4th May 1945.
Jesus is in the centre of a beautiful wide square, from which a very wide road leads off, one which is almost an extension of the square as far as the seaside. A galley must have left the harbour only recently and it is taking to the open sea driven by the wind and by the oarsmen. Another one is manoeuvring to enter the harbour, because its sails are being furled and the oars are worked on one side only to veer round into a suitable position. The harbour cannot be seen from the square, but it must be nearby. On the sides of the square there are rows of large houses, the typical walls of which have almost no openings. There are no shops.
« Where are we going now? You wanted to come here, instead of going to the eastern side and this is the heathen district. Who do You think will listen to You here? » says Peter reproachfully.
« Let us go over there, to that corner towards the seaside. I will speak there. »
« You will be speaking to the waves. »
« Also the waves were created by God. »
They go. They are now just at the corner and they can see the harbour into which the galley they saw before is now slowly entering and is moored at its place. Some sailors are idling along the quays. Some fruit-sellers chance going towards the Roman boat to sell their goods. Nothing else.
Jesus, leaning with His back against the wall, really seems to be speaking to the waves of the sea. The apostles, not very happy with the situation, are all around Him, some standing, some sitting on stones scattered here and there, to be used as benches.
« Foolish is the man who, seeing that he is powerful, healthy and happy, says: “What do I need? Whom do I need? Nobody. I need nothing, I am self-sufficient; therefore God's decrees and moral laws mean nothing to me. My only law is to do what I can, without considering whether it is good or bad for other people.” »
A vendor turns round on hearing the sonorous voice and comes near Jesus Who continues: « That is how a man and a woman without wisdom and faith speak. But if that proves a more or less great power, it also evidences a relationship with Evil. »
Some men come off the galley and other boats and come towards Jesus.
« A man, not by words of mouth, but by deeds proves that he is related to God and to Virtue, when he considers that life is more changeable than the waves of the sea, which one moment are calm and soon after stormy. Likewise the power and wealth of today may turn into misery and incapacity tomorrow. Then what will a man do if he is bereft of union with God? How many on the galley were one day happy and mighty and are now slaves and considered criminals! Criminals: therefore twice slaves, of the human law, which is derided in vain because it exists and punishes its transgressors, and of Satan who forever takes possession of criminals, who do not repent and hate their crimes. »
« Hail, Master! You are here!? Do You know me? »
« May God come to you, Publius Quintilianus. See? I have come. »
« And You are here, in the Roman district. I was not hoping to see You again. But I am very happy to hear You. »
« And I am happy, too. Are there many men chained to the oars on that galley? »
« Yes, quite a large number. Mostly war prisoners. Are You interested in them? »
« I would like to approach that boat. »
« Come. Get away from here » he orders the few people who had come near and who draw back at once, mumbling rude remarks.
« You may leave them. I am accustomed to being pressed by crowds. »
« I can take You so far, not any farther. It's a military galley. »
« It is enough. May God reward you. »
Jesus resumes speaking while the Roman, in his splendid uniform, seems to be mounting guard beside Him.
« Slaves by misfortune, that is, slaves only once. Slaves for a lifetime. But every tear that falls on their chains, every blow that strikes them writing pain on their flesh, files their handcuffs, adorns what does not die, opens to them the peace of God, Who is the friend of His poor unhappy children, and Who will give them as much joy as the pain they suffered here. »
Some men of the crew look out from the bulwarks of the galley and listen. None of the galley slaves are there, of course. But Jesus' powerful voice certainly reaches them through the rowlock sockets and it spreads through the quiet air at low tide. Publius Quintilianus is called by a soldier and goes away.
« I want to tell these unhappy men who are loved by God, to be resigned to their misfortune, and to turn their pains into flames that will soon unfasten the chains of the galley and of their lives, ending in a desire for God. Having endured the poor day, which is our life, a dark, stormy, fearful, painful day, they thus enter the day of God, a bright, serene, fearless and joyful day. You will enter the great peace, the infinite freedom of Paradise, o martyrs of a painful destiny, provided you are good in your suffering and you aspire to God. »
Publius Quintilianus comes back with other soldiers and he is followed by a litter carried by slaves, and the soldiers make room for it.
