414. The Beggar on the Road to Jericho.
17th May 1944.
I see Jesus on a very dusty and sunny main road. There is not the smallest patch of shade, there is not a blade of grass. There is dust on the road, there is dust on the waste country bordering on it. There are certainly none of the pleasant hills of Galilee nor of the woody mountains of Judaea, so rich in waters and pastures. The land here is not a desert by its nature, but only because man has made it so by leaving it uncultivated. It is a flat country and I cannot see one hill, not even in the distance. As I am not familiar with Palestine, I cannot say which region it is. It is certainly one which I have never seen in previous visions. On one side of the road there are heaps of crushed stones, perhaps to repair the road, which is in a very bad state. At present one sinks into the dust: when it rains it must become a torrent of mud. I can see no houses, neither near the road nor far away.
Jesus, as usual, is walking a few metres ahead of the apostles, who, hot and tired, follow Him in a group. To protect themselves from the sun, they have pulled their mantles over their heads and they look like a confraternity dressed in many‑coloured robes. Jesus, instead, is bare‑headed. The sun does not seem to annoy Him. He is wearing a white linen short‑sleeved tunic. It is very wide and loose. He is not even wearing His usual cord belt. His clothes are most suitable for this torrid place. His mantle also must be of sky‑blue linen because it is very light and falls loosely over His body, which is thus less enveloped than usual. His shoulders are covered, but His arms are free. I do not know how He has fastened it to keep it thus.
A man is sitting, nay, he is half‑lying on one of the heaps of crushed stones. He must be a poor beggar. His garment (so to speak) is a dirty tattered short tunic, which perhaps once was white, but now is the colour of mud. He is wearing two shabby worn‑out sandals: two soles with holes, held together with pieces of string. In his hands he has a stick made from the branch of a tree. He has a dirty bandage on his forehead and another dirty rag, stained with blood, on his left leg, between his knee and hip. The poor fellow is emaciated, a heap of bones, dejected, dirty, hairy, uncombed.
Before he invokes Jesus, Jesus goes to him. He approaches the poor wretch and asks him: «Who are you? »
«A poor man begging for bread.»
«Along this road? »
«I am going to Jericho.»
«The road is a long one and the country is depopulated.»
«I know, but the Gentiles who pass here are more likely to give me a piece of bread and a coin, than the Jews from whom I have come.»
«Have you come from Judaea? »
«Yes, from Jerusalem. But I had to go a long way round to see some good people in the country, as they always give me something. Townsfolk don't give anything. There is no mercy there.»
«You are right. There is no mercy.»
«But You have mercy. Are You Judaean? »
«No. I come from Nazareth.»
«Once the Nazarenes had a poor reputation. But now we must say that they are better than the people in Judaea. Even in Jerusalem, only the followers of that Nazarene, Who they say is a Prophet, are good. Do You know Him? »
«And do you know Him? »
«No. I went there because, see, my leg is numb and contracted, and I drag myself along with difficulty. I am not fit to work and I am dying of starvation and blows. I was hoping to meet Him, because I was told that He cures whoever He touches. It is true that I do not belong to the chosen people... but they say that He is good to everybody. I was told that He was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks. But I walk slowly... and I was beaten and I was left suffering on the road... When I arrived in Jerusalem, He had left, because they told me that the Jews had ill‑treated Him as well.»
«And did they maltreat you? »
«They always do. Only the Roman soldiers give me a piece of bread.»
«And what do the people in Jerusalem say of that Nazarene? »
«That He is the Son of God, a great Prophet, a Saint, a Just man.»
«And what do you think He is? »
«I... I am an idolater. But I think He is the Son of God.»
«How can you believe that, if you do not even know Him? »
«I know His works. Only God can be as good and speak words as He does.»
«Who told you of those words? »
«Other poor people, people who were cured, children who bring me some bread... Children are good and they know nothing of believers and idolaters.»
«But where do you come from? »
«Tell Me. I am like children. Be not afraid. But be sincere.»
«I am... a Samaritan. Don't beat me...»
«I never beat anybody. I never despise anyone. I feel sorry for everybody.»
«Then... Then You are the Rabbi of Galilee! »
The beggar prostrates himself, from the heap of stones he falls on the dust like a dead body, in front of Jesus.
«Stand up. It is I. Be not afraid. Stand up and look at Me.»
The beggar looks up, still on his knees: he is all contracted because of his deformity.
«Give this man some bread and something to drink » says Jesus to the apostles who have just arrived.
It is John who gives bread and water.
«Make him sit down, so that he may eat comfortably. Eat, brother.»
The poor man weeps. He does not eat. He looks at Jesus with the eyes of a stray dog, which is caressed and fed, for the first time, by a compassionate person.
«Eat up! » orders Jesus smiling.
The poor fellow eats between one sob and another and tears moisten his bread. But there is also a smile among his tears. He slowly regains confidence.
«Who wounded you here? » asks Jesus touching with His fingers the dirty bandage on the man's forehead.
«A rich Pharisee deliberately ran me over with his cart... I was standing at a cross‑roads begging for bread. He drove his horses against me so quickly, that I was not able to move aside. I was on the point of death because of it. I still have a hole in my head, from which putrid matter comes out. »
«And who struck you there? »
«I had approached the house of a Sadducee, where there was a banquet, asking for some of the remains, after the dogs had chosen the best ones. He saw me and set the dogs on me. One of them tore my thigh to pieces.»
«And what about this large scar that maims your hand? »
«A scribe gave me a blow with a club three years ago. He found out that I was a Samaritan and he struck me breaking my fingers. That is why I cannot work. With my right hand maimed, my leg numbed, how can I earn my living? »
«But why are you leaving Samaria? »
«It's bad to be in need, Master. We are very unhappy and there is not enough bread for everybody. If You helped me...»
«What do you want Me to do for you? »
«To cure me so that I may work.»
« Do you think I can? »
«Yes, I do believe it, because You are the Son of God.»
«Do you believe that? »
«You, a Samaritan, believe that? Why? »
«I do not know why. I know that I believe in You and in Him Who sent You. Now that You have come, there is no difference in worshipping. It is enough to worship You in order to worship Your Father, the eternal Lord. Where You are, there is the Father.»
«Have you heard, My friends? (Jesus addresses His disciples). This man is speaking through the Spirit Who enlightens the truth for him. And I solemnly tell you that he is superior to scribes and Pharisees, to cruel Sadducees, to all those idolaters who falsely call themselves the children of the Law. The Law prescribes to love our neighbour, after God. And they give blows to the neighbour asking for bread, they drive horses and dogs on suppliants, on the neighbour who lowers himself below the dogs of a rich man, they set the very dogs on him, to make him even more unhappy than his diseases do. Disdainful, cruel, hypocrites, they do not want God to be known and loved. If they did want that, they would make Him known through their deeds, as this man said. It is deeds, not practices, which make people see the living God in the hearts of men and lead men to God. And you, Judas, since you reproach Me for being imprudent, tell Me, shall I not reprimand them? To be silent, to feign that I approve of them, would mean approving of their behaviour. No. For the glory of God, Whose Son I am, I cannot allow humble, unhappy, good people to believe that I approve of their sins. I have come to make the Gentiles sons of God. But I cannot do that if they see that the children of the Law ‑ they call themselves so, but they are illegitimate children ‑ practise a paganism more guilty than theirs, because these Jews have been acquainted with the Law of God, and now, just like unclean animals, they spit the regurgitations of their satisfied passions on it. Am I to believe, Judas, that you are like them? You, who reproach Me for the truth I speak? Or must I think that you are worried about your own life? He who follows Me must not be concerned with human worries. I told you, Judas, you are still in time to choose between My way and the way of the Judaeans, whom you approve of. But consider that My way goes to God; the other to God's Enemy. Consider that and make up your mind. But be sincere. And you, My friend, rise and walk. Remove those bandages. Go back home. You are cured because of your faith.»
The beggar looks at Him dumbfounded. He dare not stretch out his hand... but he tries. It is uninjured, exactly as his left one. He drops his stick, and pushing his hands on the heap of stones, he rises. He can stand. The paralysis contracting his leg is cured. He moves his leg, bends it... takes one step, two, three. He walks... He looks at Jesus with a cry and tears of joy. He rips off the bandage from his forehead. He touches the back of his head, where the infected hole was. There is nothing. It is all cured. He tears the blood-stained rag off his leg: the skin is intact.
«Master, Master and my God! » he shouts, lifting his arms, and then falling on his knees to kiss Jesus' feet.
«Go home now, and always believe in the Lord.»
«And where shall I go, Master and God, but after You, Who are good and holy? Do not reject me, Master...»
«Go to Samaria. And speak of Jesus of Nazareth. The hour of Redemption is close at hand. Be My disciple with your brothers. Go in peace.»
Jesus blesses him and they then part. The cured man walks fast northwards, turning round now and again to look.
Jesus, with His apostles, leaves the road and they proceed eastwards through uncultivated fields, taking a little path which cuts across the main road and which widens out only much farther on. It is perhaps the road to Jericho. I do not know.
415. The Conversion of Zacchaeus.
17th July 1944.
I see a large square, which looks like a market and is shaded by palms and other lower leafy trees. The palm‑trees grow here and there, without any order and their top leaves rustle in the warm upper breeze, which raises a reddish dust, as if it came from a desert or from uncultivated places of reddish earth. The other trees, instead, form shady porches along the sides of the square, and vendors and buyers have taken shelter under them, in a restless shouting din.
In a corner of the square, exactly where the main road leads into it, there is a primitive excise office. There are scales and measures, and a bench at which is sat a little man who oversees, watches and deals in cash and to whom everybody speaks, as if he were very well known. I know that he is Zacchaeus, the exciseman, as many people address him, some to ask about the events of the town, and they are mainly strangers, some to pay their taxes. Many are surprised at seeing him worried. He seems in fact absent‑minded and engrossed in thought. He replies in monosyllables and at times with gestures, which amazes many, who know that Zacchaeus is usually talkative. Some ask him whether he is not feeling well or if any of his relatives is ill. But he says no.
Only twice he shows keen interest. The first time when he questions two people who have come from Jerusalem and are speaking of the Nazarene, of His miracles and teaching. Zacchaeus then asks many questions: «Is He really as good as they say? And do His words correspond to facts? Does He really make use of the mercy which He preaches? On behalf of everybody, also of publicans? Is it true that He does not reject anybody? » And he listens, thinks and sighs. The second time when someone points out to him a bearded man, who is, passing by with a little donkey laden with household goods. «See, Zacchaeus? That is Zacharias, the leper. He lived in a sepulchre for ten years. Now that he is cured, he has bought the furnishings for his house, which was emptied according to the Law, when he and his relatives were declared lepers.»
«Were you a leper? »
«I was and so were my wife and my two children. My wife was the first to be infected and we did not notice it at once. The children became infected sleeping with their mother, and I, when I approached my wife. We were all lepers! When it was found out, they sent us away from the village... They could have left us in our house, as it was the last one... at the end of the street. We would not have caused any trouble... I had already grown a very high hedge, so that we might not even be seen. It was already a sepulchre... but it was our home... They sent us away. Away! Away! No town wanted us. And quite rightly! Not even our own town had wanted us. We stayed near Jerusalem, in an empty sepulchre. Many poor wretches are there. But the children died, in the cold of the cave. The disease, cold and starvation soon killed them... They were two boys... they were beautiful before the disease. They were strong and beautiful, dark brown like two blackberries in August, curly and lively. They had become two skeletons covered with sores... They had no hair left, their eyes were sealed with scabs, their feet and hands were falling off in white scales. I watched the bodies of my children waste away!... They no longer looked like human beings the morning they died... one after the other within a few hours... I buried them under a little earth and many stones, like the carrion of animals, while their mother screamed... A few months later their mother died... and I was left alone... I was waiting to die and no one would dig a hole to bury me...
