18th February 1945.
« I am surprised that the Baptist is not here » says John to the Master. They are all on the eastern bank of the Jordan, near the famous ford where the Baptist once used to baptize.
« And he is not even on the other bank » points out James.
« They may have caught him again, hoping to get another purse » remarks Peter. « Those crooks of Herod certainly deserve the cross! »
« We shall cross to the other side and ask » says Jesus.
They do cross over and they ask a ferryman of the other bank: « Does the Baptist no longer baptize here? »
« No, he doesn't. He is at the border with Samaria. That is the state we are in! A holy man has to take shelter near the Samaritans to protect himself from the citizens of Israel. Why are we surprised if God abandons us? I am surprised at one thing only: that He does not make a Sodom and Gomorrah of the whole of Palestine!… »
« He does not because of the just people who are there, because of those, who although not yet completely just, are thirsty for justice and follow the doctrine of those who preach holiness » replies Jesus.
« Two, then: the Baptist and the Messiah. I know the former, because I served him also here at the Jordan, ferrying some believers to him, without asking for any payment, because he says that one is to be content with what is just. I thought that it was just that I should be satisfied with what I earned doing other jobs and that it was unfair to ask to be paid for taking souls to be purified. My friends said that I was mad. But after all… Since I was happy with the little I had, who could complain? On the other hand I see that so far I have not died of starvation, and I hope that Abraham will smile at me when I die. »
« You are in the right, man. Who are you? »
« Oh! My name is a great one and it makes me laugh because my only wisdom is concerned with oars. My name is Solomon. »
« You possess the wisdom for judging that who cooperates to a purification must not corrupt it with money. I tell you, that not only Abraham, but the God of Abraham will smile at you as at a faithful son, when you die. »
« Oh! God! Is that true? Who are You? »
« I am a just man. »
« Listen: I told You that there are two in Israel: one is the Baptist, the other the Messiah. Are You the Messiah? »
« Yes, I am. »
« Oh! Eternal mercy! But… one day I heard some Pharisees say… Never mind… I do not want to foul my mouth. You are not what they said. Their tongues are more forked than vipers'!… »
« Yes, I am, and I say to you: you are not very far from the Light. Goodbye, Solomon. Peace be with you. »
« Where are You going, Lord? » The man is dumbfounded at the revelation and is speaking in a completely different tone. Before it was a good natural person who spoke. Now it is an adoring believer.
« I am going to Jerusalem via Jericho. I am going to the Tabernacles. »
« To Jerusalem?… You too? »
« I am a son of the Law, too. I do not repeal the Law. I give it light and strength so that it may be fulfilled in a perfect way. »
« But Jerusalem already hates You! I mean, the great ones, the Pharisees in Jerusalem. I told You that I heard… »
« Leave them alone. They do their duty, what they think is their duty. I do Mine. I solemnly tell you, that until the hour comes, they will not be able to do anything. »
« Which hour, Lord? » ask the disciples and the ferryman.
« The hour of the triumph of Darkness. »
« Will You live until the end of the world? »
« No. There will be a more dreadful darkness than the darkness of the extinguished stars and of our planet, dead with all its inhabitants. And it will take place when men extinguish the Light, which is I. The crime has already been committed by many. Goodbye, Solomon. »
« I will follow You, Master. »
« No. Come to the Bel Nidrasc in three days' time. Peace be with You. »
Jesus sets out amongst His pensive disciples.
« What are you thinking of? Do not be afraid for Me or yourselves. We have passed through the Decapolis and Perea, and everywhere we have seen farmers working in the fields. In some places the land was still covered with stubble and couch-grass, an arid hard land, encumbered with parasite plants, the seeds of which had been carried there from the desert waste by the summer winds. They were the fields of lazy and fast living people. In other places the soil had already been turned by the ploughshare, and stones, bramble and couch-grass had been cleared away by fire and man's toil. And what before was harmful, that is the useless plants, was turned by the purifying fire and man's toil into good manure and useful fertilizing salts. The soil may have suffered because of the pain caused by the share that cut into it and rummaged through it, and because of the biting fire that scorched its wounds. But it will rejoice in spring, more beautiful, saying: “Man tortured me to give me these rich crops which make me beautiful.” And they were the fields of the willing people. And in other places the soil was already soft, also the ashes had been cleared away, it was a real nuptial bed for its fertile union to the seed, that gives so many glorious ears of wheat. And they were the fields of people who were so generous as to reach perfection in activity. Well, the same applies to hearts. I am the Share and My word is the Fire, to prepare men for the eternal triumph.
