed Virgin with Marjiam who helps Her to prepare supper. Around it there are the tents of the apostles. Mary of Alphaeus is in the tent of James and Judas; Mary Salome and her husband are in John and James'; in the one near it there is Susanna with her husband, who is not an apostle or disciple... officially,... but he must have made a claim to stay there, since he granted his wife permission to be entirely of Jesus. Then, around them, there are the tents of the disciples, some of whom are with their families, some without. And those who are alone, as most of them are, have joined one or more companions. John of Endor has taken in the solitary Ermasteus, but he has endeavoured to be as close as possible to Jesus' tent, so that Marjiam often goes to him, taking one thing or another and cheering him up with the words of an intelligent child who is happy to be with Jesus, Mary and Peter, and at a feast as well.
After supper Jesus goes towards the slopes of the olive grove and the disciples follow Him all together.
When they are far from the babel and the crowd, after praying together, they report to Jesus in greater detail than they were able to do before, among those going and coming. And they are amazed and happy when they say: «Do You know, Master, that not only diseases but also demons obeyed us because of the power of Your Name? What a wonderful thing, Master! We poor men were able to release a man from the dreadful power of a demon, only because You had sent us!...» and they tell of many cases which happened here or there. Only of one possessed they say: «His relatives, or rather his mother and neighbours brought him to us by force. But the demon scoffed at us saying: "I have come back here by his will after the Nazarene had driven me out and I will not leave him again because he loves me more than he loves your Master and he looked for me" and with indomitable strength he suddenly tore the man away from those who were holding him and hurled him down a precipice. We ran to see whether he had been dashed to pieces. He had not! He was running like a young gazelle repeating curses and quips not really of this world... We felt sorry for his mother... But he!... Oh! can the demon do all that? »
«All that and much more » says Jesus sadly.
«Perhaps if You had been there...»
«No. I admonished him: "Go and do not relapse into your sin". But he did. He knew he wanted evil and he agreed. He is lost. There is a difference between a man who is possessed the first time through his ignorance and a man who wants to be possessed knowing that by doing so he sells himself again to the demon. But do not speak of him. He is a member cut off without hope. He is a volunteer of Evil. Let us rather praise the Lord for the victories He granted you. I know the name of the culprit and the names of those who have been saved. I could see Satan fall from heaven like a thunderbolt through your merits joined to My Name. Because I saw also your sacrifices, your prayers, the love with which you went towards unhappy people to do what I had told you to do. You have acted with love and God blessed you. Others will do what you do, but they will do it without love. And they will not get conversions... But do not rejoice because you have subdued spirits, but rejoice because your names are written in Heaven. Never remove them from there...»
«Master, when will those come who will not get conversions? Perhaps when You are no longer with us? » asks one of the disciples whose name I do not know.
«No, Agapo. Any time.»
«What? Also when You teach and love us? »
«Yes. I will always love you, also when you are far from Me. My love will always come to you and you will perceive it.»
«Oh! that is true. I perceived it one evening when I was vexed because I did not know how to reply to one who was asking me questions. I was on the point of running away shamefully. But I remembered Your words: "Be not afraid. You will be given at the right moment the words to be spoken" and I invoked You in my spirit. I said: "Jesus certainly loves me. I am calling His love to assist me" and Your love came to me. Like a fire, a light... a strength... The man before me was watching me sneering ironically and winking at his friends. He was sure to win the argument. I opened my mouth and it was like a river of words which flowed out joyfully from my silly mouth. Master, did You really come, or was it an illusion? I do not know. I know that at the end the man - he was a young scribe ‑ threw his arms round my neck saying: "You are blessed and blessed is He who has led you to such wisdom" and he seemed anxious to find You. Will he come?»
«Man's thoughts are as labile as words written on water, and his will is as restless as the wing of a swallow flying about for its last meal of the day. But pray for him... Yes. I did come to you. And Matthias and Timoneus, and John of Endor and Simon and Samuel and Jonah: they all had Me. Some were conscious of My presence, some were not. But I was with you. And I shall be with those who serve Me with love and truth for ever and ever.»
«Master, You have not yet told us whether among those who are present there will be someone without love...»
«It is not necessary to know that. It would be lack of love on My part to instigate indignation towards a companion who is not capable of loving.»
«But are there any? You can tell us that...»
«Yes, there are. Love is the simplest, sweetest and rarest thing there is, and even when it is sown, it does not always take root.»
«But if we do not love You, who can? » There is almost anger among the apostles and disciples who are upset by suspicion and sorrow.
Jesus closes His eyes. He conceals them that they may give no hint. But He makes a resigned, kind, sad gesture with His hands, which He stretches out with open palms, His gesture of resigned confession and admission and He says: «That is how it should be. But it is not so. Many do not know themselves yet. But I know them. And I pity them.»
