27th January 1945.
The light is so faint it seems to be blinking. At the door of a very poor hut – it would be an overstatement to call it a house – there is Jesus with His disciples, Jonah and other poor peasants like him. It is departure time.
« Will I not see You again, my Lord? » asks Jonah. « You have brought light to our hearts. Your kindness has turned these days into a feast that will last all our lives. But You have seen how we are treated. A mule is taken more care of than we are. And trees receive more human attention. They are money. We are only millstones that earn money. And we are used until we die of excessive toil. But Your words have been as many loving caresses. Our bread seemed more plentiful and it tasted better because You shared it with us, this bread which he does not even give to his dogs. Come back to share it with us, my Lord. Only because it is You, I dare say that. It would be an insult to offer anyone else shelter and food which even a beggar would disdain. But You… »
« But I find in them a heavenly perfume and flavour, because in them there is faith and love. I will come, Jonah. I will come back. You stay in your place, tied like an animal to the shafts. May your place be Jacob's ladder. And in fact angels go and come from Heaven down to you, carefully gathering all your merits and taking them up to God. But I will come to you. To relieve your spirit. Be faithful to Me, all of you. Oh! I would like to give you also human peace. But I cannot. I must say to you: go on suffering. And that is very sad for One Who loves… »
« Lord, if You love us, we no longer suffer. Before we had no one to love us… Oh! If I could, at least I, see Your Mother! »
« Do not worry. I will bring Her to you. When the weather is milder, I will come with Her. Do not risk incurring cruel punishments on account of your anxiety to see Her. You must wait for Her as you wait for the rising of a star, of the evening star. She will appear to you all of a sudden, exactly as the evening star, which is not there one moment, and a moment later it shines in the sky. And you must consider that even now She is lavishing Her gifts of love on you. Goodbye, everybody. May My peace protect you from the harshness of him who torments you. Goodbye, Jonah. Do not cry. You have waited for so many years with patient faith. I now promise you a very short wait. Do not weep. I will not leave you alone. Your kindness wiped My tears when I was a NewBorn Baby. Is Mine not sufficient to wipe yours? »
« Yes… but You are going away… and I have to remain here… »
« Jonah, My friend, do not make Me go away depressed because I cannot comfort you… »
« I am not crying, my Lord… But how will I be able to live without seeing You, now that I know that You are alive? »
Jesus caresses the forlorn old man once again and then goes away. But standing on the edge of the miserable threshing-floor, Jesus stretches His arms out and blesses the country. He then departs.
« What have You done, Master? » asks Simon who has noticed the unusual gesture.
« I put a seal on everything. That no demon may damage things and thus cause trouble to those wretched people. I could do no more… »
« Master, let us walk on a little faster. I would like to tell You something which I do not want the others to hear. » They move farther away from the group and Simon begins to speak: « I wanted to tell You that Lazarus has instructions to use my money to assist all those who apply to him in Jesus' name. Could we not free Jonah? That man is worn out and his only joy is to be with You. Let us give him that. What is his work worth here? If instead he were free, he would be Your disciple in this beautiful yet desolate plain, The richest people in Israel own fertile estates here and they exploit them with cruel usury, exacting a hundredfold profit from their workers. I have known that for years. You will not be able to stop here long, because the sect of the Pharisees rules over the country and I do not think it will ever be friendly to You. These oppressed and hopeless workers are the most unhappy people in Israel. Your heard it Yourself, not even at Passover have they peace, neither can they pray, whilst their severe masters, with solemn gestures and affected exhibitions, take up prominent positions in front of all the people. At least they will have the joy of knowing that You exist, and of listening to Your words, which will be repeated to them by one who will not alter one single letter. If You are agreeable, Master, please say so, and Lazarus will do the necessary. »
« Simon, I knew why you gave all your property away. The thoughts of men are known to Me. And I loved you also because of that. By making Jonah happy, you make Jesus happy. Oh! How it torments Me to see good people suffer! My situation of a poor man despised by the world afflicts Me only because of that. If Judas heard Me, he would say: “But are You not the Word of God? Give the order, and these stones will become gold and bread for the poor people.” He would repeat Satan's snare. I am anxious to satisfy people's hunger. But not the way Judas would like. You are not yet sufficiently mature to grasp the depth of what I want to say. But I will tell you: if God saw to everything He would rob His friends. He would deprive them of the chance of being merciful and fulfilling the commandment of love. My friends must possess this mark of God, in common with Him: the holy mercy consisting in deeds and words. And the unhappiness of other people gives My friends the opportunity to practice it. Have you understood what I mean? »
« Your thought is a deep one. I will ponder Your words. And I humble myself, as I see how dull-minded I am and how great God is Who wants us to be gifted with all His most sweet attributes, so that He may call us His children. God is revealed to me in His manifold perfections by every ray of light with which You illuminate my heart. Day by day, like one proceeding in an unknown place, the knowledge of the immense Thing which is the Perfection Which wants to call us His “children” is progressing in me and I seem to be climbing like an eagle or to be diving like a fish into two endless depths, such as sky and sea, and I climb higher and higher and dive deeper and deeper, but I never touch the end. But what is, therefore, God? »
« God is the unattainable Perfection, God is the perfect Beauty, God is the infinite Power, God is the incomprehensible Essence, God is the unsurpassable Bounty, God is the indestructible Mercy, God is the immeasurable Wisdom, God is the Love that became God. He is the Love! He is the Love! You say that the more you know God in His perfection, the higher you seem to climb and the deeper to dive into two endless depths of shadeless blue… But when you understand what is the Love that became God, you will no longer climb or dive into the blue, but into a blazing vortex and you will be drawn towards a beatitude which will be death and life for you. You will possess God, with a perfect possession, when, by your will, you succeed in understanding and deserving Him. You will then be fixed in His perfection. »
« O Lord… » Simon is overwhelmed.
