5th February 1945.
Jesus is with His thirteen disciples on the lake of Galilee. There are two boats with seven people in each. Jesus is in Peter's, the first one, with Peter, Andrew, Simon, Joseph and His two cousins. In the other boat there are the two sons of Zebedee with Judas Iscariot, Philip, Thomas, Nathanael and Matthew.
The boats are sailing fast before a cool Boreas, which ripples the water very lightly and the ripplemarks are outlined by a thin veil of foam which resembles fine lace-work on the blue turquoise of the beautiful clear lake. The boats leave behind them two wakes, which meet almost immediately, thus forming a bright sparkling froth, most pleasant to be seen, as they sail in company, Peter's boat being only a few yards ahead of the other one.
From boat to boat, only a few yards apart, the disciples exchange remarks and comments. I thus understand that the Galileans are illustrating and explaining to the Judaeans the various spots of the lake, their trades, the important people who live in the area, the distance from their starting point to the place of arrival, that is from Capernaum to Tiberias. The boats are not being used for fishing, they are only carrying passengers.
Jesus is sitting on the prow and is evidently enjoying the beauties of nature around Him, the quietness, the blue sky and lake, the latter encircled by green shores, where many white villages stand out against the green of the countryside. Almost lying on a bundle of sails, in the very front of the prow, He pays no attention to the conversation of the disciples, and often lowers His head looking at the sapphire mirror of the lake, as if He were studying its depth and were interested in the creatures living in the pellucid water. I wonder what He is thinking about… Peter addresses Him twice to find out whether the sun is annoying Him as it has already risen from the east and is shining full on the boat, and is already warm, although not hot; and the second time he asks Him if He wants some bread and cheese like the others. But Jesus does not want a tent or any bread. And Peter leaves Him alone.
A few small leisure boats, almost the size of a shallop, but fitted with purple canopies and soft cushions, cut across the course of the fishermen's boats. Shouts, bursts of laughter and the smell of perfumes go by with them.
They are full of beautiful women, many merry Romans, some Palestinians and a few Greeks. This I gather so from the words of a thin slender young man, as brown as an almost ripe olive, smartly dressed in a short red tunic, bordered by a heavy Greek fret and held tight at his waist by a belt, which is the masterpiece of a goldsmith. He says: « Hellas is beautiful! But not even my Olympic fatherland has this blue and these flowers. It is really not surprising that the goddesses left it to come here. Let us spread flowers, roses and our compliments to the goddesses, no longer Greek but Judaean… » And he spreads on the women in his boat the petals of magnificent roses and he throws some into a nearby boat.
A Roman replies to him: « Spread them, spread them, Greek! But Venus is with me. I do not spread roses, I pick them from this beautiful mouth. It is sweeter! » And he bends down to kiss the open smiling lips of Mary of Magdala, who is leaning on cushions with her blond head in the lap of the Roman.
By now the little boats are in front of the two big ones and both because of the inexperience of the rowers and because of a sudden gust of wind, the boats almost collide.
« Be careful, if your lives are dear to you » shouts Peter, who is wild when he veers, shifting the helm, to avert a collision. Insults from the men and shouts of fear from the women go from boat to boat. The Romans insult the Galileans saying: « Get out of the way, you dirty Jewish dogs. »
Peter and the other Galileans do not let the insults pass and Peter in particular, flushing like a cockerel, standing on the edge of the boat, which is pitching heavily, with his hands on his hips, gives tit for tat and does not spare Romans or Greeks or Jews or Jewesses. Nay, he assails the women with such curteous titles that I prefer to omit. The squabble lasts until the tangle of keels and oars is loosed and they all go their own ways.
