Jesus Instructing the Apostles before sending them on their first mission.     Duccio Di Buoninsegna, 14th Century.

 

Jesus is sitting at the table in the house in Capernaum with all His disciples, which means that Judas has joined his companions after fulfilling his task.  It is evening.  The light of the fading day enters from the door and the wide open windows through which it is possible to see the purple of sunset change into unreal violet-red, the borders of which fray crumpling up into a violet-slate that pales into grey.  It puts me in mind of a sheet of paper thrown on to a fire: it lights up and as soon as it stops burning, its edges crumple up and become a leaden bluish shade, which fades into an almost white pearly grey.

« It's warm » states Peter, pointing at a huge cloud which tinges the west with those shades. « Warm. But no rain. That's not a cloud, it's fog. Tonight I am going to sleep in the boat, where it is cooler. »

« No. Tonight we are going to the olive-groves. I must speak to you. Judas is now back. It is time for Me to speak to you. I know an airy spot, where we shall be comfortable. Get up and let us go. »

« Is it far? » they ask picking up their mantles.

« No. It is very near. Within a stone's throw by sling from the last house. You may leave your mantles. But take tinder and flint so that we can see our way when coming back. »

They come out of the upstairs room and go downstairs bidding good night to the landlord and his wife who are enjoying the cool air on the terrace. Jesus walks resolutely in the opposite direction from the lake and, after crossing the village, He proceeds for about two or three hundred yards into an olive-grove on the first hillock behind the village. He stops on a projection of earth that because of its position free from obstacles enjoys all the air possible in that sultry night.

« Let us sit down, and pay attention to Me. The hour of evangelization has come. I am about half way through My public life preparing hearts for My Kingdom. It is now time that My apostles also take part in the preparation of this Kingdom. That is what kings do when they decide to conquer a kingdom. First they make investigations and approach people to find out their reaction and win them to the plan they are pursuing. Later they enlarge their preparatory work by means of reliable messengers sent to the country to be conquered. And they send more and more of them until all the geographical and moral details of the whole country are known. After that the king completes his work by proclaiming himself king of that country and being crowned as such. And much blood is shed to achieve that. Because victories always cost blood… »

« We are ready to fight for You and shed our blood » promise the apostles by one consent.

« I will shed no blood but that of the Holy One and of saints. »

« Do You wish to begin Your conquest starting from the Temple, storming it at the hour of the sacrifice?… »

« Let us not stray, My friends. You will be informed of the future in due course. But do not shudder with horror. I assure you that I will not upset the ceremonies by means of a violent irruption. And yet they will be upset and there will be one evening when terror will prevent the ritual prayer. The terror of sinners. But I shall be in peace that evening. In peace with both My spirit and My body. A total blissful peace… »

Jesus looks at His twelve apostles one by one and it is the same as if He looked at the same page twelve times and read for twelve times the one word written on it: incomprehension.  He smiles and continues.

« So I have decided to send you so that you may penetrate further ahead and more widely than I can do by Myself. But for prudential reasons I will ensure that there is a difference between your way of evangelizing and Mine, because I do not want to put you in too difficult situations, which could be too seriously dangerous for your souls and bodies, and also because I do not wish to jeopardise My own work. You are not as yet perfected to the point of being able to approach anyone without being damaged or without damaging, and least of all are you heroic to the extent of defying the world on behalf of the Idea, facing the revenge of the world. So, when you go about preaching Me, do not go among Gentiles and do not enter the towns of Samaritans, but go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. There is so much to be done amongst them, because I solemnly tell you that the crowds that you think are so numerous around Me, are the hundredth part of those who are still waiting for the Messiah in Israel and they do not know Him, neither do they know that He is living amongst them. Take them faith in Me and the knowledge of Me. On your way preach saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is near". Let that be your basic announcement supporting all your preaching… You have heard Me speak so much of the Kingdom! All you need do is repeat what I told you. But man, to be attracted by and convinced of spiritual truth, needs material kindness, as if he were an eternal boy who will not study a lesson or learn a trade unless he is attracted by a sweet from his mother, or a reward from his school master, or his trade tutor.  In order to let you have the means to be believed and sought after, I will grant you the gift of working miracles… »

