4th June 1945.
Jesus says to me showing me the course of the Jordan, or rather, the mouth of the Jordan where it flows into Lake Tiberias, that is where the town of Bethsaida lies on the right bank of the river, with respect to those facing north: « The town nowadays no longer appears to be on the shore of the lake, but a little inland. And that puzzles scholars. The explanation is to be found in the earth which filled this part of the lake, as it was deposited there throughout twenty centuries by the river, by alluvia and landslides from the hills of Bethsaida. The town was then just at the mouth of the river, and in fact the smaller boats, particularly in seasons rich in water, used to sail upstream, almost as far as Korazim; the river, however, was always used as a harbour and shelter for the boats of Bethsaida when the lake was very rough. I am not saying this for you, to whom it is of no interest, but for difficult doctors. And now go on. »
The boats of the apostles, after crossing the short stretch of the lake between Capernaum and Bethsaida, land in the latter town. Other boats have followed them and many people come off them to join the people of Bethsaida who have come to greet the Master. Jesus enters Peter's house where his wife is staying once again. I suppose she has preferred to be alone rather than live with her mother who continuously grumbles about her husband.
Outside the crowds claim Jesus at the top of their voices, which disturbs Peter very much, so much so that he goes up to the roof terrace and harangues the citizens telling them that they ought to have respect and manners. He would like to enjoy the company of his Master for a little while, in peace, now that he has Him in his house, whereas he has neither the time nor the pleasure to offer Him some water and honey among the many things he asked his wife to offer. And he grumbles...
Jesus looks at him smiling and shakes His head saying: « You would think that you never see Me and that we have just met by chance! »
« But it is so! When we are in the world are You and I ever together? Never in your life! Between You and me there is the world with its sick people, its distressed people, its listeners, its curious people, its slanderers, its enemies, and You and I are never together. Here instead You are with me, in my house, and they ought to understand that! » He is really upset.
« But I do not see the difference, Simon. My love is the same and My word is the same. Whether I tell you privately, or I tell everybody, what difference does it make? »
Peter then confesses his great grief: « The trouble is that I am a blockhead and my mind wanders easily. When You speak in a square, on a mountain, amongst a large crowd, I understand everything, but I do not know why, I remember nothing. I told also my companions and they say that I am right. Other people, I mean the people who listen to You, understand You and remember what You say. How often have we heard someone say: “I have no longer done that because You told us”, or: “I came because once I heard You say so and so and I was impressed by it.” We instead... hum! it's like a water course which passes by and does not stop. The river bank no longer has the water which has passed by. It is true that other water comes, a great deal of it, but it passes by, it passes by... And I am terrified at the thought that, if what You say will come true, the moment will come when You will no longer be there to play the part of the river and... and I... What will I give to those who are thirsty if I cannot save even one drop of the great lot You give me? »
Also the others support Peter's moaning, complaining that they are left with nothing of what they hear, whilst they would like to remember everything to reply to those who ask them questions.
Jesus smiles and replies: « I do not think so. People are very satisfied also with you... »
« Certainly... of course! For all we do! Make room for You, by elbowing our way through the crowds, carry sick people, collect alms and say: “Yes, that is the Master!.” Wonderful, isn't it? »
« Do not defame yourself too much, Simon. »
« I am not defaming myself. I know myself. »
« That is the most difficult wisdom. But I wish to relieve you of your great fear. When I speak and you cannot understand and remember everything, ask Me without any fear of boring or discouraging Me. We always have some hours of privacy, when you can open your hearts to Me. I give so much to so many. And what would I not give you whom I love so much that God could not love you more? You spoke of waves that pass by and nothing is left on the bank. The day will come when you will realise that every wave has deposited a seed and that a plant has grown from every seed. You will find in front of you flowers and plants for all occasions and you will be amazed at yourself saying: “What has the Lord done to me?” because you will then be redeemed from the slavery of sin and your present virtues will have reached a great height of perfection. »
« You say so, my Lord, and I rest upon Your word. »
« Now let us go to those who are waiting for us. Come. Peace to you, woman. I will be your guest this evening. »
They go out and Jesus directs His steps towards the lake to avoid being oppressed by the crowds. Peter is quick in moving the boat a few yards from the shore, so that Jesus' voice may be heard by everybody, but with a space between Him and those listening.
« Corning here from Capernaum I was thinking what I should tell you and I found an indication in the events of this morning.
You saw three men come to Me. One came spontaneously, the second because I urged him, the third came because of a sudden enthusiasm. And you also saw that I took only two of them. Why? Did I perhaps see a traitor in the third, one? No, in truth. But I saw that he was unprepared. To all appearance, this one here beside Me, the one who was going to bury his father, seemed more unprepared. Instead the most unprepared was the third one. This one was so prepared, without being aware of it, that he was able to make a really heroic sacrifice. Heroism in following God is always evidence of strong spiritual Preparation. And that is the explanation of certain surprising events that take place around Me. Those who are most prepared to receive Christ, whichever their caste and education might be, come to Me with absolute promptitude and faith. Those who are less prepared examine Me as an exceptional man or they study Me with suspicion or curiosity, or they attack and defame Me accusing Me in various ways. The different ways of behaviour are proportional to the unpreparedness of spirits.