«Oh! Master! Is it I perhaps? » asks Peter going close to Jesus, squeezing poor Marjiam between himself and the Master and throwing his short muscular arms towards the shoulders of Jesus Whom he grasps and shakes, looking mad with the terror of being one who does not love Jesus.
Jesus opens His bright but sad eyes and looking at Peter's inquisitive and frightened face, He says to him: «No, Simon of Jonah. Not you. You know how to love and you will love more and more. You are My Stone, Simon of Jonah. A good stone. I will lay on it the things dearest to Me and I am sure that you will support them without any disturbance.»
«And I? », «I? », «I? ». The question is being repeated like an echo from mouth to mouth.
«Peace! Peace! Be calm and endeavour, all of you, to possess love.»
«But which of us knows how to love most? »
Jesus looks round at everyone: a smiling caress... He then lowers His eyes and looks at Marjiam still squeezed between Himself and Peter and pushing Peter aside a little, He turns the boy round with his face towards the little crowd and says: «Here is he who knows how to love most among you. The boy. But you, whose cheeks are covered with beards and whose hair is grey, must not tremble with fear. Whoever is born again in Me becomes "a child". Oh! go in peace! Praise God Who called you, because you really see with your eyes the wonders of the Lord. Blessed are those who will also see what you see. Because I assure you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but they did not see it, and many patriarchs would have liked to know what you know, but they did not know, and many just people would have liked to hear what you hear but they were not able to hear it. But from now on those who love Me, will know everything.»
«And after? When You have gone, as You say? »
«Afterwards you will speak on My behalf. And later... Oh! large groups, not by number but by grace, of those who will see, know and hear what you now see, know and hear! Oh! large beloved multitudes of My "little‑big" ones! Eternal eyes, eternal minds, eternal ears! How can I explain to you, who are around Me, what this eternal living will be, rather than eternal, endless living of those who will love Me and whom I will love to the extent of abolishing time, and they will be "the citizens of Israel" even if they live when Israel will be simply the remembrance of a nation, and they will be the contemporaries of Jesus living in Israel. And they will be with Me and in Me, until they learn what time has cancelled and pride has confused. What name shall I give them? You apostles, you disciples, the believers will be called "Christians". And those? What name will they have? A name known only in Heaven. What reward will they receive from the earth? My kiss, My voice, the warmth of My body. All Myself. I, they. They, I. Utter communion... Go. I will stay to delight My spirit in the contemplation of those who in future will know and love Me in an absolute manner. Peace be with you.»
280. At the Temple for the Tabernacles.
20th September 1945.
Jesus is going to the Temple. The male disciples precede Him in groups, the women disciples follow Him, also in groups, that is, His Mother, Mary of Clopas, Mary Salome, Susanna, Johanna of Chuza, Eliza of Bethzur, Annaleah of Jerusalem, Martha and Marcella. The Magdalene is not there. The twelve apostles and Marjiam are around Jesus.
Jerusalem is in the pomp of its solemn festivities. There are people in every street and from every country. Singing, talking, whispering of prayers, the cursing of ass‑drivers, the weeping of children can be heard everywhere. And above all the confusion there is the clear sky visible between houses and a pleasant sunshine which brightens up the colours of garments and enlivens the dying shades of pergolas and trees, glimpses of which can be caught here and there, beyond the walls of closed gardens and terraces.
Jesus at times meets acquaintances and their greetings are more or less respectful according to the mood of the person He meets. Gamaliel in fact bows deeply but superciliously and stares at Stephen, who smiles at him from the group of disciples and whom Gamaliel calls aside, after bowing to Jesus, and says a few words to him. Stephen then goes back to his group. The salutation of Cleopas of Emmaus, the old head of the synagogue, is revering; he is on his way to the Temple with his fellow citizens. As harsh as a curse is the reply of the Pharisees of Capernaum to Jesus' greeting. Johanah's peasants, led by their steward, greet Jesus by throwing themselves on the ground and kissing His feet in the dust of the road.
The crowds are amazed and stop to watch the group of men who at a cross‑roads prostrate themselves with a cry at the feet of a young man, who is neither, a Pharisee nor a famous scribe, who is neither a satrap nor a powerful courtier, and some ask who he is and a whisper spreads: «He is the Rabbi of Nazareth, the one who is said to be the Messiah.» Proselytes and Gentiles then crowd inquisitively, pressing the group against the wall, causing obstruction in the little square, until a group of ass‑drivers scatters them shouting imprecations. But the crowd soon gathers again, separating women from men, in a harsh demanding manner which is also a manifestation of faith. Everybody wishes to touch Jesus' garments, say a word to Him, ask Him questions. Their efforts are quite futile, because in their haste, in their anxiety and restlessness to move forward, they push one another so that no one is successful and even questions, and answers become muddled in the babel.