I was almost blind when one day the Nazarene passed by. From my sepulchre I shouted: "Jesus! Son of David, have mercy on me!" A beggar, who was not afraid to bring me his bread, had told me that he had been cured of his blindness, by shouting that invocation. And he said: "He did not only give me the sight of my eyes, but also of my soul. I saw that He is the Son of God and I see everyone through Him. That is why, brother, I do not shun you, but I bring you bread and faith. Go to the Christ. So that one more soul may bless Him". I could not go. My feet, ulcerated to the bone, would not let me walk... in any case... I would have been stoned, if they saw me. I waited carefully for Him to pass. He often passed by coming to Jerusalem. One day I saw, as far as I could see, a cloud of dust on the road and many people and I heard shouts. I dragged myself to the brow of the hill, where the sepulchral caves were, and when I thought I could see a bare fair‑haired head shine among other covered ones, I shouted aloud, at the top of my voice. I shouted three times, until my voice reached Him.
He turned round. He stopped. Then He came towards me: all alone. He came right under the spot where I was and He looked at me. He was handsome, kind, with a voice, a smile!... He asked: "What do you want Me to do for you?".
"I want to be cleansed".
"Do you believe that I can? Why?" He asked me.
"Because You are the Son of God".
"Do you believe that?".
"I believe it" I replied. "I see the Most High flash in His glory above Your head. Son of God, have mercy on me!".
He then stretched out a hand and His face was ablaze. His eyes seemed two blue suns, and he said: "I want it. Be cleansed" and He blessed me with a smile!... Ah! What a smile! I perceived a strength enter me. Like a sword of fire which ran searching for my heart, it ran through my veins. My heart, which was so diseased, became as it was when I was twenty years old, and the ice‑cold blood became warm and fast‑flowing in my veins. No more pains, no more weakness, and a joy, what a joy!... He was looking at me; with His smile He made me blissful. He then said: "Go, show yourself to the priests. Your faith has saved you".
I then realised that I had been cured and I looked at my hands and legs. There were no more sores. There was fresh rosy flesh where previously the bone was uncovered. I ran to a little stream and I looked at myself. My face also was clean. I was clean! Clean after being loathsome for ten years!... Oh! Why did He not pass by before? When my wife and children were alive? He would have cured us. Now, see? I am buying things for my house... But I am all alone!...»
«Have you not seen Him any more? »
«No, but I know that He is in this area and that is why I have come. I would like to bless Him once again and be blessed by Him to have strength in my solitude.»
Zacchaeus lowers his head and is silent. The group breaks up.
Some time passes. It gets warmer. The market place empties. The exciseman with his head resting on one hand is pensive, sitting at his desk.
«Here is the Nazarene! » shout some children, pointing at the main road.
Women, men, sick people, beggars rush towards Him. The square is empty. Only some donkeys and camels, tied to the palm-trees, remain where they were, and Zacchaeus remains at his desk.
He then stands up and climbs on his desk. But he cannot see anything because many people have pulled off branches and are waving them joyfully and Jesus is bending over sick people. Zacchaeus then takes off his garment and having on only his short tunic he climbs one of the trees. He goes up the large smooth trunk with difficulty as his short arms and legs make climbing difficult. But he succeeds and sits astride two branches as on a perch. His legs hang from that kind of railing and from his waist upwards he leans out as if he were at a window and he watches.
The crowds arrive in the square. Jesus looks up and smiles at the solitary spectator perched on the branches. «Zacchaeus, come down at once. I am staying at your house today » He orders.
And Zacchaeus, after a moment of astonishment, his face purple with excitement, lets himself slide down on the ground like a sack. He is so excited that he is hardly able to put on his clothes. He closes his books and cash‑desk with gestures which he would like to be very fast, but instead are very slow. But Jesus is patient: He caresses some children while waiting.
Zacchaeus is ready at last. He approaches the Master and leads Him to a beautiful house with a large garden around it, in the centre of the town. A beautiful town. Not much inferior to Jerusalem with regard to its buildings, if not to its size.
Jesus goes in and while waiting for the meal to be made ready, he takes care of sick and healthy people. With such patience... as He only is capable.
Zacchaeus comes and goes, busying himself. He is beside himself with joy. He would like to speak to Jesus. But Jesus is always surrounded by a crowd of people.
At last Jesus dismisses everybody saying: «Come back at sunset. Go to your homes now. Peace be with you.»
The garden empties and the meal is served in a beautiful cool hall facing the garden. Zacchaeus has done things in great style. I do not see any other relatives, so I think that Zacchaeus is single and lives only with many servants.
At the end of the meal, when the disciples scatter in the shade of bushes to rest, Zacchaeus remains with Jesus in the cool hall. In actual fact Jesus remains alone for a little while, because Zacchaeus withdraws to let Him rest. But he comes back and looks through a slit in the curtains. He sees that Jesus is not sleeping, but is pensive. He then approaches Him. He is carrying a heavy coffer, which he lays on the table near Jesus and says: «Master... they have spoken to me about You. For some time. One day on a mountain side You said so many truthful things, that our doctors cannot excel them. They remained in my heart... and since then I have been thinking of You... Then I was told that You are good and that You do not reject sinners. I am a sinner, Master. They told me that You cure sick people. My heart is diseased, because I defrauded, I practised usury, I have been a depraved fellow, a thief, hard on the poor. But now, I have been cured, because You spoke to me. You approached me and the demon of sensuality and riches fled. And as from today, I belong to You, if You do not reject me, and to prove to You that I am reborn in You, I divest myself of the ill‑acquired riches and I give You half of my wealth for the poor and I will use the other half to give back, multiplied by four, what I got by fraud. I know whom I cheated. Then, after handing back to each of them what belongs to them, I will follow You, Master, if You allow me...»
«I do want that. Come. I have come to save and call people to the Light. Today Light and Salvation have come to the house of your heart. Those who over there, beyond the gate, are grumbling because I have redeemed you sitting at your banquet, are forgetting that you are a son of Abraham as they are, and that I have come to save who was lost and to give Life to those whose spirits were dead. Come, Zacchaeus. You have understood My word better than many people who follow Me only to be able to accuse Me. Therefore you will be with Me as from now on.»
The vision ends here.
18th July 1944.
«There is yeast and yeast. There is the yeast of Good and the yeast of Evil. The yeast of Evil, a Satanic poison, ferments more easily than the yeast of Good, because it finds matter more suitable for fermentation in the heart of man, in the thought of man, in the flesh of man, seduced all three by a selfish will, contrary therefore to the universal Will, which is the Will of God.
The will of God is universal because it is never confined to a personal thought, but it takes into consideration the welfare of the whole universe. Nothing can increase the perfection of God in any way, as He has always possessed everything in a perfect manner. Thus there can be no thought in Him of personal gain inciting any of His actions. When we say: "This is done to the greater glory of God, in the interest of God", we do not mean that divine glory is in Itself susceptible to improvement, but that everything which in Creation bears the mark of good and any person doing good, and thus deserving to possess it, is adorned with the sign of divine Glory and thus gives glory to Glory itself, Which has created all things gloriously. It is, in short, the testimony which people and things bear to God, giving evidence, with their deeds, of the perfect Origin from Which they come.
Thus, when God orders or advises you to do an action or inspires you with one, He does not aim at any selfish interest, but at your welfare, with altruistic charitable mind. That is, therefore, the reason why the Will of God is never selfish, on the contrary it is a Will which aims entirely at altruism and universality. It is the only and true Strength in the universe which considers universal welfare.
On the contrary, the yeast of Good, spiritual embryo coming from God, grows through difficulties and hardships, as it has against itself the reactions propitious to the other one: the flesh, the heart, the thought of man, pervaded with selfishness, the antithesis of Good, which by its origin can be but Love. Most men lack the will of Good and consequently Good becomes sterile and dies, or lives so poorly that it does not leaven: it remains as it was. There is no grave fault. But there is not even the effort to do the greatest good. The spirit thus lies inert: not dead, but unfruitful.
Bear in mind that not to do evil serves only to avoid Hell. To enjoy at once beautiful Paradise one must do good. It is essential. As much good as one can do, struggling against oneself and other people. Because I said that I had come not to bring peace but war, also between father and children, brothers and sisters, when such war was to defend the Will of God and His Law against the abuse of human wills aiming at what is contrary to what God wants.
In Zacchaeus the tiny quantity of yeast of good had leavened a huge mass. Only an original small particle had fallen into his heart: they had related My Sermon on the Mount to him. And they had done it so badly, mutilating it of many parts, as happens with reported speeches.
Zacchaeus was a publican and a sinner, but not through bad will. He was like one who sees things badly because the veil of cataract covers his eye‑lenses. But he knows that once the veil is removed, he can see properly once again. And that sick person wants the veil to be removed. Zacchaeus was like that. He was neither convinced nor happy. He was not convinced of Pharisaic practices, which had already replaced the true Law. And he was not happy with his way of living.
He was instinctively seeking Light. The true Light. He saw a flash of it in that fragment of My speech and he hid it in his heart like a treasure. Because he loved it ‑ bear this in mind, Mary - because he loved it, the flash became more and more lively, vast and vehement, and caused him to see Good and Evil clearly and to choose rightly, generously cutting off all the tentacles which previously, from things to his heart and from his heart to things, had enveloped him in a net of malicious slavery.
"Because he loved it". That is the secret of success or failure. One succeeds when one loves. One has little success when one loves niggardly. One has no success at all when one does not love. In anything. All the more in the things of God, where, as God is invisible to corporal senses, I dare say, one must love perfectly, as far as a creature can reach perfection, in order to succeed in an enterprise. In holiness, in this case.
Zacchaeus, disgusted with the world and the flesh, as he was disgusted with the meanness of Pharisaic practices, so captious and severe for other people, so indulgent for them, loved the little treasure of a word of Mine, which reached him by chance, speaking from a human point of view. He loved it as the most beautiful thing that his forty‑year‑old life had ever possessed, and from that moment he concentrated his heart and thought on that point.
It is not only in evil that man's heart is where his treasure is. But also in good. Did saints perhaps during their lifetime not have their hearts where their treasure was: in God? Yes, they did. And that is why, looking only at God, they passed on the Earth, without contaminating their souls with the mud of the Earth.
That morning, even if I had not appeared there, I would have conquered a proselyte. Because the speech of the leper had completed Zacchaeus' metamorphosis. At the bench of the excise-house there was no longer a cheating vicious publican, but a man repenting his past and decided to change life. If I had not gone to Jericho, he would have closed his office, he would have taken his money and come looking for Me, because he could no longer live without the water of Truth, without the bread of Love, without the kiss of Forgiveness.
The usual harsh critics who always watched Me to reproach Me, did not see that and they could understand it even less. And that is why they were amazed at My having a meal with a sinner. Oh! I wish you never judged, leaving that task to God, you poor blind people, who cannot even judge yourselves! I never went with sinners to approve of their sin. I went to remove them from sin, because they often had only the exterior aspect of sin: their contrite souls had already changed into new souls, living to expiate. So was I with a sinner? No, I was with a redeemed soul, in need only of a guide to stand up in its weakness of a soul risen from death.
How much Zacchaeus' episode can teach you! The power of upright intention that excites desire. Upright desire that urges one to seek deeper and deeper knowledge of Good and to long for God continuously until one reaches Him, true repentance that gives the courage of abnegation. Zacchaeus had the upright intention of listening to words of true Doctrine. When he heard some, his upright desire urged him to greater desire and thus to uninterrupted research for that Doctrine; the research for God, hidden in the true Doctrine, detached him from the mean gods of richness and sensuality and made him a hero of renunciation.
"If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and follow Me" I said to the rich young man, but he did not do that. But Zacchaeus, although more hardened in avarice and sensuality, was able to do it. Because, through the few Words related to him, like the blind beggar and the leper cured by Me, he saw God. Can a soul that has seen God, find any more attraction in the little things of the Earth? Is that ever possible, My little bride? »
19th July 1944.
