18th March 1945.
There are no pilgrims at the Clear Water. It is a strange sensation to see the place without any people stopping there for the night or taking their meals on the threshing-floor or under the shed. Everything is clean and tidy today, without any of the traces that crowds usually leave.
The disciples spend their time in manual work, some make wickerwork fish traps, some dig out the ground to make drains for the rain water and thus prevent it from stagnating on the threshing-floor. Jesus is standing in the middle of a meadow crumbling bread for some sparrows. There is not a soul as far as the eye can see, notwithstanding the clear day.
Andrew, who is coming back from an errand, goes towards Jesus and says: « Peace to You, Master. »
« And to you, Andrew. Come here with Me for a moment. You can stay here near these little birds. You are like them. See? When they know that who goes near them loves them, they are no longer afraid. See how confident, safe and happy they are. Before they were almost near My feet. Now that you are here they are on the look-out… But look… There is a bolder sparrow which is coming forwards. It has realized that there is no danger. And the others are following it. See how they eat to their fill? Is it not the same with us, the children of the Father? He sates us with His love. And when we are sure that we are loved and are asked to be His friends, why should we be afraid of Him or of ourselves? His friendship must make us bold also with men. Believe Me, only a criminal must be afraid of his fellow creature. Not a just man like you. »
Andrew blushes but does not say anything.
Jesus draws him to Himself and smiling says to him: « You and Simon should be put into one crucible to be melted and formed again. You would then be both perfect. And yet… If I told you that although you are so different now, you will be perfectly identical to Peter at the end of your mission, would you believe Me? »
« If You say so, it must be certain. I will not even ask how that may happen. Because everything You say is true. And I will be happy to be like my brother Simon, because he is just and makes You happy. Simon is clever! And I am so happy that he is clever. He is also brave and strong. But also the others! … »
« And are you not? »
« Oh! I… You are the only one who can be satisfied with me… »
« And I am the only one to realize that you work noiselessly but more deeply than the others. Because amongst the twelve disciples, there are some who make as much noise as the work they do. There are some who make much more noise than the work they do, and there are some who do nothing but work. A humble, active, ignored work… The others may think that they do nothing. But He Who sees, knows. There are such differences because you are not yet perfect. And there will always be such differences amongst future disciples, also amongst those who will come after you, until the angel will thunder: “Time no longer exists.” There will always be ministers of Christ who are equally able to work and to draw upon themselves the eyes of the world: they are the masters. And unfortunately there will be also those who are nothing but noise and exterior gestures, false shepherds with a histrionic attitude… Priests? No, they are mimers. Nothing else. Gestures do not make the priest, neither does the cassock. Neither worldly knowledge nor mighty worldly relations make the priest. It is his soul. So great a soul as to crush the flesh. My priest is completely spiritual… That is how I dream him. That is what My holy priests will be like. The spirit has neither the voice nor the attitude of the stage player. It is insubstantial because it is spiritual and therefore it cannot wear pepla or masks. It is what it is: spirit, fire, light, love. It speaks to the spirits. It speaks with the chastity of eyes, of gestures, of words, of deeds. Man looks. And he sees a fellow-creature. But what does he see above and beyond the flesh? Something that makes him slow down his hurried steps, that makes him meditate and conclude: “This man, who is like me, has only the appearance of man. He has the soul of an angel.” If he is a misbeliever, he concludes: “Because of him I believe that there is a God and a Heaven.” And if he is lustful, he says: “This Fellow creature of mine has heavenly eyes. I will restrain my sensuality so that I may not desecrate them.” And if he is a miser, he decides: “Because of the instance of this man who is not attached to riches, I will stop being a miser.” And if he is a man quick to anger or a cruel fellow, in front of a gentle person, he will become more quiet and calm. That is what a holy priest will be able to do. And, believe Me, amongst the holy priests there will always be some ready to die for the love of God and of their neighbor, and they will do it so quietly, after practising perfection throughout their lives also very quietly, that the world will not even notice them. But if the whole world does not become utter lewdness and idolatry, it will be through those heroes of silence and loyal activity. And their smiles will be like yours: pure and timid. Because there will always be some Andrews. They will exist through the grace of God and for the fortune of the world! »
« I did not think I deserved such words… I had done nothing to provoke them… »
« You helped Me to attract a heart to God. And it is the second one that you have led towards the Light. »
« Oh! Why did she speak! She had promised… »
« No one has spoken. But I know. When your tired companions rest, there are three sleepless people at the Clear Water. The apostle of the silent active love for his brother sinners. The creature urged by her soul towards salvation. And the Savior Who prays and keeps watch, Who waits and hopes… My hope: that a soul may find salvation… Thank you, Andrew. Continue like that and be blessed for it. »
« Oh! Master!… Do not say anything to the others. When I am alone with a person, speaking to a leprous woman on a deserted beach, or speaking here to a woman whose face I do not see, I am still capable of doing very little. But if the others, and above all Simon, know about it and they want to come… then I am not able to do anything at all. You must not come either… I am shy of speaking before You. »
« I will not come. Jesus will not come. But the Spirit of God has always been with you. Let us go home. They are calling us for our meal. »
And it all ends between Jesus and His gentle disciple.
