97. The Call of Matthew.

4th February 1945. prev home next

This morning I was thinking again of what you said yesterday when I read the vision to you. You were simply astonished. And I told Jesus Who was near me.

He replied to me: « That is why I give them. You cannot imagine how joyfully I brighten up for My true friends. I thus give Myself to My Romualdo, for his joy, love and help, and because I see him. I had no secrets for John. I have none for the Johns. Tell old John that I give him so much peace and a good catch of fish. No catch for you. I give you only the womanly work of interlacing nets with the thread that I give you. Work, go on working… And do not be upset if you have no time for anything else. Everything is in this work. And do not take it amiss if I do not come and say to you: “Peace to you.” One greets when one arrives or departs. But when people are always together, they do not greet one another. To stay permanently is peace. My permanence is. And I am not your guest. You are actually in My arms and I never let you down for a moment. I have so much to tell you about My mortal days! However, well, I will make you happy today and I say to you: “May My peace be with You.” »

Almost immediately afterwards I see the following.

We are once again in the market square in Capernaum. But it is warmer to-day. The market is already over and in the square there are only a few idlers chatting and some children playing.

Jesus, in the middle of His group, is coming from the lake towards the square, caressing the children who come to meet Him and taking an interest in their little snippets of news. A little girl shows a large bleeding scratch on her forehead and accuses her little brother of doing it.

« Why did you hurt your sister? You should not do that. »

« I didn't do it on purpose. I wanted to pick those figs and I took a stick. But it was too heavy and it fell on her… I wanted to pick them also for her… »

« Is that true, Johanna? »

« Yes, it is. »

« Well, then, you can see that your brother did not want to hurt you. On the contrary he wanted to make you happy. So make peace at once and give each other a kiss. Good little brothers and sisters, and all good children, must never bear a grudge. Come on… »

The two weeping children kiss each other. They are both crying: one because of the suffering of the scratch, the other because he is sorry that he caused the pain.

Jesus smiles at the kisses sprinkled with big tears. « Well. Now that I see you are being good, I will pick the figs for you. And without a stick. » No wonder! Tall as He is and with such long arms, He can do it without any trouble. He picks and hands them out.

A woman rushes to the spot. « Take them, take them, Master. I'll bring You some bread at once. »

« No, not for Me. They are for Johanna and Toby. They wanted them. »

« And you have troubled the Master? Oh! How troublesome they are! Forgive them, my Lord. »

« Woman, there was peace to be made… and I got them to make it with the very object of their war: with figs. Children are never a nuisance. They like sweet figs and I… I like their sweet innocent souls. They take so much bitterness away from Me… »

« Master… it's the gentry who don't love You. But we, poor people, we do. And they are very few, whereas we are so many… »

« I know, woman. Thanks for your encouragement. Peace be with you. Goodbye, Johanna! Goodbye, Toby! Be good. Do not harm each other and bear no ill-will. All right? »

« Yes, Jesus » answer the children.

Jesus walks away and He says smiling: « Now that with the help of figs we have cleared the sky of all clouds, we are going to… Where do you think we are going? »

The apostles do not know. Some mention one place, some another. But Jesus shakes His head every time and laughs.

Peter says: « I am giving up. Unless You tell us… I am in a bad mood today. You did not see him. But when we were coming off the boat, there was Eli, the Pharisee. And he was green with envy… more than ever! And the way he looked at us! »

« Let him look. »

« Eh! That's all we can do. But I can assure You, Master, that two figs won't be enough to make peace with him! »

« What did I say to Toby's mother? “I made peace with the very object of their war.” And I will try to make peace by paying My respects to the eminent people in Capernaum, since they feel that I offended them. So someone else will be happy. »

« Who? »

Jesus does not answer the question and He goes on: « Probably I will not be successful, because they are not willing to make peace. But listen: if in all contests the wiser of the two would give in, and instead of persisting in wanting to be right, he came to an agreement, even sharing equally what, I would also admit, might belong to him by full right, the situation would be a better and a more holy one. People are not always harmful on purpose. Sometimes one does harm without wishing to. You must always consider that and forgive. Eli and the others are convinced that they are serving God with justice by acting as they do. With patience and perseverance, and with humility and good grace, I will endeavor to persuade them that new times have come and that God, now, wants to be served according to My teaching. Good grace is the shrewdness of an apostle, perseverance is his weapon, his example and prayers for those to be converted are his success. »

They arrive in the square. Jesus goes straight to the taxation counter where Matthew is making up his accounts and checking the coins, which he divides into various denominations and puts into bags of different colors, and then into a metal coffer, which two servants are waiting to take elsewhere. As soon as the shadow of Jesus' tall figure appears on the bench, Matthew looks up to see who is the late taxpayer. In the meantime Peter, pulling Jesus by His sleeve, says: « There is no payment to be made, Master. What are You doing? »

But Jesus does not listen to him. He stares at Matthew who has risen to his feet immediately in a reverent attitude. A further piercing glance. But it is not the glance of a severe judge, as the last time. It is a glance of a call and love. It enraptures him and fills him with love. Matthew blushes. He does not know what to do or what to say…

« Matthew, son of Alphaeus, your hour is striking. Come. Follow Me! » orders Jesus majestically.