«In My several bedtitudes I enunciated the requisites necessary to achieve them and the rewards that will be given to the blessed ones. But while the categories mentioned are different, the reward is the same, if you consider the situation carefully: to enjoy the same things that God enjoys.
Different categories. I have already explained that God with His thought creates souls of different tendency, so that the Earth may enjoy a just balance in all its inferior and superior necessities. If the rebellion of man upsets that balance, as he always wants. to go against the divine Will, Which guides him lovingly along the just way, it is not God's fault. Men, perpetually dissatisfied with their situation, invade or upset other people's estates, either by means of true and proper abuse of power, or by attempts at such abuse. What are world wars, family feuds, professional warfare, but such active abuse? What are social revolutions, what are the doctrines that clothe themselves with the name "social", but in actual fact are nothing but arrogance and the very opposite of charity, because they neither want nor practise the justice they preach, on the contrary they overflow with outbreaks of violence, which do not relieve oppressed people, but increase their numbers to the advantage of a few arrogant fellows?
But where I, God, reign, such alterations do not take place. Nothing upsets order in My Kingdom and in the spirits which are really Mine. Thus the several aspects of the multiform holiness of God are lived and rewarded, because God is just, pure, peaceful, merciful, free from the greed of fleeting riches, joyful in the happiness of His love. Some souls tend to one form, some to another. They tend in an eminent manner, because all virtues are present in saints. But one predominates, and on account of it, that saint is particularly celebrated among men. But I bless and reward him on account of all of them, because the reward is "to enjoy God" both for the peaceful and the merciful, for those who love justice and for those who are persecuted by injustice, for the pure and the distressed, for the meek and for the pure in spirit.
The pure in spirit! How badly is this definition always understood, even by those who perceive its right meaning! According to human superficiality and to foolish human irony, and according to ignorance, which considers itself wise, pure in spirit means "stupid".
The better class of people think that the spirit is intelligence, thought; those who are more material consider it artfulness and malice. No. The spirit is by far superior to intelligence. It is the king of everything in you. All physical and moral qualities are subjects and servants of that king. That is the situation where a creature devoted to God in a filial manner knows how to keep things in the right place. Where instead a creature is not devoted in a filial manner, idolatries take place, and the maidservants become queens and depose the spirit king. Anarchy which causes disaster like all anarchies.
Poverty in spirit consists in having the sovereign freedom from everything that is the delight of man, and for which man goes to the extent of committing material crime or the unpunished moral crime that too often escapes human law, but does not make fewer victims, on the contrary it makes more and with consequences which are not limited to taking the life of the victim, but often deprive both the victims and their relatives of their good reputation and livelihood.
The man poor in spirit is no longer enslaved by riches. Even if he does not go so far as to repudiate them materially, depriving himself of them and of every comfort by joining a monastic order, he knows how to use them sparingly for himself, which is a double sacrifice, in order to be prodigal of gifts to the poor of the world. He has understood My sentence: "Make friends by means of unjust riches". Of his money, which might be the enemy of his spirit, leading it to lust, greed and anticharity, he makes a servant that levels the way to Heaven for him ‑ the rich: poor in spirit ‑ a way completely spread with his mortifications and his charitable deeds for the miseries of his fellow‑creatures. How many injustices the man poor in spirit mends and cures! His own injustices of the time when, like Zacchaeus, he was but a greedy hard‑hearted man. Injustices of his neighbours, whether alive or dead. Social injustices.
You erect monuments to people who were great only because they were overbearing. Why do you not erect monuments to the secret benefactors of destitute mankind, to the poor and working classes, to those who use their wealth not to make their own lives a perpetual feast, but to make life brighter, better and more elevated for those who are poor, for those who suffer, for those whose functional faculties are impaired, for those left in ignorance by overbearing people, because ignorance serves their hateful aims better? How many there are, also among those who are not rich, nay, who are little less than poor, and yet they can sacrifice the "two farthings" they possess, in order to relieve a misery, which, being without the Light which they have ‑ and their behaviour makes one understand that they do have it ‑ is greater than their own!
Those are poor in spirit who, losing their possessions, whether large or small, know how to keep their peace and hope, without cursing or hating anyone, either God or men.
The wide category of the "poor in spirit", which I mentioned as the first one ‑ because I could say that without such freedom of the spirit from all the delights of life, it is not Possible to have the .other virtues which give beatitude ‑ is divided and subdivided into many forms.
Humility of thought which does not swell with pride and does not proclaim itself super‑thought, but makes use of the gift of God acknowledging its Origin, for Good. Only for that.
Generosity in affections, whereby one can deprive oneself also of them, in order to follow God, also of life, the most real wealth and the most loved instinctively by the animal creature. All My martyrs were generous in that way, because their spirits had become poor, in order to become "rich" in the only eternal riches: God.
Justice in loving our personal things. It is our duty to love them, because they are testimony of Providence in our favour. I have already spoken about that in previous dictations. But we must not love them more than we love God or His Will; you must not love them to the extent of cursing God, if man snatches them from you.
And finally, I would repeat it, freedom from the slavery of money.
Those are the different forms of that spiritual poverty that I said will possess Heaven out of justice. Put under your feet all the fleeting riches of human life to possess the eternal riches. Consider the Earth and its deceitful fruit, which is sweet outside and bitter inside, as the last thing, and live working to conquer Heaven. Oh! there is no fruit there with a false flavour. There is the ineffable fruit of the enjoyment of God.
Zacchaeus had understood that. That sentence was the arrow that opened his heart to Light and Charity. It opened it to Me as I approached him to say to him: "Come". And when I came up to him to call him, he was already "poor in spirit". He was therefore capable of possessing Heaven. »
416. At Solomon's Village.
«You will put here the vision of Jesus and the beggar on the road to Jericho, which you had on 17th May 1944, and immediately after it, the vision of the conversion of Zacchaeus, of 17th July 1944.»
13th April 1946.
Jesus arrives there at dead of night. The position of the moon makes me think that it is about two o'clock a.m. A beautiful moon, just beginning to wane is beaming in the middle of the clear sky spreading peace on the earth. Peace and abundant dew, the heavy dew of warm countries, beneficial to plants after the parching heat of the sun during the day.
The pilgrims must have followed the gravel bed of the river, which is dry near the banks, as the river is more restricted in its bed because of the summer drought. And from the cane‑brake they ,climb up to the wood limiting the banks and supporting them with the network of the roots of the trees growing near the water.
«Let us stop here and await morning » says Jesus.
«Master... I am aching all over...» says Matthew.
«And I am afraid I have a temperature. A river is not a healthy place in summer... as You know » adds Philip.
«But it would have been worse if from the river we had gone up to the Judaean mountains. That is also well known » says the Zealot, who feels sorry for Jesus, to Whom they all tell their fears and complaints, but Whose mood no one understands.
«Never mind, Simon. They are right. But we shall have a rest shortly... Please, only another short distance... And a short rest here. You can see how the moon is going down westwards. Why wake the old man and Joseph, who is perhaps still ill, when it will soon be daybreak?...»
«The trouble is that everything is wet with dew here. One does not know where to sit...» grumbles the Iscariot.
«Are you afraid of spoiling your garment? Never mind, after these forced marches among dust and dew, there is no strutting about in it! In any case... kind Helkai would prefer it as it is. Your Greek frets... ha! ha! those at the hem and round the sleeves are hanging in ribbons on the thorny bushes of the Judaean desert, and the one round your neck has been ruined by your perspiration... You are now a perfect Judaean...» says Thomas, who is always merry.
«I am perfect a wretch, dirty as I am, and disgusted with it » retorts Judas angrily.
«It is enough for you to have a clean heart, Judas » says Jesus calmly. «That is important...».
«Important! Important! We are exhausted with fatigue, with starvation... We are ruining our health, and that only is important » replies rudely Judas.
«I am not compelling you to stay... It is you who want to stay.»
«After all this time!... I had better do so. I am...»
«You may as well say the word that makes your lips rankle: "You are compromised in the eyes of the Sanhedrin". But you can always make amends... and regain their confidence...»
«I do not want to make amends... because I love You and I want to stay with You.»
«In actual fact you say so in such a manner that rather than love it sounds like hatred...» grumbles between his teeth Judas of Alphaeus.
«Well... every man has his own way of expressing his love.»
«Of course! There is also who loves his wife but kills her with blows... I would not like that kind of love » says James of Zebedee endeavouring to put an end to the incident with a jest. But no one laughs. But no one, thanks be to God, replies.
Jesus advises: «Let us go and sit down on the threshold of the house. The eaves are wide and will protect us from the dew, and there is a footing at the base of the little house...»
They obey without speaking and when they arrive at the house they sit in a row along the wall.
But Thomas' simple remark: «I am hungry. These night marches make one hungry » revives the argument.
«Marches don't come into it! The fact is that for days we have been living on nothing! » replies the Iscariot.
«Actually at Nike's and at Zacchaeus' we had good meals, and Nike gave us so much food that we had to give it to the poor, otherwise it would have gone bad. We have never been short of bread. The caravan guide also gave us bread and butter...» remarks Andrew.
Judas, who cannot contradict, is silent.
A cock crows in the distance greeting the first sign of daylight.
«Oh! good! It will soon be down! » says Peter stretching himself, as he had almost fallen asleep.
They wait for daybreak in silence.
A bleating in a sheep‑fold... Then a harness‑bell in the distance on the main road, poles apart from them... The nearby cooing of Ananias' doves. The hoarse voice of a man in the cane‑brake... It is a fisherman coming back with his night catch and he is cursing because it is scanty. He sees Jesus and stops. He hesitates, then says: «If I give it to You, will You promise me plenty in future? »
«For profit or for your needs? »
«For my needs. I have seven children, my wife and her mother.»
«You are right. Be charitable and I promise you that you will not lack what is necessary.»
«Here, then. In there, there is also the injured man who is not recovering despite treatment...»
«May God reward you and give you peace » says Jesus.
The man says goodbye and goes away, leaving his fish strung through the mouth with a willow twig.
Silence falls on them again, just broken by the rustling of the canes, by the trills of some birds... Then a creaking is heard nearby. The rustic little gate, which Ananias made, creaks when opened and the little old man appears on the road scanning the sky. A sheep follows him bleating...
«Peace to you, Ananias! »
«Master! But... how long have You been there? Why did You not call, so that I could open the door for You?! »
«Not long. I did not want to disturb anyone... How is Joseph? »
«You know?... He is not well. Pus runs out of his ear and he suffers from headaches. I think he will die. That is, I thought. You are here now and I think that he will recover. I was going out to get some herbs to make a poultice...»
«Are Joseph's companions here? »
«Two of them. The others have gone ahead. Solomon and Elias are here.»
«Did the Pharisees annoy you? »
«Immediately after You left. Not afterwards. They wanted to know where You had gone. I said: "To my daughter‑in‑law, at Masada". Did I do the wrong thing? »
«No, you did not.»
«And... have You really been there? » The little old man is anxious.
«Yes, I was there. She is well.»
«But... did she not listen to You?...»
«No, she did not. We must pray very much for her.»
«And for the little ones... That she may bring them up for the Lord...» says the old man and two large tears stream down his face to say what he does not speak. He concludes: «Did You see them? »
«I can say that I saw one... I got a glimpse of the others. They are all well.»
«I offer my renunciation and forgiveness to God... But... it is so grievous having to say: "I will never see them again"...»
«You will soon see your son and you will be in peace with him in Heaven.»
«Thank You, Lord. Come in...»
«Yes. Let us go at once to the injured man, Where is he? »
«In the best bed.»