There are those who, lazy or fast living, do not yet ask for Me, do not want Me, are satisfied with their vices and wicked passions, which look like green floral garments, and are instead bramble and thorns, which tear souls to pieces, and tie them into faggots for the fire in Gehenna. For the time being the Decapolis and Perea are like that… and are not the only ones. They do not ask for miracles, because they do not want My sharp word nor the ardour of My fire. But their hour will come. In other places there are those who accept My sharp word and My ardour, and they think: “It is painful. But it purifies me and will make me productive of good deeds.” They are the ones, who, although they have not the heroism of acting, allow Me to act. It is the first step on My way. And finally there are those who help My work with their own continuous diligent work and they do not walk, but they fly on the way to God. They are the faithful disciples: you and the others scattered throughout Israel. »
« But we are few… against so many. We are humble… against the mighty ones. How can we defend You, should they wish to hurt You? »
« My friends, remember the dream of Jacob. He saw an incalculable multitude of angels ascending and descending a ladder that from Heaven reached down to the Patriarch. A multitude, and yet it was but a part of the angelical cohorts… Well, if even all the cohorts that sing hallelujah to God in Heaven should come down to defend Me, when the hour comes, they will be of no avail. Justice is to be fulfilled… »
« You mean injustice! Because You are holy and if they hurt You and hate You, they are unjust. »
« That is why I say that the crime has already been committed by some. Who broods over thoughts of murder, is already a murderer, who broods over thoughts of theft, is already a thief, who over thoughts of adultery, is already an adulterer, who of betrayal, is already a betrayer. The Father knows and I know. But He allows Me to go. And I go. Because that is what I came for. But the crops will ripen and will be sown once and once again before the Bread and the Wine are given as food to men. »
« There will be a banquet of joy and peace, then! »
« Of peace? Yes. Of joy? Also. But… oh, Peter! oh, My friends! How many tears will be shed between the first and the second chalice! And only after the last drop of the third chalice has been drunk, great will be the joy amongst the just, and certain the peace to men of good will. » (1)
(1) Reference is made here to the Jewish ritual for the celebration of the Passover Supper, described by Mishna, a fundamental text of the Talmud, codified in the – century after Christ. At least four chalices were to be consumed at the Passover Supper. According to the Poem of the Man-God, there was great sadness between the first and the second chalice (probably because of the prediction by Christ of Judas' betrayal). But after the third chalice (that is, the one consecrated into the Blood of Christ) there was great joy and peace (probably an allusion to the wonderful speech of Jesus to the Apostles after the departure of Judas).
« And You will be there. Won't You? »
« I?… Is the Head of the family ever absent from the rite? Am I not the Head of the large family of Christ? »
Simon Zealot, who has never spoken, says, as if he were speaking to himself: « “Who is coming in garments stained in crimson? He is richly clothed, marching so full of strength.” “It is I, who speak of integrity and am powerful to save.” “Why are your garments red, your clothes as if you had trodden the winepress?” “I have trodden the winepress alone. My year of redemption has come.” »
« You have understood, Simon » remarks Jesus.
« I have understood, my Lord. »
The two look at each other; the others look at them astonished and they ask one another: « Is he talking of the red clothes that Jesus is wearing even now, or of the royal purple which He will put on when the hour comes? »
Jesus does not pay attention and does not seem to hear anything else.
Peter takes Simon to one side and asks: « Since you are learned and humble, explain your words to me, who am ignorant. »
« Yes, brother. His name is Redeemer. The chalices of the banquet of peace and joy between man and God, and the earth and Heaven, He will fill them Himself with His Wine, pressing Himself in sufferings because of His love for us all. He will therefore be present, notwithstanding the powers of Darkness will have then apparently extinguished the Light, Which is He. Oh! We must love our Christ very much, because many will refuse to love Him. Let us make sure that in the hour of dereliction, the lament of David may not be applied to us reproachingly: “A pack of dogs (with us amongst them) surrounds Me.” »
« Do you think so?… But we will defend Him, at the cost of dying with Him. »
« We will defend Him… But we are men, Peter. And our hearts will melt even before His bones are disjointed… Yes, we will be like the ice-cold water in the sky that lightning melts into rain and then the wind freezes once again on the ground. We are like that! Our present courage of being His disciples, because His love and His presence condense us into a virile boldness, will melt under the striking lightning of Satan and of the satans… And what will be left of us? Then, after the vile necessary test, faith and love will unite us firmly again and we will be like crystal proof against cuts. But we will be aware of that and we will succeed if we love Him very much while we have Him. Then, I do believe, because of His word, that we shall not be enemies and betrayers. »
« You are a learned man, Simon. I am… illiterate. And I am also ashamed of asking Him so many questions. And I suffer when I hear that there are so many reasons for tears… Look at His face: it seems to be washed by secret tears. Look at His eyes: they look neither at the sky nor at the ground. They are open on a world unknown to us. And how tired and bent His carriage is! He seems to have grown old because of His worries. Oh! I don't like Him like that! Master! Master! Smile. I don't like to see You so sad. You are as dear to me as a son, and I would give You my chest as a pillow, to make You sleep and dream of other worlds… Oh! forgive me if I said to You “son”. It's because I love You, Jesus. »
« I am the Son… That name is My Name. But I am no longer sad. See? I am smiling because you are friendly to Me. Over there, there is Jericho, completely red in the sunset. Two of you should go and look for lodgings. The others and I will go and wait for you beside the synagogue. Go. » And it all ends while John and Judas Thaddeus set out looking for a hospitable house.