The only one who disregards the scene is Marjiam's grandfather, who replied with a shout to his grandson's shout, and immediately after revering the Master has clasped the boy to his heart and remaining thus, sitting back on his heels, his knees on the ground, is holding him on his lap, admiring and caressing him with tears and joyful kisses, asking him questions and listening to him. The old man is already in Paradise, so happy as he is.
The Roman troops rush to the spot thinking there is a brawl and they push through the crowd. But when they see Jesus they smile and withdraw tranquilly and merely advise the people present to clear out of the important cross‑roads. Jesus obeys at once, taking advantage of the space made by the Romans, who are walking a few steps ahead of Him, as if they were making way for Him, whereas in actual fact they are going back to their outpost; the Roman guard has in fact been reinforced, as if Pilate were aware of the ill‑feeling of the crowds and were afraid of an insurrection when Jerusalem is full of Jews from all over. And it is beautiful to see Him go, preceded by the Roman squad, like a king, to whom they make way, while he goes to his possessions.
When passing by, He says to the boy and the old man: «Remain together and follow Me » and to the steward: «Please leave your men with Me. They will be My guests until this evening.»
The steward replies respectfully: «Everything will be done as You wish » and he goes away after bowing deeply.
The Temple is now close at hand and the swarming of the crowds, just like ants near the ant‑nest, is even denser, when one of Johanah's peasants shouts: «There is our master! » and falls on his knees to greet him, imitated by all the others.
Jesus remains standing in the middle of a group of people prostrated, because the peasants had gathered round Him. He turns round looking towards the place pointed out by the peasant, and meets the glance of a Pharisee pompously dressed, whom I have already seen, but I do not know where.
Johanah, the Pharisee, is with other people of his caste: a heap of precious clothes of fringes, buckles, sashes, phylacteries, all larger than common ones. Johanah looks at Jesus attentively: a glance of mere curiosity, but not disrespectful. Nay, his salutation is a stiff one: just a slight inclination of the head. But it is a greeting to which Jesus replies respectfully. Two or three more Pharisees greet Him, whilst others look scornfully or pretend to be looking elsewhere, only one hurls an insult and the people near Jesus start, and even Johanah turns round immediately, fulminating with his eyes the offender, a man younger than he is, with hard conspicuous features.
Once they have gone by and the peasants dare to speak, one of them says: «That is Doras, Master", the one who cursed You.»
«Never mind. I have you who bless Me » replies Jesus calmly.
Leaning against an archivolt there is Manaen with other people, and as soon as he sees Jesus, he raises his arms with a cry of joy: «This is surely a joyous day, as I found You! » and he moves towards Jesus, followed by those who are with him. He reveres Jesus under the shady archivolt, where voices resound like under a dome.
While Manaen is greeting Jesus, His cousins Simon and Joseph pass near the apostolic group with other Nazarenes... but they do not even say hullo... Jesus looks at them sadly but does not say anything. Judas and James speak to each other excitedly, Judas quivers with rage and runs away, resisting restraint by his brother. But Jesus calls him with such a commanding voice: «Judas, come here! » that Alphaeus' vexed son comes back... «Leave them alone. They are like seed which has not yet felt springtime. Leave them in the dark of the insensitive sod. I will penetrate it just the same, even if the sod should become jasper closed round the seed. I will do it in due time.»
But the weeping of Mary of Alphaeus, who is desolate, resounds louder than the answer of Judas of Alphaeus. The long weeping of a distressed person... But Jesus does not turn round to comfort her although her groaning is very clearly heard under the archivolt resounding with echoes.
He continues to speak to Manaen who says to Him: «These are disciples of John's and have come with me. Like me, they want to be Yours.
«Peace be with good disciples. Over there are Matthias, John and Simeon, who are now with Me for good. I welcome you as I welcomed them, because everything that comes from the holy Precursor is dear to Me.»
They have now reached the enclosure of the Temple. Jesus gives instructions to the Iscariot and Simon Zealot for the ritual purchases and offerings. He then calls John, the priest, and says to him: «Since you come from this place, make arrangements to invite some Levites whom you know to be worthy of becoming acquainted with the Truth. Because this year I can really celebrate a joyful feast. Never again will the day be so pleasant...»
«Why, my Lord? » asks John, the scribe.
«Because I have you around Me, all of you, either with your visible presence or with your souls.»
«But we shall always be! And many more with us » states the apostle John emphatically. And everybody echoes him.
Jesus smiles, but remains silent, while John, the priest, goes away, to the Temple, together with Stephen, to carry out the order. Jesus shouts after him: «Join us at the Porch of the Pagans.»
They enter and almost immediately they meet Nicodemus, who bows deeply, but does not approach Jesus. But he exchanges with Jesus a meaningful smile full of peace.
While the women stop where they are allowed, Jesus goes with the men to the place of Jews, to pray, and after accomplishing the rite, He comes back to join those who are waiting for Him at the Porch of the Pagans.
