14th February 1945.
The whole country of Galilee is busy in the joyful vintage work. Men, climbing up high ladders, pick the grapes from pergolas and vines; women, their heads laden with baskets, take the golden and ruby grapes to where the crushers are waiting. Songs, burst of laughter, jokes are exchanged from hillock to hillock and from garden to garden. The smell of must is everywhere. Bees are humming and seem intoxicated, so fast do they fly about and dance from the remaining vine shoots, still laden with grapes, to the baskets and vats where the grapes sought by them get lost in the thick juice of the must. Children, their faces painted with juice like fauns, scream like swallows, running on the grass, in the yards and in the streets.
Jesus is going to a town not far from the lake. It is a town on the plain; it looks like a wide riverbed between two remote mountain ranges stretching northwards. The plain is well irrigated because a river (I think it is the Jordan) flows across it. Jesus is going along the main road and is cheered by many shouting: « Rabbi! Rabbi! » Jesus passes by and blesses.
Before the town there is a rich estate, at the entrance to which there is an elderly couple waiting for the Master. « Come in. When they finish working, they will all gather here to hear You. How much joy You bring us! It spreads from You as the lymph spreads through the shoots and becomes a joyful wine for our hearts. Is that Your Mother? » asks the landlord.
« Yes, She is. I brought Her here to you, because She also is now in the group of My disciples. The last to be received, the first in faithfulness. She is the Apostle. She preached Me even before I was born… Mother, come. One day, it was in the first times when I was evangelising, this mother did not make Me miss You, so kind she was to Your tired Son. »
« May the Lord grant you His grace, merciful woman. »
« I have grace, because I have the Messiah and You. Come. The house is cool and the light is not so bright. You will be able to rest. You must be tired. »
« My only tiredness is the hatred of the world. But to follow Him and listen to Him! It has been My desire since My earliest childhood. »
« Did You know that You were to be the future Mother of the Messiah? »
« Oh! no. But I hoped to live long enough to hear Him and serve Him, the last of His evangelized followers, but faithful! oh! faithful! »
« You now hear Him and serve Him. And You are the first. I am a mother, too, and I have wise children. When I hear them speak, my heart leaps with pride. And what do You feel hearing Him? »
« A gentle ecstasy. I sink into My nothingness, and Goodness, which is He Himself, lifts Me up with Him. I then see in a simple glance the eternal Truth, and it becomes the blood and flesh of My spirit. »
« Blessed be Your heart! It is pure and that is why it can understand the Word. We are harder because we are full of faults… »
« I would like to give My heart to everybody for that, that love might enlighten you to understand. Because, believe Me, it is love, and I am the Mother and therefore love is natural in Me, it is love that makes all undertakings easy. »
The two women go on speaking, the old one near the ever so young Mother of my Lord, while Jesus talks to the landlord near the vats, into which the teams of vintagers pour the grapes. The apostles, sitting in the shade of a jasmin bower, enjoy bread and grapes with good appetite.
The sun is about to set and the work slowly comes to an end. The husbandmen are by now all in the large rustic yard, where there is a strong smell of crushed grapes. Other farmers have come from nearby houses.
Jesus climbs a little staircase that leads up to a gallery wing of the house, under which sacks of victuals and agricultural implements are stored. How Jesus smiles climbing those few steps! I see Him smiling while His soft hair is gently blowing in the evening breeze. I wonder why He is smiling so brightly. The joy of His smile, like the wine of which the landlord was speaking, enters my heart, very sad today, and comforts it.
(It is not the first thing that relieves me today. Even this morning, and you (1) saw me weeping because of a sharp spiritual sorrow, He, at Holy Communion, appeared to me as usual when you say: « Here is the Lamb of God ». But He did not just look at you lovingly, Father, and smile at me. He departed from your side, on the left hand side of the bed and passed to the right one, with His long, slightly rolling gait, caressing me with His long hands and saying: « Do not weep! »… But now His smile fills me with peace.)
(1) It is to be remembered that Maria Valtorta often addresses her spiritual Father in the « Poem ».