Jesus has not moved from His place. He has remained sitting, His mind far away, without a glance or a word to the boats or the passengers. Leaning on one elbow, He has continued to look at the far away shore, as if nothing was happening. Also a flower is thrown at Him, I do not know by whom, certainly by a woman, because I can hear a woman laugh when it is being thrown. But He… does not stir. The flower almost hits His face, then falls on to boards and ends up under the feet of the furious Peter. When the little boats are about to move away, I see the Magdalene stand up and follow the indication of one of her partners in vice, that is, she turns her beautiful eyes towards the serene face of Jesus, Whose mind is so far away. How far from this world that face is!…
« Say, Simon! » asks Judas Iscariot. « Since you are a Judaean like me, tell me. That beautiful blonde in the Roman's lap, the one who stood up a few minutes ago, isn't she the sister of Lazarus of Bethany? »
« I don't know » is the sharp reply of Simon the Cananean. « I came back amongst the living only a short while ago, and she is a young woman… »
« You are not going to tell me that you do not know Lazarus of Bethany, I hope! I know very well that you are his friend and that you have been there also with the Master. »
« And if it were so? »
« And since it is so, I say that you must know also the sinner who is Lazarus' sister. Even the dead know her! People have been talking about her for the last ten years. She began to be light-headed as soon as she reached the age of puberty. But for over four years! You must be aware of the scandal, even if you were in the “valley of the dead”. The whole of Jerusalem talked about her. And Lazarus shut himself up at Bethany… He did the right thing, after all. No one would have set foot in his magnificent house in Zion, where she also came and went. I mean: no holy living person. In the country… well!… In any case she is always around, but never at home… She is certainly at Magdala now… With a new lover… Are you not answering me? Can you give me the lie? »
« I am not giving you the lie. I am silent. »
« So it is she! You have recognized her, too! »
« I saw her when she was a child and she was pure then. I have seen her again now… But I recognize her. Although lewd, she is the living image of her mother, a holy woman. »
« Well, then, why were you on the point of denying that she is your friend's sister? »
« We always endeavor to conceal our sores and those of the people we love. Particularly when one is honest. »
Judas gives a forced laugh.
« You are quite right, Simon. And you are honest » remarks Peter.
« And did you recognize her? You certainly go to Magdala to sell your fish, and I wonder how many times you have seen her!… »
« My boy, you must know that when your back is broken after an honest day's work, you are not interested in women. You only love the honest bed of your wife. »
« Eh! Everybody likes beautiful things! At least, if for no other reason than to look at them. »
« Why? To say: “It is no food for my table”? No, certainly not. I have learned many things from the lake and from my job, and this is one of them: a fish of fresh and calm water is not fit for salt water or a vorticose water course. »
« What do you mean? »
« I mean that everybody should keep his place, to avoid dying an evil death. »
« Did the Magdalene make you feel as if you were dying? »
« No, I am tough. But tell me: are you not feeling well, perhaps? »
« Me? Oh! I didn't even look at her!… »
« You liar! I am sure that you were consumed with envy because you were not on this boat, to be closer to her… you would have put up even with me, to be nearer… So much so, that you are honoring me with your conversation, because of her, after so many days of silence. »
« Me? She would not have even seen me! She was always looking at the Master! »
« Ah! Ah! Ah! And he says that he was not looking at her! How could you see where she was looking, if you did not look at her? »
They all laugh at Peter's remark, except Judas, Jesus and Simon Zealot.
Jesus puts an end to the discussion which He feigns He has not heard by asking Peter: « Is that Tiberias? »
« Yes, Master, it is. I will now haul. »
« Wait. Can you stop in that quiet small bay? I would like to speak to you only. »
« I will measure the depth and let You know. » And Peter lowers a long pole into the water and moves slowly towards the shore. « Yes, I can, Master. Shall I go closer to the shore? »
« As far as you can. There is shade and solitude. I like it. »
Peter steers towards the shore. The land is about fifteen yards away, at most. « I would now touch. »
« Stop. And you come as close as possible and listen. »
Jesus leaves His place and sits in the middle of the boat, on a plank placed athwartwise. The other boat is in front of Him, while the disciples in His boat are sitting round Him.
« Listen. You may think that I do not pay attention to your conversation and that consequently I am a lazy teacher who does not look after his pupils. You must know that My soul does not leave you one moment. Have you ever seen a doctor who studies a patient affected by a disease not yet identified and presenting contrasting symptoms? He keeps an eye on him, after visiting him, he watches him both when he sleeps and is awake, in the morning and in the evening, when he speaks and when he is silent, because every symptom may help to identify the hidden disease and suggest a cure. I do the same with you. I hold you by means of invisible but most sensitive threads, which are grafted into Me, and they transmit to Me even the lightest vibrations of your ego. I allow you to believe that you are free, that you may reveal yourselves for what you are, which happens when a schoolboy or a maniac thinks he is not being watched by his overseer.
You are a group of people, but you form a nucleus, that is, one thing only. You are therefore a unit, which is formed as a body and which is to be studied in its individual features, which are more or less good, in order to shape it, amalgamate it, round it off, increase it in its polyhedric sides, and make it a perfect unit. That is why I study you. And I study you also when you are sleeping.
What are you? What are you to become? You are the salt of the earth. That is what you must become: the salt of the earth. With salt, meat is preserved from putrefaction and many other victuals as well. But if the salt were not salty, could it be used to salt? I want to salt the world with you, to have it seasoned with a celestial flavour. But how can you salt if you become tasteless?