The apostles jump to their feet, with the exception of James of Alphaeus and John, shouting, protesting, becoming excited, each reacting according to his temperament.  Really, the only one strutting about at the idea of working miracles is the Iscariot, who with the foolhardiness of false and selfishly motivated interest exclaims: « It was time that we should do that to have the least authority over the crowds! »

Jesus looks at him but does not say anything. Peter and the Zealot who were saying: « No, Lord! We are not worthy of so much! That is due to saints », contradict Judas, as the Zealot says: « Why do you take the liberty of reproaching the Master, you silly proud man? » and Peter adds: « The least authority?  And what do you want to do more than work miracles?  Do you want to become God as well?  Have you got the same itch Lucifer had? »

« Silence! » orders Jesus.  And He continues: « There is one thing that is even greater than miracles and equally convinces the crowds, but more deeply and durably: a holy life.  But you are far from that, and you, Judas, are farther than the rest.  But let Me speak because My instruction is a long one.

Go therefore, curing sick people, cleansing lepers, raising bodies and spirits from the dead, because bodies and spirits can be sick, leprous, dead as well.  And you are already aware how a miracle is worked: through a life of penance, fervent prayer, sincere desire to glorify the power of God, deep humility, living charity, burning faith, and through hope that no kind of difficulty can upset.  I solemnly tell you that everything is possible to those who have such virtues.  Demons also will flee before the Name of the Lord pronounced by you, if you have within you what I said. That power is given to you by Me and by our Father. No money can buy it. Only our Will grants it, only a just life keeps it. As it is given to you gratuitously, so gratuitously give it to others, to the needy. Woe betide you if you depreciate the gift of God by using it to fatten your purse. It is not your power, it is the power of God. Make use of it, but do not take possession of it, saying: "It is mine". As it is given to you, so it can be taken away from you. Simon of Jonah a little while ago said to Judas of Simon: "Have you got the same itch as Lucifer had?" He gave a correct definition. To say: "I do what God does because I am like God" is to imitate Lucifer. And his punishment is well known. Equally known is what happened to the two progenitors who in the earthly paradise ate the forbidden fruit, through instigation of the Envious One, who wanted to imprison more unhappy souls in his Hell, besides the rebellious angels already there, but also through their own itch of perfect pride. The only fruit you are allowed to take from what you do, are the souls whom you will conquer for the Lord by means of the miracle and who are to be given to the Lord. That is your money. Nothing else. You will enjoy your treasure in the next life.

Go without riches. Do not take with you gold, or silver, or money in your purses, or travelling-bag with two or more tunics or spare shoes, or pilgrim's staff, or weapons. Because for the time being your apostolic visits will be short ones and every Sabbath eve we shall meet and you will be able to change your sweated garments without having to take spare ones with you. No staff is required because it is more pleasant to walk without, and what is useful on hills and plains is different from what is useful in deserts and on high mountains. No weapon is needed. Weapons are useful to men who do not know what is holy poverty or divine forgiveness. You have no treasures to protect and defend from robbers.


The only robber you must fear is Satan. And he is defeated by perseverance and prayer, not by swords and daggers. Forgive those who offend you. If anyone should rob you of your mantle, give him also your tunic. If you should remain completely nude because of your mildness and detachment from riches, you will not scandalise the angels of the Lord or the infinite chastity of God, because your charity would clothe your nude body with gold and your mildness would adorn you like a sash, while your forgiveness towards the robber would give you a royal mantle and crown. You would therefore be better dressed than a king: not with corruptible clothes, but with imperishable material.

Do not worry about your food. You will always have what is appropriate for your condition and your ministry, because a worker is always worthy of the food that is offered to him. And if men should not provide for the worker, God will. I have already proved to you that to live and preach it is not necessary to have your stomachs full of food. That is useful to unclean animals whose purpose in life is to grow fat and then be slaughtered to fatten men. But you must fatten your own souls and the souls of other people with the food of wisdom. And Wisdom is revealed to minds not made dull by guzzling and to hearts nourished with supernatural food. You have never been so eloquent as after the retreat on the mountain. And then you ate only what was necessary to survive. And yet at the end of the retreat you were as strong and cheerful as you have never been before. Is that not true?

