26th April 1945.
Jesus is walking ahead of the apostles, alone, close to a hedge of prickly cactus, the leaves of which are shining in the sun and seem to be deriding all the other bare plants. One can see on them a few surviving fruits which age has coloured brick-red and an odd early flower pleasantly bright in its yellow-cinnebar hue.
Behind Him, the apostles are whispering to one another, and I get the impression that they are not really speaking in praise of the Master. All of a sudden Jesus turns round and says: « Keep watching the wind and you will never sow, stare at the clouds and you will never reap. It is an old proverb and I follow it. And you can see that where you were afraid of ill winds and did not want to stop, I found a fertile soil and the possibility of sowing. And notwithstanding “your” clouds, which, may I tell you, you ought not to display where Mercy wants to show His sunshine, I am sure I have already harvested. »
« However, no one asked You for a miracle. Their faith in You is very odd! »
« And do you think, Thomas, that faith is evidenced only by requesting miracles? You are wrong. It is the very opposite. If a man wants a miracle to be able to believe, it means that without the tangible proof of the miracle, he would not believe. Who instead says: “I believe” in somebody else's word, shows the greatest faith. »
« So the Samaritans are better than we are! »
« I am not saying that. But in their state of spiritual disability they have shown a much greater capacity for understanding God than the believers in Palestine. You will find that very often in your lifetime, and I would ask you to remember this instance, so that you will know how to behave with the souls who turn to the faith in Christ. »
« But, Jesus, forgive me for telling You, I think that with all the hatred against You, it does You no good to give rise to new accusations. If the members of the Sanhedrin knew that You have...»
« You may very well say: “loved”, because that is what I have done and I do, James. And since you are My cousin, you can understand that I can but love. I have shown to you that I always love also those who were against Me amongst My kinsfolk and countrymen. And should I not love those people who respected Me, although they did not know Me? The members of the Sanhedrin can do all the harm they like. But it will not be the thought of such future evil that will stop the effusion of My omnipresent and omnieffective love. In any case... even if I did... I would not prevent the Sanhedrin from finding accusations in their hatred. »
« But, Master, You are wasting Your time in an idolatrous country, whilst so many places in Israel are expecting You. You say that every hour is to be consecrated to the Lord. Are the hours spent here not lost? »
« The day spent in gathering the lost sheep is not lost. It is not lost, Philip. It is said: “A man multiplies offerings by keeping the Law... but by having mercy he offers a sacrifice.” It is said: “Give the Most High as He has given to you, generously as your means can afford.” I do that, My friend. And the time devoted to sacrifice is not wasted. I show mercy and I make use of the means I received by offering My work to God. Therefore be calm. In any case... Who wanted a request for a miracle to be convinced that the people in Sychar believe in Me, is now satisfied. That man is certainly following us for some reason. Let us stop. »
A man in fact is coming towards them. He seems to be bent under a large bundle that he is carrying on his shoulders. When he sees the group stop, he stops, too.
« He wants to harm us. He stopped because he saw that we noticed him. Oh! They are Samaritans! »
« Are you sure, Peter? »
« Of course I am! »
« Well, then. You all stay here. I will go and meet him. »
« Never, my Lord. If You go, I will come, too. »
« Come, then. »
Jesus walks towards the man. Peter jogs along beside Him, curious and hostile at the same time. When they are a few yards from the man, Jesus says: « What do you want, man? Whom are you looking for? »
« For You. »
« Why did you not look for Me when I was in town? »
« I did not dare... If You had rejected me in the presence of everybody, I would have suffered too much and would have been ashamed. »
« You could have called Me as soon as I was alone with My disciples. »
« I was hoping to reach You when You were alone, as Photinai did. I also have a grave reason for being alone with You...»
« What do you want? What are you carrying on your shoulders so heavily? »
« My wife. A spirit has taken possession of her and has turned her into a dead body and a dull intelligence. I have to feed her, dress her and carry her like a baby. It happened all of a sudden, without any disease... They call her the “possessed woman.” It causes me much pain. And work. And expenses. Look. » The man lays on the ground his bundle containing an inert body enveloped in a mantle, as if it were a sack, and he uncovers the face of a woman, who is still young. If she did not breathe, one would say that she was dead. Her eyes are closed, her mouth is half open... her face looks as if she had breathed her last.