Among the chosen people it should be possible to find everywhere spirits ready to receive the Messiah in Whose expectation Patriarchs and Prophets were consumed by anxiety, the Messiah Who at last has come, preceded and accompanied by all the prophesied signs, the Messiah, Whose spiritual personality becomes clearer and clearer through the visible miracles worked on bodies and elements, and through the invisible ones worked on consciences which are converted and on Gentiles who turn to the True God. But it is not so. The promptitude in following the Messiah is strongly hindered by the children of that people and, what is sad to be said, it is more hindered the more one climbs to its higher classes. I am not saying this to scandalise you, but to induce you to pray and meditate. Why does that happen? Why do Gentiles and sinners proceed farther on My way? Why do they accept what I say and the others do not? Because the children of Israel are anchored, nay, they are stuck like pearl-oysters to the bank where they were born. Because they are sated, overwhelmed and obese with their wisdom and they cannot make room for Mine by throwing away what is superfluous to make room for what is necessary. The others do not suffer from such slavery. They are poor heathens or poor sinners, unimpeded like a boat which is adrift, they are poor people, who have no treasures of their own, but only heaps of errors or sins, of which they gladly strip themselves as soon as they understand what the Gospel is and they taste its fortifying honey, which is quite different from the nauseating mixture of their sins.
Listen, and perhaps you will understand better how the same action can bear different fruits.
A sower went out to sow. He owned many fields of various kinds. He had inherited some from his father, on which his carelessness had allowed thorny plants to proliferate. Other fields had been purchased by him: he had bought them from a neglectful man and he had left them as they were. In other fields there were many intersecting roads, as the man loved comfort and did not like to travel a long way when going from one place to another. Finally, there were some fields, the closest to his house, which he had looked after to have a pleasant sight in front of his house. They were free from stones, thorns, couch-grass and so on.
So the man took his sack of seed-corn of the best quality, and began to sow. The seed fell on the good soft soil, which had been ploughed, weeded, fertilized, in the fields near the house. It was spread in the fields with many roads and paths, which divided them into small portions, and caused also the fertile soil to be covered by ugly arid dust. Some of the seed fell on the fields where the foolishness of the man had allowed the thorny plants to proliferate. The plough had turned them upside down, it looked as if they were not there, but they were, because only fire, the radical destructor of weeds, prevents them from growing again. The last seed fell on the fields which he had recently bought and had left as they were, without ploughing them and without removing all the stones, which had sunk into the ground forming a hard pavement on which no plant could take root. After scattering all the seed, he went back home and said: “Very well! All I have to do is to wait for the harvest.” And he was delighted because, as months went by, he saw the corn come up thick in the fields near the house and grow... oh! what a beautiful sea! and it turned gold and it sang hosannas to the sun, as one ear rubbed against another. The man said to himself: “All the fields are like these ones! Let us prepare sickles and granaries. How much bread! How much gold!” And he was delighted...
He cut the corn in the nearest fields and after that he went to the ones which he had inherited from his father and which he had left in a wild state. And he was taken aback. The corn had come up, because the fields were good and the soil cultivated by the father was rich and fertile. But its fertility had affected also the thorny plants which had been overturned but not destroyed. They had grown again and had formed a really thick ceiling of bramble, through which the corn had not been able to emerge, with the exception of a few ears, and it was completely suffocated.
The man said: “I neglected this place. But there was no bramble in the other fields, so it should be all right.” And he went to the fields which he had purchased shortly before. His surprise and grief were greater. The thin withered corn leaves were strewn all over like dry hay. Nothing but dry hay. “How come?” moaned the man. “And yet there are no thorns here! And it was the same seed! And it had come up thick and beautiful. It can be seen by the well formed and numerous leaves. Why then did it all wither before coming into ear?” And with real regret he began to dig the ground to see whether there were any mole burrows or other pests. There were no insects or rodents. But how many stones! A stone-pit! The fields were literally paved with chips of stone and the scanty earth covering them was deceiving. Oh! if he had ploughed deep at the right time! Oh! if he had dug the ground before accepting the fields and buying them as good ones! Oh! if, after the mistake he had made in buying what he had been offered without making sure of its goodness, if at least he had improved them by working hard! It was now too late and all regret was useless.
The man stood up, and, downhearted as he was, he went to the fields where he had built many roads for his comfort... and mad with grief he tore off his clothes. There was absolutely nothing there... The dark soil of the field was covered with a thin layer of white dust... The man collapsed to the ground moaning: “But why here? There are no stones, no bramble here, because these are our fields. My grandfather, my father and I have always owned them and in many many years we made them fertile. I built the roads, I have taken some of the earth away, but that could not make them so sterile... “ He was still weeping when he received the answer to his grief from a swarm of birds which flew eagerly from the paths to the field and back to the paths in search of seeds... The field, which had been turned into a network of paths, on the edges of which the corn had fallen, had attracted many birds, which first had eaten the corn on the paths and then the seeds in the field, down to the last grain.