The very large and high porches are crowded with people listening to the lessons of the rabbis. Jesus directs His steps to the spot where the two apostles and the two disciples sent ahead are standing waiting for Him. He is soon surrounded by people, as many people, spread in the crowded marble court, join the apostles and disciples. Curiosity is such that some disciples of rabbis also approach the circle round Jesus, but I do not know whether they do so spontaneously or because their masters have sent them.
Jesus asks point blank: «Why are you pressing round Me? Tell Me. You have well known rabbis, who are well liked by everybody. I am the Unknown and Disliked One. So why do you come to Me? »
«Because we love You » reply some, some say: «Because Your words are different from the words of the others », some: «To see Your miracles » or: «Because we have heard people talk about You » or: «Because You alone have words of eternal life and deeds corresponding to Your words », and finally some say: «Because we want to join Your disciples.»
Jesus looks at the people while they speak, as if He wanted to pierce them with His eyes and read their most hidden thoughts and some of them, who cannot resist His glance, go away or hide behind a column or behind people taller than they are.
Jesus resumes: «But do you know what it means and what it is to follow Me? I am replying to those words only, because curiosity does not deserve a reply and because those who hunger for My words obviously love Me and wish to join Me. So, those who have spoken form two groups: curious people whom I disregard, and volunteers, whom I wish to acquaint with the severity of that vocation.
To follow Me as a disciple means renouncing all affections for one only love: Mine. The selfish love for oneself, the guilty love for riches, sensuality or power, the honest love for one's wife, the holy love for one's father and mother, the deep love for and of children and brothers, must all yield to My love, if one wishes to be Mine. I tell you solemnly that My disciples must be more free than birds flying in the sky, more free than winds blowing across the firmament without anyone or anything holding them back. They must be free, with no heavy chains, with no ties of material love, without even the thin cobwebs of the slightest barrier. The spirit is a delicate butterfly enclosed in the heavy cocoon of the flesh and even the iridescent impalpable web of a spider can slow down its flight or stop it all together: the spider of sensuality, of the lack of generosity in sacrifice. I want everything, unreservedly. The spirit needs such freedom and generosity in giving, to be sure that it is not entangled in the cobwebs of affections, habits, considerations, fears, stretched out like as many threads by the monstruous spider which is Satan, the robber of souls.
If one wants to come to Me and does not hate in a holy manner father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, and one's very life, one cannot be My disciple. I said: "hate in a holy manner". Within your hearts you are saying: "Hatred, as He taught us, is never holy. So He is contradicting Himself". No. I am not contradicting Myself. I say that you must hate the heaviness of love, the sensual passionateness of love for your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and for your very life, on the contrary I order you to love relatives and life with the light freedom of spirits. Love them in God and for God, never postponing God to them, endeavouring and taking care to lead them where the disciple has already arrived, that is to God, the Truth. You will thus love God and relatives in a holy manner, safeguarding each love, so that family ties will not be a burden but wings, not a fault, but justice. You must be prepared to hate even your lives in order to follow Me. He hates his life who without fear of losing it or making it sad from a human point of view, uses it to serve Me. But it is only an appearance of hatred. A feeling erroneously called "hatred" by man who cannot elevate himself, as he is entirely earthly, by little superior to brutes.
In actual fact such apparent hatred, which consists in denying sensual satisfaction to one's life in order to give a more and more intense life to the spirit, is love. It is love, of the highest degree and the most blessed. To deny oneself base satisfactions, to reject sensual affections, to risk unfair reproaches, criticism and punishment, being rejected, cursed and perhaps persecuted, all that is a sequence of grief. But it is necessary to embrace such grief and take it upon yourselves, like a cross, a scaffold on which all past faults are expiated to be justified by God, from Whom you can obtain every true, mighty, holy grace for those whom we love. He who does not carry his cross and does not follow Me, he who cannot do that cannot be My disciple.
Therefore, you who say: "We have come because we want to join Your disciples" must ponder on that very carefully. It is not a shame, but it is wisdom to weigh and judge oneself and admit both to oneself and others: "I am not the stuff of which disciples are made". What? The heathens have as a basis of one of their doctrines the necessity of "knowing oneself", and could you Israelites not do that to gain Heaven?
Because, remember this, blessed are those who will come to Me. But rather than come to betray Me and Him Who sent Me, it is better not to come at all, and remain children of the Law, as you have been so far. Woe betide those who, after saying: "I will come", cause damage to the Christ by being the betrayers of the Christian idea, the scandalisers of little ones and of good people! Woe betide them! And yet there will always be some of them!
You ought therefore to imitate him who wants to build a tower. First he carefully works out the necessary expenses and counts his money to ensure that he has enough to complete the work, lest, after laying the foundation, he may have to stop building through lack of money. In which case he would lose what he had previously and would be left without tower and without talents and over and above he would be scoffed at by people saying: "He began to build but was not able to finish the job. He can now stuff his stomach with the ruins of his unfinished building".