Jesus bends over the poor woman lying on the ground, looks at her, looks at the man: « Do you think that I can? Why do you believe it? »
« Because You are Christ. »
« But you have not seen anything that proves it. »
« I heard Your word. That is enough. »
« Peter, do you hear him? What do you think I should do now, in the presence of such good faith? »
« Well..... Master..... You..... I..... As You wish, after all...» Peter is very embarrassed.
« Yes, I will do as I wish. Man, look. » Jesus takes the woman by the hand and says: « Go out of her. I want it. »
The woman, so far motionless, is shaken by a dreadful convulsion: at first she is silent, then she shouts and groans and finally bursts into a loud cry, during which she opens her eyes wide as if she were awaking from a nightmare. She then calms down and somewhat bewildered she looks around, staring first at Jesus, the Unknown Man smiling at her.... she then looks at the dust on the road where she is lying, she gazes at a tuft of grass that has grown on the edge of the road and on which the tiny white-red heads of daisies seem pearls about to open out in a halo of rays. She looks at the cactus hedge, at the deep blue sky, and looking round she sees her husband..... who full of anxiety is watching every movement of hers. She smiles and now, fully free, she jumps to her feet and seeks refuge on the chest of her husband, who caresses and embraces her, weeping.
« What is it? How am I here? Why? Who is that man? »
« He is Jesus, the Messiah. You were ill and He has cured you. Tell Him that you love Him. »
« Oh! Yes. Thank You... But what was the matter with me? My children... Simon... I do not remember the past, but I remember I have some children...»
Jesus says: « You need not remember the past. Always remember the present day. And be good. Goodbye. Be good and God will be with you. » And Jesus withdraws quickly, followed by the blessings of both of them.
When He reaches the others who remained behind, close to the hedge, He does not speak to them. But He addresses Peter: « So? You were sure that that man wanted to hurt Me, what are you going to say now? Simon, Simon! How much you still lack to be perfect! How much you all lack! With the exception of their well known idolatry, you have all the sins of those people and arrogance in judging over and above. Let us have our meal now. We cannot reach before night the place I wanted to. We shall sleep in some barn, if we do not find anything better. »
The Twelve, with a sense of reproach in their hearts, sit down without speaking and take their food. It is a peaceful day and the sun shines on the country which slopes towards a plain in mild undulations.
After their meal they stop for a little while, until Jesus stands up and says: « Simon and Andrew, come with Me. I am going to see whether that house is a friendly one or not. » And He goes away while the others stay and are silent, until James of Alphaeus says to Judas Iscariot: « Is that woman coming here not the woman of Sychar? »
« Yes, she is. I know her by her dress. I wonder what she wants. »
« She will be wanting to go her way » replies Peter sulkily.
« No, she is looking in our direction, shielding her eyes with her hand. »
They watch her until she is near them and asks in a low voice: « Where is your Master? »
« He has gone away. Why do you want Him? »
« I need Him. »
« He does not waste His time with women » replies Peter curtly.
« I know. He doesn't with women. But I am the soul of a woman who needs Him. »
« Leave her alone » suggests Judas of Alphaeus. And he replies to Photinai: « Wait. He will soon be back. »
The woman withdraws to a little corner where the road bends and she remains still and silent, while no one pays attention to her. Jesus is soon back and Peter says: « Here is the Master. Tell Him what you want and be quick. »
The woman does not even reply to him, but goes towards Jesus and kneels down at His feet. She is silent.
« Photinai, what do you want from Me? »
« Your help, my Lord. I am so weak. And I do not want to sin any more. I have already told the man. But now that I am no longer a sinner, I know nothing. I do not know what good is. What shall I do? Please tell me. I am mud. But Your feet tread on the road to go towards souls. Trample on my mud, but come to my soul with Your advice. » She is weeping.
« You cannot follow Me, a lonely woman as you are. But if you really do not want to sin any more and you want to learn how not to sin, then go back to your house with a repentant mind and wait. The day will come, when amongst many more women who have also been redeemed, you will be able to be near your Redeemer and learn the science of Goodness. Go. Be not afraid, Persevere in your present will not to sin. Goodbye. »
The woman kisses the ground, stands up, retreats for a few yards, then goes away, towards Sychar.....