He turns round. He sits down on the last step at the top of the stair-case, which becomes a gallery for the more fortunate listeners, that is the owners of the house, the apostles and Mary, Who, always humble, had not even tried to climb up to that place of honor, but is led there by the landlady. She is sat one step below Jesus, so that Her fair-haired head is at the height of Jesus' knees, and as She is sitting sideways, She can look at His face with Her look of a dove in love. Mary's delicate profile stands out neatly, as in marble, against the dark wall of the rustic gallery.
Farther down, there are the apostles and the owners. All the husbandmen are in the yard, some standing, some sitting on the ground, some have climbed on to the vats or up the fig trees which are at the four corners of the yard.
Jesus speaks slowly, sinking His hand into a large sack of corn placed behind Mary's back: He seems to be playing with the grain, or to be caressing it with pleasure, while gesticulating calmly with His right hand.
« I was asked: “Come, Jesus, to bless the work of man.” And I have come. I bless it in the name of God. Because, every work, if honest, deserves to be blessed by the eternal Lord. But I said it: the first condition to receive blessings from God is to be honest in all one's actions.
Now let us consider together when and how actions are honest. They are honest when they are done having eternal God present in one's soul. Can one ever sin if one says: “God is looking at me. God's eyes are on me and He does not miss the least detail of my actions”? No. One cannot. Because the thought of God is a salutary thought and diverts man from sin more than any human threat.
But must one only fear eternal God? No. Listen. You were told: “Fear the Lord your God.” And the Patriarchs and the Prophets trembled when the Face of God, or an angel of the Lord, appeared to their just souls. Truly, in time of divine wrath, the apparition of the Supernatural must make hearts tremble. Who, even if as pure as a child, does not tremble before the Powerful One, before Whose eternal brightness are the adoring angels, prostrated in the heavenly hallelujah? God mitigates with a veil of pity the unbearable refulgence of an angel to allow the human eye to look at it without having eyes and mind burned out. What must it therefore be to see God?
But it is so, as long as the wrath lasts. But when it is replaced by peace and the God of Israel says: “I have sworn it. And I will keep My pact. Here is He Whom I am sending, and it is I, although not being I, but My Word, Who becomes flesh to be Redemption”, then love must take the place of fear, and nothing but love is to be given to eternal God, joyfully, because the time of peace has come for the earth and between God and man. When the first spring winds spread the pollen of the vine flowers, the farmer must still be watchful, because many injuries may be caused to the fruit by inclement weather and insects. But when the happy day of vintage comes, then all fears cease and hearts rejoice in the certainty of the harvest.
The Shoot of the stock of Jesse has sprung, preannounced by the Prophets. He is now amongst you: a rich bunch which brings you the juice of eternal Wisdom and only asks to be picked and squeezed to be Wine for men. A wine of endless delight for those who will feed on Him. But woe to those who having had this Wine within reach will reject it, and three times woe to those who after feeding on it will reject it or mix it within themselves with the food of Mammon.
And now I am going back to the first idea. The first condition to have God's blessing, both in spiritual and human deeds, is honesty of intentions.
He is honest who says: “I abide by the Law not to be praised by men, but out of loyalty to God.” He is honest who says: “I follow Christ not because of the miracles He works, but for the advice of eternal life He gives me.” He is honest who says: “I work not for a greedy gain, but because also work has been set by God as a means of sanctification on account of its formative, mortifying, preservative and elevating values. I work to be able to help my neighbor, I work to be able to make the wonders of God known, Who of a tiny grain makes a tuft of ears, of a grape-stone makes a huge vineyard, of a fruitstone makes a tree, and of me, a man, a poor nothing, who was made out of nothing by His will, He makes His assistant in the unremitting work of perpetuating cereals, vines and orchards, as well as populating the earth with men.”
There are people who work as hard as pack animals, but their only religion is to increase their wealth. If their more unfortunate companion dies of privations and fatigue beside them; if the children of that poor man die of starvation, what does it matter to the greedy hoarder of riches? There are others, who even harderhearted, do not work but make other people work and they accumulate wealth by their sweat. And others squander what they meanly extort from other people's work. Their work is certainly not honest. And do not say: “And yet God protects them.” No. He does not protect them. Now they enjoy an hour of triumph. But they will soon be struck by divine rigour, which both in time and in eternity will remind them of the commandment: “I am the Lord your God. Love Me above all things and love your neighbor as yourself.” Oh! If those words resound eternally, they will be more dreadful than the lightning of Sinai!