They go into the well‑kept kitchen garden, and from it into the kitchen and from the kitchen into the little room. Jesus bends over the sick man who moans in his sleep. He bends... and breathes into the ear enveloped in lints already impregnated with pus. He stands up and withdraws noiselessly.
«Are You not waking him? » asks the old man in a low voice.
«No. Let him sleep. He is no longer suffering. He will rest. Let us go to the others.»
Jesus sets the door ajar without making any noise and goes into the large room where are the little beds purchased the last time. The two disciples, being tired, are still sleeping.
«They keep vigil until morning. I keep watch over him from morning till evening. So they are tired. They are so good.»
The two must be sleeping with their ears cocked, because they awake at once: «Master! Our Master! You came just in time! Joseph is...»
«Cured. I have already seen to him, He is sleeping and does not know. There is nothing wrong with him now. All he has to do is to purge himself of the pus and he will be as healthy as previously.»
«Oh! In that case purge us as well, because we have sinned.»
«In order to assist Joseph we did not go to the Temple...»
«Charity makes every place a temple. And in the Temple of charity there is God. If we all loved one another, the whole Earth would be a Temple. Do not worry. The day will come when Pentecost means "Love". A manifestation of love. You have celebrated, anticipating times, the future Pentecost, because you have loved your brother.»
From the other room Joseph's voice is heard calling: «Ananias! Elias! Solomon! But I am cured! » and the man, thin and still pale, but no longer suffering, appears covered only with his short tunic. He sees Jesus and says: «Ah! It was You, my Master! » and he runs to kiss His feet.
«May God grant you peace, Joseph, and forgive Me if you suffered because of Me.»
«I glory in having shed my blood for You, as my father did. I bless You for making me worthy of that! » Joseph's simple plain face shines with joy uttering these words and looks noble, with the handsomeness which originates from an interior light.
Jesus caresses him and says to Solomon: «Your house serves to do much good.»
«Oh! because it is Yours, now. Previously it served only for the sound sleep of the ferryman. But I am glad that it has been useful to You and to this just man. We shall now have some good days here with You.»
«No, My friend. You will leave at once. We are no longer granted any rest. This period of time will be a real test and only those with a strong will will remain faithful. We shall now break the bread together and then you will leave at once, going along the river, preceding Me by half a day.»
«Yes, Master. Joseph also? »
«Yes. Unless he is afraid of new injury...»
«Oh! Master! Would to God that I had to precede You in death shedding my blood for You! »
They go out into the dewy kitchen garden shining in the early sun. And Ananias does the honours of the house by picking some early figs from the branches better exposed, and he apologises for being unable to offer a young pigeon because the two broods were used for the sick man. But there is the fish and they get busy preparing the food.
Jesus is walking between Elias and Joseph who tell Him of the recent adventure and of the strength of Solomon, who carried the injured man on his back for miles and miles, which they covered a little at a time, by night...
«But you, Joseph, have forgiven those who injured you, have you not? »
«I never had a grudge against those unhappy people. I offered forgiveness and my sufferings for their redemption.»
«That is what one must do, My good disciple! And what about Ogla? »
«Ogla has gone with Timoneus. I do not know whether he will go on with him or whether he will stop at Mount Hermon. He always said that he wanted to go to Lebanon.»
«Well. May God inspire him to do what is best.»
Many birds now chirp in chorus among the branches, while bleatings, the voices of children and women, braying donkeys, squeaking pulleys of wells, tell that the village is awake.
In the kitchen garden the bread is broken, the fish handed round and they have their meal. Immediately afterwards, the three disciples, blessed by Jesus, leave the house and walk fast along the road, as far as the river, and vanish into the cool shady canebrakes... They can no longer be seen...
«And now let us rest until evening and then we will follow them » orders Jesus.
And some lie down on the little beds, some on the piles of nets, which Ananias made, saying that thus he is not idle and he earns his daily bread, and they all seek a refreshing sleep.
In the meantime Ananias, after picking up the garments wet with perspiration, goes out noiselessly, closes the door and the gate and goes down to the river to wash them, so that they may be fresh and dry by evening...
«And here you will put the vision: "Jesus in a little village of the Decapolis" of 2nd October 1944, and then the other one: "The Demoniac of the Decapolis" of 29th September 1944.»
417. In a Little Village of the Decapolis. Parable of the Sculptor.
2nd October 1944.
This is what I see. A little river in a village consisting of few modest houses. It must be the one from which Jesus came when, in a boat, He crossed the Jordan in flood, because I see the boatman and his relatives come to meet Jesus, Who had sent the Iscariot and Thomas ahead, to prepare the way for Him.
The boatman, when he sees Jesus coming from afar, quickens his step and when he is before Him, he bows most reverently saying: «You are welcomed, Master, by our sick people. They are waiting for You. I told them much about You. The entire village greets You through my lips saying: "Blessed be the Messiah of the Most High God!"»
«Peace to you and to this village. I am here for you. You will not be disappointed in your hopes. Those who believe will find Heaven merciful. Let us go.» And Jesus proceeds towards the centre of the village, walking beside the boatman.
Men, women and children appear at the doors and then follow the little procession, as it advances. At every step the people grow in numbers as many more join those already there. Some greet, some bless, some invoke.
«Master » shouts a mother «my son is ill. Come, Blessed One! »
And Jesus deviates towards a poor house, He lays one hand on the shoulder of the mother in tears and asks: «Where is your son? »
«Here, Master, come.»
The mother, Jesus, the boatman, Peter, John, Thaddeus and some local people go in. The others crowd at the door and look in craning their necks to see.
In a corner of the poor dark kitchen there is a little bed near the glimmering fireplace. On the bed there is the little corpse of a child about seven years old. I say a little corpse because he is so emaciated, yellowish, motionless. One is aware only of the heavy panting of the little chest, affected, I would say, by tubercolosis.
«Look, Master. I have spent all my resources to save at least this one. I am a widow, the other two sons died at the same age as this one is at present. I took him as far as Caesarea on the Sea to have him visited by a Roman doctor. But all he could say to me was: "Resign yourself. Caries is corroding him". Look…»
And the mother uncovers the poor little thing, pushing the blankets back. Where there are no bandages, there are little bones protruding from a parched yellowish skin. But only a tiny part of the body is uncovered. The rest is covered with bandages and linens and when the mother removes them, they show the characteristic dripping holes of osseus caries. A pitiful sight. The sick boy is so prostrate that he makes no gesture. He does not even seem to be involved. He just opens his hollow dull eyes, he casts an indifferent, I would say annoyed, glance at the people and then closes them again.
Jesus caresses him. He lays His long hand on the little abandoned head, and the child opens his eyes again, looking with more interest at the unknown man, who is touching him with so much tenderness and is smiling with so much sympathy.
«Do you want to be cured? » Jesus says to him in a low voice, bending over his wan face. He had previously covered the little body saying to the mother, who wanted to put some more bandages: «It is not necessary, woman. Leave him thus.»
The little patient nods without speaking.
«For my mother » he says in a very faint voice. His mother weeps more grievously.
«Will you always be good if you are cured? A good son? A good citizen? A good believer? » He asks the questions separating them clearly, to give the child time to answer each one. «Will you always remember what you are now promising? »
The feeble, yet so deep in desire, «yes », is uttered repeatedly, like a succession of sighs from his soul.
«Give me your hand, My little one.» The little patient wants to give his healthy one, the left one. But Jesus says: «Give Me the other one. I will not hurt you.»
«Lord » says the mother «it's one big sore. Let me bandage it. For You...»
«It does not matter, woman. I am disgusted only at the impurities of hearts. Give Me your hand and say with Me: "I want to be always good as a son, as a man, as a believer in the true God".»
The boy repeats stressing his voice. Oh! His whole soul is in his voice, and his hope as well... and certainly also his mother's.
A solemn silence has fallen in the room and in the street. Jesus, Who is holding the boy's right hand with His left one, lifts His right one, with the gesture as when He announces a truth, or when He imposes His will on diseases and elements, and standing solemnly upright, He says in a powerful voice: «And I want you to be cured. Rise, child, and praise the Lord » and He releases the little hand which is now completely healed, thin, but without the least excoriation, and He says to the mother: «Uncover your child.»
The woman, who looks as if she were between a death sentence and one of mercy, removes the blankets hesitantly... and she utters a cry and throws herself on the very lean but wholesome body, kissing and embracing it... mad with joy. So much so that she does not see Jesus going away from the bed towards the door.
But the boy sees and says: «Bless me, Lord, and allow me to bless You. Mother... are you not thanking? »
«Oh! forgive me...» The woman, with the child in her arms, throws herself at Jesus' feet.
«I understand, woman. Go in peace and be happy. Goodbye, boy, Be good. Goodbye, everybody.» And He goes out.
Many women lift up their children so that Jesus' blessing may preserve them from evil in future. Little ones creep through adults to be caressed. And Jesus blesses, caresses, listens, He stops to cure also three people with diseased eyes and a man trembling as if he were affected by St. Vitus' dance. He is now in the centre of the village.
«There is a relative of mine here, deaf‑and‑dumb from birth. He is quick‑witted, but he cannot do anything. Cure him, Jesus » says the boatman.
«Take Me to him.»
They enter a small kitchen garden at the end of which there is a young man, about thirty years old, who is drawing water from a well and pouring it on vegetables. As he is deaf and with his back turned, he does not notice what is happening and he calmly goes on with his work, notwithstanding that the shouts of the crowd are so loud as to frighten the doves on the roofs.
The boatman goes towards him, takes him by the arm and leads him to Jesus.
Jesus stands in front of the unhappy fellow, very close to him, body against body, so that with His tongue He touches the tongue of the dumb man, who is standing with his mouth open, and with His middle‑fingers in the ears of the deaf‑mute, He prays for a moment with His eyes raised to the sky. He then says: «Be opened! » and removing His fingers He steps aside.
«Who are You Who have loosened my tongue and ears? » shouts the man cured miraculously.
Jesus makes a gesture and tries to proceed going out from the rear of the house. But both the cured man and the boatman hold Him back, one saying: «He is Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah » and the other exclaiming: «Oh! stay, that I may worship You! »
«Worship the Most High God and be always faithful to Him. Go. Do not waste time in useless words, and do not turn the miracle into a human pastime. Make use of your tongue to do good, and listen to the voices of the Creator Spirit Who loves and blesses you, with your heart, rather than with ears.»
Of course, it is quite useless to tell a man, who is so happy, not to talk of his happiness! The cured man makes up for so many years of mutism and deafness, by speaking to all the people present.
The boatman insists on Jesus entering his house to rest and take some refreshments. He feels that he is the maker of all the respect surrounding Jesus and is proud of it. He wants his right to be acknowledged.
«But I am the notable elder of the village » says an old imposing man.
«But if I had not been there with my boats, you would not have seen Jesus » replies the boatman.
And Peter, who is always frank and impulsive, says: «Actually... if I had not told you a little thing, you... the boats...»
Jesus interferes providentially, making everybody happy. «Let us go near the river. While waiting for our food there ‑ and let it be frugal and sparing, because food is to serve the body and not be the aim of the body ‑ I will evangelize. Anyone wishing to hear Me or ask Me questions, may come with Me.»
I can say that the entire village follows Him.
Jesus gets into a boat beached on the gravel bed and from that improvised pulpit He speaks to His listeners, who are sat in front of Him, in a semicircle, on the bank and among the trees.
He takes as a starting point the question asked by a man: «Master, our Law seems to point out as struck by God those who were born wretched, in fact He forbids them to serve at the altar. How can they be guilty? Would it not be fair to consider guilty their parents who give birth to wretched sons? Mothers in particular? And how are we to behave with those born unfortunate? »
«Listen. A great perfect sculptor one day carved a statue and he made such a perfect job, that he was pleased and he said: "I want the Earth to be full of such marvels". But by himself he could not cope with such a task. He therefore called other people to help him and said to them: "On this model make for me one thousand, ten thousand statues equally perfect. I will then give them the final touch, instilling expression into their features". But his assistants were not capable of so much, because besides being much inferior to their master in skill, they had become somewhat intoxicated eating of a fruit, the juice of which brings about delirium and dullness. The sculptor then gave them some moulds and said: "Mould the material in them; it will be a perfect work and I will complete it, enlivening it with a final touch". And the assistants set down to work.