They are still eating and they have already lit the lamp, because night falls very rapidly and because of the bitterly cold wind it is advisable to keep the door closed, when someone knocks at the door and John's gay voice is heard.
« Welcome! »
« You were quick! »
« What is the news? »
« You are heavily laden! »
They are all speaking at the same time, helping the three to take off the very heavy bags which they are carrying on their backs.
« Slowly! »
« Let us say hello to the Master! »
« Just a moment! »
There is a bright homely excitement due to the joy of being all together.
« I greet you, My friends. God gave you good weather. »
« Yes, Master. But not good news. I foresaw that » says the Iscariot.
« What's the matter? What happened?… » Their curiosity is aroused.
« Let them have some refreshment first » says Jesus.
« No, Master. We will give You and the others what we have first. And the first thing… John, give the letter. »
« Simon has it. I was afraid of spoiling it in my bag. »
The Zealot, who has been struggling so far with Thomas who wanted to serve him with water for his tired feet, comes forward saying: « I have it here, in my belt purse. » And he opens a pocket inside his wide red leather belt and pulls out a roll which has now been flattened out.
« It's from Your Mother. When we were near Bethany, we met Jonathan who was going to Lazarus' house with the letter and many other things. Jonathan is going to Jerusalem because Chuza is putting his house in order… Herod is perhaps going to Tiberias… and Chuza does not want his wife to stay with Herodias » explains the Iscariot while Jesus undoes the knots of the roll and unrolls it.
The apostles whisper while Jesus reads the words of His Mother smiling blissfully.
« Listen. » He then says. « There is also something for the Galileans. My Mother writes:
“To Jesus, My gentle Son and Lord, peace and blessing. Jonathan, a servant of the Lord, has brought Me kind presents from Johanna, who asks her Savior to bless her, her husband and the whole household. Jonathan tells Me that he has been instructed by Chuza to go to Jerusalem to open his house in Zion. I bless the Lord for that, because I can thus let You have My words and blessings. Also Mary of Alphaeus and Salome send their love and blessings to their sons. And since Jonathan has been extremely kind, there are also the regards of Peter's wife to her far away husband and also the relatives of Philip and Nathanael send their kind regards. All your women, o dear far away men, have worked with needles, looms, or in the kitchen gardens and are sending you clothes for the winter months, and sweet honey, reminding you to take it with hot water in the damp evenings. Take care of yourselves. That is what your mothers and wives have told Me and I am telling you. Also My Son. We have not sacrificed ourselves for nothing, believe us. Enjoy the humble gifts that we, the disciples of Christ's disciples, are offering to the servants of the Lord, and give us only the joy of hearing that you are all well.
Now, My beloved Son, I think that for almost a year You have not been entirely Mine. And I seem to have gone back to the time when I knew that You were already here, because I felt Your little heart beat within My womb, but I could also say that You were not yet here, because You were separated from Me by a barrier which prevented Me from caressing Your beloved body and I could only adore Your spirit, o My dear Son and adorable God. Also now I know that You are here and that Your heart beats with Mine, never separated from Me even if we are not together, but I cannot caress, hear, serve and venerate You, the Messiah of the Lord and His poor maid.