Imitate the kings of the earth also, by letting the poor events of the world be useful for supernatural teaching. When they want to go to war with another king, they calmly and carefully examine everything, the pros and cons, they consider whether the benefit of the conquest is worth the lives of the subjects, they study whether it is possible to conquer the place, whether their forces, which are half those of their enemy, but more pugnacious, can win; and as they rightly think that it is unlikely that ten thousand can beat twenty thousand soldiers, before clashing with the enemy, they send ambassadors with rich gifts for the other king, and thus soothe him, as his suspicions had already been aroused by the military movements of the other, they disarm him with some proof of friendship, they dispel his doubts and fears and make a treaty of peace with him, which is always more advantageous than a war, both from the human and spiritual point of view.
That is what you must do before beginning a new life and fighting the world. Because to be My disciples implies going against the stormy and violent trend of the world, of flesh and of Satan. And if you feel that you do not have the courage to renounce everything for My sake, do not come to Me, because you cannot be My disciples.»
«All right. What You say is true » agrees a scribe who has mingled with the crowd. «But if we divest ourselves of everything, with what shall we serve You? The Law contains commandments which are like money which God has given man so that by making use of it he may buy eternal life. You say: "Renounce everything" and You mention father, mother, riches, honours. God has given us those things also, and through Moses He has told us to use them in a holy way in order to appear just in the eyes of God. If You take everything away from us, what will You give us? »
«True love, as I said, rabbi. I give you My doctrine which does not take one iota away from the old Law, but perfects it.»
«So we are all disciples alike, because we all have the same things.»
«We all have them according to the Mosaic Law. But not everybody has them according to the Law perfected by Me according to Love. Not everyone achieves in it the same amount of merits. Even among My disciples not everybody will have the same amount of merits and some not only will not have an amount, but will lose also the only coin they have: their souls.»
«What? Who was given more will be left with more. Your disciples, or rather Your apostles, are following You in Your mission and are aware of Your ways of behaving, and have had very much, Your real disciples have received much, those who are disciples only by name have received less, and those who like me listen to You only by accident receive nothing. It is obvious that Your apostles will have very much in Heaven, Your real disciples much, Your disciples by name less, those like me nothing.»
«It is obvious from a human point of view, but even from a human point of view it is wrong. Because not everybody is capable of making the goods received yield a profit. Listen to this parable and forgive Me if My lesson is too long. But I am a swallow of passage, and I stop in the House of the Father only for a little while, as I came for the whole world, and also because this little world, which is the Temple of Jerusalem, will not allow Me to interrupt My flight and remain where the glory of the Lord calls Me.»
«Why do You say that? »
«Because it is the truth.»
The scribe looks round and lowers his head. He can see that it is the truth as it is written on the faces of many members of the Sanhedrin, of rabbis and Pharisees who have been enlarging the crowd around Jesus. Faces green with bile, or purple with wrath, looks equivalent to words of curse and spittle of poison, ill‑feeling fomenting everywhere, desire to ill‑treat the Christ, which remains a mere desire only because of fear of the many people surrounding the Master with affection and who are ready for anything in order to defend Him, and perhaps because of fear of punishment by Rome, benign towards the meek Galilean Master.
Jesus calmly resumes clarifying His thought by means of a parable: «A man, who was about to set out on a long journey, and thus be away for a long time, called all his servants and committed all his wealth to them. He gave some of them five silver talents, some two silver talents, some only one gold talent: each according to his position and capability. And then he left. Now the servant who had received five silver talents, negotiated them diligently and after some time they brought him five more. The servant who had received two silver talents, did the same and doubled the amount received. But the servant to whom the master had given most, one talent of pure gold, was seized with fear that he might not be successful, with the fear of thieves and of many fanciful conceptions and above all with laziness, and he dug a deep hole in the ground and hid his master's money in it.
Many months went by and the master came back. He immediately called his servants to give back the money committed to them. The one who had received five silver talents came and said: "Here, my Lord. You gave me five. As I thought it was wrong not to make what you had given me yield some profit, I did my best and I gained five more talents. I was not able to do more…". "Well, very well, my good faithful servant. You have been faithful, willing and honest in little. I will give you authority over much. Come and join in your master's happiness". Next came the man of two talents and said: "I have taken the liberty of making use of your money to your own profit. Here is the account of how I used your money. See? There were two talents, now there are four. Are you glad, my lord?". And the master gave the good servant the same reply given to the first one.