But the sculptor had a great enemy. A personal enemy and the enemy of his assistants, and he tried with every means to make the sculptor cut a poor figure and rouse disagreement between him and his assistants. Thus he attacked their work with his cunning, altering the material to be poured into the moulds, or reducing the fire, or praising the assistants exaggeratedly. It thus happened that the ruler of the world, in an effort to prevent as far as possible the work from going out in imperfect copies, imposed heavy sanctions on those models issued in an imperfect state. And one of the sanctions was that such models could not be displayed in the House of God, where everything must be, or ought to be perfect. I say: ought to be, because it is not so. Even if appearances are good, facts are not so. Those present in the House of God seem faultless, but the eye of God discovers the gravest faults in them. The faults which are in their hearts.
Oh! the heart! It is with the heart that one serves God; indeed: it is with the heart. It is not necessary, neither is it enough to have clear eyes and perfect hearing, harmonic voice, beautiful limbs, to sing the praises pleasing to God. It is not essential or sufficient to have beautiful clean and scented garments. The spirit is to be pure and perfect, harmonic and well shaped in sight, hearing, voice, in spiritual forms, and these are to be adorned with purity; that is the beautiful clean dress scented with charity: that is the oil saturated with essence that God likes.
And what kind of charity would be the attitude of a man, who being happy and seeing an unhappy fellow, should despise him and hate him? On the contrary, double and treble charity is to be given to those who, although not guilty, were born poor wretches. Wretchedness is a pain that gives merit to those who bear it and to those who, united with the victims, suffer seeing them bear it out of love of relationship, and perhaps they strike their chests thinking: "I am the cause of such pain through my vices". And it must never become the cause of spiritual fault in those who see it. It becomes a fault if it becomes anti‑charity. So I say to you: "Never be without charity towards your neighbour. Was he born a poor wretch? Love him because he endures a great pain. Did he become unhappy through his own fault? Love him because his fault has already become a punishment. Is he the parent of a wretch born such or who became such? Love him because there is no deeper sorrow than the grief of a parent struck in his child. Is it a mother who has given birth to a monster? Love her because she is literally crushed by such grief, which she considers the most inhuman. It is inhuman".
But even deeper is the grief of a woman who is the mother of a son, who is a monster in his soul, as she realises that she has given birth to a demon dangerous for the Earth, for the Fatherland, for the Family, for friends. Oh! the poor mother of a cruel, vile son, of a murderer, of a traitor, of a thief, of a corrupt man, dare not even raise her forehead! Well. I say to you: Love those mothers also, the most unhappy ones. Those who in history will be known as the mothers of murderers, of traitors.
Everywhere the Earth has heard the weeping of mothers whose hearts were broken because of the cruel death of their sons. From Eve onwards how many mothers have felt their bowels being lacerated more painfully than in labour, nay, they felt their bowels and their hearts being tom off by a cruel hand, in the presence of their sons murdered, tortured, martyred by men, and they howled their pangs, throwing themselves with the frenzy of convulsive sorrowful love on the corpses which could not hear them any longer, neither could they be warmed by their warmth, nor could they say with a look, a gesture, since they could not do so with their lips: "Mother I can hear you".
And yet I tell you that the Earth has not yet heard the cry and has not collected the tears of the most holy Mother and of the most unhappy one among all those who will be remembered for ever by man: the Mother of the Killed Redeemer and the mother of the man who will be His traitor. Those two mothers, martyrs in different ways, will be heard mourning miles apart, and the innocent and holy Mother, the most innocent, the Innocent Mother of the Innocent, will be the one Who will say to Her far away sister, the martyr of a son more cruel than anything on the Earth: "Sister, I love you".
Love to be worthy of that Woman Who will love everybody and on behalf of everybody. It is love that will save the Earth.»
And Jesus comes down from His rustic pulpit and bends to caress a little boy rolling on the grass of the gravel bed half‑naked in his little shirt. After so many sublime words from a Master, it is pleasant to see Him thus, taking interest in a child, like a common man, and then breaking the bread, offering it round and handing it to those close to Him, sitting and eating like every man, while He certainly already hears in His heart the cry of His Mother and sees Judas beside Him.
Such control over His feelings impresses me, who am so impulsive, more than many other things. It is a continual lesson to me. Those present, instead, seem to be really fascinated. They are pensive and silent while eating and they look with veneration at the kind Master of love.
418. The Demoniac of the Decapolis.
29th September 1944.
Jesus and His apostles are still moving about the country. The mowing season is now over and the fields display scorched stubble. Jesus is walking along a shady path and is speaking to some men who have joined the group of the apostles.
«Yes » says one. «Nothing can cure him. He is more than mad. And he terrorises everybody, women in particular, because he chases them with obscene jibes. It would be a tragedy if he caught them! »
«One never knows where he is » says another man. «On the mountains, in the woods, in the fields... he appears all of a sudden like a snake... Women are terrified of him. One of them, a young girl, who was coming back from the river, died in a few days of a high temperature because she had been grasped by the madman.»
«The other day my brother‑in‑law went to the place where he prepared a sepulchre for himself and his relatives, because his father‑in‑law had died, and he wanted to make all the preparations for the burial. But he had to run away because the demoniac, nude and howling as usual, was inside and threatened to strike him with stones... He chased him almost as far as the village, then went back to the sepulchre and the dead man had to be buried in my sepulchre.»
«And what about the time when he remembered that Tobias and Daniel had taken him by force, had tied him and taken him back home? He waited for them hiding among the canes and the mud of the river and when they got into the boat to go fishing or to ferry, I am not sure which, with the strength of a demon he lifted the boat and turned it upside down. They saved themselves by a miracle, but what was in the boat was lost and the very keel of the boat was damaged and the oars were broken.»
«But have you not shown him to the priests? »
«Yes, he was taken to Jerusalem tied like a bale... What a journey!... I was there and I can tell You that I do not need to go to hell to learn what happens and is said there. But it was of no avail...»
«Just as bad as before? »
«And yet... the Priest!...»
«But what can You expect!... It would be necessary...»
«What? Go on...»
There is silence.
«Speak up. Be not afraid, I will not accuse you.»
«Well... I was saying... but I do not want to commit a sin... I was saying... that... well... the priest might be successful if...»
«If he were a holy man, you mean, but you dare not say so. I say to you: do not judge. But what you say is true. It is regretfully true!...»
Jesus becomes silent and sighs. A short embarrassed silence.
Then one dares to take up the thread of the speech again: «If we should meet him, will You cure him? Will You clear this countryside? »
«Do you hope that I may be able to do so? Why? »
«Because You are holy.»
«God is holy.»
«And You who are His Son. »
«How do you know? »
«Eh! people talk, in any case, we live here, near the river, and we know what You did three months ago. Who can stop a river in spate, but the Son of God? »
«And what about Moses? And Joshua? »
«They worked in the name of God and for His glory, And they were able to do so because they were holy. You are greater than they were.»
«Will You do it, Master? »
«I will, if we meet him.»
They proceed. The increasing heat makes them leave the road and seek shelter in a thicket along the river, which is not ruffled as when it was in flood. Although still rich in water, the water is calm and blue, shining in the sun. The path widens and white houses appear at the end of it. They must be approaching a village. At the borders of it there are some small very white buildings, with only one opening in one wall. Some are open. Most of them are hermetically closed. There is no one about. They are spread over bare uncultivated ground, which seems to be abandoned. There are only weeds and boulders.
«Go away! Away! Go back or I will kill You! »
«The demoniac has seen us! I am going away.»
«And I will follow you.»
«Be not afraid. Remain here and watch.»
Jesus is so sure of Himself that the... brave ones obey, but they go behind Jesus. The disciples also remain behind Him. Jesus proceeds alone and solemnly, as if He saw and heard nothing.
«Go away! » The voice is a rending cry. It sounds like a growl and a howl. It seems impossible that it can be uttered by a human being. «Go away! Back! I will kill You! Why are You persecuting me? I do not want to see You! » The possessed man bounds, he is nude, swarthy, with long ruffled hair and beard. His dark bristly locks strewn with dry leaves and dust fall over his grim bloodshot eyes, which roll in their sockets, and reach down to his mouth. And his mouth, open in howls and bursts of laughter of a madman ‑ they sound like a nightmare ‑ is foaming and bleeding, because he is striking it with a sharp stone and he says: «Why can I not kill You? Who is binding my strength? Is it You? You? »
Jesus looks at him and proceeds.
The madman rolls on the ground, bites himself, foams even more, strikes himself with his stone, springs to his feet, points his forefinger towards Jesus, Whom he stares at fixedly and wildly and says: «Listen! Listen! He Who is coming is...»
«Be silent, demon of the man! I order you.»
«No! No! I will not be silent. What is there between You and us? Why do You not leave us in peace? Are You not satisfied with confining us to the kingdom of hell? Is it not enough for You that You have come to snatch man from us? Why do You force us back down there? Allow us to dwell in our preys! Since You are great and powerful, pass and conquer, if You can. But let us rejoice and be harmful. We exist for that. Oh! cur... No! I cannot say that! Don't make me say that to You! I cannot curse You! I hate You! I persecute You! I am waiting for You to torture You! I hate You and Him from Whom You proceed and I hate Him Who is Your Spirit. I hate Love, because I am Hatred! I want to curse You! I want to kill You! But I cannot! I cannot! Not yet! But I will wait for You, o Christ, I will wait for You. I will see You dead! O what a joyful hour! No! Not joyful! You dead? No. Not dead. And I defeated! Defeated! Always defeated!... Ah!...» Paroxism is at its utmost.
Jesus continues towards the demoniac keeping him under the radiation of His magnetic eyes. Jesus is now all by Himself. The apostles and the other people have remained behind. The people are behind the apostles, who are at least thirty metres from Jesus.
Some inhabitants of the village, which appears to be thickly peopled and I think is also wealthy, have come out, attracted by the shouts, and are watching the scene, ready to run away just like the other group. So the scene is as follows: in the centre the possessed man and Jesus, now a few metres apart from each other; behind Jesus, to the left, the apostles and the people of the country; on the right hand side, behind the demoniac, the citizens.
Jesus, after ordering the demon to be silent, has not spoken any more. He only stares at the demoniac. But now He stops and raises His arms, He stretches them towards the possessed man and is about to speak, The man's cries are now dreadful. He writhes, he jumps to the right, to the left, upwards. He looks as if he wanted either to run away or hurl himself upon Jesus, but he cannot. He is riveted there and apart from his writhing, he can make no other movement.
When Jesus stretches out His arms, His hands extended as if He were taking an oath, the madman howls louder and after cursing, laughing and swearing, he begins to weep and implore. «No, not in hell! Don't send me there! My life is dreadful even here, imprisoned in man, because I want to travel through the world and tear Your creatures to pieces. But not there! No! No! Leave me outside!...»
«Come out of him. It's an order.»
«In the name of the true God, come out! »
«Oh! Why do You defeat me? But I am not coming out, no. You are the Christ, the Son of God, but I am...»
«Who are you? »
«I am Beelzebub, the Master of the world and I will not surrender. I defy You, o Christ! »
The demoniac becomes motionless all of a sudden, stiff, almost dignified, and stares fixedly at Jesus with phosphorescent eyes, hardly moving his lips to utter unintelligible words and making light gestures with his hands near his shoulders and his elbows bent.
Jesus also has stopped. With His arms folded over His chest He gazes at him. Jesus also moves His lips lightly, but I cannot hear any word.