There is silence. They reach the road. Jesus stops, waiting for the others. When they are all together again, Levi kneels down: « I should be leaving, Master. But Your servant asks You a favor. Take me to Your Mother. This man is an orphan like me. Do not deny me what You give him, that I may see the face of a mother… »
« Come. What is asked in My Mother's name, I grant in My Mother's name. »
… Jesus is by Himself. He is walking fast among the thick olive trees laden with small fruits which are already well shaped. The sun, although almost setting, is blazing down in the grey-green dome of the precious peaceful trees, but it does not penetrate the tangle of branches beyond providing for a few tiny bright eyelets of light. The main road, on the other hand, embedded in two banks, is a dusty blazing dazzling ribbon.
Jesus proceeds smiling. He reaches a cliff… and smiles even more happily. There is Nazareth… its panorama seems to be flickering, such is the heat of the blazing sun. Jesus goes down even faster. He reaches the road now, without minding the sun. He is walking so fast that He seems to be flying: He has protected His head with His mantle, which blows at His sides and behind Him. The road is deserted and silent as far as the nearest houses. Now and again the voices of a child or a woman can be heard from the inside of a house or a kitchen garden, the trees of which extend their branches over the road. Jesus avails Himself of such shady spots to avoid the merciless sunshine. He turns into a half shaded road. There are some women gathered round a cool well. Almost every one of them salutes Him welcoming Him in their shrill voices.
« Peace to you all… But please be silent. I want to give My Mother a surprise. »
« Her sister-in-law has just gone away with a pitcher of cool water. But she is coming back. They are left without any water. The spring is either dry or the water is absorbed by the parched land before reaching Your garden. We don't know. That's what Mary of Alphaeus was saying. There she is… she is coming. »
The mother of Judas and James is coming carrying an amphora on her head and another one in her hand. She does not see Jesus at once; she is shouting: « I'll be quicker this way. Mary is very sad, because Her flowers are dying of thirst. They are the ones planted by Joseph and Jesus and it breaks Her heart to see them withering. »
« But now that She sees Me… » says Jesus appearing from behind the group of women.
« Oh! My Jesus! Blessed You are! I'll go and tell… »
« No. I will go. Give Me the amphoras. »
« The door is half shut. Mary is in the garden. Oh! How happy She will be! She was speaking of You also this morning. But why come in this heat! You are all perspiration! Are You alone? »
« No. With friends. But I came ahead of them. To see My Mother first. And Judas? »
« He is at Capernaum. He often goes there. » Mary does not say anything else. But she smiles while drying Jesus' wet face with her veil.
The pitchers are ready. Jesus takes two, He ties one at each end of His belt which He throws across His shoulder and takes the third one in His hand.
He walks away, turns round a comer, reaches the house, pushes the door, enters the little room which seems dark in comparison with the bright sunshine outside. He slowly lifts the curtain protecting the door of the garden and He watches.
Mary is standing near a rose-bush, with Her back to the house and is pitying the parched plant. Jesus lays the pitcher on the floor and the copper tinkles against a stone. « Are you here already, Mary? » says His Mother without turning round. « Come, come, look at this rose! And these poor lilies. They will all die, if we do not assist them. Bring also some small canes to hold up this falling stalk. »
« I will bring You everything, Mother. »
Mary springs round. She remains for a moment with Her eyes wide open, then with a cry She runs with outstretched arms towards Her Son, Who has already opened His arms and is waiting for Her with the most loving smile.