Johanna wanted Me to go and stay with her, so that I would not be alone during the Feast of Lights. But I preferred to remain here with Mary, and light the lamps, for You and for Me. But if I were the greatest queen on the earth and I could light a thousand or ten thousand lamps, I would still be in darkness because You are not here. Whereas I was in a bright light in that dark grotto, when I pressed You to My heart, My Light and Light of the world. This will be the first time that I will say to Myself: 'My Child is a year older today.' and I have not My Child with Me. And it will be sadder than Your first birthday at Matarea. But You are fulfilling Your mission and I Mine. And we are both doing the will of the Father and we are acting for the glory of God. That wipes all tears.
Dear Son, I know what You are doing from what I am told. As the waves carry the voice of the open sea as far as a solitary enclosed gulf, so the echo of Your holy work for the glory of God reaches our quiet little house and Your Mother rejoices and trembles, because if they all speak of You, not everyone expresses the same hearty feelings. Friends and people You have helped, come to Me and say: 'Blessed be the Son of Your womb', and also Your enemies come to pierce My heart saying: 'Anathema on Him'. But I pray for the latter ones because they are poor unhappy people, even more than the pagans who come and ask: 'Where is the magician, the divine one?' and they do not realize that, while erring, they state a great truth, because You really are a priest and great, according to the ancient meaning of the word and You are Divine, My Jesus. And I send them on to You saying: 'He is in Bethany'. Because I know that I have to say so, until You give Me different instructions. And I pray for those who come seeking health for what is to die, that they may find salvation for their eternal souls.
Please do not worry about My sorrows. They are compensated by the great joy of the words of those whose bodies and souls have been cured. But Mary has had a greater sorrow than Mine; I am not the only one to be spoken to. Joseph of Alphaeus wants You to know that in one of his recent business trips to Jerusalem he was stopped and threatened because of You. They were men of the Great Council. I think he must have been pointed out by one of the great men here. Otherwise who would have known that Joseph is the head of the family and Your brother? I am telling You this, because as a woman I have to obey, But for what concerns Me I say to You: I would like to be near You, to comfort You. But I leave it to You to decide, since You are the Wisdom of the Father, without taking into account My tears. Your brother Simon was on the point of coming to see You after that incident. And he wanted Me to go with him. But he was held back by the bad weather and even more by the fear he might not find You, because we were told, as a threat, that You cannot stay where You are.
Son! My adored and holy Son! I am keeping My arms raised, as Moses did on the hilltop, praying for You in Your battle against the enemies of God and Yours, My Jesus, Whom the world does not love. Leah of Isaac died here. And I was very sorry because she was always a good friend of Mine. But My greatest sorrow is that You are far away and not loved by people. I bless You, My Son, and as I give You peace and blessing, I ask You to give Yours to Mother.” »
« Those impudent fellows reach even that house! » shouts Peter.
And Judas Thaddeus exclaims: « Joseph… might have kept the news to himself. But… I am sure he was dying to let people know! »
« The howl of hyenas does not frighten living people » states Philip.
« The trouble is that they are not hyenas, they are tigers. They are after a living prey » says the Iscariot, who then says to the Zealot: « Tell them what we have learned. »
« Yes, Master. Judas was right in being afraid. We went to see Joseph of Arimathea and Lazarus, and we went there as well known friends of Yours. Then Judas and I, as if we were very old friends, went to see some of his friends in Zion… And… Joseph and Lazarus tell You to go away from here at once during these feast days. Don't insist, Master. It is for Your own good. Judas' friends then said: “Be careful, they have already decided to come and catch Him so that they may accuse Him, during these feast days when there is no people. Let Him retire for some time and thus disappoint those vipers. Doras' death has roused their poison and their fear. Because they are afraid besides being full of hatred. And fear causes them to see what does not exist and hatred makes them lie.” »
« They know everything about us! It's a hideous situation! And they distort and exaggerate everything! And when they think that there is not enough to curse us, then they start inventing. They make me feel sick and discouraged. I feel like going into exile, like going… I don't know… far away. Away from Israel which is nothing but sin… » The Iscariot is depressed.
