11th May 1945.
Jesus is about to arrive in Capernaum by boat. The sun is almost setting and the lake is sparkling with red and yellow hues.
While the two boats are manoeuvring to draw near the coast, John says: « I will go to the fountain and bring You some water for Your thirst. »
« The water is good here » exclaims Andrew.
« Yes, it is good. And your love makes it even better for Me. »
« I will take the fish home. The women will prepare them for supper. After, will You speak to us and to them? »
« Yes, Peter, I will. »
« It is more pleasant now to come back home. Heretofore we looked like so many nomads. But now, with the women, there is more order, more love. And then! When I see Your Mother, I no longer feel tired. I don't know...»
Jesus smiles and is quiet.
The boat grounds on the shingly shore. John and Andrew, who are wearing short undertunics, jump into the water and with the help of some young men they beach the boat and place a board as a wharf. Jesus is the first to come off, and He waits until the second boat is beached, in order to be together with all His disciples. Then, walking with slow steps they go towards the fountain. A natural fountain of spring water, that wells up just outside the village, and plentiful, cold and silvery runs into a stone basin. The water is so limpid that it induces people to drink it. John, who has run ahead with an amphora, is already back and he hands the dripping pitcher to Jesus, Who has a long drink.
« How thirsty You were, my Master! And I, foolishly, did not get any water. »
« It does not matter, John. It is all over » and He caresses him.
They are about to come back when they see Simon Peter arrive, running as fast as he can. He had gone home to take his fish. « Master! Master! » he shouts panting. « The village is in turmoil, because the only grandchild of Eli, the Pharisee, is about to die from a snakebite. He had gone with the old man, and against his mother's wishes, to their olive-grove. Eli was overseeing some works, while the child was playing near the roots of an old olive-tree. He put his hand into a hole, hoping to find a lizard, and he found a snake. The old man seems to have become distraught. The child's mother, who incidentally hates her father-in-law, quite rightly as it happens, is accusing him of being a murderer. The boy is getting colder and colder every moment. Although relatives, they did not love one another! And they could not have been more closely related! »
« Family grudge is never a good thing! »
« Well, Master, I say that the snakes did not love the snake: Eli. And they have killed the little snake. I am sorry that he saw me and he shouted after me: “Is the Master there?” And I am sorry for the little one. He was a nice boy and it is not his fault that he was the grandson of a Pharisee. »
« Of course, it is not his fault. »
They walk towards the village and they see a crowd of people, shouting and weeping, coming towards them, with the elderly Eli in front of them.
« He has found us! Let us go back! »
« Why? That old man is suffering. »
« That old man hates You, remember that. He is one of Your first and fiercest accusers at the Temple. »
« I remember that I am Mercy. »
Old Eli, unkempt and upset, with untidy garments, runs towards Jesus, his arms outstretched, and drops at His feet shouting: « Mercy! Mercy! Forgive me. Do not avenge Yourself on an innocent boy for my harshness. You are the only one who can save him! God, Your Father, has brought You here. I believe in You! I venerate You! I love You! Forgive me! I have been unfair! A liar! But I have been punished. These hours alone serve as a punishment. Help me! It's the boy! The only son of my dead son. And she is accusing me of killing him » and he weeps striking his head on the ground rhythmically.
« Come on! Do not cry like that. Do you want to die without having to look after your grandson any more? »
« He is dying! He is dying! Perhaps he is already dead. Let me die, too. Don't let me live in that empty house! Oh! My sad last days! »
« Eli, get up and let us go...»
« You... are You really coming? But do You know who I am? »
« An unhappy man. Let us go. »
The old man gets up and says: « I will go ahead, but run, run, be quick! » And he goes away, very quickly, because of the desperation piercing his heart.
« But, Lord, do You think that You will change him? Oh! what a wasted miracle! Let that little snake die! Also the old man will die broken-hearted... and there will be one less on Your way... God has seen to it...»
« Simon! To tell you the truth, you are now the snake. » Jesus severely repels Peter, who lowers his head, and He goes on.
Near the largest square in Capernaum there is a beautiful house before which the crowds are making a dreadful noise... Jesus turns His steps towards it and is about to arrive when the old man comes out from the wide open door, followed by a ruffled woman, who is holding in her arms a little agonizing child. The poison has already paralyzed his organs and death is near. The little wounded hand is hanging down with the mark of the bite at the root of his thumb. Eli does nothing but shout: « Jesus! Jesus! »
And Jesus, squeezed and overwhelmed by the crowds who hamper His movements, takes the little hand to His mouth, sucks the wound, then breathes on the waxen face and the glassy half closed eyes. He then straightens Himself up: « Here » He says, « the child will now wake up. Do not frighten him with your expressions which are so upset. He will already be afraid when he remembers the snake. »
In fact the boy, whose face colours up, opens his mouth in a big yawn, rubs his eyes, opens them and is surprised at being among so many people. He then remembers, and is about to run away, with such a sudden leap, that he would have fallen had Jesus not been ready to receive him in His arms.
« Good, good! What are you afraid of? Look how beautiful the sun is! Over there is the lake, your house, and your mother and grandfather are here. »
« And the snake? »
« It is no longer here. But I am. »
« You. Yes...» The child thinks... and then, in the innocent voice of truth, he says: « My grandfather used to tell me to say “cursed” to You. But I will not say it. I love You, I do. »
« I? I said that? The little one is raving. Do not believe him, Master. I have always respected You. » As fear passes away, the old nature comes to surface again.
« Words are and are not of value. I take them for what they are. Goodbye, little one, goodbye, woman, goodbye, Eli. Love one another and love Me, if you can. » Jesus turns round and goes toward the house where He lives.
« Why, Master, did You not work a striking miracle? You should have ordered the poison to go out of the little one. You should have shown Yourself as being God. Instead You sucked the poison like any poor man. » Judas of Kerioth is not very happy. He wanted something sensational.
Also others are of the same opinion. « You should have crushed that enemy of Yours, with Your power. You heard him, eh! He became poisonous again at once...»
« His poison is of no importance. But you must consider that if I had done what you wanted Me to do, he would have said that I was helped by Beelzebub. His ruined soul can still acknowledge My power as a doctor. But no more. A miracle leads to faith only those who are already on that way. But in those without humility – faith always proves that there is humility in a soul – it leads to blasphemy. It is better therefore to avoid that danger by having recourse to forms of human appearance. The incurable misery is the misery of the incredulous. No means will eliminate it because no miracle induces them to believe or to be good. It does not matter. I fulfill My task. They follow their ill fate. »
« Why did You do it, then? »
« Because I am Goodness and because no one may say that I was vindictive with My enemies and provocative with provokers. I am heaping coal on their heads. And they are handing it to Me that I may heap it. Be good, Judas of Simon. Endeavour not to behave as they do! And that is all. Let us go to My Mother. She will be happy to hear that I cured a child. »