8th June 1944.
I see the big room where I have already seen the meeting of the Magi with Jesus and their adoration. I understand that I am in the hospitable house where the Holy Family has been received. And I see Zacharias' arrival. Elizabeth is not there.
The landlady runs out into the lobby to meet the arriving guest and she shows him to a door. She knocks, and then withdraws discreetly.
Joseph opens the door, and he utters a cry of joy when he sees Zacharias. He takes him into a little room, as small as a corridor. « Mary is suckling the Child. She will not be long. Sit down, you must be tired. » And he makes room for his guest on his couch, and sits beside him.
I hear Joseph asking after little John and Zacharias replies: « He is growing as strong as a little colt. But he is teething now and he is suffering a little. That is why we did not want to bring him. It is very cold, and that is why Elizabeth did not come either. She could not leave him without milk. She was very upset, but the season is so rigorous! »
« It is rigorous indeed » replies Joseph.
« The man you sent me told me that you were homeless when He was born. You must have suffered a lot. »
« Yes, quite a lot. But our fears were greater than our discomfort. We were afraid the Child's health might be injured. And we had to stay there for the first days. We lacked nothing, for ourselves, because the shepherds gave the good news to the people of Bethlehem, and many of them brought us gifts. But we had no house, not even a decent room, a bed… and Jesus cried so much, particularly at night, because the wind was blowing in from all directions. I used to light a little fire. Only a little one, because the smoke made Jesus cough… and it was still cold in any case. Two animals do not give out much heat, especially when the cold air comes in from all directions! We had no warm water to wash Him, nor dry clothes to change Him. Yes, He suffered quite a lot! And Mary suffered seeing Him suffer. I suffered… so you can imagine His Mother's anguish! She fed Him with milk and tears, milk and love… Now here it is much better. I had made for Him such a comfortable cradle and Mary had fitted it with a soft little mattress. But it is in Nazareth! Ah! If He were born there, it would have been different! »
« But Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. It was prophesied. »
Mary comes in, She heard their voices. She is all dressed in white wool. She has taken off the dark dress She was wearing during the journey and in the grotto, and She is all white, as I have seen Her dressed before. She is not wearing anything on Her head, and She is holding Jesus in Her arms: He is sleeping, sated with milk, in His pure white swaddling clothes.
Zacharias stands up reverently and bows down in veneration. He then goes nearer, and looks at Jesus with the greatest respect. He bends down, not so much to see Him better, as to pay Him homage. Mary offers the Child to him, and Zacharias takes Him with such adoration that he seems to be holding up a monstrance. It is in fact the Host that he takes in his hands, the Host already offered and that will be sacrificed after being given to men as a nourishment of love and redemption. Zacharias hands Jesus back to Mary.
They all sit down, and Zacharias explains once again to Mary the reason why Elizabeth has not come and how upset she was. « During the past months she has prepared some linens for Your blessed Son. I have brought them to You. They are downstairs in the waggon. »
He rises and goes out, then comes back with a large parcel and a smaller one. Joseph relieves him of the heavier one and Zacharias starts pulling his gifts from both of them: a soft handwoven woollen blanket, some linens and little dresses. Then from the other one, some honey, some snow-white flour, butter, apples for Mary and cakes baked by Elizabeth and many more little things which are a token of the motherly love of the grateful cousin for the young Mother.
« Please tell Elizabeth that I am very grateful to her, as I am grateful to you, too. I would have been so happy to see her, but I understand the situation. And I would also have loved to see little John… »
« But You will see him in spring. We will come and see You. »
« Nazareth is too far away » remarks Joseph.
