31st January 1945.
Jesus goes into the kitchen garden, which looks as if it has been washed by the storm of the previous evening. And He sees His Mother bending over some little plants. He goes up to Her and greets Her. How sweet is their kiss! Jesus embraces Her shoulders with His left arm and draws Her to Himself kissing Her forehead, just under Her hair line and He then bows down to be kissed by His Mother on the cheek. But what completes the sweetness of the gesture is the glance that accompanies it. Jesus' look is full of love, although majestic and protective; Mary's is all veneration and love. When they kiss each other like that, Jesus seems to be the older of the two, and Mary is like a young daughter receiving the morning kiss from her father or from a much older brother.
« Were Your flowers damaged by yesterday evening's hailstones and by last night's wind? » asks Jesus.
« No harm, Master. Only the branches were badly ruffled » answers Peter in a somewhat hoarse voice, before Mary can speak.
Jesus looks up and sees Simon Peter, with only his short tunic on, busy straightening some fig-tree branches which were bent upwards. « Are you working already? »
« Eh! We fishermen sleep like the fish: at any time, anywhere, but only as long as they let us rest. And one gets used to it. This morning I heard the door squeak at dawn and I said: “Simon, She is already up. Be quick! Go and help Her with your strong hands.” I thought She might be worrying about Her flowers in such a windy night. And I was not wrong. Eh! I know what women are like!… My wife also tosses about in her bed, like a fish in the net, when there is a storm and she worries about her plants… Dear woman! Sometimes I say to her: “I bet you do not toss so much when your Simon is thrown about like a straw on the lake!” But it is not fair, because she is a good wife. It seems impossible that her mother is… Well, be quiet, Peter. That's got nothing to do with it. It is not right to grumble and imprudently to tell people what out of kindness we should not mention. See, Master, Your word has entered also my stubborn head! »
Jesus replies laughing: « You are saying everything yourself. I can but approve and admire your wisdom as a farmer. »
« He has already tied all the shoots which had become loose, he has supported the pear-tree which is too heavily laden, and he placed those ropes under that pomegranate-tree, which is growing all on one side » says Mary.
« Yes! It looks like an old Pharisee. It leans to the side that suits it. And I straightened it up as if it were a sail and I said to it: “Don't you know that you must keep to a happy medium? Come here, you blockhead, or you will crash down because of your excessive weight.” Now I am working at this fig-tree. But out of selfishness. I am thinking of everybody's appetite: fresh figs and new bread! Ah! Not even Antipas has such a good meal! But I must be careful, because the branches of a fig-tree are as tender as a young girl's heart, when she says her first words of love, and I am heavy, and the best figs are at the top. They have already been dried by the early sun. They must be delicious. Eh! Boy. Don't stand there looking at me. Wake up! Give me that basket. »
John, who has just come out of the workshop, obeys and climbs up the big fig-tree. When the two fishermen come down, also Simon Zealot, Joseph and Judas Iscariot have come out from the workshop. I do not see the others.
Mary brings some new bread: small round brown loaves, which Peters cuts with his pocket knife and then places the split figs onto them, and offers them first to Jesus, then to Mary and the others. They eat with relish in the cooled kitchen garden, which is so beautiful in the bright morning sunshine, also because of the recent rain which has cleaned the air.
Peter says: « This is Friday… Master, tomorrow is the Sabbath… »
« We all know that » remarks the Iscariot.
« Of course. But the Master knows what I mean… »
« Yes, I know. This evening we will go to the lake, where you left your boat and we will sail to Capernaum. Tomorrow I will speak there. »
Peter is overjoyed.
Thomas, Andrew, James, Philip, Bartholomew and Judas Thaddeus, who must have slept elsewhere, come in all together. They greet one another.
Jesus says: « Let us stay here all together. There will be also a new disciple. Mother, come. » They sit down, some on stones, some on stools, forming a circle round Jesus, Who has sat on the stone bench against the wall with His Mother beside Him and at His feet John, who preferred to sit on the ground in order to be near.
Jesus begins speaking slowly and solemnly as usual.
« To what shall I compare the apostolic formation? To the nature surrounding us. See. The earth in winter seems dead. But inside it the seeds are active and the lymphs feed on moisture which they store in the underground branches – I could call the roots thus so that they may have plenty for the upper branches when it is time to blossom. You also can be compared to the winter earth: barren, naked, ugly looking. But the Sower has passed on you and has spread the seed. The Tiller has come near you and has broken up the soil round your trunks, which are as hard and rough as the soil in which they are planted, so that the roots may receive nourishment from the clouds and from the air and the trunks may be strengthened for the future fruit. And you have received the seed and the tillage because you are willing to bear fruit in the work of God. I will also compare your apostolic formation to the storm which struck and bent and seemed a purposeless violence. But see how much good it has done. The air today is purer, fresher, without dust or sultriness. The sun is the same sun as yesterday's. But it is not so scorching as yesterday when it seemed like a high temperature, because its rays reach us through purified and fresh strata of air. The herbs and plants are relieved as well as men, because cleanliness and serenity cheer up all things. Also contrasts help to attain a more precise knowledge and clarification. Otherwise they would be nothing but wickedness. And what are contrasts if not the storms that stir up different types of clouds? And do such clouds not pile up slowly in the hearts of men in useless bad moods, petty jealousies and vain pride? Then the wind of Grace blows and gathers them together that they may discharge their ill humours and the sky may clear up again.