You are told many words, too many. I will tell you only these: “Love God. Love your neighbor.” They are like the work in the vineyard in spring, that makes the vine shoots fruitful. The love of God and of your neighbor is like the harrow that clears the soil of the harmful herbs of selfishness and of evil passions; it is like the hoe that digs a circle round the shoot to isolate it from infectious parasite herbs and to nourish it with cool irrigation water; it is like the shears that remove what is superfluous and confine the strength, directing it to where it will bear fruit; it is a tie that fastens and supports with a robust pole, finally it is the sun that ripens the fruits of good will and makes them fruits of eternal life. You are now jubilant because it has been a good year, the crops are plentiful and the vintage rich. But I solemnly tell you that this joy of yours is less than a tiny grain of sand as compared to the immeasurable jubilation that will be yours when the eternal Father will say to you: “Come, My fruitful shoots grafted into the true Vine. You have helped in all kinds of work, also in painful ones, to bear abundant fruit, and you are now coming to Me, rich with sweet juices of love for Me and your neighbor. Blossom in My gardens forever and ever.”
Aim at that eternal happiness. Pursue that good with loyalty, with gratitude bless the Eternal Father Who assists you in reaching it. Bless Him for the grace of His Word, bless Him for the grace of a good harvest. Love the Lord with gratitude and do not fear. God gives one hundred to one to those who love Him. »
Jesus would have finished. But they all shout: « Bless us, bless us! Your blessing upon us! » Jesus stands up, He stretches out His arms and in a thundering voice He says: « May the Lord bless you and keep you, may His Face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover His Face to you and bring you peace. The Name of the Lord be in your hearts, in your homes and in your fields. »
The little crowd which had gathered utter cries of joy and applause for the Messiah. They then become quiet and open out to let pass through a mother, who is carrying in her arms a paralytic child, about ten years old. At the foot of the staircase, she holds him out, as if she were offering him to Jesus.
« She is one of my servants. Her boy last year fell from the terrace and broke his back. He will lie on his back all his life » explains the landlord.
« She has been hoping in You all these months… » adds the landlady.
« Tell her to come to Me. »
But the poor woman is so excited, that she seems to be paralyzed. She trembles all over and trips on her long dress while climbing up the high steps with her son in her arms.
Mary, compassionate, stands up and goes down to meet her. « Come. Do not be afraid. My Son loves you. Give Me your child. It will be easier for you to climb up. Come, My daughter. I am a Mother, too » and She takes the child, smiling kindly at him, and then goes up with Her piteous load weighing 'on Her arms. The boy's mother follows Her crying.
Mary is now before Jesus. She kneels down and says: « Son! For the sake of this mother! » Nothing else.
Jesus does not even ask the usual question: « What do you want Me to do for you? Do you believe that I can do it? » No. Today He smiles and says: « Woman, come here. »
The woman goes beside Mary. Jesus lays His hand on her head and says only: « Be happy » and He has not yet finished saying the words, when the boy, who so far had been lying heavily on Mary's arms, with his legs hanging loose, sits up all of a sudden and with a cry of joy: « Mummy! », he runs to take refuge in his mother's lap.
The shouts of hosanna seem to be penetrating the sky now all red at sunset.
The woman, clasping her son to heart, does not know what to say and she asks: « What must I do to tell You that I am happy? »
And Jesus, caressing her once again: « You must be good and love God and your neighbor and bring your son up in this love. »
But the woman is not yet content. She would like to… she would like to… and at last she asks: « A kiss of Yours and of Your Mother's to my child. »
Jesus bends down and kisses him and Mary does likewise. And while the woman is going away happy, surrounded by cheering friends, Jesus explains to the landlord: « Nothing else was needed. He was in My Mother's arms. Even without any word I would have cured him, because She is happy when She can relieve distress and I want to make Her happy. »
And Jesus and Mary exchange one of those glances that only one who has seen them can understand, so deeply meaningful are they.