Last came the one who enjoyed the greatest confidence of the master and had received a gold talent from him. He took it out of the casket and said: "You gave me the greatest value because you know that I am wise and loyal, as I know that you are uncompromising and exacting and will not tolerate loss of your money, but if misfortune befalls you, you make it up with those who are close to you. In actual fact you reap where you have not sown and you harvest where you have not scattered seed and you do not remit a penny to your banker or to your steward for any reason whatever. Your money must be as much as you say. Now, as I was afraid of reducing the value of this treasure, I took it and hid it. I trusted nobody, not even myself. I have now dug it up and I give it back to you. Here is your talent".
"O unjust lazy servant! Really, you have not loved me, because you have not known me and you have not loved my welfare, because you left it inactive. You have betrayed the confidence I had in you and you belie, accuse and condemn yourself by yourself. You knew that I reap where I have not sown and I harvest where I have scattered no seed. Why, then, did you not ensure that I could reap and harvest? Is that how you come up to my confidence? Is that how you know me? Why did you not take the money to a banker, so that I might draw it on my return with its interest? I diligently instructed you how to do that and you, silly lazy servant, took no heed of what I told you. Your talent and everything else will be taken off you and given to the man of the ten talents".
"But he already has ten, while this man is deprived of it..." they objected.
"And that is right. He who has and works with what he has, will be given more and even in excess. But he who has nothing, because he did not want anything, will be deprived also of what was given to him. With regard to the useless servant who betrayed my confidence and left inactive the gifts I had given him, throw him out of my property and let him go and weep and eat his heart out".
That is the parable. As you see, rabbi, he who had most was left with less, because he did not deserve to keep the gift of God. And it is not necessarily true that one of those whom you call a disciple only by name, having thus little to negotiate, or even one of those who listen to me only by accident, as you say, and have only their souls as money, cannot be successful in getting the gold talent and the interest of it, which will be taken from one who had been given most. The surprises of the Lord are endless because the reactions of man are endless. You will see Gentiles reaching eternal life and Samaritans possessing Heaven, and you will see pure Israelites and followers of Mine losing Heaven and eternal Life.»
Jesus becomes silent as if He wished to put an end to the debate and He turns towards the enclosure of the Temple.
But a doctor of the Law, who had sat down listening gravely under the porch, gets up and standing in His way, asks Him: «Master, what must I do to gain eternal life? You have replied to others, please reply to me as well.»
«Why do you want to tempt Me? Why do you want to lie? Are you hoping that I may say something different from the Law because I add brighter and more perfect ideas to it? What is written in the Law? Tell Me! What is the first commandment of the Law? »
«"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your intelligence. You shall love your neighbour as yourself ".»
«Your reply is correct. Do that and you will have eternal life.»
«And who is my neighbour? The world is full of good and of wicked people, known and unknown, friendly and hostile to Israel. Which is my neighbour? »
«A man going from Jerusalem down to Jericho through the mountain gorges, ran into highwaymen, who after wounding him severely, despoiled him of all his belongings and his very clothes and left him more dead than alive on the edge of the road.
A priest, who had finished his turn at the Temple, travelled down the same road. Oh! He was still smelling of the incense of the Holy! And his soul should have been scented with supernatural kindness and love, after being in the House of God, almost in touch with the Most High. The priest was in a hurry to get back home. So he looked at the wounded man but did not stop. He passed by hurriedly leaving the poor man on the edge of the road.
A Levite passed by. Should he become contaminated who must serve in the Temple? Never! He gathered his tunic so that it might not get stained with blood, he cast a glance over the man moaning in his blood and quickened his pace towards Jerusalem, towards the Temple.
Third came a Samaritan, who was travelling from Samaria towards the ford. He noticed the blood, he stopped, saw the wounded man in the deepening twilight, he dismounted and approached the wounded man, whom he gave a sip of strong and generous wine, he then tore his mantle to make bandages, and gently dressed the man's wounds after bathing them with vinegar and applying oil to them. He mounted the man on his horse and carefully led the animal, supporting the man at the same time, comforting him with kind words, without worrying about all the trouble or being annoyed because the man was of Jewish nationality. When he arrived in town, he took him to an inn, watched over him during the night and at dawn, seeing that he was better, he entrusted him to the innkeeper, paying him in advance with some denarii and saying: "Look after him as you would look after me. On my way back I will make good any extra expense you have, with a good measure, if you do everything well". And he went away.
Tell Me now, doctor of the Law. Which of these three was a "neighbour" for the man who had run into highwaymen? The priest perhaps? Or the Levite perhaps? Or was it not the Samaritan who did not ask who the wounded man was, why he was wounded, whether he was doing the wrong thing by assisting him, wasting time and money and running the risk of being taken for his wounder? »
The doctor of the Law replies: «The last one, who took pity on him, was his "neighbour".»
«Do the same yourself and you will love your neighbour and God in your neighbour and you will deserve eternal life.»
"Nobody dare speak and Jesus takes advantage of the situation to join the women waiting for Him near the enclosure and return to town with them. A couple of priests have now joined the disciples, or rather: a priest and a Levite, a venerable old man the former, a very young one the latter.