« Nazareth? But you must stay here. The Messiah must grow up in Bethlehem. It is David's town. The Most High, through Caesar's will, brought Him to the town in David's land, the holy land of Judaea. Why take Him to Nazareth? You know in what opinion the Jews hold the Nazarenes. This Child is to be in future years the Savior of His people. The capital town must not scorn its King because He comes from a despised land. You know as well as I do how captious the Sanhedrin is and how disdainful its three main castes are… And then, here, near me, I will be able to help you somehow, and put everything I have, not so much in the way of material things, but of moral gifts, at the service of this New-Born Baby. And when He is old enough to understand, I will be very happy to be His teacher, as I will be for my own son, so that later, when He is grown up, He will bless me. We must consider that He is destined for great things and, consequently, He must be in a position to present Himself to the world with all the necessary means to win His game. He will certainly possess Wisdom. But also the simple fact that He was educated by a priest, will make Him more agreeable to the difficult Pharisees and Scribes and will render His mission easier. »
Mary looks at Joseph, and Joseph looks at Mary. Above the rosy innocent head of the Child, sleeping unaware of it all, there is a silent exchange of questions. And they are questions full of sadness. Mary is thinking of Her little house, Joseph is concerned about his work. Here, where only a few days ago they were completely unknown, they must start from scratch. Here they have none of the dear things they left at home, and which they had prepared with so much love for the Child.
And Mary says so: « How can we do that? We have left everything there. Joseph had worked so hard for My Jesus, without sparing labor or money. He worked at night, so that during the day he could work for other people and thus earn enough to buy the best wood, the softest wool, the finest linen, and prepare everything for Jesus. He built beehives, and he even worked as a mason to make certain modifications in the house, so that the cradle could be placed in My room and remain there until Jesus had grown up and the cradle could then be replaced by a bed, because Jesus will stay with Me until He is an adolescent »
« Joseph can go and get what you left there »
« And where will we put it? You know, Zacharias, that we are poor. We have only our work and our home. And they both enable us to live without starving. But here… perhaps we will find some work. But we will always have the problem of a house. This good woman cannot give us hospitality forever. And I cannot sacrifice Joseph more than he has already sacrificed himself for My sake! »
« Oh! Me! It's nothing for me! I am concerned with Mary's grief. Her grief in not living in Her own house… »
Two big tears well from Mary's eyes.
« I think that house must be as dear to Her as Paradise, because of the mystery which was accomplished in it. I speak little, but I understand a lot. If it wasn't for that, I would not be upset. I will work twice as much, that's all. I am young and strong enough to work twice as much as I used to and see to everything. And if Mary does not suffer too much… and if you say that we must do so… well, here I am. I will do whatever you think is best. Provided that it will help Jesus. »
« It will certainly help. Think it over, and you will see the reasons. »
« It is also said that the Messiah will be called Nazarene… » objects Mary.
« True. But at least, until He is grown up, let Him grow up in Judaea. The Prophet says: “And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, will be the greatest, because out of you will come the Savior.” He does not speak of Nazareth. Perhaps that title was given to Him for some reason unknown to us. But this is His land. »
« You say so, you, priest, and we… we listen to you with sad hearts, and we believe you. But how painful it is!… When shall I see that house where I became a Mother? » Mary is weeping, silently. And I understand Her grief. Oh! I do understand. The vision ends on Mary's weeping.
Mary then says:
« I know that you understand. But you will see Me crying more bitterly. For the time being, I want to relieve your spirit by showing you Joseph's holiness. He was a man, that is, he had no other help for his spirit, except his holiness. I had all the gifts of God, in My condition of Immaculate. I did not know I was such. But the gifts were active in My soul, and gave Me spiritual strength. But he was not immaculate. Humanity was in him with all its heavy weight and he had to rise towards perfection with all that burden, at the cost of continuous efforts of all his faculties to reach perfection and be agreeable to God.
Oh! My holy spouse! Holy in everything, also in the most humble things in life. Holy for his angelical chastity. Holy for his human honesty. Holy for his patience, his activity, for his constant serenity, for his modesty, for everything. His holiness shines also in this event. A priest says to him: “You ought to settle here” and he replies, fully aware of the greater hardships he would have to face: “It is nothing for Me. I am concerned with Mary's grief. If it was not for that, I would not be upset. Provided that it will help Jesus.” Jesus, Mary: his angelical loves. My holy spouse loved nothing else on earth. And he sacrificed himself to that love.
