13th March 1945.
« How many people! » exclaims Matthew.
And Peter replies: « Look! There are also some Galileans... Ah! Ah! Let us go and tell the Master. They are three honored bandits! »
« They are after me, perhaps. They pester me even here... »
« No, Matthew. A shark will not eat a little fish. It wants a man, a noble prey. And if it cannot really find one, it will gorge a big fish. But you, I and the others, are tiny little fish... trifles. »
« Are you referring to the Master? » asks Matthew.
« Of course! Can't you see how they are looking in every direction? They are like wild beasts scenting the trail of a gazelle. »
« I am going to tell Him... »
« Wait! Let us tell Alphaeus' sons. He is too good. A wasted goodness if swallowed by those mouths. »
« You are right. »
The two go to the river and call James and Judas. « Come here. »
« There are some queer types... Good for the gallows. They have certainly come to annoy the Master. »
« Let us go. Where is He? »
« He is still in the kitchen. Let us be quick, because if He finds out He will object. »
« Yes. And He is wrong. »
« I say that, too. »
They go back to the threshing floor. The group, described as “Galilean”, are speaking condescendingly to other people. Judas of Alphaeus goes near them, as if by chance. And he hears: « ... words are to be supported by facts. »
« And they are! Also yesterday He cured a Roman who was possessed! »
« Horrible! He cured a pagan! What a scandal! Have you heard that, Eli? »
« All faults are in Him: He is friendly with excisemen and prostitutes, and is in touch with heathens and... »
« And He endures scandalmongers, which is also a fault, and the gravest, in my eyes. But since He does not know and does not want to defend Himself, speak to me about it. I am His brother and I am older than He is, and this is another brother, the oldest. Speak. »
« Uh. »
« Why are you getting angry? Do you think that we are speaking ill of the Messiah? Oh! We have come from very far because of His fame. We were also telling these people... »
« Liar! You are so disgusting that I am turning my back on you. »
And Judas of Alphaeus, probably because he feels that his love for his enemies is in danger, goes away.
« Isn't what we said true? Everybody here can tell... »
But not one of the everybody, that is of those to whom the Galileans were speaking, utters a word. They do not wish to lie and they dare not give them the lie. So they remain silent.
« We do not even know what He is like... » says the Galilean Eli.
« You did not insult Him in my house, did you? » asks Matthew ironically. « Or has a disease made you lose your memory? »
The “Galilean” covers himself with his mantle and goes away with the others without replying.
« Coward, » shouts Peter after him.
« They were telling us dreadful things about Him... » explains a man. « But we have seen His deeds. On the other hand we know what they, the Pharisees, are like. Whom should we believe then? The Good One, Who is really good, or the wicked ones, who say they are good, whereas they are a calamity? I know that since I have been coming here, I have changed so much, that I do not recognise myself any more. I was violent and hard on my wife and children, I had no respect for my neighbours, instead now... Everybody at the village says: “Azariah is no longer himself.” So? Has anyone ever heard that a demon makes people good? For whom does he work then? For our holiness? Oh! He is a strange demon indeed if he works for the Lord! »
« You are right, man. And may God protect you because you understand, see and work properly. Carry on like that and you will be a true disciple of the blessed Messiah. You will be a joy for Him Who wants your good and bears everything to lead you to it. Be scandalised only at true evil. But when you see that He works in the name of God do not be scandalised, and do not believe those who would like to persuade you of scandals, even if you see Him doing new things. These are new times. They have come like a flower, which has come up after its roots have been working for centuries. Had He not been preceded by centuries of expectation, we could not have understood His Word. But centuries of obedience to the Law of Sinai have given us the minimum preparation which enables us to inhale all the incense and the new times, a divine flower that the Bounty has granted us to see, and thus purify and fortify ourselves and spray ourselves with the scent of holiness like altars. New times have new systems, which are not contrary to the Law, but are infused with mercy and charity because He is the Mercy and the Love which descended from Heaven. » James of Alphaeus waves his hand to the people and goes towards the house.
« You do speak well! » says Peter amazed. « I never know what to say. I can only say: “Be good. Love Him, listen to Him and believe Him.” I don't really know how He can be satisfied with me! »
« And yet He is very satisfied, » replies James of Alphaeus.