And your apostolic moulding is like the work that Peter was doing this morning for the delight of My Mother: which is to straighten, tie, support or undo, according to the varying situations and necessities, to make you “strong workers” at the service of God. It is necessary to correct wrong ideas, to tie and subdue the rebelling flesh, to support weaknesses, to cut off evil inclinations if necessary, and to free from slavery and timidity. You must be free and strong. Like eagles, that leave their native mountain tops and fly higher and higher. The service of God is the flight. Affections are the mountain tops. One among you is sad today because his father's life is on the decline. And he is declining with his heart closed to the Truth and to his son who is following the Truth. More than closed: hostile. The father has not yet said the unfair: “Go away”, of which I spoke to you yesterday, thus declaring himself to be above God. But his closed heart and sealed lips are not yet capable of saying at least: “Follow the voice that is calling you.” Neither the son nor I Who am speaking to you, would expect to hear those lips say: “Come and let the Master come with you. And may God be blessed because He chose a servant in my family, creating thus with the Word of the Lord, – a kinship which is more sublime than blood.” But at least I, for his own sake, and the son for more complicated reasons, would not like to hear hostile words from him.
But this son must not cry. He must know that I bear no grudge or ill-feeling towards his father. I feel only pity for him. I have come and stopped here, although I knew it would be useless, so that one day the son may not say to Me: “Oh! Why did You not come?” I have come that he may be fully convinced that everything is quite useless, when a heart is hardened by hatred. I have also come to comfort a good woman who is suffering because of this family division, as if her heart were torn to pieces. But both the son and the good mother must be convinced that I do not return hatred for hatred. I respect the honesty of the old believer who is faithful to what has been so far his religion, although his faith has gone off the right path.
There are many like him in Israel… That is why I say to you: I will be more accepted by the heathens than by the children of Abraham. Mankind has depraved the idea of the Savior and has lowered His supernatural royalty to the poor idea of a human sovereignty. I must break the hard bark of Hebraism, penetrate it, and cut it till I reach the bottom and then place the fruitful new Law exactly where the heart of Hebraism is. Oh! Israel, brought up around the vital stone of the Law of Sinai, has become like a monstrous fruit, the pulp of which is formed by layers of harder and harder fibres, protected outside by a shell firm against every penetration and also against the ejection of the germ, so much so that the Eternal Father deems the moment has come to create the new plant of the faith in the one and trine God. To allow the will of God to be fulfilled and Hebraism to become Christianity, I must notch, pierce, penetrate and make My way to the very stone, then warm it with My love, so that it will awake and swell, sprout and grow more and more and thus become the mighty plant of Christianity, the perfect, eternal, divine religion. And I solemnly tell you that it will be possible to penetrate Hebraism only in the proportion of one part to a hundred.
I therefore do not deem reprobate this Israelite who does not want Me and is not willing to give Me his son. That is why I say to the son: do not cry on account of the flesh and blood that suffer being rejected by the flesh and blood that generated them. That is why I say: do not even cry on account of the soul. Your suffering operates more than anything else in favor of your soul and his, in favor of your father who does not understand and does not see. And I also say to you: do not feel remorse for being more of God than of your father.
And I say to you all: God is more than father, mother, brothers. I have come to join people not according to the world, to flesh and blood; but according to the spirit and to Heaven. I therefore must separate flesh and blood to take with Me the souls which, even when on this world, are fit for Heaven, to take the servants of Heaven. So I have come to call the “strong ones”, and make them even stronger, because My army of meek people is made of “strong” people. Meek towards their brothers, strong against their own ego and the selfishness of family blood.
Do not cry, My cousin. I can assure you that your pain is operating before God in favor of your father and brothers more than any word, not only yours, but also Mine. Believe Me, words cannot enter where preconceived ideas form a barrier. But Grace enters. And a sacrifice draws graces.
I solemnly tell you that when I call someone as a disciple, there is no obedience greater than this one. And we must obey without even stopping to reckon how and how much others will react to our going towards God. One must not even stop to bury one's father. And you will receive a reward for your heroism, a reward not only for yourselves, but also for those from whom you are torn away, broken-hearted, and whose words often strike you more painfully than a slap in the face, because they accuse you of being ungrateful children and in their selfishness they curse you as rebels. No, not rebels. Saints. The first enemies of those who are called, are their relatives. But we must learn to distinguish between love and love and to love in a supernatural way. That is to love more the Master of the supernatural than the servants of the Master. We must love our relatives in God. But not more than God. »
Jesus is silent, He gets up and goes near His cousin who, with lowered head, can hardly hold back his tears. Jesus caresses him. « Judas… I left My Mother to follow My mission. This should remove all doubts about the honesty of your behavior. If it had not been a good deed, would I have done it to My Mother, Who, above all, has no one but Me? »
Judas presses Jesus' hand to his face and nods his head. But he cannot say anything.
« Let us go, the two of us by ourselves, as when we were boys and Alphaeus thought I was the most sensible boy in Nazareth. Let us go and take these beautiful bunches of golden grapes to the old man, so that he may not think that I am neglecting him or that I am hostile to him. Also your mother and James will be pleased. I will tell him that I will be in Capernaum tomorrow and that his son will be entirely devoted to him. You know, old people are like children: they are jealous. And they always suspect they are being neglected. We must pity them… »
Jesus has gone, leaving in the garden the disciples dumbfounded at the revelation of pain and incompatibility between a father and a son because of Jesus. Mary has gone with Jesus as far the door and now She comes back sighing in distress.
It all ends.