Whatever town or place you enter, find out who is deserving of receiving you. Not because you are Simon, or Judas, or Bartholomew, or James, or John, and so on. But because you are the messengers of the Lord. Even if you had been the dregs of society, or murderers, thieves, publicans, but now you were repentant and at My service, you would deserve respect because you are My messengers. I will say even more. I say: Woe betide you if outwardly you look like My messengers, whilst inwardly you are abject servants of Satan. Woe betide you! Hell would be too little compared to what your deceit deserves. But even if you were messengers of the Lord publicly, and at the same time the dregs of society, or publicans, thieves, murderers occultly and people in their hearts suspected or were almost certain of that, you would still be entitled to honor and respect, because you are My messengers. The eye of man must see beyond the means, and see the messenger and the final purpose, that is God and His work beyond the too often faulty means.  Only in the case of grave sin, injuring the faith in hearts, I for the time being, My successors in future, will see that the bad limb is cut off.  Because it is not lawful that the souls of believers should be lost through a demon priest.  It will never be lawful, in order to hide the wounds affecting the apostolic body, to allow gangrenous limbs to survive in it, as their repugnant aspect drives people away and their demoniac stench is poisonous.

So you will find out which is the most righteously living family, where women know how to live in seclusion and morals are chaste.  And you will enter that house and live there until you leave the place.  Do not imitate drones, which after sucking a flower pass on to a more nourishing one.  Whether you arrive among people with a splendid house and rich table, or you happen to go to a humble family, rich only in virtue, stay where you are. Never seek what is "better" for the perishable body.  On the contrary, always give it what is worse, keeping all the rights for the spirit.  And whenever possible, give your preference to the hospitality of the poor: I tell you because it is better to do so.  Do so in order not to mortify them and in memory of Me, as I am and will remain poor and I boast of being poor, and also because very often the poor are better than the rich.  You will always find poor people who are just, but only rarely you will find a rich man without any fault.  You have no excuse in saying: "I found goodness only amongst the rich" in order to justify your keen desire for welfare.

When entering a house greet its inhabitants with My salutation, which is the kindest there is. Say: "Peace be with you. Let peace be in this house, or Let peace come to this house".  In fact, as messengers of Jesus and of the Gospel, you take peace with you and your going to one place is to make peace come to it.  If the house is worthy of it, peace will come and remain in it; if it is not worthy of it, your peace will come back to you.  So mind to be peaceful yourselves, in order to have God as your Father.  A father always helps.  And with the help of God you will do everything and everything well.

It may be, nay it will certainly happen, that a town or house will not receive you or will not listen to your words, but will drive you away or ridicule you or will chase you throwing stones at you as boring prophets.  In such cases you must be more than ever peaceful, humble and mild, having acquired such virtues as a habit of life. Otherwise you will be overwhelmed by anger and you will commit sin, scandalising and increasing the incredulity of those you wish to convert.  If instead you peacefully accept the insult of being driven away, derided, chased, you will convert people by means of the most beautiful sermon: the silent sermon of true virtue.  One day you will find on your way the enemies of today and they will say to you: "We have been looking for you because your behavior has convinced us of the Truth that you announce.  Please forgive us and accept us as your disciples.  Because we did not know who you were, but now we know that you are saints.  And if you are saints, you must be the messengers of a saint, and we now believe in Him".  But when leaving the town or the house where you were not received, shake the dust off your sandals, so that the pride and harshness of that place may not stick even to your soles.  I solemnly tell you: "On Doomsday Sodom and Gomorrah will be dealt with less severely".

Now: I am sending you like sheep among wolves.  Be, therefore, as cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.  Because you are aware how the world, in which really there are more wolves than sheep, treats Me also, and I am the Christ.  I can defend Myself by My power and I will do so until the hour of the temporary triumph of the world comes.  But you do not possess that power and you need greater prudence and simplicity.  Thus greater sagacity as well, to avoid being scourged and imprisoned for the time being.

