10th July 1945.
Jesus is about to sit down at the table with all His friends in Judas' beautiful house. And He says to Judas' mother, who has come from her country house to give proper hospitality to the Master: « No, mother, you must stay with us as well. We are like a family here. This is not the cold formal banquet for casual guests. I took your son, and I want you to take Me as a son, as I take you as a mother, because you are really worth it. Is that right, My friends, that thus we shall be happier and feel at home? »
The apostles and the two Maries nod wholeheartedly. And Judas' mother, her eyes bright with tears, sits between her son and the Master, in front of Whom there are the two Maries with Marjiam between them. The maidservant brings the food, which Jesus offers, blesses and then hands out, because Judas' mother is inflexible on that point. And He always hands out beginning from her, which moves the woman more and more and makes Judas proud and pensive at the same time.
They talk about various subjects in which Jesus endeavours to get Judas' mother interested and He strives as well to make her become familiar with the two women disciples. Marjiam is helpful in this respect as he states that he is very fond also of Judas' mother: « Because her name is Mary like all good women. »
« And will you not love the one who is waiting for us on the lake, you little rascal? » asks Peter half-seriously.
« Oh! very much, if she is good. »
« You can be sure of that. Everybody says so, and I must say so as well, because if she has always been kind to her mother and to me, she must be really good. But her name is not Mary, son. She has a queer name, because her father called her after the thing that had brought him wealth and he called her Porphirea. Purple is beautiful and precious. My wife is not beautiful, but she is precious on account of her goodness. And I have been very fond of her because she is so peaceful, chaste and quiet. Three virtues... eh! not easily found! I eyed her carefully since she was a girl. When I came to Capernaum with fish I used to see her mending the nets, or at the fountain, or working silently in the kitchen garden and she wasn't an absent-minded butterfly fluttering here and there, neither was she a thoughtless little hen looking round at every crow of a cock. She never raised her head when she heard the voice of a man, and when I, in love with her goodness and her wonderful plaits, her only beauties, and... well, also moved to pity because she was treated like a slave at home... when I began to say hello to her – she was then sixteen years old – she hardly replied to me, she pulled her veil over her face and remained more indoors. Eh! It took a very long time to find out whether she considered me an ogre or not and before I could send my bestman to her!... But I do not regret it. I could have travelled all over the world, but I would not have found another one like her. Am I right, Master, that she is good? »
« Yes, she is very good. And I am sure that Marjiam will love her even if her name is not Mary. Will you not, Marjiam? »
« Yes. Her name is “mummy” and mummies are good and are loved. »
Judas then tells what he did during the day. I understand that he went to inform his mother of their visit, and then he began to speak in the country near Kerioth together with Andrew. He then says: « But tomorrow I would like everybody to come. I do not want to be the only one to be noticed. As far as possible, we should go in twos, a Judaean with a Galilean. For instance, John and I, Simon and Thomas. I wish the other Simon came! But you two (he points at Alphaeus' sons) can go together. I told everybody, also those who did not want to know, that you are the Master's cousins. And you two (he points at Philip and Bartholomew) can also go together. I told them that Nathanael is a rabbi who came to follow the Master. That impresses people very favourably. And... you three will stay here. But as soon as the Zealot comes, we can form another couple. And then we will change round, because I want the people to meet everybody...» Judas is sprightly. « I spoke about the decalogue, Master, endeavouring especially to clarify those parts in which this area is more lacking...»
« Do not let your hand be too heavy, Judas, please. Always bear in mind that one achieves more by means of kindness than by intolerance and that you are a man as well. So examine yourself and consider how easy it is also for you to fall and how you become upset when you are reproached too frankly » says Jesus while Judas' mother bends her head blushing.
« Do not worry, Master. I am striving to imitate You in everything. But in the village, which we can see also through that door (the doors are open while they are eating and a beautiful view can be seen from this room which is upstairs) there is a sick man who would like to be cured. But he cannot be carried here. Could You come with me? »
« Tomorrow, Judas, tomorrow morning, definitely. And if there are more sick people tell Me or bring them here. »
« You really want to benefit my fatherland, Master? »
« Yes. So that no one may say that I have been unfair to those who did no harm to Me. I help also wicked people! So why not the good ones of Kerioth? I wish to leave an indelible remembrance of Me...»
« What? Are we not coming back here? »
« We will come back again, but...»
« Here is the Mother, the Mother with Simon! » trills the boy who sees Mary and Simon climbing the staircase leading up to the terrace where is the room.
They all stand up and go towards the two who have just arrived. There is the noise of exclamations, of greetings, of seats moved about. But nothing diverts Mary from greeting first Jesus and then Judas' mother, who has bowed down deeply, and whom Mary raises again embracing her as if she were a dear friend met after a long absence.
They go back into the room and Mary of Judas tells the maidservant to bring in fresh food for the new guests.
« Here, Son, Eliza's greetings » says Mary, handing a small parchment roll to Jesus Who unfolds it and reads it, then says: « I knew. I was sure. Thank You, Mother. On My behalf and on Eliza's. You really are the health of the sick! »
« I? You, Son. Not I. »
« You; and You are My greatest help. » He then turns to the apostles and women disciples and says: « Eliza writes: “Come back, my Peace. I want not only to love You, but to serve You.” So we have relieved a creature of her anguish and melancholy, and we have gained a disciple. Yes, we will go back. »
« She wishes to meet also the women disciples. She is recovering slowly, but without relapsing. Poor Eliza! She still undergoes moments of frightful bewilderment. Does she not, Simon? One day she wanted to try to come out with Me, but she saw a friend of Daniel's... and we had great difficulty in calming her weeping. But Simon is so clever! And since Eliza expressed the desire to return to the world, but the world of Bethzur is too full of memories for her, Simon suggested we should call Johanna. And he went to call her. After the feast she went back to Bether, to her magnificent rose-garden in Judaea. Simon says that he seemed to be dreaming, while crossing the hills covered with rose-bushes, that he was already in Paradise. She came at once. She is in a position to understand and pity a mother mourning her sons! Eliza has become very fond of her and I came away. Johanna wants to persuade her to leave Bethzur and go to her castle. And she will succeed because she is as sweet as a dove but as firm as a rock in her decisions. »
« We shall go to Bethzur on our way back and then we shall part. You women disciples will stay with Eliza and Johanna for some time. We will go through Judaea and we shall meet in Jerusalem for Pentecost »...
