27. The Census Edict.

4th June 1944. prev home next

I see the house in Nazareth once again: the little room where Mary usually takes Her meals. She is now working at a white piece of cloth. She lays Her work down to light a lamp, because it is getting dark, and She can no longer see well in the greenish light which comes in through the door half open on to the orchard. She closes the door, too.

Her abdomen is now very big. But She is still so beautiful. Her pace is always agile and all Her gestures are gentle. There is none of the heavy awkward movements which are generally noticed in a woman when she is about to give birth to her child. Only Her face has changed. Now She is « the woman ». Before, at the time of the Annunciation, She was a young girl with the serene innocent face of a child. Afterwards, in Elizabeth's house, when the Baptist was born, Her face had become more refined and gracefully mature. Now it is the serene but sweetly majestic face of a woman who has reached her full perfection in maternity.

She no longer resembles the « Annunciation » of Florence, so dear to you, Father. When She was a girl, I saw the resemblance. Her face is now longer and thinner, Her eyes are more pensive and larger. In brief, it is like what Mary is now in Heaven. Because Her countenance and age are once again as they were when the Saviour was born. Her youth is the eternal youth which not only has not known the corruption of death, but has not even experienced the withering of age. Time has not touched our Queen and Mother of the Lord Who created time; and if in Her torture at the time of Passion – a torture which had begun for Her a long time previously, I could say since Jesus began to evangelise – She looked old, such aging was like a veil cast over Her incorruptible person.

In fact since the moment that She sees Jesus risen, She becomes once again the fresh perfect creature She was before such torture, as if by kissing His Most Holy Wounds She had drunk a balm of youth which cancels the action of time, and even more so, of sorrow. In fact even eight days ago, when I saw the descent of the Holy Spirit on Whitsunday, I saw that Mary was “beautiful, most beautiful and all of a sudden looked younger” as I wrote and had written previously: “She looks like a blue angel.” Angels do not grow old. They are eternally beautiful, because they reflect the eternal youth and the eternal present of God. The angelical youth of Mary, blue angel, is perfected now, but not in the secrecy of a room unknown to the world and with only one archangel as witness. It reaches the perfect age which She took with Her to Heaven and which She will keep forever in Her holy glorified body, when the Spirit adorns Her with the bridal ring and crowns Her in the presence of everybody.

I wanted to make this digression because I thought that it was necessary. I will now revert to the description.

Mary, thus, is now really a « Woman » full of dignity and grace. Also Her smile has gained in sweetness and majesty. How beautiful She is!

Joseph comes in. He seems to be coming from the village, because he comes in through the main door, not from the workshop. Mary lifts Her head and smiles at him. Also Joseph smiles. But his smile seems to be a forced one, as if he were worried. Mary looks at him inquisitively. She then gets up to take the mantle that Joseph is taking off and She folds it and lays it on a chest.

Joseph sits at the table. He rests one elbow on it and lays his head on one hand, while with the other hand, absentmindedly, he combs and ruffles his beard with alternate strokes.

« Is there anything worrying you? » asks Mary. « Can I help you? »

« You always comfort me, Mary. But this time, I have a big problem… that concerns You. »

« Me, Joseph. And what is it? »

« They have posted an edict on the synagogue door. It orders the census of all Palestinians. And everybody must go and register in his place of origin. We must go to Bethlehem… »

« Oh! » exclaims Mary, interrupting him and putting one hand on Her bosom.

« It's a shock, isn't it? And a sad one. I know »

« No, Joseph. That's not it. I am thinking… I am thinking of the Holy Scriptures: Rachel, Benjamin's mother and Jacob's wife of whom the Star will be born: the Saviour. Rachel buried in Bethlehem, of which it is said: “But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born the Ruler.” The Ruler who was promised to the House of David. He will be born there… »

« Do You… do You think it is already the time?… Oh! What shall we do? » Joseph is completely dismayed. He looks at Mary with two pitiful eyes.

