19th March 1945.
I see Jesus enter the little town of Doco, at daybreak, on a dull winter morning, and ask an early passerby:
« Where does Marian live, the old mother whose daughter-in-law is dying? »
« Marian? Levi's widow? The mother-in-law of Jerusa, Josiah's wife? »
« Yes. »
« Look, man. At the end of this street there is a square, on one side there is a fountain and three streets branch off from there. Take the street with a palm-tree in its centre and go along it for about one hundred steps. You will find a ditch. Follow it as far as the wooden bridge. Cross it and You will see a small archway. Go through it and you will find that it opens on to a square; you are there. Marian's house is yellowish because of its age. And with the expenses they have to meet, they cannot afford to clean it. You cannot go wrong. Goodbye. Are You coming from far? »
« Not very. »
« But You are a Galilean? »
« Yes. »
« And these? Have You come for the Feast? »
« They are friends. Goodbye, man. Peace be with you. » Jesus leaves the chatterbox, who is no longer in a hurry. And He goes His way followed by the apostles.
They reach the… little square: a small area of very muddy soil, in the centre of which there is a tall young oak, which has grown without any hindrance and is probably very useful in summer. For the time being it only causes melancholy, because hanging over the poor houses, thick and dark as it is, it obstructs light and sunshine.
Marian's house is the poorest. It is large and low, but thoroughly neglected! The front door is full of patches which cover up the splintered parts of the very old wood. A small window has no covering and it shows a black hole like an empty eye socket.
Jesus knocks at the door. It is opened by a little girl about ten years old, pale looking, with untidy hair and red eyes. « Are you Marian's granddaughter? Tell the old mother that Jesus is here. »
The little girl shouts and runs away calling at the top of her voice. The old woman rushes forth followed by six children, along with the previous girl. The tallest seems to be her twin brother; the last ones, two little barefooted haggard-faced children, are hanging on to the old woman's dress, and they can barely walk.
« Oh! You have come! Children, venerate the Messiah! You are welcome to my poor house. My daughter is dying… Don't cry, children, don't let her hear you. Poor creatures! the girls are exhausted through watching at her bedside, because I do everything, but I am no longer fit to watch at night, because I am overcome by sleep and I fall on to the floor. I have not slept in my bed for months. I now sleep on a chair, so that I am near her and the girls. But they are very young and they suffer from exhaustion. The boys gather wood to keep the fire burning and they sell some to buy bread. They are worn out, poor grandsons! But it is not work that kills us, but it's seeing her dying… Don't cry. We have Jesus now. »
« Yes, do not cry. Your mother will recover, your father will come back, you will not have so many expenses and you will not be so hungry. Are these two the last ones? »
« Yes, Lord. Although a weak creature she had twins three times… and her breast became diseased. »
« Some have got too many and some none » grumbles Peter through his beard and he takes a little one in his arms and gives him an apple to keep him quiet. And while the other little one also asks for one and Peter pleases him, Jesus goes with the old woman from the entrance into the yard, then climbs the steps and enters a room where a young emaciated woman is groaning.
« Jerusa, the Messiah is here. You will not suffer any more now. Can't you see that He has really come? Isaac never tells lies. And he told me. Do you believe that since He has come here, He can cure you? »
« Of course, my good mother. Yes, my Lord. But if You cannot cure me, at least let me die. I have horrible pains in my breast. The mouths of my children, to whom I gave sweet milk, have given me back fire and bitterness. I suffer so much, my Lord! And I cost so much! My husband works far away to earn bread for us. My old mother is wearing herself out. I am dying… What will happen to my children when I am dead of my disease and she of exhaustion and privations? »
« There is God for the little birds and also for the children of man. You will not die. Does it hurt you so much here? » Jesus makes the gesture of laying His hand on her breast covered by bandages.
« Don't touch me! Don't increase my pain! » shouts the sick woman.
But Jesus gently lays His thin hand on the inflamed mamma. « You really have a fire in it, poor Jerusa. Motherly love has become fire in your breast. But you do not bear grudge to your husband and to the children, do you? »
« Oh! Why should I? He is good and has always loved me. We loved each other with wise love, and our love bloomed in children… And they… ! I am grieved at leaving them, but… Lord! But my fire is relaxing! Mother! Mother! It is as if an angel were blowing air from Heaven on my torture! Oh! How peaceful! Don't, don't take Your hand away, my Lord. On the contrary, press it harder. Oh! How strong! What a joy! My children! My children here, I want them here! Dinah! Ozias! Anna! Sheba! Melchi! David! Judas! Here! Here! Your mummy is not dying any more! Oh!… » The young woman turns over on the pillows weeping with joy while the children rush in and the old woman, on her knees, not finding anything else in her joy, intones the song of Azariah in the furnace and sings it all in the trembling voice of a deeply moved old woman.
« Ah! My Lord! What can I do for You! I have nothing to honor You! » she says at last. Jesus raises her up and says: « Just allow Me to stay here, for I am tired. And do not tell anybody. The world does not love Me. I must go away for some time. I ask you to be faithful to God and to be silent. You, the young mother, the children. »
« Oh! Don't be afraid! No one calls on poor people! You can stay here without being afraid of being seen. The Pharisees, eh? But… what about eating? I have only a little bread… »
Jesus calls the Iscariot and says to him: « Take some money and go and buy what is necessary. We will eat and rest with these good people until evening. Go and be quiet. » He then addresses the cured woman: « Take your bandages off, get up and help your mother and rejoice. God granted you the grace out of mercy on your virtues as a wife. We will break our bread together because the Most High Lord is in your house today and we must celebrate with great joy. » And Jesus goes out and joins Judas who is about to leave. « Buy plenty, that they may have enough for a few days. While we are at Lazarus', we shall lack nothing. »
« Yes, Master. And, if You will allow me… I have some money of my own. I made a vow to offer it for Your salvation from Your enemies. I will buy bread with it. It is better to give it to these brothers in God than to the greedy people in the Temple. Will You allow me? Gold has always been a serpent to me. I do not want to suffer from its charm any more. Because I feel so well now that I am good. I feel free. And I am happy. »
« Do as you wish, Judas. And may the Lord give you peace. »
Jesus goes to meet His disciples, while Judas goes out and it all ends.