So the same seed, sown in all the fields, had yielded one hundred to one in some, sixty, thirty, nothing in others. Listen, anyone who has ears. The seed is the Word: the same for everybody. The places where the seed fell: your hearts. Meditate the parable and understand it. Peace be with you. »
He then turns towards Peter and says: « Go up the river as far as you can and stop on the other side. » And while the two boats sail a short distance up the river and then stop near the bank, Jesus sits down and asks the new disciple: « Who is left now at home? »
« My mother and the eldest brother, who has been married for five years. My sisters are in various parts of the region. My father was very good and my mother mourns his death broken-heartedly. » The young man stops all of a sudden, stifling heartfelt sobs.
Jesus grabs his hand and says: « I experienced that sorrow Myself and I saw My Mother weep. So I can understand... »
The rubbing of the boat on the pebbly river-bed causes the conversation to be interrupted to allow them to go ashore. The low hills of Bethsaida which almost reach down to the lake, have come to an end here, instead a plain rich in crops extends from this shore, on the other side of Bethsaida, northwards.
« Are we going to Merom? » asks Peter.
« No, let us take this path among the fields. »
The lovely and well kept fields show ears of corn still tender but well formed, all of the same height; and while lightly undulating in the cool northern breeze they look like another small lake, the sails of which are the trees growing here and there full of whistling birds.
« These fields are not like the ones of the parable » remarks Jesus' cousin James.
« Not really! The birds have not devastated them, there are no stones, no bramble. The corn is beautiful! In a month's time it will be golden... and in two it will be ready for the sickle and the granary » says Judas of Kerioth.
« Master... I remind You of what You said in my house. You spoke so well. But I am beginning to have ideas in my head which are as confused as those ruffled clouds up there... » says Peter.
« This evening I will explain it to you. Now we are in sight of Korazim. » And Jesus stares at the new disciple saying: « Much is given to those who give. And possessions do not deprive the gift of its merits. Take Me to the sepulchre of your family and to your mother's house. »
The young man kneels down, kissing Jesus' hand and weeping.
« Get up. Let us go. My spirit has perceived your weeping. I want to fortify you in your heroism through My love. »
« Isaac the Elder had told me how good You were. Isaac, You know? You cured his daughter. He was my apostle. But I see that Your kindness is much greater than I was told. »
« We shall call also on the Elder to thank him for giving Me a disciple. »
They reach Korazim and Isaac's house is the first one they find. The old man, who is on his way back home, when he sees Jesus with His apostles and the young man from Korazim among them, raises his arms, holding his walking stick in his hand, and is speechless and dumbfounded. Jesus smiles and His smile gives speech back to the old man.
« May God bless You, Master! Why so much honour to me? »
« To say to you: “Thanks.” »
« But what for, my God? I have to say that word to You. Come in. Oh! I am sorry that my daughter is absent, assisting her mother-inlaw. Because she got married, You know? I have received nothing but blessings after I met You! After she was cured that rich relative of ours came from far away, a widower, with the little ones needing a mother... Oh! But I have already told You all that! My head is old! Forgive me! »
« Your head is wise and forgets to be proud of the good it does for its Master. To forget the good done is wisdom. It shows humility and trust in God. »
« But I... I would not know... »
« And this disciple... have I not had him through you? »
« Oh!... But I have done nothing, You know? I only told him the truth... and I am happy that Elias is with You. » He turns towards Elias and says: « Your mother, after the first moment of astonishment, was relieved when she heard that you were with the Master. The last honours rendered to your father were really solemn. He has not been long buried. »
« And what about my brother? »
« He is quiet... you know... he was rather upset by your absence... because of the village people... He still has that mentality... »
The young man turns to Jesus: « You said so. But I would not like him to be dead... Let him become alive as I am, and at Your service. »
The others do not understand and they look at one another inquisitively, but Jesus replies: « Do not despair, but persevere. » He blesses Isaac and goes away, notwithstanding they entreat Him to stay.
They stop first near the sepulchre and pray. After, through a still semibare vineyard, they go to Elias' house.
The meeting of the two brothers is rather a cold one. The elder feels offended and wants people to notice it. The younger feels guilty from a human point of view and does not react. But the arrival of their mother, who without saying anything prostrates herself and kisses the hem of Jesus' tunic brightens the atmosphere and their spirits. And they want to honour the Master. But Jesus does not accept anything, He only says: « Let your hearts be just, one towards the other, as just was he whom you are mourning. Do not give a human sense to what is super-human: death and the election to a mission. The soul of your just father was not upset seeing that this son was not present at the burial of his body, but it rested quietly on the certainty of Elias' future. Do not let worldly thoughts disturb the grace of the election. If the world was surprised at not seeing him near his father's coffin, the angels exulted seeing him beside the Messiah. Be just. And may that comfort you, mother. You brought him up wisely and he has been called by Wisdom. I bless you all. Peace be with you now and always. »
They go on the road which takes them back to the river, and from there to Bethsaida. Elias did not delay even for one moment on the threshold of his father's house. After kissing his mother goodbye, he followed the Master with the simplicity of a child who follows his real father.