15th April 1945.
Jesus is going across the flat fields at the Clear Water with His apostles. It is a rainy day and the place is deserted. It must be about midday, because the weak sun that appears now and again from behind the grey curtain of clouds, shines down directly.
Jesus is speaking to the Iscariot whom He entrusts with the task of going to the village to buy what is most urgently required.
When He is alone, Andrew goes near Him and, always shy, he says to Him in a low voice. « Will You listen to me, Master? »
« Yes. Come with Me, let us go ahead » and He quickens His step, followed by the apostle, until they are a few yards away.
« The woman is no longer there, Master! » says Andrew sadly. And he explains. « They have beaten her and she ran away. She was wounded and bleeding. The steward saw her. I went ahead, saying that I wanted to see whether there were any snares, but in actual fact I wanted to go and see her at once. I was hoping so much to bring her to the Light! I have prayed so much these past days for that!… Now she has run away! She will get lost. If I knew where she is, I would reach her… I would not say that to the others, but I am telling You, because You understand me. You know that there is no sensuality in this research, but only a desire to save a sister of mine, a desire so strong as to be a torture… »
« I know, Andrew, and I say to you: also now, after what happened, your desire will be fulfilled. A prayer said for that purpose is never lost. God makes use of it and she will be saved. »
« You say so? My pain is somewhat soothed! »
« Would you not like to know what happened to her? Do you not even care if you are not the one who will bring her to Me? Are you not asking how he will succeed? » Jesus smiles kindly while His blue eyes shine brightly when He looks at the apostle who is walking beside Him. One of those smiles and looks which are a secret of Jesus for conquering hearts.
Andrew looks at Him with his kind brown eyes and says: « It is enough for me to know that she will come to You. What does it matter whether it is I or someone else? How will he succeed? You know and I need not know. Your assurance is everything and I am happy. »
Jesus lays His arm on Andrew's shoulders and draws him to Himself in an affectionate embrace, which throws good Andrew into ecstasies. And holding him thus He says: « That is the gift of the true apostle. See, My dear friend, your life and the lives of future apostles will always be like that. Sometimes you will know that you have been the “Saviors”. But in most cases you will save without knowing that you have saved the very people you are most anxious to save. Only in Heaven you will see the people you have saved come to meet you or enter the eternal Kingdom. And the joy of your blessed souls will increase for each person saved. Sometimes you will know while on the earth. It is the joy I grant you to infuse you with greater vigour for new conquests. But blessed be that priest who does not need such spurs to do his duty! Blessed be who does not lose heart because he sees no triumph and does not say: “I am not going to work any more because I get no satisfaction out of it.” Apostolic satisfaction, considered as the only stimulus to work, shows lack of apostolic formation, degrades apostolate, a spiritual mission, to the level of common human work. You must never fall into the idolatry of your ministry. You are not the ones to be worshipped, but it is the Lord your God. The glory of saved souls is only His. The work of salvation is your task, and the glory of being the “Saviors” is to be postponed till you are in Heaven. But you were telling Me that the steward saw her. Tell Me. »
« Three days after we left, some Pharisees came looking for You. Of course, they did not find us. They went round the village and the houses in the country saying they were anxious to see You. But no one believed them. They put up at the hotel, turning out arrogantly all the people who were in it, because, they said, they did not want to have any contact with unknown strangers, who might even profane them. And they went to the house every day. After some days they found the poor woman, who always went there, probably because she was hoping to find You and her peace. And they made her run away, chasing her as far as her refuge in the steward's stable. They did not assail her at once, because he came out with his sons, all armed with cudgels. But in the evening, when she went out, they came back together with other people, and when she was at the fountain, they pelted her with stones, calling her a “prostitute” and pointing her out to the scorn of the village. And as she was running away, they reached her and maltreated her, they tore off her veil and mantle so that everybody could see her, they thrashed her once again, and with their authority they imposed themselves on the head of the synagogue, requesting that he should anathematize her, in order to have her stoned, and he should also anathematize You for bringing her to the village. But he refused to do it and is now awaiting the anathema of the Sanhedrin. The steward tore her from the hands of those rascals and assisted her. But during the night she went away leaving a bracelet with words written on a bit of parchment. She wrote: “Thanks. Pray for me.” The steward says that she is young and beautiful, although she is very pale and thin. He looked for her in the country, because she was badly wounded. But he did not find her. And he does not know how she has been able to go far. Perhaps she is dead, somewhere… and she did not save herself… »
« No. »
« No? She is not dead? Or she is not lost? »
« Her will to redeem herself is already an absolution. Even if she were dead, she would be forgiven, because she sought the Truth, stamping Error down. But she is not dead. She is climbing the first slopes of the mountain of redemption. I see her… She is bent under the tears of repentance; but her tears make her stronger and stronger, whilst her burden becomes lighter and lighter. I see her. She is proceeding towards the Sun. When she has climbed all the mountain, she will be in the glory of the Sun-God. She is climbing… Help her with your prayers. »
« Oh! my Lord! » Andrew is almost amazed at the thought of being able to help a soul in its sanctification.
