182. On His Way to Magdala Jesus Speaks to Some Shepherds.

9th June 1945. prev home next

Peter comes back only the following morning. And he is more calm than when he left, because he was made welcome at Capernaum and the town had been cleared of Eli and Joachim.

« They must have taken part in the plot. Because I asked some friends when they had left, and I understood that they had not come back after going to the Baptist as penitents. And I do not think that they will come back so soon, now that I mentioned that they were present at the arrest... There is much turmoil because of the Baptist's capture... I will ensure that the whole world knows about it... It is the best weapon we have. I met also Simon, the Pharisee... But if he really is what he appeared to me, I think he is favourably disposed towards us. He said to Me: “Tell the Master not to follow the Jordan along the western valley. The other side is safer” he said stressing the words. And he ended: “I have not seen you. I have not spoken to you. Don't forget. And mind what you do in mine, yours and everybody's interest. Tell the Master that I am a friend” and he kept looking up, as if he were speaking to the wind. They are always false, also when doing good things and... and I will say “strange”, so that You will not reproach me. But... ehi!... but I went and I had a little chat with the centurion. Just... to ask: “Is your servant well?”, and when I was told that he was, I said: “That is good! Make sure you keep him healthy because they are laying snares for the Master. The Baptist has already been captured...” and the Roman grasped the idea immediately. A cunning fellow he is! He replied: “Where there is a vexillum, there will be a guard for Him, and there will be someone reminding the Jews that no plot is allowed under the sign of Rome, death or the galley being the punishment.” They are heathens, but I could have kissed him. I like people who understand and take action! So we can go. »

« Let us go. But all that was not necessary » says Jesus.

« It was... it was necessary indeed! »

Jesus says goodbye to the hospitable family and also to the new disciple, to whom He must have given some instructions.

They are alone once again: the Master with His apostles and they walk along the cool country, along a road which Jesus has taken much to Peter's surprise, as he wanted to take a different one. « We are going away from the lake...»

« We will still arrive in time for what I have to do. »

The apostles become silent and go towards a little village, a handful of houses, spread out in the country. A loud ding-dong of sheep-bells can be heard as the flocks are driven towards the pastures on the mountains.

When Jesus stops to let a large herd pass, the shepherds point Him out and gather together. They consult with one another but dare no more. Jesus puts an end to their doubts by walking through the herd, which has stopped to graze the thick grass. He goes straight to caress a little shepherd, who is standing towards the centre of the woolly bleating mass of sheep. He asks the boy:

« Are they yours? » Jesus knows very well that they are not the boy's, but He wants him to speak.

« No, Lord. I am with those men. And the herds belong to many owners. We are all together for fear of the bandits. »

« What is your name? »

« Zacharias, the son of Isaac. But my father died and I work as a servant because we are poor and my mother has three more sons younger than I am. »

« Has your father been long dead? »

« Three years, Lord... and since then I have never smiled because my mother always weeps and I have no one who caresses me any more... I am the first born and my father's death has made a man of me, while I was still a child... But I must not weep but earn some money... But it is so difficult! » Tears stream down his face which is too serious for his age.

The shepherds have drawn near and so have the apostles. A group of men in the midst of moving sheep.

« You are not fatherless, Zacharias. You have a holy Father in Heaven, Who always loves you, if you are good, and your father has not ceased loving you because he is in Abraham's bosom. You must believe that. And because of such faith you must endeavour to become better and better. » Jesus speaks, kindly and caresses the boy.

A shepherd dares to ask: « You are the Messiah, are You not? »

« Yes, I am. How do you know? »

« I know that You are about in Palestine and I know that You speak holy words. That is why I recognised You. »

« Are you going far? »

« Up to the high mountains. The hot weather is coming... Will You not speak to us? Up there, where we are, only the winds speak, and sometimes the wolf speaks and it slaughters... as it happened to Zacharias' father. During the whole winter we were hoping to see You, but we never found You. »

« Let us go under the shade of that thicket and I will speak to you. » And Jesus goes ahead of them, holding the little shepherd by the hand and caressing with the other hand the little lambs which raise their heads, bleating.

