45. Jesus Is Baptized in the Jordan.
3rd February 1944, in the evening.
I see a bare, flat country, without any villages or vegetation. There are no cultivated fields, but a few odd plants are growing here and there in clusters, like vegetable families, where the deep soil is less parched. Imagine that the arid waste land is on my right-hand side, with my back turned to the north, and the harsh area stretches southwards.
On my left instead, I can see a river with very low banks, flowing slowly from north to south. The very slow flowing water makes me understand that there are no falls in the level of the riverbed and that it flows in such a flat country as to form a depression. The movement of the water is just sufficient to avoid the formation of marshes. The river is so shallow that the bottom can be seen: I would say the water is a metre deep, or a metre and a half, at most. It is as wide as the river Arno in the S. MiniatoEmpoli area: about twenty metres. However, I am not good at estimating. And yet its colour is blue with a light green hue near the banks, where on the humid soil, there is a strip of thick green vegetation, very pleasant to look at: the sight of the stony, sandy bleakness of the ground lying before it is, instead, a very monotonous one indeed.
The internal voice, which I told you I hear and tells me what I must take note of and know, is now warning me that I am looking at the Jordan valley. I am calling it a valley, because that is the name used to indicate the place where a river flows, but here it is incorrect to call it so, because a valley presupposes the presence of mountains, but I do not see any mountains in the neighbourhood. In any case, I am near the Jordan, and the waste land on my right is the desert of Judah.
If it is correct to call a desert a place where there are no houses or man's works, it is not so according to our idea of a desert. There are none of the undulating sands of the desert, as we understand it, but only bare ground strewn with stones and rubble, like alluvial grounds after a flood. There are hills in the distance.
And yet, near the Jordan, there is a great peace, something special and unusual, as one often feels on the shores of lake Trasimeno. It is a place which seems to be full of memories of angels' flights and celestial voices. I cannot describe exactly what I feel. But I feel that I am in a place that communicates with my soul.
While I am watching these things, I notice that the right bank of the Jordan (in respect to me) is becoming crowded with people. There are many men dressed in different fashions. Some seem ordinary people, some rich, and there are some who appear to be Pharisees, because their tunics are adorned with fringes and braids.
In the midst of them, standing on a rock, there is a man whom I recognise at once to be the Baptist, although it is the first time I have seen him. He is speaking to the crowds, and I can assure you that his sermon is not a sweet one. Jesus called James and John « the sons of thunder ». Well then, what should we call this impetuous orator? John the Baptist deserves the names of thunderbolt, avalanche, earthquake, so impetuous and severe he is in his speech and gestures.
He is announcing the Messiah and exhorting the people to prepare their hearts for His coming, eradicating all obstructions and rectifying their thoughts. But it is a violent and harsh speech. The Precursor does not possess the light hand Jesus used to cure the wounds of hearts. He is a doctor who lays the wound bare, scrutinises it and cuts it mercilessly.
While I am listening - I am not repeating the words, because they are related by the Evangelists, but here they are amplified in impetuosity - I see my Jesus proceeding along a path, which is at the edge of the grassy shady strip coasting the Jordan. This rustic road - it is more a path than a road - seems to have been opened by the caravans and the people who throughout years and centuries, passed along it to reach a point where it is easy to wade, because the water is very shallow. The path continues on the other side of the river, and disappears from sight in the green strip of the other bank.
Jesus is alone. He is walking slowly, coming forward, behind the Baptist. He approaches noiselessly and listens to the thundering voice of the Penitent of the desert, as if He also were one of the many who came to John to be baptised and purified for the coming of the Messiah. There is nothing to distinguish Jesus from the others. His clothes are those of common people, but He has the bearing and handsomeness of a gentleman. There is no divine sign discriminating Him from the crowd.
But it would appear that John perceives a special spirituality emanate from Him. He turns round, and at once identifies the source of the emanation. He descends impulsively from the rocky pulpit and moves quickly towards Jesus, Who has stopped a few yards away from the crowd and is leaning against the trunk of a tree.