Jesus is now speaking to His Mother, having Marjiam in the middle, between Himself and Her. And He asks Her: «Did You hear Me, Mother? »
«Yes, Son, and My sadness has been added to Mary of Clopas'. She wept a little before entering the Temple...»
«I know, Mother. And I know why. But she must not weep, but pray.»
«Oh! She prays so much! In the past nights, in her tent, while her sons were sleeping, she prayed and wept. I could hear her through the thin partition of the branches. To see Joseph and Simon only a few steps away, so close, and yet so divided...! And she is not the only one to weep. Johanna, who seems so tranquil, has been weeping with Me...»
«Why, Mother? »
«Because Chuza... is behaving... very oddly. At times he seconds her in everything. At times he opposes her in everything. If they are alone where no one can see them, he is the usual exemplary husband. But if there are other people, of the Court naturally, with him, then he becomes dictatorial and disdainful of his meek wife. She does not understand why...»
«I can tell You. Chuza is Herod's servant. Understand Me, Mother. "Servant". I will not tell Johanna, not to hurt her. But that is what he is. When he is not afraid of being blamed or jeered at by his sovereign, he is good Chuza. But when he fears that, he is no longer so.»
«It is because Herod is very angry because of Manaen and...»
«It is because Herod is mad with tardy remorse for yielding to Herodias. But Johanna already has so much happiness in life. Under her coronet, she must wear her cilice.»
«Annaleah also weeps...»
«Because her fiancé is going astray... against You.»
«Tell her not to weep. It is a solution. A grace of God. Her sacrifice will bring Samuel back to Good. For the time being she will be left free from any pressure for marriage. I promised her to take her with Me. She will precede Me in death...»
«Son!...» Mary presses Jesus' hand, while Her face becomes deadly pale.
«Dear Mother! It is for the sake of men. You know. It is for the love of men. Let us drink our chalice with good will. Is that right? »
Mary stifles Her tears and replies: «Yes ». A tortured heartrending «yes ».
Marjiam looks up and says to Jesus: «Why do You say these dreadful things which grieve Mother? I will not let You die. I will defend You as I defended the lambs.»
Jesus caresses him and to raise the spirits of the two distressed ones, He asks the boy: «What will your little sheep be doing now? Do you not miss them? »
«Oh! I am with You! But I always think of them and I wonder: "Will Porphirea have led them to pasture? and will she watch that Foam does not go to the lake?". Foam is so lively, you know? Her mother calls her repeatedly... without avail! She does what she likes. And Snow, she is so greedy that she eats until she is sick. Do You know, Master? I know what it is to be a priest in Your Name. I understand better than the others. They (and he points at the apostles who are coming behind) they say so many big words, they make so many plans... for the future. I say: "I will be a shepherd for men, as I am for sheep. And that will be enough". My Mummy and Yours told me yesterday such a lovely passage of the prophets... and She said to me: "Our Jesus is just like that". And in my heart I said: "I will be like that, too". Then I said to our Mother: "For the time being I am a lamb, later I will be a shepherd. Jesus instead is at present the Shepherd and He is also the Lamb. But You are always a ewe‑Lamb, our dear, white, beautiful ewe‑Lamb, Whose words are sweeter than milk. That is why Jesus is such a lamb: because He was born of You, the Little Lamb of the Lord".»
Jesus stoops and kisses him fondly. He then asks him: «So you really want to be a priest? »
«Of course, my Lord! That is why I try to become good and learn so much. I always go to John of Endor. He treats me as a man and so kindly. I want to be the shepherd of the sheep both misled and not misled, and the doctor‑shepherd of those which are wounded or suffer from fractures, as the Prophet says. Oh! How lovely! » and the boy takes a jump clapping his hands.
«What has this blackcap got that he is so happy? » asks Peter coming forward.
«He sees his way. Very clearly. Until the end. And I consecrate his vision with My approval.»
They stop before a high building, which, if I am not mistaken, is near the Ophel district, but in a more refined spot.
«Are we stopping here? »
«This is the house which Lazarus offered Me for our joyful banquet. Mary is already here.»
«Why did she not come with us? For fear of being jeered at? »
«Oh! No! I told her.»
«Why, Lord? »
«Because the Temple is more sensitive than a pregnant wife. As long as I can, and not out of cowardice, I do not want to collide with it.»
«It will be of no use to You, Master. If I were You, I would not only collide with it, but I would hurl it down from Moriah with all those who are in it.»
«You are a sinner, Simon. One must pray for one's fellow creatures, not kill them.»
«I am a sinner. But You are not... and... You ought to do it.»
«There is who will do it. After the measure of sin has been filled.»