The people present are waiting, but they do not agree with one another:
«He cannot do it! »
«Yes, the Christ will now succeed.»
«No. The other one is winning.»
«He is strong.»
«Yes, he is.»
«No, he isn't.»
Jesus opens His arms. His face flashes command, His voice sounds like thunder. «Come out. For the last time. Come out, o Satan! It is I Who command!»
«Aaaaah! » (it is a very long cry of never‑ending torture. Not even a man slowly pierced by a sword would yell thus). And the cry ends in words: «I am coming out. Yes, You have defeated me. But I will avenge myself. You are driving me away, but there is a demon beside You and I will go into him and possess him, investing him with my full power. And no order of Yours will be able to take him away from me. In every age, in every place I, the author of Evil, procreate sons for myself. And as God procreated Himself by Himself, I procreate myself by myself . I conceive myself in the heart of man and he gives birth to Me, he gives birth to a new Satan, who is he himself and I rejoice having so many children! You and men will always find those creatures of mine, who are as many Satans. I am going, o Christ, to take possession of my new kingdom, as You wish, and I leave You this poor wretch whom I maltreated. In his place, as I am leaving him to You, the alms of Satan to You, God, I will take one thousand and ten thousand now, and You will find them when Your body in lurid tatters will be given as a plaything to dogs, and I will take ten thousand and one hundred thousand in future centuries to use them as an instrument for me and a torture for You. Do You think that You will win by raising Your Sign? My followers will knock it down and I will be the winner... Ah! It is not true that I will win! But I will torture You both in Yourself and in Your followers!...»
A loud crash, like thunder, is heard, but there is neither flash of light nor rumbling of thunder. Only a sharp lacerating crack, and as the demoniac falls like a dead body to the ground and remains there, a huge tree‑trunk collapses near the apostles, as if it had been cut about one metre from the ground by a saw working as quickly as lightening. The apostolic group moves away just in time, while the local people run away.
But Jesus, Who has bent over the prostrated man and has taken him by the hand, turns round, still stooping and with the hand of the cured man in His own, He says: «Come. Be not afraid! » The people approach timorously. «He is cured. Bring a garment.» A man runs away to fetch one.
The man comes round slowly. He opens his eyes and meets Jesus'. He sits up. With his free hand he wipes off perspiration, blood and foam, he pushes his hair back and looks at himself, When he realises that he is nude in the presence of so many people, he feels ashamed. He crouches and asks: «What happened? Who are You? Why am I here? Nude? »
«Nothing, My friend. They will now bring you some clothes and you will go back home.»
«Where have I come from? And where are You from? » He speaks with the faint tired voice of a sick person.
«I come from the Sea of Galilee.»
«And how come You know me? Why are You helping me? What is Your name? »
Some men arrive with a tunic which they put on the man cured miraculously. And an old woman arrives weeping and she presses the cured man to her heart.
«Mother! Why did you leave me for such a long time? »
The old woman weeps even more and kisses and caresses him. Perhaps she would speak more words, but Jesus dominates her with His eyes and inspires her with more pitiful ones: «You have been so ill, son! Praise God Who has cured you and the Messiah Who acted in the name of God.»
«Him? What's His name? »
«Jesus of Galilee. But His name is Goodness. Kiss His hands, son, and ask Him to forgive you for what you did or said... you certainly spoke in your...»
«Yes, he spoke when he was feverish » says Jesus to prevent unwise words. «But it was not he who spoke and I am not severe with him. Let him be good now. Let him be continent.» Jesus stresses the word. The man lowers his head, embarrassed.
But what Jesus spares him is not spared by the rich citizens who have by now approached them. Among them there are some ineffable Pharisees. «You have been lucky! It is a good job that you met Him, the master of the demons.»
«I... a demoniac? » The man is terrified.
The old woman bursts out: «You cursed ones! You have neither mercy nor respect! You greedy cruel vipers! And you as well, you useless minister of the synagogue. The Holy One master of the demons! »
«And who do you think has power over them but their king and father? »
«Oh! Impious people! Blasphemers! Be c....»
«Be silent, woman. Be happy with your son. Do not curse. They do not upset or worry Me. You may all go in peace. My blessing to good people. Let us go, My friends.»
«May I follow You? » It is the cured man who asks the question.
«No. Stay here. Be My witness and your mother's joy. Go.»
And among cheering shouts and whispered mockery Jesus crosses part of the little town and then goes back to the shade of the trees along the river.
The apostles crowd round Him.
Peter asks: «Master, why did the unclean spirit offer so much resistance? »
«Because it was a complete spirit.»
«What does that mean? »
«Listen to Me. Some people give themselves to Satan by opening a door to one capital vice. Some give themselves twice, some three times, some seven times. When one has opened his spirit to the seven vices, then a complete spirit enters him. Satan, the black prince, enters.»
«How could that man, still young, be possessed by Satan? »
«Oh! My friends! Do you know along which path Satan comes? Generally three are the beaten paths, and one is never missing. Three: sensuality, money, pride of the spirit. Sensuality is the one which is always present. Courier of the other concupisciences, it passes spreading its poison and everything flourishes with satanic flowering. That is why I say to you: "Be the masters of your flesh". Let that control be the beginning of everything else, as that slavery is the beginning of everything else. The man enslaved by lust, becomes thief, swindler, cruel, murderer, in order to serve his mistress. The very thirst for power is also related to the flesh. Do you not think so? It is so. Meditate on that and you will see whether I am mistaken. It was through the flesh that Satan entered man and through the flesh he goes back into man, and he is happy if he can do so. He, one and sevenfold, enters with the proliferation of his legions of minor demons.»
«You said that Mary of Magdala had seven demons. You said so and they were certainly demons of lust. And yet You freed her very easily.»
«Yes, Judas. That is true.»
«So, according to you, My theory is wrong. No, My friend. That woman wanted, by that time, to be freed from her possession. She wanted. Will power is everything.»
«Why, Master, do we notice that many women are possessed by the demon, and we can say, by that demon? »
«See, Matthew. Woman is not equal to man in her formation and in her reaction to the original sin. Man has other aims for his desires which may be more or less good. Woman has one aim only: love. Man has a different formation. Woman has this one, sensitive, which is even more perfect, because its purpose is procreation. You know that every perfection brings about an increase in sensitiveness. A perfect ear can hear what escapes a less perfect ear and is glad of that. The same applies to the eyes, to the palate and to olfaction. Woman was to be the sweetness of God on the Earth, she was to be love, the incarnation of that fire which moves Him Who is, the manifestation, the testimony of that love. God had therefore gifted her with a supereminent sensitive spirit, so that, one day as a mother, she could and would know how to open the eyes of the hearts of her sons to the love for God and their fellow‑creatures, as man would open the eyes of intelligence of his children to understanding and acting. Consider the command of God to Himself: "Let us make a helpmate for Adam". God-Goodness could but want to make a good helpmate for Adam. He who is good loves. Adam's helpmate, therefore, was to be able to love to succeed in making Adam's day happy in the blissful Garden. She was to be so capable of loving as to be the second, collaborator and substitute of God, in loving man, His creature, so that even when God did not reveal Himself to His child with His loving voice, man should not feel unhappy for lack of love. Satan was aware of such perfection. Satan knows so many things. It is he who speaks through the lips of pythonesses telling lies mixed with truth. And ‑ bear this in mind all of you, both you who are present here and those who will come in future ‑ he speaks such truth, which he hates because he is Falsehood, only to seduce you with the chimera that it is Light that speaks and not Darkness. Satan, cunning, tortuous and cruel, crept into such perfection, he bit there and left his poison. The perfection of woman in loving has thus become Satan's instrument to dominate man and woman and spread evil...»
«What about our mothers, then? »
«John, do you fear for them? Not every woman is an instrument for Satan. Perfect as they are in their feelings, they exceed in action: angels if they want to be of God, demons if they wish to be of Satan. Holy women, and your mother is one of them, want to be of God and they are angels.»
«Do You not think that the punishment of woman is unfair, Master? Man also sinned.»
«And what about the reward then? It is written that Good will come back to the world through Woman and Satan will be defeated.»
«Never judge the work of God. That is the first thing. But consider that as Evil came into the world through woman, it is fair that through the Woman Good should come into the world. A page written by Satan is to be cancelled. And the tears of a Woman will do that. And as Satan will shout his cries for ever, the voice of a Woman will sing to drown those cries.»
«I solemnly tell you that Her voice has already descended from Heaven where Her hallelujah has been sung from eternity.»
«Will She be greater than Judith? »
«Greater than every woman.»
«What will She do? »
«She will turn Eve upside down with her treble sin. Absolute obedience. Absolute purity. Absolute humility. She will rise on that: a victorious queen...»
«But, Jesus, is Your Mother not the greatest, having given birth to You? »
«Great is he who does the will of God. And that is why Mary is great. Every other merit comes from God. But that one is entirely Hers and may She be blessed for it.»
And it all ends.
«You have seen a man "possessed" by Satan. There are many replies in My words. Not so much for you as for other people. Will they be of any use? No. They will be of no use to those who need them most. Rest with My peace.»
419. The Yeast of the Pharisees.
22nd April 1946.
After the Holy Week and the consequent penitence of not having any visions, the spiritual vision of the Gospel comes back to me this morning. And all my anxiety is forgotten in this joy that is foretold by an indescribable sensation of superhuman jubilation...
...And now I see Jesus, Who is still walking along the thickets on the banks of the river, and He stops and orders the apostles to have a rest during the hours which are too warm to travel. Because, while it is true that the thickly interlacing branches protect from the sun, they form a kind of canopy which obstructs the very light breezes, and thus the air in there is warm, still, heavy, and damp; dampness in fact rises from the ground near the river, and far from being a relief it is a sticky torture, which mixes with and increases the troublesome perspiration streaming down their bodies.
«Let us stop until evening. We will then go down to the whitish gravel bed still visible in starlight and we will proceed by night. Let us take some food and a rest now.»
«Ah! before taking any food I will refresh myself in the water. The water will be warm, too, like a decoction for a cough, but it will wash my sweat away. Who is coming with me? » asks Peter.
They all go with him: everyone, Jesus also, as, like everybody else, He is perspiring and His tunic is heavy with dust and sweat. Each of them takes a clean tunic from his sack and they all go down to the river. On the grass, to mark their stop, there are only thirteen sacks and the small water flasks, watched over by old trees and countless birds, which look curiously with their tiny jet eyes at the thirteen full multicoloured sacks spread over the grass.
The voices of the bathers fade away and mingle with the murmuring water. Only now and again the sharp laughter of the younger ones resounds like a high note above the low monotonous tone of the river.
But silence is soon broken by the shuffling of feet. Some heads appear from behind a thicket; they cast sidelong glances and say with an expression of satisfaction: «They are here. They have stopped. Let us go and tell the others » and they disappear behind the bushes...
...In the meantime the apostles come back with the Master. They are refreshed, their hair is still wet, although they have dried it hurriedly, they are barefooted and are holding their dripping washed sandals by the straps, and they are wearing fresh clothes and the other ones are hanging in the cane‑brake after being washed in the blue water of the Jordan. They are obviously in very good form after the long bath.
Unaware of the fact that they have been discovered, they sit down, after Jesus has offered and handed out the food. And after the meal, sleepy as they are, they would like to lie down and slumber, when a man arrives and after him another one, and then a third one...
«What do you want? » asks James of Zebedee, who sees them arrive and stop behind a large bush, undecided about moving forward or not. The others, including Jesus, turn round to see to whom James is speaking.
«Ah! it's the people of the village... They have followed us! » says Thomas without enthusiasm, as he was preparing to have a little nap.
In the meantime the visitors reply somewhat timorously, seeing the obvious reluctance of the apostles to receive them: «We wanted to speak to the Master... To tell Him that... Is that right, Samuel?...» and they stop not daring to say anything more.