What causes you to lose a celestial flavour? That which is human. Sea water, that is: the water of the real sea, is so salt that it is not good to drink, is it? And yet, if one takes a cup of sea water and pours it into an amphora of fresh water, then one can drink it, because the sea water is so diluted that it has lost its biting strength. Mankind is like fresh water mixed to your celestial saltness. Again, suppose we could take a little stream of water from the sea and get it to flow into this lake, would you be able to trace that tiny stream? No. It would have been lost in the fresh water. That is what happens to you when you immerse, or rather, you submerge your mission in so much humanity.
You are men. I know. And who am I? I am He Who has all possible strength. And what do I do? I communicate such strength to you after calling you. But what is the use of communicating it to you, if you dissipate it under avalanches of human influences and sentiments?
You are, you must be the light of the world. I chose you: I, the Light of God amongst men, that you may continue to illuminate the world, after I have gone back to the Father. But can you illuminate if you are smoky lamps which have gone out? No. Nay, with your smoke – an ambiguous smoke is worse than a completely extinguished wick – you would darken the dim light that the hearts of men may still have.
Oh! Miserable are those who will apply to the apostles seeking God, and instead of light will receive smoke! It will be scandal and death for them. But the unworthy apostle will be cursed and punished. Your destiny is a great one! And a great tremendous commitment as well! But remember that who has been given more, is obliged to give more. And you have been given the most, both in the way of education and of gifts. You are educated by Me, the Word of God, and you receive from God the gift of being “the disciples”, that is, the continuators of the Son of God.
I would like you to meditate upon your election, to examine yourselves thoroughly, to weigh yourselves… and if anyone feels that he is suitable only to be a believer – I will not even say: if anyone feels he is but an unrepentant sinner; I only say: if anyone feels that he is suitable only to be a believer – but does not feel the strength of an apostle, let him withdraw.
The world is large, beautiful, sufficient, varied enough for those who love it! It offers all the flowers and all the fruit suitable for the stomach and the senses. I offer but one thing: holiness. And on the earth it is the meanest, the poorest, the roughest, the thorniest and the most persecuted thing that exists. In Heaven its meanness is changed into immensity, its poverty into riches, its thorniness into a flowery carpet, its hardness into a smooth pleasant path, its persecution into peace and beatitude. But here it is a hero's labor to be a saint. That is all I can offer.
Are you willing to remain with Me? Do you not feel like staying? Oh! Do not be amazed or sorry. You will hear Me ask you this question many times. And when you hear it, please think that My heart weeps asking it, because it is wounded by your insensibility to your vocation. So examine your own consciences, then judge with honesty and sincerity, and then make up your minds. Make up your minds, so that you may not become reprobates. Say “Master, friends, I realize that I am not made for this life. I kiss you goodbye and I say to you: pray for me.”
Better so than to betray. Better so… What do you say? Betray whom? Whom? Me. My cause, which is the cause of God, because I am one thing with the Father. And yourselves, yes, you would betray yourselves, you would betray your souls, giving them away to Satan. Do you wish to remain Jews? I will not force you to change. But do not betray. Do not betray your souls, Christ and God. I swear that neither I, nor those faithful to Me will criticise you, neither will they have you despised by the faithful crowd. A short while ago one of your brothers said a great word: “We always endeavor to conceal our sores and those of the people we love.” And he who would go away, would be a sore, a cancer, which after growing in our apostolic body, would come off, because of its total gangrene, leaving a painful mark which we would carefully keep hidden.
No, do not cry, you who are the better ones. Do not cry. I bear you no grudge, neither am I intolerant seeing you so slow. You have just been chosen and I cannot expect you to be perfect. I will not even demand it after some years, after repeating one hundred or two hundred times the same things in vain. Nay, listen: in a few years' time you will be less fervent than now, that you are neophytes. Such is life… such is mankind… You lose impetus after the first leap. But (Jesus springs to His feet) I swear to you that I will win. Purified by natural selection, fortified by a supernatural mixture, you, better ones, will become My heroes. The heroes of Christ. The heroes of Heaven. The power of the Caesars will be like dust as compared to the regality of your priesthood. You, poor fishermen of Galilee, you, unknown Judaeans, you, mere numbers in the mass of present men, will become more famous, more acclaimed, more venerated than Caesar, and than all the Caesars the world ever had or will have. You will be known and blessed in the near future and in the most remote centuries, until the end of the world. I appoint you to such sublime destiny, because you are honestly willing. And I will outline the essential features of the apostolic character, so that you may be fit for your destiny.
Be always vigilant and ready. Your loins should be always girded up, and your lamps always lit, as if you were to leave any moment or to run to meet someone who is arriving. You are in fact, and will be until your death, the indefatigable pilgrims looking for wanderers; and until death puts them out, your lamps are to be held high up and lit to show the way to misguided souls coming towards the fold of Christ.