Jesus smiles even more gently. He says: « We must open our arms and our hearts to the persecuted head of the synagogue and we must also go and bless the good steward. Let us go to your companions and tell them. »
But while walking back to reach the ten disciples who stopped at a distance when they realized that Andrew was having a private conversation with the Master, the Iscariot arrives in great haste. He looks like a huge butterfly running on the meadow, as he moves so fast while his mantle flutters behind him and he makes wide gestures with his arms.
« What's the matter with him? » asks Peter. « Has he gone mad? »
Before anybody can reply to him, the Iscariot, who is now nearby, is able to shout in a choked voice:
« Stop, Master. Listen to me before going to the house… There is a trap. Oh! the cowards!… » and he continues to run. He has now arrived. « Oh! Master. It is no longer possible to go there! The Pharisees are in the village and they go to the house every day. They are awaiting You to hurt You. They are sending away those who come looking for You. They are frightening them with horrible anathemas. What do You want to do? You would be persecuted here and Your work would be frustrated… One of them saw me and attacked me. An ugly bignosed old man who knows me because he is one of the Scribes of the Temple. Because also some Scribes are there. He assailed me, laying hold of me with his claws and insulting me in a hawk-like voice. As long as he insulted and scratched me, look… (and he shows a wrist and a cheek adorned with clear nail marks) I did not mind. But when he spat on You, I caught him by the neck… »
« But Judas! » shouts Jesus.
« No, Master. I did not strangle him. I only prevented him from cursing You and then I let him go. He is now dying with fear for the risk he ran… But, please, let us go away. In any case, no one could come to You any more… »
« Master! »
« But it's terrible! »
« Judas is right. »
« They are like hyenas laying an ambush! »
« Fire of heaven that fell on Sodom, why don't you come back again? »
« Do you know, boy, that you have been brave? What a pity I was not there, too; I could have given you a hand. »
« Oh! Peter! If you had been there, that little hawk would have lost feathers and voice forever. »
« But how did you manage… not to finish the job? »
« Who knows!… A flash in my mind: a thought from I wonder which part of my heart: “The Master condemns violence” and I stopped. And it struck me harder than the impact on the wall against which the Scribe threw me when he attacked me. I felt as if my nerves had been shattered… so much so that afterwards I would not have had enough strength to be pitiless against him. What an effort it is to control oneself!… »
« You have been really brave! Hasn't he, Master? Are you not telling us Your point of view? » Peter is so pleased with Judas' behavior, that he does not notice that Jesus' face, which before was bright, has become severe and dark looking, while He tightens His lips so that His mouth looks smaller.