But Jesus benignly encourages them: «Speak up. Have you more sick people?...» and He stands up directing His steps towards them.
«Master, You are even more tired than we are. Have a little rest and let them wait...» say some of the apostles.
«There are creatures here who want Me. So their hearts have no rest either. And the weariness of a heart is heavier than the tiredness of limbs. Let Me listen to them.»
«All right! Farewell to our rest!...» grumble the apostles, who are so affected by fatigue and heat as to reproach the Master in the presence of strangers, so much so, that they say to Him: «And when Your lack of prudence will have caused us all to be taken ill, You will realise too late that we were necessary to You.»
Jesus looks at them... compassionately. There is nothing else in His kind tired eyes... And He replies: «No, My friends. I do not expect you to imitate Me. Look, you stay here, and rest; I will speak and listen to these people and then I will come and rest with you.»
His reply is so kind that it achieves more than a reproach would obtain. The kind hearts and affections of the Twelve are awakened and overwhelm them: «No, Lord! Stay where You are and speak to them. We will go and turn our clothes round so that the other side may dry. We will thus overcome sleep, and then we will come back and rest all together.» And the more sleepy ones go towards the river... Matthew, John and Bartholomew remain.
In the meantime the three citizens have become more than ten and their number increases more and more...
«So? Come here and speak without any fear.»
«Master, after You left, the Pharisees have become even more violent... They attacked the man freed by You... and it will be a new miracle if he does not become mad... because... they said to him... that You freed him from a demon who hampered only his reason and that You gave him a stronger demon, so strong that he defeated the previous one and is stronger than the previous one, because this one damns and possesses his soul, and thus, while in next life he would not have had to bear the consequences of the first possession because his actions were not... what did they say, Abraham?...»
«They said... oh! a strange word... In short God would not have asked him to give an account of those actions because he had not done them with a free mind, whereas now, by adoring You through the imposition of the demon he has in his heart, placed there by You ‑ oh! forgive us for telling You ‑ by You, the prince of demons, by adoring You with a mind which is no longer mad, he is impious, cursed and will be damned. Consequently the poor wretch regrets his previous state and... he almost curses You... So he is more insane than previously... and his mother is in despair because her son has given up hope of being saved... and all their joy has become a torture. We have been looking for You so that You may give him peace, and an angel certainly guided us here... Lord, we believe that You are the Messiah. And we believe that the Messiah has in Himself the Spirit of God. He is therefore Truth and Wisdom. And we ask You to give us peace and an explanation...»
«You are in justice and in charity. May you be blessed. But where is the poor wretch? »
«He is following us with his mother, shedding desperate tears. See? The entire village, except them, the cruel Pharisees, is coming here, disregarding their threats. Because they have threatened to punish us for believing in You. But God will protect us.»
«God will protect you. Take Me to the man I cured.»
«No. We will bring him here. Just wait » and many of them depart towards the larger group of people who are coming making gestures, while two shrill cries overwhelm the confused noise of the talk of the crowd. The others, those who have remained, are already so many, and when they are joined by the group surrounding the cured demoniac and his mother, a really large crowd is pressing among the trees around Jesus, climbing even the trees to find a plaice to hear and see.
Jesus goes towards the cured demoniac, who begins to tear his hair as soon as he sees Him, and kneeling down he says: «Give the first demon back to me! Out of pity for me, for my soul! What have I done to You that You should injure me so much? »
And his mother, also on her knees, says: «He is raving mad with fear, Lord! Do not pay attention to his blasphemous words, but free him from the fear that those cruel people have infused into him, so that he may not lose the life of his soul. You have already freed him once!... Oh! for the sake of a mother, free him once again! »
«Yes, woman. Be not afraid! Listen, child of God! » And Jesus lays His hands on the ruffled hair of the man delirious with supernatural fear: «Listen. And judge. Judge by yourself because your reason is free and you can judge according to justice. There is an unerring way to find out whether a prodigy comes from God or from a demon. And it is what a soul feels. If the extraordinary event comes from God, it infuses peace into the soul, peace and solemn joy. If it comes from the demon, it brings about perturbation and sorrow. And peace and joy come also from the words of God, whereas perturbation and sorrow come from those of a demon, be it a demon spirit or a demon man. And also the closeness of God grants peace and joy whereas the closeness of wicked spirits or men bring about perturbation and sorrow. Now consider, child of God. When, by yielding to the demon of lust, you began to receive your oppressor within you, did you enjoy happiness and peace? »
The man ponders and blushing replies: «No, Lord.»
«And when your everlasting Enemy captured you completely, did you enjoy peace and happiness? »
«No, Lord. Never. As long as I could understand, as long as a particle of my mind was free, I was distressed and grieved by the arrogance of the Enemy. Later... I do not know... My mind was no longer able to understand what I suffered... I was lower than a beast... But even in that state when I seemed to be less intelligent than an animal... oh! how much I could still suffer! I cannot say what... Hell is dreadful! It is nothing but horror... and it is not possible to say what it is...»
The man shivers remembering what he suffered when he was possessed. He trembles, blanches, perspires... His mother embraces him and kisses his cheek to distract his mind from that nightmare... People whisper their comments.
«And when you woke up with your hand in Mine, what did you feel? »
«Oh! Such a wonderful sensation... and such a joy and an even greater peace... I seemed to be coming out from a dark prison, where countless snakes had been my chains and the air was permeated with the stench of a putrid sewer, and I seemed to be entering a garden full of flowers, of sunshine, of songs... I became acquainted with Paradise... but even that cannot be described...» The man smiles as if he were enraptured by the remembrance of his recent short hour of happiness. He then sighs and concludes: «But it was soon all over...»
«Are you sure? Now that you are close to Me and far from those who upset you, tell Me, what do you feel? »
«Peace once again. Here with You, I cannot believe that I am damned, and their words sound like blasphemy to me... But I believed them... So did I not sin against You? »
«You did not sin; they did. Rise, child of God, and believe in the peace within you. Peace comes from God. You are with God. Do not sin and be not afraid » and He removes His hands from the head of the man making him stand up.
«Is it really so, Lord? » ask many.
«It is really so. The doubt raised by the deliberately harmful words was the final revenge of Satan, who had come out of him defeated, but anxious to recapture the lost prey.»
With much good common sense a man of the people says: «Then... the Pharisees... assisted Satan! » and many applaud the keen remark.
«Do not judge. There is Who judges.»
«But at least we are sincere in our judgment... And God sees that we judge evident sins. They pretend to be what they are not. They act deceitfully and with wicked purposes. And yet they are more successful than we are, although we are honest and sincere. They are our terror. They extend their power even on the freedom of faith. One must believe and practise to their liking and they threaten us because we love You. They strive to reduce Your miracles to witchcraft and to frighten You. They conspire, they oppress, they injure...» The people speak excitedly.
With a gesture Jesus imposes silence and says:
«Do not receive in your hearts anything originating from them, neither their suggestions nor their methods, not even the thought: "they are wicked and yet they are successful". Do you not remember the words of Wisdom: "Fleeting is the triumph of the wicked", and the words of Proverbs. "Son, do not follow the examples of sinners and do not listen to the words of the wicked because they will become entangled in the chains of their sins and they will be deceived by their own great stupidity"? Do not put into yourselves what comes from them and which you, although imperfect, consider wrong. You would, in fact, put within yourselves the same yeast which corrupts them. The yeast of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. Let it never be in you, neither with regard to the forms of worship of God nor with regard to your behaviour with your brothers. Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. Remember that there is nothing concealed which cannot be disclosed, there is nothing hidden which is not revealed in the end.
You can see that yourselves. They allowed Me to leave and then they sowed darnel where the Lord had scattered chosen seed. They thought they had acted artfully and successfully. And it would have been enough if you had not found Me, if I had crossed the river leaving no trace of Myself on the water, which resumes its normal aspect after the bows open it, and their wickedness, under the appearance of good, would have triumphed. But their trick was soon found out and their evil deed was annulled. And the same applies to all the actions of man. At least One is aware of them and provides: God. What is spoken in the dark, ends up by being disclosed by Light, and what is plotted in the secrecy of a room can be disclosed as if it had been planned in a square. Because every man may have an informer. And because every man is seen by God Who can intervene and unmask offenders.
So one must always live honestly in order to live peacefully. And those who live thus need not be afraid, neither in this life nor with regard to the next one. No, My friends, I tell you: who acts righteously need not be afraid. They must not fear those who kill, yes, those who can kill the body, but can do nothing else. I will tell you what you must be afraid of. Be afraid of those who after putting you to death, can send you to hell, that is, of vices, of evil companions, of false teachers, of all those who insinuate sin or doubt into your hearts, of those who try to corrupt your souls more than your bodies, to detach you from God and to drive you to despair of divine Mercy. I repeat to you that that is what you are to be afraid of, because in that case you will be dead for ever. But be not afraid for the rest, for your lives. Your Father does not lose sight even of one of these tiny birds which builds its nest in the leafy branches of trees. Not one of them is caught in the net without its Creator being aware of it. And yet their material value is tiny: five sparrows for two pennies. And their spiritual value is nil. And yet God takes care of them. Will He, therefore, not take care of you? Of your lives? Of your welfare? Every hair on your heads is known to the Father, and no wrong done to His children passes unnoticed by Him, because you are His children, that is, you are worth much more than the sparrows which nest on roofs or among leafy branches.
And you remain His children until, by your own free will, you renounce to be so. And one renounces such filiation when one denies God and the Word Whom God sent amongst men to lead men to God. Then, when a man will not acknowledge Me in the presence of men, because he is afraid of being damaged by such acknowledgement, God will not acknowledge him as His child, and the Son of God and of man will not acknowledge him in the presence of the angels in Heaven, and those who disown Me in the presence of men, will be disowned as children in the presence of God's angels. And those who have spoken ill of the Son of man or against Him will still be forgiven, because I will plead with the Father for their forgiveness, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Why that? Because not everybody can understand the extent of Love, its perfect infinity and see God in a body like the body of every man. The Gentiles, the heathens cannot believe that through faith, because their religion is not love. Also among us the fearful respect of Israel for Jehovah can prevent people from believing that God has become man and the humblest of men. It is a fault not to believe Me. But when it is based on excessive fear of God, it is still forgiven. But he cannot be forgiven, who does not yield to the truth shining through My deeds, and denies that the Spirit of Love has kept the promise to send the Saviour at the fixed time, the Saviour preceded and accompanied by the signs foretold.
Those who are persecuting Me, are acquainted, with the prophets. The prophecies are full of Me. They are acquainted with the prophecies and they know what I do. The truth is evident. But they deny it because they want to deny it. They systematically deny that I am not only the Son of man, but also the Son of God, foretold by the prophets, He Who was born of a Virgin, not by the will of man, but of the Eternal Love, of the Eternal Spirit, Who announced Me so that men could recognise Me. In order to be able to say that the night of the Expectation of the Christ is still enduring, they persist in keeping their eyes closed, so that they may not see the Light which is in the world, and therefore they deny the Holy Spirit, Its Truth and Its Light. And they will be judged more severely than those who do not know. Neither will they be forgiven for saying that I am "satan", because the Spirit works divine, not satanic deeds for Me. And they will not be forgiven for driving people to despair, when Love had led them to peace. Because those are all offences against the Holy Spirit. Against this Paraclete Spirit Who is Love and grants love and asks for love and Who is awaiting My holocaust of love in order to spread out in wise love, illuminating the hearts of My believers. And when that has happened and they will still persecute you, accusing you before magistrates and princes of synagogues and in courts, do not worry about how to defend yourselves. The same Spirit will tell you what to say to serve the Truth and conquer Life for yourselves, just as the Word is giving you what is necessary to enter the Kingdom of eternal Life.