You are to be faithful to the Master Who appointed you to such service. That servant will be rewarded whom the master always finds vigilant and upon whom death comes in the state of grace. You cannot and must not say: “I am young, I have time for this and for that, and then I will think about my Master, my death, my soul! Young people die like old ones, and strong men like weak ones. And old and young, strong and weak are equally subjected to the assaults of temptation. Be careful, because the soul can die before the body and you may unknowingly carry around a putrid soul. The dying of a soul is so imperceptible! Like the death of a flower. Not a cry, not a convulsion… it inclines its flame like a tired corolla, and goes out. Later, sometimes after a long time, sometimes immediately after, the body realizes it is carrying a verminous corpse within itself, it becomes mad with fear and commits suicide to avoid such union… Oh! it does not avoid it! It falls on to a swarm of snakes in Gehenna with its very verminous soul.
Do not be dishonest like brokers or pettifoggers who side with two opposite customers, do not be as false as politicians, who call this man and that man a “friend”, whereas they are enemies to both of them. Do not act in two different ways. You cannot laugh at God or deceive Him. Behave with men as you do with God, because an insult to man is an insult to God. Let God see you as you wish to be seen by men.
Be humble. You cannot reproach your Master for not being so. I set the example. Do as I do. Be humble, gentle, patient. That is how the world is conquered. Not by violence or force. Be strong and violent against your vices. Extirpate them, at the cost of breaking your hearts. Some days ago I told you to watch over your eyes. But you do not know how to do it. I tell you: it would be better to become blind by pulling out covetous eyes, rather than become lustful.
Be sincere. I am the Truth: both in sublime and human things. I want you to be genuine, too. Why be deceitful with Me, or your brothers, or your neighbor? Why cheat people? Proud as you are, why do you not say: “I do not want people to find out that I am a liar”? And be sincere with God. Do you think you can deceive Him with long manifest prayers? Oh! poor children! God sees into your hearts!
Be chaste in doing good. Also in giving alms. An exciseman knew how to be so before his conversion. And are you not capable? Yes, I am praising you, Matthew, for your chaste weekly offer, which only the Father and I knew was yours and I am quoting you as an example. Also that is a form of chastity, My friends. Do not disclose your goodness as you would not undress a young daughter before a crowd of people. Be virgins in doing good. A good act is virgin when it is free from any connection with thoughts of pride and praise, or from incentives of pride.
Be faithful to your vocation to God. You cannot serve two masters. A nuptial bed cannot hold two brides at the same time. God and Satan cannot share your embraces. Man cannot, neither can God nor Satan, share a treble embrace contrasting with the three embracing one another. Be averse to the lust for gold as well as to the lust for the flesh, to the lust for the flesh as to the lust for power. That is what Satan offers you. Oh! his deceitful riches! Honor, success, power, wealth: obscene markets where your souls are the legal tender. Be satisfied with little. God gives you what is necessary. It is enough. He guarantees that for you as He does for the birds of the air, and you are worth much more than birds. But He wants reliance and moderation from you. If you rely on Him, He will not disappoint you. If you are moderate, His daily gift will be sufficient for you.
Do not be heathens, by being of God only by name. Those are heathens who love gold and power, to appear as demigods, more than they love God. Be holy and you will be like God in eternity. Do not be intolerant. Since you are all sinners, behave to others as you would like others to behave to you: that is, with mercy and forgiveness.
Do not judge. Oh! do not judge! You have only been with Me for a short time, and yet you have seen how many times I, although innocent, have been wrongly judged and accused of non-existent sins. A bad judgement is an insult. And only true saints do not pay back in the offender's coin. Refrain therefore from offending so that you may not be offended. Thus you will not fail in your duties either to charity, or to holy, dear, kind humility, which is Satan's enemy, together with chastity. Forgive, always forgive. Say: “I forgive, Father, that I may be forgiven by You of my numberless sins.”
Improve hourly, with patience, perseverance, heroism. Who told You that it is not painful to become good? Nay, I tell you: it is the greatest labor. But the reward is Heaven and it is therefore worthwhile getting exhausted in such labor.
And love. Oh! What words shall I use to persuade you to love? None is suitable to convert you to love, poor men, instigated by Satan! So I say: “Father, hasten the hour of purification. This land and this flock of Yours are dry and diseased. But there is a dew that can cleanse and soothe them. Open its fountain. Open Me, Father. Here I am burning with the desire to fulfill Your will, which is also Mine and of the Eternal Love. Father, Father, Father! Look at Your Lamb and be Its Sacrificer.” »
Jesus is really inspired. Standing, His arms stretched out in the shape of a cross, His face raised towards the sky. In His linen tunic and with the blue lake behind Him, He seems a praying archangel. The vision ends on this gesture of His.