« I? Master, Lord! But do You know who I am? I am saying that for Your sake, not for mine… »

« Come, follow Me, Matthew, son of Alphaeus » He repeats more kindly.

« Oh! How can I have found grace before God? I… I… »

« Matthew, son of Alphaeus, I have seen into your heart. Come, follow Me. » This third invitation is a caress.

« Oh! At once, my Lord! » and Matthew, weeping, comes out from behind the counter, without bothering to pick up the coins spread over it or to close the coffer. Nothing. « Where are we going, my Lord? » he asks when he is near Jesus. « Where are You taking me? »

« To your house. Will you give hospitality to the Son of man? »

« Oh!… but… but what will those who hate You say? »

« I listen to what is said in Heaven and they are saying there: “Glory be to God for a sinner, who is being saved!” and the Father says: “Mercy will rise forever in Heaven and will hover over the earth, and since I love you with an eternal perfect love, I will have mercy also on you.” Come. And with My coming, as well as your heart, may also your house be sanctified. »

« I have already purified it, because of a certain hope I had in my heart… but I could not reasonably believe it might come true… Oh! I with Your holy friends… » and he looks at the disciples.

« Yes. With My friends. Come. I am joining you together. Be like brothers. »

The disciples are so amazed, that they have not yet been able to utter one word. In a group, they have walked behind Jesus and Matthew in the bright sunshine in the square, where there is not a soul left, and then for a short distance along a street which is burning in the blazing sun. There is not a soul in the streets. There is nothing but sunshine and dust.

They go into a house. A beautiful house with a large front door opening on to the road. There is a cool shady hall, beyond which I can see a large yard cultivated as a garden.

« Come in, my Master! Bring water and drinks. »

The servants immediately bring what was requested.

Matthew goes out to give instructions, while Jesus and His disciples refresh themselves. He then comes back. « Come now, Master. The dining room is cooler… My friends are coming… Oh! I want a big celebration! It's my regeneration… It's my… my true circumcision… You have circumcised my heart with Your love… Master, it will be the last feast… No more feasts now for Matthew, the exciseman. No more worldly feasts… Only an internal rejoicing because I have been redeemed and I am serving You… and I am loved by You… How much have I cried… How much, during the past months… I have been crying for almost three months… I did not know what to do… I wanted to come… But how could I, with my unclean soul, come to You, the Holy One?… »

« You were cleansing it with repentance and charity. Towards Me and your neighbor. Peter? Come here. »

Peter, who is so astonished that he has not yet said one word, comes forward. The two men, both elderly, thickset and stout, are now facing each other, and Jesus, handsome and smiling, is between them.

« Peter, you asked Me many times who was the unknown man of the purse which James used to bring us. Here he is, in front of you. »

« Who? That rob… Oh! forgive me, Matthew! Who could have imagined it was you? And that you were able to tear out a piece of your heart every week and make that rich offering, you who were our despair on account of your usury? »

« I know. I taxed you unfairly. But now, I kneel down before you all and I say to you: do not reject me! He has accepted me. Don't be more severe than He is. »

Peter, who sees Matthew at his feet, suddenly lifts him bodily, roughly but affectionately: « Stand up. You don't have to ask me or the others to forgive you. You must ask Him. We… well, never mind, we are more or less thieves like you… Oh! I have said it! Cursed be my tongue! But that's me: I say what I think, and what's in my heart is also on my lips. Come, let us make a pact of peace and love » and he kisses Matthew on his cheeks.

The others do the same, more or less affectionately. I say so, because Andrew is somewhat reserved, out of shyness, and Judas Iscariot is icy. He seems to be embracing a bundle of snakes, so aloof and brief is his embrace.

Matthew hears a noise and goes out.

« Master » says Judas Iscariot « I do not think that is wise. The Pharisees are already accusing You, and You… An exciseman as one of Your disciples! An exciseman… after a prostitute!… Do you want to ruin Yourself? If so, tell us, that… »

« That we may make ourselves scarce, is that it? » concludes Peter ironically.