« Oh! My Son! »
« Mother! Dear! »
Their embrace is a long and loving one and Mary is so happy that She does not feel how hot is Jesus. But then She notices it: « Why, Son, did You come at this time of the day? You are purple red and are perspiring like a sodden sponge. Come inside. That I may dry and refresh You. I will bring You a fresh tunic and clean sandals. My Son! My Son! Why go about in this heat! The plants are dying because of the heat and You, My Flower, are going about. »
« It was to come to You as soon as possible, Mother. »
« Oh! My dear! Are You thirsty? You must be. I will now prepare… »
« Yes, I am thirsty for Your kisses, Mother. And for Your caresses. Let Me stay like this, with My head on Your shoulder, as when I was a little boy… Oh! Mother! How I miss You! »
« Tell Me to come, Son, and I will. What did You lack because of My absence? The food You like? Clean clothes? A well made bed? Oh! My Joy, tell Me what You lacked. Your servant, My Lord, will endeavor to provide. »
« Nothing, but You… »
Jesus goes into the house hand in hand with His Mother. He sits on the chest near the wall, embraces Mary Who is in front of Him, resting His head on Her heart and kissing Her now and again. Now He stares at Her: « Let Me look at You, to My heart's content, holy Mother of Mine. »
« Your tunic first. It is not good for You to remain so damp. Come. » Jesus obeys. When He comes back wearing a fresh looking tunic, they resume their sweet conversation.
« I have come with My disciples and friends. But I left them in Melcha's wood. They will come tomorrow at dawn. I… I could not wait any longer. My Mother!… » and He kisses Her hands. « Mary of Alphaeus has gone away to leave us alone. She also understood how anxious I was to be with You. Tomorrow… tomorrow You will attend to My friends and I to the Nazarenes. But this evening You are My Friend and I am Yours. I brought You… Oh! Mother: I found the shepherds of Bethlehem. And I brought You two of them: they are orphans and You are the Mother. Of all men. And more so of orphans. And I brought You also one who needs You to control himself. And another one who is a just man and has suffered so much. And then John… And I brought You the recollections of Elias, Isaac, Tobias, now called Matthew, John and Simeon. Jonah is the most unhappy of them all. I will take You to him… I promised him. I will continue to look for the others. Samuel and Joseph are resting in the peace of God. »
« Were You at Bethlehem? »
« Yes, Mother. I took there the disciples who were with Me. And I brought You these little flowers, that were growing near the stones of the threshold. »
« Oh! » Mary takes the withered stems and kisses them. « And what about Anne? »
« She died in Herod's slaughter. »
« Oh! Poor woman! She was so fond of You! »
« The Bethlehemites suffered a lot. But they have not been fair to the shepherds. But they suffered a lot… »
« But they were good to You then! »
« Yes. And that is why they are to be pitied. Satan is jealous of their past kindness and urges them to evil things. I was also at Hebron. The shepherds, persecuted… »
« Oh! To that extent?! »
« Yes, they were helped by Zacharias, who got them jobs and food, even if their masters were hard people. But they are just souls and they turned their persecutions and wounds into merits of true holiness. I gathered them together. I cured Isaac… and I gave My name to a little boy… At Juttah, where Isaac was languishing and where he came back to life again, there is now an innocent group, called Mary, Joseph and Jesai… »
« Oh! Your Name! »
« And Yours and the name of the Just One. And at Kerioth, the fatherland of a disciple, a faithful Israelite died resting on My heart. Out of joy, having found Me… And then… Ah! how many things I have to tell You, My perfect Friend, sweet Mother! But first of all, I beg You, I ask You to have so much mercy on those who will be coming tomorrow. Listen: they love Me… but they are not perfect. You, Teacher of virtue… oh! Mother, help Me to make them good… I would like to save them all… » Jesus has slipped at Mary's feet. She now appears in Her Motherly majesty.
« My Son! What do You want Your poor Mother to do better than You do? »
« To sanctify them… Your virtue sanctifies. I brought them here deliberately, Mother… one day I will say to You: “Come”, because it will then be urgent to sanctify souls, that I may find them willing to be redeemed. And I will not be able by Myself… Your silence will be as eloquent as My words. Your purity will assist My power. Your presence will keep Satan away… and Your Son, Mother, will feel stronger knowing that You are near Him. You will come, will you not, My sweet Mother? »
« Jesus! Dear Son! I have a feeling that You are not happy… What is the matter, Creature of My heart? Was the world hostile to You? No? It is a relief to believe it… but… Oh! Yes. I will come. Wherever You wish, as and when You wish. Even now, in this blazing sunshine, or by night, in cold or wet weather. You want Me? Here I am. »
« No. Not now. But one day… How sweet is our home. And Your caresses! Let Me sleep thus, with My head on Your knees. I am so tired! I am still Your little Son… » And Jesus really falls asleep, tired and exhausted, sitting on the mat, His head on the lap of His Mother, Who happily caresses His hair.