« Do you really mean that or are you saying so out of kindness? »
« It is true. Also yesterday He was telling me, »
« Was He? In that case I am happier today than I was on the day they brought me my bride. But... where did you learn to speak so well? »
« On His Mother's knees and beside Him. What lessons! What words! Only He can speak better than she. But what she lacks in power, she gains in kindness... and penetrates your heart. Oh! Her lessons! Have you ever seen a piece of cloth the corner of which touches a scented oil? It slowly absorbs the scent but not the oil and even if the oil is removed, the scent is still there to say: “I was there.” She is like that. With Her wisdom and grace She imbued us, coarse pieces of cloth which later life washed, and Her perfume is within us. »
« Why does He not make Her come? He said He was going to! We would become good, we would not be such blockheads... at least I would not. And also these people... In Her presence they would be good, also those wicked persons who come now and again... »
« Do you think so? I don't. We would improve and also the humble people. But the mighty and the wicked ones!... Oh! Simon of Jonas! Don't ascribe your honest feelings to other people! You would be disappointed... Here He is coming. Don't let us say anything. »
Jesus comes out of the kitchen holding the hand of a little boy, who toddles along with Him, eating a piece of bread seasoned with olive oil. Jesus adapts His stride to the little legs of His friend. « I made a conquest! » He says happily. « This four year old man, whose name is Asriel, told Me that he wants to be a disciple and wants to learn everything: to preach, to cure sick children, to make the vine shoots bear bunches of grapes also in December and then he wants to climb up a mountain and shout to the whole world: “Come, the Messiah is here!” Is that right Asriel? »
The smiling child replies: « Yes » and continues eating his piece of bread.
« You are hardly capable of eating! » Thomas teases him. « You are not even capable of saying who the Messiah is. »
« He is Jesus of Nazareth. »
« And what does “Messiah” mean? »
« It means... it means: the Man Who was sent to be good and to make us all good. »
« And what does He do to make us good? And since you are a little rascal, what will you do? »
« I will love Him. And I will do everything. And He will do everything, because I love Him. If you do that, you will become good, too. »
« And you have had your lesson, Thomas. You have the commandment: “Love Me and you will do everything, because I will love you if you love Me; and love will work everything in you. »
« The Holy Spirit has spoken. Come, Asriel. Let us go and preach. » Jesus is so happy when He is with a child, that I would like to take all the children to Him and make Him known to all the children. Instead there are so many who do not even know Him by name!
He passes in front of the veiled woman and before reaching her He says to the child: Say to that woman: « Peace be with you. »
« Why? »
« Because she is like you when you fall and hurt yourself. And she is weeping. But if you tell her that, it will pass. »
« Peace be with you, woman. Don't cry. The Messiah told me. If you love Him, He will love you and cure you, » shouts the child while Jesus drags him away without stopping. Asriel has the stuff missionaries are made of. Even if for the time being his sermons are somewhat... untimely and he says more than he was asked to say.
« Peace to you all. »
« It is said: “You shall not bear false witness.”
What is there more nauseating than a liar? Can we not say that he joins cruelty to impurity? Of course, we can. A liar, I am talking of a liar in grave matters, is cruel. He kills a reputation with his tongue. So he does not differ from a murderer. Nay: he is more than a murderer. A murderer kills only the body. A liar kills also a good name, the memory of a man. He is, therefore, twice a murderer. He is an unpunished murderer because he does not shed blood, but he injures the reputation both of the person calumniated and of the whole family. And I will not take into consideration the case of the person who brings about the death of his neighbour by swearing false witness. The coal of Gehenna is already piled upon such person. I am only talking of those who make false insinuations by telling lies and stir up other people against an innocent person. Why do they do that? Either out of hatred, without any reason, or out of greed to get what another man possesses, or out of fear.
Hatred. Only a friend of Satan hates. A good person does not hate. Never. For no reason whatsoever. Even if he is scorned and damaged, he forgives. He never hates. Hatred is the witness that a lost soul bears of itself and is the best witness in favor of an innocent man. Because hatred is the revolt of evil against good. Who is good does not need to be forgiven.
Greed. He has what I have not got. I want what he has. But only by disparaging him I can obtain his position. And I am going to do it. Will I be lying? What does it matter? Will I be stealing? What does it matter? Will I ruin a whole family? What does it matter?” Of the many questions that the shrewd liar asks himself, he forgets, he wants to forget one question. This one: “And if I should be found out?” He does not ask himself such question, because a prey to pride and greed, he is like one whose eyes are closed. He does not see the danger. He is also like a drunk man. He is intoxicated with a satanic wine and does not consider that God is stronger than Satan and takes vengeance of the calumniated man. The liar has given himself to Falsehood and foolishly relies on its protection.
