[… ] The same day, 9th November, immediately after.
I see the shore of the lake of Gennesaret. And I can see the boats beached by the fishermen; on the foreshore, leaning against the boats, are Peter and Andrew, intent on mending the nets, which their assistants bring them still dripping, having rinsed them in the lake to remove entangled rubbish. About ten yards away, John and James, bent over their boat, are busy at tidying it up, and they are helped by an assistant and by a man about fifty or fifty-five years old, who I think is Zebedee, because the assistant calls him « master » and also because he is very like James.
Peter and Andrew, with their backs to the boat, are working silently knotting the threads of the nets and fixing corks to them. Now and again they exchange a few words about their work, which, as far as I understand, has not been profitable.
Peter is sorry about it, not because of the loss of profit or the unprofitable work, but he says: « I am sorry, because… what shall we do to feed these poor people? We receive only occasional offerings and I am not going to touch the ten pieces of silver and the seven drachmas we collected during the last four days. Only the Master can tell me to whom and how that money is to be given. And He will not be back here until Sabbath! If we had had a good haul!… I would have cooked the small fish for the poor… and if anyone at home grumbled, I would not have cared. Healthy people can find food for themselves. But sick people!… »
« Above all that paralytic!… They have already travelled so much to bring him here… » says Andrew.
« Listen, brother. I think… we can't remain divided like this, and I don't know why the Master does not want us with Him all the time. At least… I would not see these poor people whom I can't help, and if I saw them I would say to them: “He is here.” »
« I am here! » Jesus has come near them, walking quietly on the soft sand.
Peter and Andrew start. They exclaim: « Oh! Master! » and they shout: « James! John! The Master! Come here! »
The two brothers rush towards them. They all draw close to Jesus. Some kiss His tunic, some His hands, and John dares to encircle His waist with his arm, and lean his head on Jesus' chest. Jesus kisses his hair. « What were you talking about? »
« Master… we were saying that we would have liked to have You. »
« Why, My friends? »
« To see You and love You seeing You, and also because of some poor and sick people. They have been waiting for You for over two days… I did what I could. I put them over there, see that hut in that waste land? Over there the handicraftsmen repair the boats. I sheltered there a paralytic, who has a very high temperature, and a little boy who is dying in his mother's arms. I could not send them away to look for You. »
« You did the right thing. But how have you been able to help them and who brought them here? You said they are poor! »
« Yes, Master, they are. Rich people have horses and carts. Poor people have only their legs. They cannot come looking for You as fast as they would like. I did what I could. Look: here are the offerings I have received. I have not touched anything. You will do that. »
« Peter, you could have done that, too. Certainly… My dear Peter, I am sorry that you should be reproached and have extra work because of Me. »
« No, Lord. You must not be sorry about that. It is no trouble for me. I am only sorry I have not been able to be more charitable. But, believe me, I have done, we have all done what we could. »
« I know. I know you have worked and in vain. But if there is no food, your charity remains: alive, active and holy in the eyes of God. »
Some children have rushed round them shouting: « The Master! The Master is here! Here is Jesus, here is Jesus! » and they draw close to Him, Who caresses them while speaking to His disciples.
« Simon, I am going into your house. You will all go and tell the people that I am back and then bring Me the sick ones. »
The disciples go away quickly in different directions. But the whole of Capernaum knows that Jesus has come, thanks to the children who are like bees swarming from the beehive to the various flowers; in our case to the houses, the streets and the squares. They come and go rejoicing, informing their mothers, passers-by, old people sitting in the sun, and they run back to be caressed by Him Who loves them. One of them, a daring boy says: « Speak to us and for us, today, Jesus. You know we love You and we are better than men. »
Jesus smiles at the young psychologist and promises: « I will speak just for you. » And followed by the children, He goes into the house and enters pronouncing His usual greeting of peace: « Peace to this house. » People crowd into the big room at the back of the house, which is used as a store for nets, ropes, baskets, oars, sails, and provisions. Peter must have put it at Jesus' disposal, because everything has been piled up in one comer to make room. The lake cannot be seen from here. Only its gently lapping waves can be heard. Instead one can see the low greenish wall of the kitchen garden, with the old vine and the leafy fig-tree. There are people even on the road, as they pass from the room into the kitchen garden and hence onto the road.
Jesus begins to speak. In the front row, there are five… high-ranking people, who have elbowed their way through the crowd taking advantage of the fear they strike into poor people. Their sumptuous garments and their pride denounce them as Pharisees and doctors. But Jesus wants His little friends around Him, a crown of innocent little faces, of bright eyes, of angelical smiles, all looking up at Him. Jesus speaks and while speaking, now and again He caresses the curly head of a child who is sitting at His feet, resting his head on his little arm bent on Jesus' lap. Jesus is speaking, sitting on a huge pile of baskets and ropes.
« “My Beloved went down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flocks in the gardens, and gather lilies… He pastures his flock among the lilies”, says Solomon, the son of David, from whom I descend, I, the Messiah of Israel.