In actual fact, notwithstanding your statement that you are willing to shed your blood on My behalf, you are not capable at present of putting up with an ironic or angry glance.  But the time will come when you will be as strong as heroes against persecutions, even stronger than heroes and your heroism, which the world cannot conceive or explain, will be called: "madness".  No, it will not be madness!  It will be the identification, through love, of man with the Man-God, and you will be able to do what I have already done.  To understand this heroism it will be necessary to see it, study it and judge it from a heavenly level.  Because it is something supernatural that is beyond all the limitations of human nature.  Kings, the kings of the spirit will be My heroes, for ever kings and heroes…

In those days they will arrest you laying hands on you, they will drag you before lawcourts, garrison commanders and kings, to judge and condemn you for the great sin, in the eyes of the world, of being the servants of God, the ministers and guardians of Good, the masters of virtue.  And for that same reason you will be scourged and punished in many ways and even killed.  And you will give testimony of Me to kings, garrison commanders, nations, confessing with your blood that you love Christ, the True Son of the True God.

When you are in their hands do not worry about what you have to reply and what you have to say.  Do not grieve then for anybody, but for the judge and accusers led astray by Satan to the extent of becoming blind to the Truth.  You will be given the words to be spoken at the time.  Your Father will put them on your lips because it is not you who will be speaking to convert people to your Faith and profess the Truth, but it will be the Spirit of the Father Who will speak in you.

Brother will then betray brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. Do not be shocked or scandalised! Tell Me: according to you is it a greater crime to kill a father, a son, a brother, or God Himself? »

« God cannot be killed » replies sharply Judas Iscariot.

« That is true. He is an invincible Spirit » confirms Bartholomew.  And the others, although they do not speak, are all of the same opinion.

« I am God and I am Flesh » says Jesus calmly.

« No one is thinking of killing You » retorts the Iscariot.

« Please, reply to My question. »

« Of course, it is a graver crime to kill God! »

« Well: God will be killed by man, in the Flesh of the Man-God and in the soul of the murderers of the Man-God.  So, as they will go so far as committing that crime, without the murderers being horrified at it, so the crimes of fathers, brothers and children, against children, brothers and fathers will be committed.

You will be hated by all men on account of My Name.  But he who stands firm until the end will be saved.  And when they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next one.  Not out of cowardice, but to give time to the new-born Church of Christ to reach the age, not of a weak incapable unweaned child, but an older age in which it will be able to face life and death without being afraid of Death.  Let those flee who are advised by the Spirit to flee.  As I fled when a child.  Truly, all the vicissitudes of My earthly life will be repeated in My Church.  All of them.  From the mystery of its formation to the humbleness of the early times, to the perturbation and snares brought about by cruel people, to the necessity of fleeing to continue to live, from poverty and unremitting work, to many more events that I am living now, that I will suffer later, before reaching My eternal triumph.  On the other hand let those remain who are advised by the Spirit to remain.  Because even if they are killed they will live and be useful to the Church.  Because what the Spirit of God advises, is always good.

I solemnly tell you that you and your successors will not have covered all the roads and all the towns in Israel before the Son of Man comes.  Because on account of its dreadful sin Israel will be scattered like chaff by a whirlwind, and will be spread all over the earth and centuries and millennia will go by before it is gathered again on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.  Every time Israel will try to gather together, before the predetermined hour, it will be caught once again in the whirlwind and scattered, because Israel will have to weep for its sin for as many centuries as the drops of blood that will flow from the veins of the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the world.  And My Church, which will be struck by Israel in Me and in My apostles and disciples, will have to open its motherly arms and endeavor to gather Israel under its mantle, as a brooding hen does with its stray chickens.


When the whole of Israel will be under the mantle of the Church of Christ, then I will come.  But that applies to the future.  Let us talk of the present.

Remember that the disciple is not superior to his Teacher, nor the slave to his Master.  It is enough for the disciple to be like his Teacher, which is already an undeserved honour; and for a slave to be like his Master, and it is supernatural bounty to grant you that.  If they have called the Landlord Beelzebub, what will they not say of the household?  And will the slaves be able to rebel, if the Landlord does not rebel, does not hate or curse, but calm in his justice he continues to work, postponing judgement to another moment, when he sees them obstinate in Evil, after he has tried everything to persuade them?  No.  The slaves will not be able to do what the Master does not do, but they can imitate Him, considering that they are sinners, whereas He is without sin.  So, be not afraid of those who will call you "demons".  The truth will be known one day and then it will be clear who was the "demon", whether it was you or they.