Fear. Many a time man slanders to excuse himself. It is the most common form of falsehood. Evil has been done. We are afraid it might be found out as our deed. Then, using and abusing the esteem in which we are still held by other people, we upset the situation, and we saddle someone else, of whose honesty only we are afraid, with the evil deed we accomplished. We also do it, because at times our neighbour has been the unintentional witness of our evil action, and we want to be secure from his eventual witness. So we accuse him to make him unpopular and thus, if he should speak, no one may believe him.
Behave properly! And you will never need such falsehood. Do you not consider, when you lie, what a heavy burden you take upon yourselves? It is made of subjection to the evil spirit, of perpetual fear of being found out, and of the necessity of remembering the lie, also after years, in all the circumstances and details in which it was told, without contradicting oneself. The labor of a galley-slave! If it only helped to gain Heaven! Instead it serves only to prepare a place in hell!
Be frank. How lovely are the lips of a man who does not know falsehood! He may be poor, coarse, unknown? He is, is he? But he is still a king. Because he is sincere. And sincerity is more regal than gold and diadems, and elevates one above the crowds more than a throne, and procures a greater court of good people than a monarch has. Intimacy with a sincere man gives safety and comfort. Whereas friendship with an insincere person, or even to be near such a person, causes a feeling of uneasiness. Since the truth soon comes to light in a thousand ways, why does he who lies not consider that afterwards he will always be suspected? How can one believe what he says?
Even if he speaks the truth, and who hears him wants to believe him, there is always a doubt: “Is he lying also now?” You may ask: “Where is the false witness?” Every lie is a false witness. Not only legal ones.
Be simple, like God and a child. Be truthful every moment of your lives. Do you want to be considered good? Be truly so. Even if a scandalmonger should wish to speak evil of you, one hundred good people will say: “No. It is not true. He is good. His deeds speak of him.”
In one of the sapiential books it is said: “A scoundrel, a vicious man, he goes with a leer on his lips... Deceit in his heart, always scheming evil, he sows dissension... There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that His soul abhors: a haughty look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that weaves wicked plots, feet that hurry to do evil, a false witness who lies with every breath, a man who sows dissension among brothers... His own lips are to blame when the wicked man is entrapped. A false witness is nothing but deceit. Lips that tell the truth abide firm forever, the tongue that lies lasts only for a moment. The words of a backbiter sound simple, but they pierce man's heart. The enemy brooding over treason is known by his speech. Do not trust him when he whispers, because he carries seven evils in his heart. He deceitfully conceals his hatred, but his wickedness will be disclosed... The man who digs a pit falls into it, the stone comes back on him that rolls it.”
The sin of falsehood is as old as the world and the thought of the wise man concerning it is unchanged, unchanged is also the judgement of God on those who lie. I say: have only one language. May your “yes” be always “yes” and your “no” be always “no”, also before mighty ones and tyrants. And you will receive great reward in Heaven for it. I say to you: be spontaneous like a child who by instinct goes towards him whom he perceives to be good without seeking anything but goodness. And he says what his own goodness makes him think, without considering whether he says too much and whether he may be reproached for it. »
« Go in peace. And may the Truth become your friend. »
Little Asriel, who has been sitting all the time at Jesus' feet, looking up at Him like a little bird that listens to the song of its father, makes a loving gesture: he rubs his little face against Jesus' knees and says to Him: « You and I are friends because You are good and I love You. Now I will say that too » and forcing his voice to make himself heard from one end to the other of the large room, gesticulating as he saw Jesus doing, he says: « Listen, everybody. I know where the people go who do not tell lies and love Jesus of Nazareth. They climb up Jacob's ladder. Up, up, up... together with the angels and they stop when they find the Lord, » and he smiles happily, displaying his little teeth.
Jesus caresses him and goes among the crowd. He takes the little one back to his mother and says: « Thank you, woman, for giving Me your child. »
« He has bothered You... »
« No. He has given Me love. He is a little one of the Lord and may the Lord be always with him and with you. Goodbye. »
It all ends.