He opens His lips to say: « I tell you that I feel more disgusted with your way of thinking than with the behavior of the Judaeans. They are miserable people in darkness. You, who are with the Light, are hard, vindicative, grumblers, violent, and you approve of a brutal action as they do. I tell you that you are giving Me evidence that you are exactly the same as you were when you saw Me for the first time. And it grieves Me. With regard to the Pharisees, you must know that Jesus Christ does not run away. You may withdraw. I will face them. I am not a coward. When I have spoken to them and have failed in convincing them, I will withdraw. No one must say that I have not endeavored by all means to attract them to Me. They are children of Abraham, too. I do My duty, till the end. Their condemnation is to be caused only by their ill will and not by any negligence of Mine towards them. » And Jesus goes towards the house, the low roof of which is visible beyond a row of bare trees.
The apostles follow Him with drooping heads, speaking under their breath.
They are at the house and they enter the kitchen in silence. And they busy themselves around the fireplace. Jesus is engrossed in His thoughts.
They are about to eat their food, when a group of people appear at the door. « Here they are » whispers the Iscariot.
Jesus gets up at once and goes towards them. He is so stately that the little group move back for a moment. But Jesus' greeting reassures them: « May peace be with you. What do you want? »
The cowards then think that they can dare everything and presumptuously they enjoin: « In the name of the Holy Law we order You to leave this place, for You are a disturber of consciences, a transgressor of the Law, a corrupter of the peaceful towns in Judaea. Are You not afraid of the punishment of Heaven, You ape of the Just One who baptizes at the Jordan, You protector of prostitutes? Away from the holy land of Judaea! That Your breath may not arrive inside the walls of the holy City. »
« I am not doing anything wrong. I teach as a rabbi, I cure as a thaumaturge, I cast out demons as an exorciser. Such categories exist also in Judaea. And God, Who wants them, has them respected and venerated by you. I am not asking for veneration. I only ask to be allowed to do good to those who suffer from diseases in their bodies, their minds or their souls. Why do you forbid Me? »
« You are possessed. Go away. »
« An insult is not a reply. I asked you why you forbid Me, whilst you allow others. »
« Because You are possessed and You cast out demons and work miracles with the help of demons. »
« And what about your exorcisers? With whose help do they do it? »
« Through their holy lives. You are a sinner. And to increase Your power, you make use of prostitutes, because the possession of the diabolic strength increases in the union. Our holiness has purified the area of Your accomplice. But we will not allow You to stay here, so that You may not attract other women. »
« But is this house yours? » asks Peter who has gone near the Master with a rather menacing look.
« It is not our house. But the whole of Judaea and the whole of Israel are in the holy hands of the pure ones in Israel. »
« And that's you, presumably! » concludes the Iscariot, who has also come to the door, and then sneers at them. He also asks: « And where is your other friend? Is he still trembling? You disgraceful lot, go away! At once. Otherwise I will make you feel sorry for…»
« Be silent, Judas. And you, Peter, go back to your place. Listen, Pharisees and Scribes. For your own good, for the sake of your souls, I beg you not to fight the Word of God. Come to Me. I do not hate you. I understand your mentality and I feel sorry for it. But I want to lead you to a new, holy mentality, capable of sanctifying you and of giving Heaven to you. Do you think that I have come to fight you? Oh! no! I have come to save you. That is why I came. I take you upon My heart. I ask you to love and understand. Since you are the wisest men in Israel, you must understand the truth better than anybody else. Be souls, not only bodies. Shall I kneel down and beg you on My knees? The stake, your souls, is such that I would put Myself under your feet to conquer them for Heaven, because I am sure that the Father would not consider My humiliation a mistake. Say one word to Me who am waiting! »
« Be cursed, that is what we say. »
« All right. It has been said. You may go. I will go, too. » And Jesus turns His back on them and goes back to His seat. He lays His head on the table and weeps.
Bartholomew closes the door so that none of the cruel people who insulted Him, and who are now going away threatening and cursing Christ, may see His tears. There is a long silence then James of Alphaeus caresses Jesus' head and says: « Do not weep. We love You, also on their behalf. »
Jesus looks up and says: « I am not weeping over Myself. I am weeping over them, as they are killing themselves, deaf as they are to every invitation. »
« What shall we do now? » asks the other James.
« We will go to Galilee. We will leave tomorrow morning. »
« Not today, Lord? »
« No. I must say goodbye to the good people here. And you will come with Me. »