She realises this and smiles. But She smiles more at Herself than at him. A smile that seems to say: « He is a man, a just man, but a man. And he sees as a man. He thinks as a man. Have pity on him, o soul of Mine, and guide him so that he may see as a spirit. » But Her kindness induces Her to reassure him. She is not untruthful. She simply diverts his anxiety. « I do not know, Joseph. My time is very close. But could the Lord not delay it to relieve you from this worry? He can do everything. Don't fear. »

« But the journey!… Think of the crowds. Will we find good lodgings? Will we be in time to come back? And if… if You are to become a Mother there, what will we do? We have no home there… We do not know anybody any longer. »

« Don't be afraid. Everything will be all right. God finds a shelter for the animal about to give birth. Do you think He will not find one for His Messiah? We trust in Him, don't we? We always trust in Him. The harder the trial, the more we trust. Like two children we put our hands in His fatherly ones. He is our guide. We rely entirely on Him. Consider how He has led us with love so far. A father, even the best of fathers, could not do it with greater care. We are His children and His servants. We fulfill His will. No harm can befall us. Also this edict is His will. What is Caesar after all? An instrument in the hands of God. Since the time when the Father decided to forgive man, He pre-arranged the events so that His Christ may be born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem, the smallest town in Judah did not yet exist and its glory was already destined. And there… a powerful man has risen, very far from here, and he conquered us, and now he wants to know all his subjects, now, while the world is in peace… so that the glory of Bethlehem may be accomplished and the word of God may not be belied, – as it would be if the Messiah were to be born elsewhere. Oh! What is our small trouble if we consider the beauty of this moment of peace? Just think, Joseph: a period of time when there is no hatred in the world! Can there be a happier hour for the rising of the “Star”, the light of which is divine and its influence is redemption? Oh! Do not be afraid, Joseph. If the roads are not safe, if the crowds will make the journey a difficult one, the angels will defend and protect us. Not us: but their King. If we find no accommodation, their wings will be our tents. No mishap will befall us. It cannot: God is with us. »

Joseph looks at Her and listens to Her, happy. The wrinkles on his forehead smooth away. He gets up, no longer tired or worried. He smiles. « You are blessed, Sun of my soul! You are blessed, because You see everything through the Grace, of which You are full! Don't let us waste time, then. Because we must leave as soon as possible, and come back as soon as possible, because everything is ready here for the… for the… »

« For our Son, Joseph. He must be such in the eyes of the world, remember that. The Father has covered His coming with the veil of mystery and we must not lift that veil. Jesus will do it, when the time comes… »

The beauty of Mary's face, look, expression and voice, when She says this « Jesus » cannot be described. It is already an ecstasy. And the vision ends on it.

Mary says:

« I will not add much more, because My words are already a lesson.

But I wish to draw the attention of wives to one point. Too many marriages break up through the fault of women, who do not possess that love, which is everything: kindness, pity and solace to their husbands. The physical suffering that lies heavy on women does not lie heavily on men. But all the moral worries do: necessities of work, decisions to be taken, responsibilities before the established authorities and one's own family… oh! how many things weigh on man! And how much comfort he also needs! And yet, a woman's selfishness is such that she adds the weight of useless and sometimes unfair complaints to the burden of her tired, disheartened, worried husband. And all this because she is selfish. She does not love. Love is not the satisfaction of one's senses and utility. To love is to satisfy him whom we love, beyond senses and utility, giving him the help he needs so that he may always be able to keep his wings open in the skies of hope and peace.

There is another point to which I wish to draw you attention. I have already spoken of it. But I wish to insist: trust in God. Trust summarises the theological virtues. Who trusts has faith. Who trusts hopes. Who trusts loves. When we love, we hope, we believe in a person, we trust. Otherwise we do not. God deserves our trust. If we trust poor men who may fail, why should we not trust God Who can never fail?

Trust is also humility. The proud man says: “I will do it by myself. I do not trust him because he is an incapable man, a liar, an overbearing fellow…” The humble man says: “I trust him. Why should I not? Why should I think that I am better than he is?” And more rightly he says of God: “Why should I mistrust Him Who is so good? Why should I think that I can do it by myself?” God gives Himself to the humble, but withdraws from the proud.

Trust is also obedience. And God loves the obedient man. Obedience implies that we acknowledge ourselves as His children and we acknowledge God as our Father. And a father can but love when he is a real father. God is our real Father and a perfect Father.

The third point I want you to consider. It is always based on trust. No event can happen unless God allows it. Are you powerful? You became so, because God permitted it. Are you a subject? You are such, because God permitted it. Endeavour, therefore, powerful one, not to turn your-power to your own detriment. It would always be “your detriment”, even if at the beginning, it may appear detrimental to others. Because if God allows, He does not over-allow, and if you go beyond the mark, He will strike you and crush you. Endeavour, therefore, o subject, to make of your condition a magnet that will draw the protection of Heaven upon You. And never curse anyone. Leave that to God's care. It is for Him, the Lord of all, to bless and curse His creatures.

Go in peace. »

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