« Judas, Judas! A woman to bear a child to the world carries it for nine lunations. Do you want to be quicker in giving the world the knowledge of God? Not nine, but thousands of lunations will be required. And as at each lunation the moon waxes and then wanes appearing to us as a new moon, then as a full moon, then as a waning moon, so in the world there will always be growing, full and decreasing phases of religion. But even when religion will seem to be dead, it will be alive, exactly as the moon is still there also when she seems to have disappeared. And those who have worked at this religion will have full merits even if only a tiny minority of faithful souls will be left on the earth. Cheer up! Do not be easily roused in triumph, or easily depressed in defeat. »
« But… let us go away. We are not yet strong enough. And we feel that in front of the Sanhedrin we would be afraid. At least I would. I don't know about the others… But I don't think it would be wise to try. Our hearts are not like the hearts of the three young men at Nebuchadnezzar's court. »
« Yes, Master. It is better. »
« It's wise. »
« Judas is right. »
« You see that also Your Mother and relatives… »
« And Lazarus and Joseph. »
« We should not let them come at all. »
Jesus stretches out His arms and says: « Let it be done as you wish. But later we will come back here. You have seen how many people come. I will not force your souls or put them to the test. In fact, I feel that they are not yet ready… But let us see the work of the women. »
But while everybody with bright eyes and a joyful voice pulls out from the haversacks the parcels containing clothes, sandals, and the foodstuffs sent by the mothers and wives, and they all endeavor to get Jesus interested in admiring so many good things, He remains sad and self-absorbed. He reads His Mother's letter over and over again. Taking with Him a small lamp, He has withdrawn to the farthest corner from the table on which the clothes, apples, small jars of honey, small cheeses are, and shading His eyes with a hand, He seems to be meditating. But He is suffering.
« Look, Master, what a lovely tunic and mantle with hood my wife, poor woman, has made for me. I wonder how much she has worked on them, because she is not so skilled as Your Mother » says Peter, who is overjoyed while holding his treasures in his arms.
« Lovely, yes, they are lovely. She is a clever wife » says Jesus kindly. But His thoughts are far from the articles shown to Him.
« Our mother has made two tunics for us with thick woven cloth. Poor mother! Do You like them, Jesus? They are a lovely shade, aren't they? » says James of Zebedee.
« Really beautiful, James. It will suit you. »
« Look. I bet these belts were made by Your Mother. Only She can embroider like that. And I say that this double veil to protect us from sunshine was also made by Mary. It is like Yours. The tunic is not. Mother certainly wove it. Poor mother! After all the tears she shed last summer, she cannot see very well and often breaks the thread. What a dear! » And Judas of Alphaeus kisses the dark red heavy tunic.
« You are not very cheerful, Master » remarks Bartholomew at last. « You are not even looking at the things which were sent to You. »
« He cannot be » points out Simon Zealot.
« I am thinking… Well… Make the parcels up again. Sort everything out. It is not the time to be caught and we shall not be caught. At dead of night, in the moonlight, we will go towards Doco and then to Bethany. »
« Why to Doco? »
« Because there is a dying woman there, who is waiting to be cured by Me. »
« Are we not calling at the steward's? »
« No, Andrew. We are not calling anywhere. So no one will have to tell lies saying that they do not know where we are. If you are anxious not to be persecuted, I am anxious not to cause trouble to Lazarus. »
« But Lazarus is waiting for You. »
« And we are going to him. Or rather… Simon, will you give Me hospitality in the house of your old servant? »
« With pleasure, Master. You know everything, now. I can therefore say to you, on behalf of Lazarus, of myself and of him who lives in the house: it is Yours. »
« Let us go. Hurry up, so that we may be at Bethany before the Sabbath. »
And while they all scatter with lamps to do what is necessary for the sudden departure, Jesus is left alone.
Andrew comes back in, he goes near Jesus and asks: « What about that woman? I am sorry to leave her now that she was about to come… It is wise… You saw that… »
« Go and tell her that we will be coming back after some time and that in the meantime she should remember your words… »
« Your words, Lord. I only repeated Yours. »
« Go. Hurry up. And do not let anybody see you. Truly in this world of bad people, those who are innocent must look like wicked people… »
Everything ends on this great truth.