The shepherds gather the flock under a coppice and while the sheep lie down ruminating or graze or rub themselves against tree trunks, Jesus speaks.

« You said: “Up there, where we are, only the winds speak, and sometimes the wolf speaks and slaughters.” What happens up there, happens in men's hearts through the work of God, of men and of Satan. You may, therefore, have up there what you would have in any other place.

Do you know the Law well enough and its ten commandments? And you, too, boy? In that case you know enough. If you faithfully practise what God commanded, you will be holy. Do not complain of being far from the world. That will preserve you from much corruption. And God is not far from you, but closer in that solitude, where you can hear His voice in the winds, which He created, in the herbs and in the water, whereas you would not hear it among men. Your flock teaches you a great virtue, nay many great virtues. It is meek and obedient. It is satisfied with little and is grateful for what it has. It loves and knows those who take care of it and love it. Do likewise saying: “God is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. He watches us. He protects us and grants us not what is the source of vice, but what is necessary to live.” And keep wolves away from your hearts. Wicked men are wolves: they seduce you and incite you to evil actions by Satan's order and it is Satan himself who induces you to sin so that he may tear you to pieces.

Be watchful. You shepherds know the habits of wolves. They are as shrewd, as sheep are simple and innocent. They steal close to you, after watching from above the habits of the herd, they sneak closer through bushes and lie as still as stones to avoid drawing your attention. Do they not look like huge stones which have rolled down on to the meadows? Then, when they are sure that no one is watching, they spring and bite. That is how Satan behaves. He watches you to find out your weak points, he roams about you, he seems harmless and absent, concerned with something else, whereas he is watching you, and then he suddenly leaps to induce you to sin, and sometimes he is successful.

But close to you there are a doctor and a compassionate spirit. God and your angel. If you are wounded, if you have been taken ill, do not go away from them, as a dog which has become rabid does. On the contrary, while weeping shout to them: “Help!.” God forgives those who repent and your angel is ready to implore God with you and for you.

Love one another and love this boy. Each of you must feel as if he were somehow the father of the orphan. The presence of a child amongst you should influence every action of yours through the holy restraint of respect for a child. And let your company make up for what death deprived him of. We must love our neighbour. This boy is the neighbour entrusted to you by God in a special manner. Teach him to be good, a faithful believer, honest and free from vices. He is worth much more than one of these sheep. Now, if you take care of the sheep because they belong to their owner, who would punish you if you should let them perish, how much more care you must take of this soul which God entrusts to you for Himself and for his dead father. His situation as an orphan is a sad one indeed. Do not make it more painful by taking advantage of him and vexing him because he is only a youngster. Remember that God sees the deeds and tears of every man and takes everything into account, in order to reward or punish.

And you, My boy, remember that you are never alone. God sees you and so does the spirit of your father. When something upsets you and induces you to do wrong, say: “No, I do not want to be an orphan forever and ever.” You would be, if you damned your soul by sinning.

Be good. I bless you so that all goodness may be with you. If we were going the same way, I would continue to speak to you for a long time. But the sun is rising and you must go, and so do I. Your task is to protect the sheep from the heat, Mine to relieve men of another ardour, a more dreadful one, the passions of their hearts. Pray that they may consider Me as their Shepherd. Goodbye, Zacharias. Be good. Peace be with you. »

Jesus kisses the little shepherd and blesses him and while the flock moves slowly away, His eyes follow him. He then resumes His way.

« You said that we are going to relieve hearts of another ardour... Where are we going? » asks the Iscariot.

For the time being as far as that shady spot, where the stream is. We will have something to eat there and then you will be told where we are going. »

Jesus says: « Insert here the vision of the second moment of Mary Magdalene's conversion, which you had last year, on the 12th of August 1944. »

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