14th May 1945.
Eli's house is very busy today. Servants and maidservants go and come and amongst them there is little Elisha, a lively little child. Then there are two stately personages and two more. I know the former two, as they are the ones who went with Eli to Matthew's house. I do not know the latter two, but I hear them being called Samuel and Joachim. Jesus comes last with the Iscariot.
After solemn reciprocal salutations, there is the question: « Only with this one? And the others? »
« The others are around the country. They will come in the evening. »
« Oh! I am sorry. I thought it was... True, last night I invited only You, meaning all the rest with You. Now I was afraid they might be offended, or... they might disdain to come to my house, owing to past light disagreements... eh! eh! »
The old man laughs...
« Oh! no! My disciples do not nourish proud touchiness or incurable grudge. »
« Of course! of course! Very well. Let us go in then. »
The usual purification ceremony and then they go into the dining room, which opens on to a large yard, where the first roses bring a happy note.
Jesus caresses little Elisha, who is playing in the yard and who has only four little red marks on his hand from the past trouble. He does not even remember his past fear, but he remembers Jesus and he wants to kiss Him and be kissed by Him, with the spontaneity of children. With his little arms round Jesus' neck, he speaks to Him through His hair, confiding that when he is big he will go to Him and asks: « Do You want me? »
« I want everybody. Be good and you will come with Me. »
The little boy goes away bounding about.
They sit at the table and Eli wishes to be so perfect that he puts Jesus beside him and on the other side Judas, who is thus between Eli and Simon, as Jesus is between Eli and Uriah.
The meal begins. Their conversation at first is inconsequential. It then becomes interesting. And since wounds are sore and chains are heavy, the talk turns to the eternal topic of the enslavement of Palestine by Rome. I do not know whether it was done deliberately or without any evil purpose. I know that the five Pharisees complain of the new Roman abuses, as of a sacrilege, and they want to get Jesus interested in the discussion.
« You know! They want to pry into our income, down to the last coin. And as they have realised that we meet in the synagogue to speak about that and about them, now they are threatening to come in, without any respect. I am afraid they will enter also the houses of priests, one of these days! » shouts Joachim.
« What do You say about that? Do You not feel disgusted? » asks Eli.
Jesus replies to the direct question: « As an Israelite yes, as a man no. »
« Why that distinction? I do not understand. Are You two in one? »
« No. But there is in Me flesh and blood: that is, the animal. And there is the spirit. The spirit of an Israelite, compliant with the Law, suffers because of such violations. The flesh and blood do not suffer, because I lack the goad that hurts you. »
« Which one? »
« Interest. You said that you meet in the synagogues to speak also of business without fear of intrusive ears. And you are afraid you will no longer be able to do so and consequently you are afraid you may not be able to conceal even a small coin from the tax-collectors and that you may be taxed exactly according to your assets. I possess nothing. I live on the charity of My neighbours and on My love for them. I have neither gold, nor fields, nor vineyards, nor houses, except My Mother's house in Nazareth, which is so small and poor as to be ignored by the tax-assessors. Consequently I am not afraid that they may find out that My statement of income is untrue and that I may be fined and punished. All I possess is the Word that God gave Me and that I give. But it is such a sublime thing that man has no means whatsoever to affect it. »
« But if You were in our position what would You do? »
« Well, do not take it amiss if I tell you quite frankly My opinion, which is in contrast to yours. I solemnly tell you that I would behave differently. »
« How? »
« Not offending against the holy truth. It is always a sublime virtue, even when it is applied to such human things as taxes. »
« But... then... ! How they would fleece us! But You are not considering that we own a lot and we would have to pay a lot! »
« You have said it. God has granted you a lot. In proportion you must give a lot. Why behave so badly, as unfortunately many do, so that poor people are taxed out of proportion? We are aware of the situation. How many taxes there are in Israel, our taxes, which are unjust! The great, who already have so much, benefit by them. Whereas they are the despair of poor people who have to pay them and have to starve to find the money. Love for our neighbour does not recommend that. We Israelites should be so thoughtful as to take upon us the burden of the poor. »
« You are saying that because You are poor, too. »
« No, Uriah. I am saying that because it is justice. Why has Rome been able to oppress us thus? Because we sinned and we are divided by hatred. The rich hate the poor, the poor hate the rich. Because there is no justice and the enemy takes advantage of the situation and has subdued us. »
« You have mentioned various reasons... Are there any more? »
« I would not like to go against the truth by twisting the nature of a place consecrated to religion and making it a sure shelter for human things. »
« Are You reproaching us? »
« No. I am replying to you. Listen to your own consciences. You are masters and therefore... »
« I would say that it is time to rise, to rebel, to punish the invader and restore our kingdom. »
« True, true! You are right, Simon. But the Messiah is here. He must do it » replies Eli.
« But the Messiah, for the time being, forgive me, Jesus, is only Goodness. He advises everything, except to rebel. We will... »
« Listen, Simon. Remember the book of Kings. Saul was at Gilgal, the Philistines were at Michmash, the people were afraid and dispersed, the prophet Samuel was not coming. Saul decided to precede the servant of God and offer the sacrifice himself. Remember the answer that Samuel, on his arrival, gave to the imprudent Saul: “You have acted like a fool and you have not carried out the order that the Lord had commanded you. If you had not done that, now the Lord would have confirmed your sovereignty over Israel forever. But now your sovereignty will not last.” An untimely and proud action served neither the king nor the people. God knows the hour. Man does not. God knows the means, man does not. Leave things to God and deserve His help by means of holy behaviour. My Kingdom is not a kingdom of rebellion and ferocity. But it will be established. It is not a preserve for a few people. It will be universal. Blessed are those who will come to it, who are not led into error by My poor appearance, according to the spirit of the world, and who will see the Saviour in Me. Be not afraid. I shall be King. The King who came from Israel. The King who will extend His Kingdom all over Mankind. But you, masters of Israel, must not misunderstand My words and those of the Prophets who announce Me. No human kingdom, no matter how powerful it may be, is universal and eternal. The Prophets say that Mine will be such. That should enlighten you on the truth and spirituality of My Kingdom. I leave you. But I have a request to make to Eli. This is your purse. In a shelter of Simon of Jonas there are some poor people who have come from everywhere. Come with Me to give them the alms of love. Peace be with you all. »
« Stay a little longer » beg the Pharisees.
« I cannot. There are people, whose bodies and hearts are diseased, and they are waiting to be comforted. Tomorrow I will be going away. I want everyone to see Me leave without being disappointed. »
« Master, I... am old and tired. Please go in my name. You have Judas of Simon with You, and we know him well. Do it Yourself. God be with You. »
Jesus goes out with Judas who, as soon as they are in the square, says: « The old viper! What did he mean? »
« Forget about it! Or better still: just think that he wanted to praise you. »
« Impossible, Master! Those mouths never praise who does good. I mean, never sincerely. And with regard to his coming!... It is because he loathes the poor and is afraid of their curses. He has tortured the poor people here so often. I can swear it without any fear. And therefore...»
« Be good, Judas. Be good. Let God judge. »