There is nothing hidden that is not to be revealed, and nothing secret that is not to be known.  What I now say to you in the dark and secretly, because the world is not worthy of knowing all the words of the Word, it is not yet worthy of that and it is not yet time to tell also those who are unworthy, when the time comes when everything is to be known, tell in daylight, proclaim from housetops what I now whisper more to your souls than to your ears. Because the world then will have been baptised in Blood and there will be such a banner against Satan that the world, if it wishes so, will be able to understand the secrets of God, while Satan will not be able to injure anyone but those who wish to be bitten by him and prefer his bite to My kiss.  But most of the world will not wish to understand.  Only a minority will be willing to know everything in order to follow all My Doctrine.  It does not matter. As it is not possible to separate that minority from the unjust mass, preach My Doctrine as well from housetops, preach it from mountain tops, on the boundless seas, in the bowels of the earth. Even if men will not listen to it, birds and winds, fish and waves will pick up the divine words and the bowels of the earth will keep their echo to repeat it to underground springs, minerals and metals, and they will all rejoice over them, because they have been created by God as well to be a stool for My feet and joy to My heart.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, fear him rather who can lose your soul and unite it on Doomsday to your body raised from death, to throw both into the fire of Hell. Be not afraid. Are two sparrows not sold for a penny? And yet, if your Father does not allow it, not one of them will fall to the ground notwithstanding all the snares of man. So be not afraid. The Father knows you. Every hair on your heads is known to Him. And you are worth more than many sparrows! And I tell you that if anyone acknowledges Me in the presence of men, I will acknowledge him in the presence of My Father Who is in Heaven. But the one who disowns Me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of My Father. To acknowledge means to follow and practice; to disown means to abandon My way out of cowardice, or treble concupiscence, or petty calculation, or attachment to a relative who opposes Me.  Because that will happen.

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth and for the earth.  My Peace is above the selfish peace treaties for every day's wangle.  It is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword.  A sharp sword to cut the lianas detaining people in mud and open the way to supernatural flights.  I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  Because I am He Who reigns and has every right on His subjects.  Because no one is greater than I am with regard to rights on affections. Because all love is centralised in Me and becomes thus sublime: I am Father, Mother, Husband, Brother, Friend, and I love you as such and as such I am to be loved.  And when I say: "I want", no tie can resist and that soul is Mine.  I created it with the Father, I save it by Myself, so I am entitled to have it.

The real enemies of man are men, besides demons; and the enemies of the new man, of the Christian, will be his relatives at home, with their complaints, their threats or their entreaties.  But from now on he who prefers his father and mother to Me, is not worthy of Me; he who prefers his son or daughter to Me, is not worthy of Me. He who does not take his cross daily, complex as it is, made of resignation, renunciation, obedience, heroism, sorrow, illness, mourning, made of anything that reveals the will of God or a test for man, and does not follow with it in My footsteps, is not worthy of Me.  Anyone who appraises earthly life more than the spiritual one, will lose true Life.  Anyone who loses his earthly life for My sake, will find an eternal blissful one.

Anyone who receives you, receives Me.  He who receives Me receives Him Who sent Me.  Anyone who receives a prophet as a prophet, will receive a reward proportionate to the charity offered to the prophet.  He who receives a just man because he is just, will receive a prize proportionate to the just man.  The reason is that he who acknowledges a prophet as such, must be a prophet himself, that is, very holy because he is held in the arms of the Spirit of God; and who will acknowledge a just man as such proves that he is just as well, because like souls know one another.  Thus, each will be given a reward according to justice.


And he who has given a glass of pure water to one of My servants, even if he were the least one -- and are servants of Jesus all those who preach Him through their holy lives, and may be kings or beggars, wise men or people who know nothing, old people and babies, because all ages and all classes can be My disciples -- he who has given a disciple of Mine even a glass of water in My name and because he is My disciple, I solemnly tell you that he will not go without a reward.

I have finished.  Now let us pray and go home.  You will leave at dawn as follows: Simon of Jonah with John, Simon Zealot with Judas Iscariot, Andrew with Matthew, James of Alphaeus with Thomas, Philip with James of Zebedee, My brother Judas with Bartholomew.  That is for this week.  I will let you have new instructions later. Let us pray. »

And they pray in loud voices…

 

Written by Maria Valtorta.  From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, volume #2, chapter 264

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