« Who is God? I am speaking to Gentiles who do not know who God is. I am speaking to the children of the peoples subdued who do not know who God is. In your forests, o Gauls, Iberians, Thracians, Germans, Celts, you have a sham god. A soul is naturally inclined to worship, because it remembers Heaven. But you cannot find the True God, Who put a soul into your bodies, a soul equal to the soul we people of Israel have, equal to the soul of the mighty Romans who have subdued you, a soul that has the same duties and the same rights to Good and to which the Good One, that is the true God will be faithful. Be equally faithful to Good. The god or gods that you have worshipped so far, learning his or their names on your mothers' knees; the god of whom you no longer think because you do not feel any comfort coming from him to relieve your suffering, the god that perhaps you hate and curse in your daily despair, is not the True God. The True God is Love and Piety. Were perhaps your gods like that? No, they were not. They were also hard, cruel, false, hypocrites, vicious, thieves. And now they have abandoned you, without the least comfort, which is the hope of being loved and the assurance of a rest after so much suffering. It is so because your gods do not exist. But God, the True God, Who is Love and Piety, and Who I can assure you exists, is He Who made the sky, the seas, the mountains, the forests, the plants, the flowers, the animals and man. He is the One Who inspires conquerors to treat the poor people of the world with mercy and love, as He is Mercy and Love.
O mighty masters, consider that you all come from the same origin. Do not act cruelly against those who by misfortune have come under your power, and be human also to those whom a crime has tied to the bench of a galley. Man sins many times. No man is without sins which are more or less secret. If you considered that, you would be really good to your brothers, who, not so lucky as you are, have been punished for crimes which you also have committed, without, however, being punished for them.
Human justice is such a doubtful thing in judging, that it would be dreadful if divine justice were like it. There are guilty people who do not appear to be so, whereas innocent people are considered guilty. Let us not ask why. It would be too grave an accusation against unjust men who hate their fellow men! There are people who are really guilty, but have been led to perpetrate a crime by overbearing circumstances that somewhat extenuate their crime. Be therefore human, you who are in charge of galleys. Above human justice there is a much higher divine justice. The justice of the True God, Who created kings and slaves, rocks and grains of sand. He watches you; both you on the oars and you who are in charge of the crew; woe betide you if you are cruel without any reason. I, Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the True God can assure you: at your death He will tie you to an eternal galley, and will entrust the demons with a blood-stained lash and you will be tortured and struck exactly as you did. Because, if according to human law a criminal is to be punished, you must not overstep all limits. Remember that. A man who is powerful today may be miserable tomorrow. God only is eternal.
I would like to change your hearts, and above all I would like to untie your fetters, give you back your freedom and send you back to your fatherlands. But, My dear galley-slaves, you are My brothers, you cannot see My face, but your sorely wounded hearts are well known to Me; instead of the freedom and fatherlands, which I cannot give you now, while you are the poor slaves of mighty men, I will give you a greater freedom and Fatherland. For your sake I have become a prisoner Myself, far from My fatherland, I will redeem you by offering Myself in ransom, because you are not the disgrace of the world, as men call you, but the shame of man, who forgets the limits of the rigours of war and justice. I will make a new law for you on the earth and a pleasant abode for you in Heaven. Remember My Name, o children of God, who are weeping. It is the name of a Friend. Repeat it in your suffering. Be sure that, if you love Me, you will have Me, even if we never see one another on the earth. I am Jesus Christ, the Saviour, your Friend. I comfort you in the name of the True God. May peace come to you soon. »
A crowd of people, mainly Romans, have gathered round Jesus, Whose new ideas have astonished everybody.
« By Jove! You have made me ponder on new things, of which I had never thought before. I feel they are true...» Publius Quintilianus looks at Jesus, pensive and moved at the same time.
« It is so, My friend. If man used his brains, he would never go so far as to commit a crime. »
« By Jove, by Jove! Wonderful words! I must remember them! You said: “If man used his brains....” »
« ... he would never go so far as to commit a crime. »
« It is true. You are really a great man, You know? »
« Every man who wanted, could be as great as I am, if he were all one with God. »
The Roman continues his sequence of « by Joves » in increasing admiration.