Go in peace. In My Peace. In that Peace with God and which God sheds to saturate His children with it. Go and be not afraid. I have not come to deceive you, but to teach you, not to lose you, but to redeem you. Blessed are those who will believe My words. And you, man, who have been saved twice, be firm and remember My peace, so that you may say to tempters: "Do not try to seduce me. My faith is that He is the Christ". Go, woman. Go with him and be in peace. Goodbye. Go back to your homes and leave the Son of man to His humble rest on the grass, before resuming His persecuted journey in search of other people to be saved, until the end. My peace be with you.»
He blesses them and goes back to the place where they had their meal. The apostles are with Him. After the people disperse, they lie down, resting their heads on their sacks and they soon go to sleep, in the sultry heat of the afternoon and in the heavy silence of those torrid hours.
420. Consider Yourselves Unprofitable Servants.
24th April 1946.
The gravel bed is white in the moonless but very clear night, as thousands of large, unusually large stars are shining in the Eastern sky. It is not an intense light like moonlight, but it is already a pleasant phosphorescence, which enables those whose eyes are accustomed to darkness, to see where they walk and what is around them. Here, on the right hand side of the wayfarers, who are going up northwards along the river, the mild starlight shows the vegetable border made by cane‑brakes, willows and then by tall trees, and as the light is faint, they look like a compact continuous wall, without any interruption, impossible to penetrate, with a gap where a stream or torrent bed, completely dry, draws a white line that runs eastwards and disappears at the first curve of the tiny tributary now dried up. On the left hand side, instead, the travellers discern the glittering waters that flow down towards the Dead Sea grumbling, sighing, rustling, quiet and serene. And between the shining line of the blue indigo waters, in the night, and the dark opaque mass of grass, bushes and trees, the clear strip of the gravel bed, in places wider, in others narrower, is now and again interrupted by tiny ponds, remainders of previous floods, with still a little water, which is slowly absorbed by the soil and in which there are still some tufts of green grass, which elsewhere is dried up in the gravel bed parched in the hours of sunshine.
The apostles are compelled by those tiny ponds or by tangles of dry bulrushes, as dangerous as blades for their feet half‑naked in sandals, to part now and again and then join again in a group round the Master, Who is proceeding with vigorous strides, always solemn, silent most of the time, with His eyes raised to the stars rather than bent to the ground. But the apostles are not silent. They are talking to one another, summarising the events of the day, drawing conclusions or foreseeing future developments. A few rare words of Jesus, often spoken in reply to a direct question or to correct a wrong or uncharitable opinion, punctuate the chattering of the Twelve. And the march proceeds in the night, marking the night silence with new elements for those desert banks: human voices and shuffling of feet. Nightingales are silent among the branches, surprised at the discordant harsh sounds mixing with and disturbing the usual murmur of water and whispering of breezes, the customary accompaniments of their virtuosi solos.
But a direct question, not concerning what has happened but what is to happen, breaks not only the peace of the night, but also the more intimate peace of hearts, with the violence of a rebellion in addition to the sharp tone of voices upset by scorn and anger. Philip asks whether and in how many days they will be home. A latent need of rest, an unexpressed but understood desire for family love is in the simple question of the elderly apostle, who is a husband and father besides being an apostle, and has interests to look after...
Jesus perceives all that and turns round to look at Philip, He stops waiting for him, as Philip is a little behind with Matthew and Nathanael, and when he is near, He embraces him with one arm saying: «Soon, My friend. But I ask you to be kind enough to make another small sacrifice, providing you do not wish to part from Me before...»
«Me? Part from You? Never! »
«Then... I will keep you away for some time from Bethsaida. I want to go to Caesarea on the Sea via Samaria. On our way back we will go to Nazareth and those who have no family in Galilee will remain with Me. Then, after some time, I will join you at Capernaum... And I will evangelize you there to make you even more capable. But if you think that your presence at Bethsaida is necessary... you may go, Philip. We shall meet there...»
«No, Master. It is more necessary for me to stay with You! But You know... Home is sweet... and my daughters... I do not think that I will have them very much with me in future... and I would like to enjoy a little of their modest kindness. But if I have to choose between them and You, I choose You... and for many reasons...» ends Philip with a sigh.
«And you are doing the right thing, My friend. Because I will be taken away from you before your daughters...»
«Oh! Master!...» says grievously the apostle.
«It is so, Philip » concludes Jesus kissing the temple of the apostle.
Judas Iscariot, who has been grumbling between his teeth since Jesus mentioned Caesarea, raises his voice as if the kiss given to Philip has made him lose control of his actions. And he says: «How many useless things! I don't really understand why it is necessary to go to Caesarea! » and he says so with angry impetuosity; he seems to imply: «and You Who want to go there are a fool.»
«It is not for you to judge the necessity of what we do, but for the Master » Bartholomew replies to him.
«Really, why not? As if He saw natural necessities clearly! »
«I say! Are you mad or sane? Do you realise of Whom you are speaking? » asks Peter shaking him by the arm.
«I am not mad. I am the only one with sound brains. And I know what I am saying.»
«You are saying lovely things! » «Beg God not to take them into account! », «Modesty is not your strong point! », «One might think that you are afraid that by going to Caesarea you might be found out for what you are » say James of Zebedee, Simon Zealot, Thomas and Judas of Alphaeus respectively.
The Iscariot addresses the last one: «I have nothing to be afraid of and you have nothing to find out. But I am tired of seeing that we pass from one error to another, ruining ourselves. Conflicts with the members of the Sanhedrin, arguments with Pharisees. The Romans are the last straw...»
«What? Less than two months ago you were overjoyed, you were full of confidence, you were, you were... you were everything because Claudia was your friend! » remarks Bartholomew ironically who, being the most... uncompromising, is the one who does not rebel against contacts with the Romans only out of obedience to the Master.
Judas is speechless for a moment because the logic of the ironical remark is obvious, and unless he is prepared to appear illogical, he cannot contradict what he said previously. But he soon collects himself and says: «It is not because of the Romans that I am saying that. I mean because of the Romans as enemies. They... after all they are only four Roman ladies, four, five, six at most, they promised to help us and they will. But it is because that will increase the hatred of His enemies, and He does not realise that and...»
«Their hatred is intense, Judas. And you know that as well as I do, even better than I do » says Jesus calmly stressing the word «better ».
«Me? Me? What do You mean? Who knows things better than You do? »
«Just now you said that you are aware of necessities and how to make use of them...» retorts Jesus.
«With regard to natural things, yes. I say that You know spiritual matters better than anybody.»
«That is true. But I was just saying to you that you know better than I do, unpleasant, disgraceful, natural things, if you wish to call them so, such as the hatred of My enemies, such as their purposes...»
«I know nothing! I do not know anything. I swear to it on my soul, on my mother, on Jehovah…»
«That is enough! It is written that you must not swear » orders Jesus with such severity that even His countenance seems to become petrified in the perfection of a statue.
«Well, I shall not swear. But I must be allowed to say, since I am not a slave, that it is not necessary, that it serves no purpose, on the contrary it is dangerous to go to Caesarea, to speak to the Romans...»
«And who told you that that will happen? » asks Jesus.
«Who? Everything! You need to make sure of something. You are on the track of a...» he stops realising that wrath is making him say too much. He then resumes: «And I tell You that You ought to think also of our interests. You have deprived us of everything: home, earnings, affections, peace. We are persecuted because of You and we shall be persecuted even later. Because You, You say so in every possible way, will go away one fine day. But we are staying. We shall be ruined, but we...»
«You will not be persecuted when I am no longer among you. I, who am the Truth, tell you so. And I tell you that I have taken what you spontaneously and insistently gave Me. So you cannot say that I have taken away from you, with abuse of power, even one of the hairs that fall off when you tidy them. Why are you accusing Me? » Jesus is now less severe, His sad countenance expresses the desire to bring Judas back to reason kindly and I think that his compassion, so full and so divine, acts as a check on the others, who would not be so sympathetic towards the culprit.
Judas also perceives that and with one of the brusque changes of his soul urged by two opposed forces, he throws himself on the ground striking his head and chest and shouting: «Because I am a demon. I am a demon. Save me, Master, as You save so many demoniacs. Save me! Save me! »
«Do not let your desire to be saved be inactive.»
«It exists. You can see that. I want to be saved.»
«By Me. You expect Me to do everything. But I am God and I respect your free will. I will give you the strength so that you may get to say: "I do want". But to want not to be a slave must come from you.»
«I do want! I do want! But do not go to Caesarea. Don't go! Listen to me as You listened to John, when You wanted to go to Achor. We have all the same rights. We all serve You in the same manner. You are obliged to satisfy us for what we do... Treat me as You treated John! I want it! What difference is there between him and me? »
«The soul is different! My brother would never have spoken as you did. My brother does not...»
«Be silent, James. I will speak. To everybody. And you stand up and behave as a man, as I treat you, not like a slave moaning at the feet of his master. Be a man, since you are so anxious to be treated as John, who, truly, is more than a man because he is chaste and full of Charity. Let us go. It is late. I want to cross the river at dawn. The fishermen will be coming back then after hauling the lobster‑pots and it is easy to find a ferry‑boat. The moon in her last days raises her thin crescent higher and higher. We will be able to walk faster in her increased light.
Listen. I solemnly tell you that no one must boast of doing his duty and exact for that, which is an obligation, special favours.
Judas has reminded Me that you have given Me everything. And he told Me that it is My duty to satisfy you for what you do. But just listen. Among you there are some fishermen, some landowners, some own a workshop, and the Zealot had a servant. Now then. When the boat servants, or the men who helped you like servants in the olive grove, in the vineyard, or in the fields, or apprentices in the workshop, or even the faithful servant who looked after the house and meals, finished their work, did you begin to serve them? Is it not so in every house and in every task? Which man, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, or a workman in a workshop, would say to him when he finishes his work: "Go and have your meal immediately"? No one. But whether he comes back from the fields or he lays down his working tools, every master says: "Get my supper laid, get yourself tidy and with clean clothes wait on me while I eat and drink. You will eat and drink afterwards". Neither can one say that that is insensibility. Because a servant must serve his master, and the master is not obliged to him, because the servant has done what the master had ordered him to do in the morning. Because, while it is true that the master must be kind to his servant, so it is the duty of the servant not to be lazy or a squanderer, but he must cooperate for the welfare of the master who feeds and clothes him. Would you bear your boat assistants, your peasants, workmen, your house servant to say to you: "Serve me because I have worked"? I do not think so.
So with you, when you consider what you have done and you do for Me ‑ and, in future, considering what you will do to continue My work and to continue to serve your Master ‑ you must always say, because you will see that you have always done much less than was fair to do to be on a par with what you received from God: "We are unprofitable servants because we have done but our duty". If you reason thus, you will see that you will no longer feel pretensions and bad temper arise in you, and you will act according to justice.»
Jesus is silent. They are all pensive.
Peter nudges John, who is pondering staring with his blue eyes at the waters, which from indigo have become silver‑blue in the moonlight, and says to him: «Ask Him when is it that one does more than one's duty. I would like to be able to do more than my duty, I...»
«I, too, Simon. I was just thinking of that » replies John with his beautiful smile and in a loud voice he asks: «Master, tell me: will the man who serves You never be able to do more than his duty to tell You that he thus loves You entirely?»
«Child, God has given you so much, that in all fairness, all your heroism would always be too little. But the Lord is so good that He does not measure what you give Him with His infinite measure. He measures it with the limited measure of human capability. And when He sees that you have given without parsimony, with a full measure, overflowing generously, He then says: "This servant of Mine has given Me more than it was his duty. I will therefore give him the superabundance of My rewards".»
«Oh! How happy I am! I will give You an overflowing measure to have that superabundance! » exclaims Peter.
«Yes, you will give Me it. You will all give Me it. All those who are lovers of the Truth, of the Light, will give Me it. And they will be supernaturally happy with Me.»