«Which measure? »
«A measure that will fill the whole temple, overflowing in Jerusalem. You cannot understand... Oh! Martha! Open your house to the Pilgrim! »
Martha makes herself known and opens the door. They all go into a long hall ending in a paved yard with a single tree in each of the four corners. There is a large hall above the ground floor and from its open windows it is possible to see the whole town with its hills and slopes. I thus realise that the house is in the south or south‑east side of the town.
The table has been laid for many guests. Many tables are set in parallel rows. About one hundred people can comfortably have a meal. Mary Magdalene, who was busy in the store room, arrives and prostrates herself before Jesus. Then Lazarus comes in with a happy smile on his drawn face. The guests enter little by little, some seem rather embarrassed, some are more sure of themselves. But the kindness of the women soon makes them all feel at home.
John, the priest, introduces to Jesus the two he has brought from the Temple. «Master, my good friend Jonathan and my young friend Zacharias. They are true Israelites without malice or ill-will.
«Peace be with you. I am happy to have you. The rite must be kept also in these pleasant customs. And it is lovely that the ancient Faith gives a friendly hand to the new Faith which has come from the same origin. Sit beside Me while we wait for dinner time.»
The patriarchal Jonathan speaks, while the young Levite looks around curiously, and seems amazed and somewhat shy. I think he wants to give himself easy manners, but in actual fact he is like a fish out of water. Fortunately Stephen comes to his aid and brings him, one after the other, the apostles and the main disciples.
The old priest says caressing his white beard: «When John came to me, his master, to show me that he had been cured, I wanted to meet You. But, Master, I hardly ever leave my enclosure. I am old... But I was hoping to see You before dying. And Jehovah has heard me. May He be praised! Today I heard You in the Temple. You excel the old wise Hillel. I do not want to doubt, nay, I cannot doubt that You are what my heart is expecting. But do You know what it is to have imbibed for almost eighty years the faith of Israel as it has become through centuries of... human handling? It has become our blood. And I am so old! To hear You is like hearing the water that gushes out of a cool spring. Oh! yes! A virgin water! But I... I am full of the tired water which comes from so far away... and has been made heavy by so many things. How can I get rid of that saturation and enjoy You? »
«By believing and loving Me. Nothing else is required for just Jonathan.»
«But I will die soon! Shall I have time to believe everything You say? I shall not even be able to follow all Your words or learn them from other people. Then?»
«You will learn them in Heaven. Only a damned soul dies to Wisdom. But he who dies in the grace of God draws life and lives in Wisdom. Whom do you think I am? »
«You can but be the Expected One, Whom the son of my friend Zacharias foreran. Did You meet him? »
«He was a relative of Mine.»
«Oh! So You are a relative of the Baptist? »
«He is dead... and I cannot say: "Poor man!". Because he died faithful to justice, after accomplishing his mission and because... Oh! The dreadful times we live in! Is it not better to go back to Abraham? »
«Yes. But more dreadful times will come, priest.»
«Do You think so? Rome, eh? »
«Not only Rome. Guilty Israel will be the first cause.»
«It is true. God is striking us. We deserve it. But also Rome... Have You heard of the Galileans killed by Pilate while they were offering a sacrifice? Their blood mingled with the victim's. Close to the very altar! »
«Yes, I heard about it.»
All the Galileans begin to riot because of that act of tyranny. They shout: «It is true that he was a false Messiah. But why kill his followers after striking him? And why at that moment? Were they bigger sinners perhaps? »
Jesus brings about peace and then says: «You are asking whether they were bigger sinners than many other Galileans and whether that is why they were killed? No, they were not. I tell you solemnly that they paid and many more will pay if you do not turn to the Lord. If you do not do penance, you will all perish alike, both in Galilee and elsewhere. God is indignant with His people. I tell you. You must not think that those who have been struck are the worst. Each of you should examine and judge himself, and no one else. Also the eighteen people on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, were not the most guilty in Jerusalem. I tell you. Do penance if you do not want to be crushed as they were, also in your souls. Come, priest of Israel. The meal is ready. It is your duty to offer and bless the food, because a priest is always to be honoured for the Idea which he represents and calls to our minds, and it is your duty because you are a patriarch among us, and we are all younger than you are.»
«No, Master! No! I cannot do that in Your presence! You are the Son of God!»
«You do offer incense before the altar! And do you perhaps not believe that God is there? »
«Yes, I do believe that! With all my strength! »
«Well, then? If you are not afraid of offering in the presence of the Most Holy Glory of the Most High, why should you be afraid in the presence of the Merciful One, Who took upon Himself human flesh to bring to you also the blessing of God before night comes to you? Oh! You people of Israel do not know that I covered with the veil of flesh My unendurable Divinity, so that man might approach God and not die thereof. Come, believe and be happy. I revere in you all the holy priests, from Aaron down to him who will be the last priest of Israel with Justice, you, perhaps, because priestly holiness really is languishing among us, like a forsaken plant.»