My garden! Which garden is more beautiful and worthy of God than Heaven, where the flowers are the angels created by the Father? And yet, it is not so. The Only Begotten Son of the Father, the Son of man wanted another garden, because it is for the sake of man that I took flesh, without which I would not be able to redeem the faults of the flesh of man. A garden which might have been but little inferior to the heavenly one, if from the earthly Paradise, the children of Adam, the children of God, had spread about, like sweet bees from a beehive, to populate the earth with holiness destined entirely for Heaven. But the enemy sowed brambles and thorns in Adam's heart, and brambles and thorns have overflown from his heart on to the earth. It is no longer a garden, but a wild cruel forest in which fever stagnates and snakes nestle.
And yet the Beloved of the Father still has a garden in this world which is domineered by Mammon. The garden in which He feeds on His celestial food: love and purity; the bed where He picks the flowers dear to Him, flowers not stained with sensuality, greed, pride. These ones. (Jesus caresses as many of the children as He can, patting with His hand the little attentive heads, one big caress that touches them lightly and makes them smile happily). Here are My lilies.
Solomon in all his wealth, did not have a robe more beautiful than the lily that scents the valley, neither did he possess a diadem of a more splendid gracefulness than the one in the pearl chalice of a lily. And yet, for My heart, there is no lily worth one of these. There is no flower-bed, no garden of wealthy people, all cultivated with lilies, that I consider worth only one of these pure, innocent, sincere, simple, little children.
Men and women of Israel! You, great and humble people according to your wealth and position, listen! You are here because you want to know Me and love Me. You must therefore know the first condition to become Mine. I will not speak difficult words. Neither will I give you more difficult examples. I say to you: “Take example from these children.”
Which of you has no children, nephews, or little brothers in their childhood, at home? Are they not a restful comfort, a bond for parents, relatives, friends? Their souls are as pure as a clear dawn, their faces scatter clouds and inspire hope, their caresses dry your tears and give you new strength! Why is there so much power in them, although they are weak, defenseless and still unlearned? Because they have God in themselves, they have strength and wisdom in God. The true wisdom: they know how to love and believe. They know how to believe and want. They know how to live in such love and such faith. Be like them: simple, pure, loving, sincere, faithful.
There is no wise man in Israel greater than the smallest of these children, whose souls belong to God and His Kingdom belongs to them. Blessed by the Father, loved by the Son of the Father, flowers of My garden, may My peace be with you and with whoever will imitate you for My sake. » Jesus has finished.
« Master! » shouts Peter amidst the crowd, « the sick people are here. Two of them can wait until You come out, but this one is crushed amongst the crowd and… he cannot stay here any longer. It is impossible for us to come in. Shall I send him back? »
« No, lower him down through the roof. »
« You are right. We will do that at once. »
I can hear them shuffling on the low roof of the big room, the terrace of which is not built of cement, as the store-room is not really part of the house. The roof is formed with branches covered by chips of stone like slate. I do not know what stone it is. They make an opening through which, by means of ropes, they lower down the little stretcher on which the patient is lying. It is lowered in front of Jesus.
The crowds throng closer to see.
« Both you and who brought you have great faith. »
« Oh! Lord! How could we have no faith in You? »
« Well, I say to you: son (he is a very young man) your sins are forgiven. »
The man looks at him, crying… perhaps he is somewhat disappointed because he was hoping to be cured in his body. The Pharisees and doctors whisper something to one another turning up their noses, foreheads and mouths in disdain.
« Why are you muttering, more in your hearts than with Your lips? According to you, it is easier to say to the paralytic: “Your sins are forgiven” or “Get up, take your little bed and walk away”? You think that only God can forgive sins. But you cannot answer which of these things is greater, because this man, whose whole body is lost to him, has spent a lot of money without being cured. And he can only be cured by God. Now, that you may learn that I can do everything, that you may learn that the Son of man has authority both over bodies and souls, on the earth and in Heaven, I say to him: “Get up. Pick up your bed and walk. Go home and be holy.” »
The man jerks, he shouts, stands up, he throws himself at Jesus' feet, kisses and caresses them, he cries and laughs, and his relatives and the crowd do likewise. The crowd divides into two to let him pass, as if he were triumphant, and they follow him rejoicing. The five resentful men go away, conceited and as stiff as sticks.
And so the mother can go in with her child: a little emaciated babe, still unweaned. She holds him out in her hands saying simply: « Jesus, You love them. You said so. For Your love and for Your Mother! … » and she weeps.
Jesus takes the suckling, who is dying, He presses him against His heart, for a moment He holds the little wan face with its little violet lips and its eyelashes already closed, against His mouth. Only one moment thus: when He removes him from His blond beard, the little face is rosy, the tiny mouth smiles vaguely as infants do, his little eyes look around bright and inquisitive, his little hands, which before were lifeless, ruffle Jesus' hair and beard. And Jesus smiles.
« Oh! My son! » shouts the happy mother.
« Take him, woman. Be happy and good. »
And the woman takes her reborn son and presses him to her heart. And the little one claims his food at once, he searches, finds, opens and sucks, hungry and happy.
Jesus blesses and passes. He goes to the door where is the man with the high temperature.
« Master! Be good! »
« And you, too. Make use of your health in justice. » He caresses him and goes out.
He goes back to the beach, followed, preceded and blessed by many who implore Him: « We did not hear You. We could not get in. Speak also to us. »
Jesus nods assent and as the crowd press Him to the point of suffocating Him, He gets into Peter's boat. But it is not sufficient. The siege continues. « Set the boat afloat and move away a little. »
The vision ends here.