Jesus and John stare at each other for a moment: Jesus, with His very sweet blue eyes; John with his very severe black flashing ones. Seen from nearby, one is the antithesis of the other. They are both tall - their only resemblance - for all the rest, they differ immensely. Jesus is fair haired. His hair is long and tidy, His face is white ivory, His eyes blue, His garment simple, but majestic. John is hairy: his straight, black hair falls unevenly onto his
shoulders, his sparse dark beard covers his face almost completely, but his cheeks, hollowed by fasting, are still noticeable, his feverish eyes are black, his complexion is dark, tanned by the sun and weather-beaten, his body is covered with hairs, he is half-naked in his camel-hair garment, which is tied to his waist by a leather belt and covers his trunk, reaching down to his thin sides, whilst his right side is uncovered and bare, completely weather-beaten. They look like a savage and an angel, seen close together.
John, after scrutinising Him with his piercing eyes, exclaims: « Here is the Lamb of God. How is it that my Lord comes to me? »
Jesus replies calmly: « To fulfill the penitential rite. »
« Never, my Lord. I must come to You to be sanctified, and You are coming to me? »
And Jesus, laying His hand on the head of John, who had bowed down in front of Him, replies: « Let it be done as I wish, that all justice may be fulfilled and your rite may become the beginning of a higher mystery and men may be informed that the Victim is in the world. »
John looks at Him with his eyes sweetened by tears and precedes Jesus towards the bank of the river. Jesus takes off His mantle and tunic, and is left with a kind of pair of short trousers. He then descends into the water, where there is John, who baptises Him, pouring on His head some water from the river by means of a cup, tied to his belt. It looks like a shell or a half pumpkin dried and emptied.
Jesus is really the Lamb. A Lamb in the whiteness of His flesh, in the modesty of His gestures, in the meekness of His look.
While Jesus climbs on to the bank and after putting on His clothes concentrates on praying, John points Him out to the crowd and testifies that he recognised Him by the sign that the Spirit of God had shown him as an infallible means to identify the Redeemer.
But I am enraptured in watching Jesus pray, and I can only see His bright figure against the green of the river bank.
4th February 1944.
« John did not need any sign for himself. His soul, which had been presanctified in his mother's womb, possessed that penetration of supernatural intelligence which all men would have had, if Adam had not sinned.
If man had persevered in grace, innocence and loyalty to his Creator, he would have seen God through external appearance. In Genesis it is said that God used to speak to the innocent man in an informal way, and that man did not faint hearing His voice, neither was he deceived in discerning it. Such was the destiny of man: to see and understand God exactly as a son does his father. Then man sinned and he no longer dared look at God, he was no longer able to see and understand God. And now he is less and less able to do so.
But John, My cousin John, had been purified from fault, when the Full of Grace lovingly embraced Elizabeth who, after being barren, had become pregnant. The little child had leapt out of joy in her womb, because he felt the scales of sin falling from his soul, as a scab falls off a wound when the latter is healed. The Holy Spirit, Who had made Mary the Mother of the Saviour, started His mission of salvation on that child about to be born, through Mary, the living Tabernacle of Incarnate Salvation: the child was destined to be united to Me not so much by his blood, as by the mission, by which we were like the lips that express a word. John was the lips, I the Word. He was the Precursor both in the Gospel and in martyrdom; I, by means of My divine perfection, made perfect both the Gospel which John had started, and martyrdom, suffered to defend the Law of God.
John did not need any sign. But a sign was necessary for the darkness of spirit of other people. On what would John base his statement, but on an undeniable proof evident to the eyes and ears of backward and dull listeners?