They elected him protector of Christian families, of workers and many other categories. But he should be appointed protector not only of dying people, of married couples, of workmen, but also of those consecrated to God. Who, of all the people in the world consecrated to the service of God, has consecrated himself as he did, to the service of his God, accepting everything, foregoing everything, bearing everything, fulfilling everything with quickness, with a cheerful mind, a constant humour? There is no one like him.
And I wish to draw your attention to another point, nay two points.
Zacharias is a priest. Joseph is not. But you must note how he, who is not a priest, has a more heavenly soul than the priest. Zacharias thinks in a human way, and in a human way he expounds the Scriptures because he allows himself to be led by his good human sense, and it is not the first time he does so. And he was punished for it. But he relapses, although less gravely. With regard to John's birth he said: “How can that happen, if I am old, and my wife is barren?”
Now he says: “To smooth His way, Christ is to be brought up here.” And with that subtle root of pride that persists also in the best people, he thinks that he can be useful to Jesus. Not useful in the sense that Joseph wanted to be, by serving Him, but by teaching Him… God forgave him, because of his good intention. But did the “Master” need teachers?
I endeavored to make him see the truth of the prophecies. But he felt he was more learned than I was and made use of such feeling in his own way. I could have insisted and outdone him. But this is the other point I wanted to draw your attention to – I respected the priest because of his dignity, not because of his knowledge.
In general, a priest is always enlightened by God. I said: “in general”. He is enlightened when he is a real priest. It is not his robe that consecrates him: it is his soul. To judge whether one is a real priest, one must consider what comes out of his soul. As My Jesus said, the things that sanctify or contaminate come out from the soul, and they characterise the whole behavior of a person. So, when one is a real priest, he is generally inspired by God. We must have a supernatural charity and pray for the others, who are not such.
But My Son has already placed you at the service of this redemption, so I will say no more. Be happy to suffer, so that the number of real priests may increase. And rely peacefully on the word of him who guides you. And believe and obey his advice. Obedience always saves you, even if the advice given to you is not completely perfect.
As you know, we obeyed. And we did well. It is true that Herod confined the slaughter of the children to Bethlehem and its surroundings. But could Satan not have spread and propagated such hatred much farther and wider and have induced all the mighty ones in Palestine to commit a similar crime in order to kill the future King of the Jews? He could have done that and it would have happened in Christ's early days, when the repeated miracles had drawn the attention of both the crowds and of those in power. If such an event had taken place, how could we have crossed the whole of Palestine, to go from Nazareth to Egypt, the hospitable land for persecuted Jews, and make such a journey with a little child, and while persecution was raging? It was easier to flee from Bethlehem, even if the flight was equally painful.
Obedience always saves you. Remember that. And respect for a priest is always a sign of a Christian education. Woe to those priests who lose their apostolic ardour! Also Jesus said that. But woe also to those who think that they are right in despising them! Because they consecrate and hand out the True Bread that descends from Heaven. And that contact makes them holy, just like a sacred chalice, even if they are not totally holy. They will answer to God for it. You must consider them as such and not worry about anything else. You must not be more strict than your Lord Jesus, Who, at their command, leaves Heaven and descends to be raised by their hands. You must learn from Him. And if they are blind, if they are deaf, if their souls are paralyzed and their thoughts are unsound, if they are lepers full of faults in strong contrast with their mission, if they are like corpses in sepulchers, then call Jesus that He may heal them and revive them.
Call Him with your prayers, and your suffering, o victim souls. To save a soul is to predestine one's own soul to Heaven. But to save the soul of a priest is to save a large number of souls, because every holy priest is a net that drags souls to God. And to save a priest, that is to sanctify: re-sanctify, is to create this mystical net. Each prey is a light to be added to your eternal crown.
Go in peace. »