16th April 1945.
« My Lord, I have done nothing but my duty towards God, towards my master and towards honesty of conscience. I watched that woman while she was my guest and I always found her to be honest. She may have been a sinner. But she is not now. Why should I investigate on a past which she has repented and for which she has atoned? My sons are handsome young men. But she has never shown her face, which is really beautiful, neither did she let them hear her voice. I can say that I heard the tone of her silver voice when she shouted because she had been wounded. Otherwise, the little she asked for behind her veil, and she always asked me or my wife, was whispered in such a low voice that we could hardly understand her. You can see how prudent she was, too. When she was afraid that her presence might be harmful to anyone, she went away… I had promised to defend her and to help her. But she did not avail herself of the opportunity. No. A fallen woman does not behave like that! I will pray for her, as she asked me, also without this souvenir. Keep it, Master. Give it in alms, for her good. If it is given by You, it will obtain peace for her. »
The steward speaks respectfully to Jesus. He is a stout handsome man with an honest countenance. Behind him there are six hefty young men, all like their father, six truly intelligent faces, and there is also his wife, a little gentle slender woman, who is listening to her husband as if he were a god, continuously nodding assent.
Jesus takes the gold bracelet and hands it to Peter saying: « It is for the poor. » He then addresses the steward: « Not everybody in Israel is as upright as you are. You are wise because you can tell good from evil and you follow uprighteousness without counting the cost, whether it is profitable to do so from a human point of view. In the name of the Eternal Father I bless you, your children, your wife and your house. Persevere in such spiritual proclivity and the Lord will always be with you and you will have eternal life. I am going away now, but that does not mean that we shall not meet again. I will come back and you can always come to Me. God grant you peace for what you have done for Me and for that poor creature. »
The steward, his children and wife kneel down and kiss the feet of Jesus, Who after a last blessing gesture goes away with His disciples towards the village.
« And what if those ugly people are still there? » asks Philip.
« It is not possible to forbid people speaking in the streets » replies Judas of Alphaeus.
« No. But we are “anathema” to them. »
« Oh! Never mind! Does it worry you? »
« It only worries me because the Master does not want any violence. And as they know, they take advantage of it » grumbles Peter through his beard. And he certainly thinks that Jesus, Who is speaking to Simon and the Iscariot, does not hear him.
But Jesus does hear and He turns round, partly grave, partly smiling and says: « Do you think that I would be victorious if I used violence? That is a poor human system and serves, only temporarily, for human victories. How long does oppression last? Until by itself it causes reactions in the people held down, which reactions accumulating form greater violence that suppresses the previous oppression. I do not want a temporary kingdom. I want an eternal one: the Kingdom of Heaven. How many times have I told you? How many times will I have to tell you? Will you ever understand? Yes, the moment will come when you will understand. »
« When, my Lord? I am in haste to understand, that I may be less ignorant » says Peter.
« When? When you are ground like corn between the stones of sorrow and repentance. You could, nay, you should understand before. But to do so you should overcome your human nature and let your souls free. But you are not able to make such an effort against yourselves. But you will understand… you will understand. And then you will also understand that I could not make use of violence, a human means, to establish the Kingdom of Heaven: the Kingdom of the spirit. In the meantime do not be afraid. Those men who are worrying you, will not do anything. It is enough for them to have driven Me away. »
« But was it not easier to tell the head of the synagogue to come to the steward's house or to wait for us on the main road? »
« Oh! what a wise man My Thomas is today! Of course it was not easy. Or rather: it was easier but not fair. He showed heroism for Me and was abused in his house because of Me. It is just that I should go to his house to comfort him. »
Thomas shrugs his shoulders and speaks no more.
Here is the village. A large very rural one, with houses in the orchards which are all bare at present and there are many sheepfolds. It must be a suitable place for sheep-rearing, because there are sheep bleating everywhere, coming from or going to the pastures on the plain. There is the usual crossroad, with the square and the fountain in the centre. The house of the head of the synagogue is there. The door is opened by an elderly woman, whose face is clearly marked by tears. And yet, when she sees the Lord, she has a reaction of joy and she prostrates herself blessing.
« Stand up, mother. I have come to say goodbye to you. Where is your son? »
« He is in there… » and she points to a room at the end of the house. « Have You come to console him? I have not been able… »
« So, is he depressed? Is he sorry he defended Me? »
« No, Lord. But he has a scruple. But he will tell You. I will call him. »
« No. I will go. You wait here. Let us go, woman. » Jesus walks across the hall, only a few yards long, He pushes the door and goes into the room, He goes slowly towards a man who is sitting, bent towards the floor, engrossed in anguished meditation.
« Peace to you, Timotheus. »
« What! You! Lord! »
« Yes, it is I. Why are you so sad? »
« Lord… I… They told me that I have sinned. They told me that I am anathema. I examine myself but I do not appear to be so. But they are the holy ones in Israel and I am a poor head of the synagogue. They are certainly right. And now I dare not look up at the angry face of God. And I have such need in this hour! I was serving Him with true love and I was endeavoring to make Him known. I will now be deprived of that opportunity, because the Sanhedrin will certainly curse me. »
« But what is your trouble? That you are no longer the head of the synagogue, or that it is no longer possible for you to speak of God? »
« It is the latter that afflicts me, Master! I think that You mean whether I am sorry for not being the head of the synagogue because of the benefit and honor one gets from it. I do not care for that. I have only my mother, who was born at Aera where she has a little house. She has a roof there and what to live on. I… am young. I will work. But I will never dare speak of God again, for I have sinned. »
« Why have you sinned? »
« They say that I am an accomplice of… Lord! Don't make me speak!… »
« No. I will speak. No, I will not mention it either. But you and I know their charges and we know that they are not true. Therefore you have not sinned. I am telling you. »
« Then, I can still look up at the Almighty? Can I… »
« What, son? » Jesus is extremely kind when he bends over the man, who has suddenly stopped speaking as if he were frightened. « What? My Father is anxious that you should look at Him, He wants you to look at Him. And I want your heart and your thoughts. Yes, the Sanhedrin will strike you. I am stretching out My arms to you and I say: “Come.” Do you want to be My disciple? I see in you what is necessary to be a worker for the eternal Master. Come to My vineyard… »
« Do You really mean that, Master? Mother… did you hear? I am happy, mother! I… bless that suffering because it gives me this joy. Oh! Let us make merry, mother. I will go with the Master, and you will go back to your house. I will come at once, my Lord, Who have banished all my fears, my sorrow and my fear of God. »
« No. You will wait the word of the Sanhedrin, with a peaceful heart, without hatred. Stay in your position as long as you are left in your place. You will then reach Me at Nazareth or Capernaum. Goodbye. Peace be with you and with your mother. »
« Are You not staying in my house? »
« No. I will come to your mother's house. »
« It is not a very loyal village. »
« I will teach them to be faithful. Goodbye, mother. Are you happy now? » Jesus caresses her, as He normally does with elderly women whom, I notice, he calls mother.
« I am happy, Lord. I brought up a son for the Lord. The Lord now takes him from me to be the servant of his Messiah. Blessed be the Lord. And blessed be You, Who are His Messiah. Blessed be the hour You came here. Blessed be my offspring who has been called to Your service. »
« Blessed be the mother who is as holy as Anna of Elkanah. Peace be with you. »
Jesus goes out followed by mother and son. He joins His disciples, says goodbye once again and starts His return journey towards Galilee.