Neither did I need to be baptised. But the wisdom of the Lord had chosen that moment and way for our meeting. And leading John out of his cave in the desert and Me from My home, He united us in that hour to open the Heavens above Me and He descended Himself, a divine Dove, on Him Who was to baptise men with that Dove, and His announcement was heard descending from Heaven, more powerful than the angel's, because it came from My Father: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased". So that man should have no excuse or doubt in following or not following Me.
The manifestations of Christ have been numerous. The first, after His Birth, was the Magi's, the second was in the Temple, the third on the bank of the Jordan. Then there was an endless number of them, which I will let you know, because My miracles are manifestations of My divine nature, down to the last ones: My Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven.
My fatherland was full of My manifestations. Like seed scattered to the four winds, they took place in every social condition and place in life: to shepherds, powerful people, scholars, sceptical men, sinners, priests, rulers, children, soldiers, Jews and Gentiles.
And they take place even now. But, as in the past, the world does not accept them. It does not accept the present manifestations and forgets the past ones. Well, I will not give up. I will repeat Myself to save you and to persuade you to have faith in Me.
Do you know, Mary, what you are doing? Or rather, what I am doing, in showing you the Gospel? Making a stronger attempt to bring men to Me. You yearned for it with your fervent prayers. I will no longer confine Myself to words. They tire men and detach them. It is a fault, but it is so. I will have recourse to visions, also of My Gospel, and I will explain them to make them more attractive and clear.
I give you the comfort of seeing them. I give everybody the possibility of wishing to know Me. And if it is of no avail, and like cruel children they should throw away the gift without understanding its value, you will be left with My present, and they with My indignation. I shall be able once again to repeat the old reproach: "We played for you and you would not dance; we sang dirges and you would not weep".
But it does not matter. Let them, the inconvertible ones, heap burning coals on their heads and let us turn to the little sheep seeking to become acquainted with their Shepherd. It is I, and you are the staff leading them to Me. »
As you can see, I have hastened to add these details which, being trifling matters, had escaped my notice, and were wanted by you. Today, reading the booklet, I noticed a sentence which may be a guide for you.
This morning you were saying that you cannot make my descriptions known because of their style and since I am terrified at the very thought of being known, I was very happy about it. But do you not think that that is against what the Master says in the last dictation in the booklet? « The more careful and precise you are (in describing what I see) the greater the number of those who will come to Me. » This implies that the description must be known, otherwise how can there be a number of souls going to Jesus, thanks to them? I am drawing your attention to this point, then you can do what you think is best, because, as far as I am concerned, I am indifferent. Nay, humanly speaking. I share your opinion. But in this case it is not a human matter and also the human side of the mouthpiece must disappear. Also in today's dictation Jesus says: «… in showing you the Gospel I make a stronger attempt to bring men to Me. I will no longer confine Myself to words… I will have recourse to visions and I will explain them to make them more attractive and clear. » So?
In the meantime, as I am a poor nonentity and by myself I retire to myself, I tell you that your remark has upset me, and the Envious One avails himself of the situation: I was so upset that I thought I should no longer describe what I see, but I should write the dictations only. He whispers in my ear: « You can see it yourself! Your famous visions serve no purpose whatsoever, except to make you pass off as mad. Which you really are. What is it that you see? The shams of your agitated mind. It takes much more to deserve to see Heaven! » He has tortured me all day today with his corrosive temptation. I can assure you that I have not suffered so much because of my bitter physical pain as I suffered and am suffering because of this. He wants to drive me mad. This Friday is a Friday of spiritual temptation for me. I am thinking of Jesus in the desert and of Jesus at Gethsemane…
I will not give up as I do not want this cunning demon to laugh, and fighting against him and against my weaker spiritual part, I am writing to you to inform you of my present joy and to assure you that, as far as I am concerned, I should be quite happy if Jesus deprived me of this gift of seeing, which is my greaest joy, provided He continues to love me and have mercy on me.
Written by Maria Valtorta. From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, volume one, chapter 45.
Copyright 1986 by Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, srl, Isola del Liri, Italy. All rights reserved in all countires.