Then Jesus says to him: « Can I give some solace to those galley-slaves? I have some money... some fruit, some comfort, that they may know that I love them. »
« Give me it. I can do that. On the other hand there is a lady over there who can do much. I will ask her. » Publius goes to the litter and speaks through the curtains that have been slightly drawn. He comes back. « I am authorised to do it. I will see to the distribution, so that the jailors may not take advantage of it. And it will be the only time a soldier of the Empire deals mercifully with war slaves. »
« The first, but not the only time. The day will come when there will be no slaves, and even before that My disciples will go among galley-men and slaves and call them brothers. »
A further sequence of « by Joves » can be heard in the calm air while Publius is waiting to have enough wine and fruit for the galley-slaves. Before going on board the galley he whispers near Jesus' ear: « Claudia Procula is in there. She would like to hear You again. In the meantime she wants to ask You something. Go and see her. »
Jesus goes towards the litter.
« Hail, Master. » The curtain is drawn a little, showing a beautiful woman about thirty years old.
« May the desire for wisdom come upon you. »
« You said that a soul remembers Heaven. Therefore, that thing which You say we have within us, is it eternal? »
« Yes, it is eternal. That is why it remembers God. It remembers the God Who created it. »
« What is the soul? »
« The soul is the true nobility of man. You are famous because you belong to the Claudi family. A man is even more so because he belongs to God. In your veins there is the blood of the Claudi, the mighty family, which, however, had a beginning and will come to an end. In man, because of his soul, there is the blood of God. Because a soul is the spiritual blood – as God is a Most Pure Spirit – of the Creator of man: of the Eternal, Almighty, Holy God. Because of the soul, which is in him and which is alive as long as it is united to God, man is eternal, powerful and holy. »
« I am a pagan. So I have no soul...»
« You do have it. But it has fallen into a state of lethargy. Wake it up to the Truth and to Life...»
« Goodbye, Master. »
« May Justice conquer you. Goodbye. »
« As you have seen, here also I had people listening to Me » says Jesus to the disciples.
« Yes, but with the exception of the Romans, who will have understood You? They are barbarians! »
« Who? All of them. Peace is with them and they will remember Me more than many others in Israel. Let us go to the house where they are offering us hospitality for our meal. »
« Master, that woman is the same one who spoke to me on the day that You cured the sick man. I saw her and I recognised her » says John.
« You can see, therefore, that even here there was someone waiting for us. But you do not seem to be very happy about it. I will have accomplished a great deal when I succeed in persuading you that I have come not only for the Jews, but for all the peoples, and I have prepared you for them all. And I tell you: remember everything of your Master. There is no event, however trifling it may seem, that may not be a lesson for you one day during your apostolate. »
No one replies and a sad smile of pity appears on Jesus' lips.
This morning He had such a smile also for me...
I was in a state of such deep depression that I began to weep over so many things, the tiredness of writing and writing with the firm belief that so much bounty of God and work of little John are utterly useless, not being the least. And weeping I invoked my Master, and when out of kindness He came exclusively for me, I told Him what worried me.
He shrugged His shoulders as if He wished to say: « Forget about the world and its nonsense », and then He caressed me saying: « So what? Would you not like to help Me any more? Does the world not want to know My words? Well, let us repeat them to each other, for My joy in mentioning them to a faithful heart, for yours in hearing them. The weariness of the apostolate!... More depressing than any other work! It deprives the serenest day of its light and the sweetest food of its sweetness. Everything becomes ashes and dirt, nausea and bitterness. But, My dear soul, these are the hours in which we take upon ourselves the weariness, the doubts, the misery of the worldly people who die because they do not possess what we have. And they are the hours in which we do more. I told you also last year. “To what advantage?” wonders the soul submerged by what submerges the world, that is, by the waves sent by Satan. And the world drowns. But the soul nailed to the cross with its God does not drown. It is in darkness for a moment and sinks under the nauseating wave of spiritual tiredness, then it emerges fresher and more beautiful. Your expression: “I am no longer good for anything” is the consequence of such tiredness. You would never be good for anything. But I am always I, and thus you will always be good for your task of mouthpiece. Of course, if I saw that My gift were hidden avariciously like a heavy most valuable gem, or it were used imprudently, or out of indolence it were not protected by means of the safety precautions commanded by human wickedness, in such cases, to guard the gift and the person through whom the gift is granted, I would say: “Enough of that.” And this time without any possible recurrence. Enough for everybody, with the exception of My little soul, which today looks just a little flower in a downpour. And with such caresses can you doubt My love for you! Cheer up! You helped Me in wartime. Help Me again, now... There is so much to be done. »
And I calmed down under the caress of the long hand and of the very kind smile of My Jesus, so candid as when He is all for me.