« Who spoke to you? »

« I know that you are not speaking to me, I, instead, am speaking to your noble soul, to your most pure and wise soul. I know that you, a member of the Temple, smell the stench of sin in us poor people, who are not of the Temple. I am aware that you, a full Judaean, a blend of Pharisee, Sadducee and Herodian, half a scribe and a dash of an Essene – do you wish any more noble words? – I am aware you do not feel at home with us and you are like a magnificent alose caught in a net full of gudgeons. What can we do? He caught us and we… are staying. If you feel uncomfortable… you had better go away. We shall all have some respite. Also He, Who, see? is irritated with me and with you. With me because I lack patience and also… yes, also charity, but even more with you, because you understand nothing, notwithstanding all your alleged attributes, and you have neither charity, nor humility, nor respect. You have nothing, my boy. Except a lot of hot air… and God grant it is harmless. »

Jesus has allowed Peter to speak while He is standing with folded arms, pressed lips, a stem look and piercing eyes. At the end He says: « Have you finished, Peter? Have you also cleansed your heart of the yeast that was inside it? You have done the right thing. Today is Passover for a son of Abraham. Christ's call is like the blood of the lamb on your souls, and where His call is, there will be no more faults. There will be no fault if he who receives it is faithful to it. My call is redemption and is to be celebrated without any yeast. »

Not a word is spoken to Judas. Peter is quiet and mortified.

« Our host is coming back » says Jesus. « And with some friends. Do not let us show them anything but virtue. Who is not capable of doing so, should go out. Do not be like Pharisees, who oppress people with precepts which they cannot keep themselves. »

Matthew comes back in with some other men and the banquet starts. Jesus is in the centre between Peter and Matthew. They speak of many things and Jesus patiently explains to this and that one what they want to know. There are also complaints about the Pharisees who despise them.

« Well, come to Him Who does not despise you. And behave in such a way that at least good people may not scorn you » answers Jesus.

« You are good. But You are the only one! »

« No. These are like Me and then… there is the Father God Who loves him who repents and wants to become his friend again. If man should lack everything, but the Father should still remain, would man's joy not be full? »

The banquet is at the end when a servant nods to the landlord and says something to him.

« Master: Eli, Simon and Joachim are asking to come in and speak to You. Do You wish to see them? »

« Certainly. »

« But… my friends here are excisemen. »

« And that is what they are coming to see. Let them see. It would be no use hiding it. It would not serve any good purpose, because evil tongues would make the situation worse stating that there were also prostitutes here. Let them come in. »

Three Pharisees come in, they look around with ironical smiles and are about to speak. But Jesus, Who has stood up and goes to meet them with Matthew, precedes them. He lays one hand on Matthew's shoulder and says: « O true children of Israel, I salute you and I give you a great piece of news that will bring great joy to your hearts, the hearts of perfect Israelites, pining for the observance of the Law in every heart, to give glory to God. Here: Matthew, the son of Alphaeus, as from to-day is no longer the sinner, the scandal of Capernaum. A mangy sheep of Israel has been cured. Rejoice! After him, other mangy sheep will be cured and your town, in the holiness of which you are so interested, will be pleasing to God for its holiness. He leaves everything to serve God. Give the kiss of peace to the Israelite led astray, who is returning to Abraham's bosom. »

« Is he returning with excisemen? In a joyful banquet? Oh! It is truly a gracious conversion! Look over there, Eli: that is Josiah, the procurer of women. »

« And that is Simon of Isaac, the adulterer. »

« And that one? That's Azariah, the gambling-house keeper, in whose gambling-house Romans and Judaeans play, quarrel and go with women. »

« Master, do You know who these are? Did You know? »

« I did. »

« Well, then, why did you people of Capernaum, you disciples, why did you allow all this? I am surprised at you, Simon of Jonas! »

« And you, Philip, you are known here, and you, Nathaniel, I am surprised! You, a true Israelite! Why did you allow your Master to eat with excisemen and sinners? »

« Is there no more restraint in Israel? » The three Pharisees are thoroughly scandalized. Jesus says: « Leave My disciples in peace. I wanted it. Only I. »

« Obviously! When one acts as a saint and is not a saint, one soon falls into unpardonable errors! »

« And when disciples are taught not to have respect, they do not have respect even for the Law. I am still smarting under the disrespectful laughter at me, Eli, the Pharisee, from this man, a Judaean of the Temple. One teaches what one knows. »

« You are wrong, Eli. You are all wrong. One teaches what one knows. It is true. And I know the Law and I teach those who do not know it, that is, sinners. I know that you are already masters of your souls. Sinners are not. I am looking for their souls, which I give back to them, so that they may bring them to Me again, as they are: sick, wounded, soiled and I may cure and cleanse them. I have come for that. It is sinners that need the Savior. And I have come to save them. Try and understand Me… and do not hate Me without cause. »

Jesus is gentle, convincing, humble… But the three Pharisees are hisped thistles all covered with aculei… and they go out showing disgust.

« They have gone… We will now be criticised everywhere » whispers Judas Iscariot.

« Let them do as they wish. Make sure that the Father does not criticise you. Do not be upset, Matthew, nor you, his friends. Our conscience says: “Do no harm.” That is enough. »

Jesus sits down and it all ends.

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