The Most Holy Virgin Mary and Mary, Judas' mother, are together. They are not in the town house, but in the country one. They are alone. The apostles are outside with Jesus, the women disciples and the boy are in the magnificent apple-orchard and their voices can be heard together with the noise of clothes beaten on washboards. They are perhaps doing the washing while the boy is playing.
Judas' mother, sitting in a dim-lit room beside Mary, is speaking to Her: « These peaceful days will be like a dream to me. Too short! Yes, too short! I know that we must not be selfish and that it is fair that You should go to that poor woman and to so many other unhappy people. But I wish I could!... I wish I could spare the time, or come with You!... But I cannot. I have no relatives apart from my son and I must look after the property of the family...»
« I understand... It is painful to part from one's son. We mothers would always like to be with our children. But we are giving them for a great cause, and we will not lose them. Not even death can take our sons away from us, if they and we are in grace in the eyes of God. But ours are still on the earth, even if by the will of God they are torn from our bosoms to be given to the world for its good. We can always join them and even the echo of their deeds is like a caress to our hearts, because their deeds are the scent of their souls. »
« What is Your Son to You, Woman? » asks Mary of Judas in a low voice.
And the Most Holy Mary replies promptly: « He is My joy. »
« Your joy!!!...» and then Judas' mother bursts into tears and lowers her head to hide them. She bows so low as to almost touch her knees with her forehead.
« Why are you weeping, my poor friend? Why? Tell Me. I am happy in My maternity, but I can understand also those mothers who are not happy...»
« Yes. Not happy! And I am one of them. Your Son is Your joy... Mine is my grief. At least he has been so. Now, since he has been with Your Son, I am not so worried. Oh! of all those who pray for Your holy Son, for His welfare and triumph, there is no one, after You, Blessed Woman, who prays so much as this unhappy mother who is speaking to You... Tell me the truth: what do You think of my son? We are two mothers, one facing the other, between us there is God. And we are speaking of our sons. It can be but easy for You to speak of Yours. I... I have to strive against myself to speak of mine. And yet, how much good, or how much grief, can come to me from this conversation! And even if it is grief, it will always be a relief to speak about it... That woman of Bethzur became almost insane when her sons died, did she not? But I swear it to You, sometimes I have thought and still think, looking at my Judas who is handsome, healthy, intelligent, but he is not good, not virtuous, not righteous in his soul, not sound in his feelings, I often think that I would prefer to mourn him dead rather than know that he is disliked by God. But tell me, what do You think of my son? Be frank. This question has been tormenting my heart for over a year. But whom could I ask? The citizens? They did not yet know that the Messiah existed and that Judas wanted to go with Him. I knew. He told me when he came here after Passover, elated, violent, as usual, when he has a sudden fancy, and as usual, scornful of his mother's advice. His friends in Jerusalem? A holy prudence and a pious hope prevented me. I did not want to say: “Judas is following the Messiah” to those whom I cannot love because they are everything but saints. And I hoped that his fancy notion would vanish, like many others, like all of them, even at the cost of tears and desolation, as it happened in the case of more than one girl whom he fascinated here and elsewhere, but never married. Do you know that there are places where he will no longer go because he may receive a fair punishment? Also his being of the Temple was a whim. He does not know what he wants. Never. His father, may God forgive him, spoiled him. I never had any authority with the two men in my house. I could but weep and make amends with all kinds of humiliation... When Johanna died – and although no one told me, I know that she died of a broken heart when Judas told her that he did not want to get married, after she had been waiting for all her youth, whereas everybody knew that in Jerusalem he had sent friends to a very rich woman who owned stores as far as Cyprus to enquire about her daughter – I had to shed many bitter tears, because of the reproaches of the dead girl's mother, as if I were an accomplice of my son. No. I am not. I have no authority over him. Last year, when the Master came here, I realised that He had understood... and I was about to speak. But it is painful, very painful for a mother to have to say: “Be careful of my son. He is greedy, hard-hearted, vicious, proud and inconstant.” And that is what he is. I am praying that Your Son, Who works so many miracles, may work one for my Judas... But tell me, please tell me, what do You think of him? »
Mary, Who has been silent all the time, with an expression of pitiful sorrow while listening to that maternal lament of which Her righteous soul cannot disapprove, says in a low voice: « Poor mother!... What do I think? Yes, your son is not the limpid soul of John, nor the meek Andrew, not the firm Matthew who wanted to change and did change... He is... inconstant, yes, he is. But we shall pray so hard for him, both you and I. Do not weep. Perhaps your motherly love, which would like to be proud of your son, makes you see him more perverted than he is...»
« No! No! I see right and I am so afraid. » The room is full of the weeping of Judas' mother and in the half-light Mary's white face has become even paler because of the maternal confession that sharpens all the suspicions of the Lord's Mother. But She controls Herself. She draws the unhappy mother to herself and caresses her while she, abandoning all reservedness, painfully and confusedly informs Mary of all the harshness, pretensions and violence of Judas and concludes: « I blush for him when I see I am the object of the loving attention of Your Son! I have not asked Him. But I am sure that besides doing it out of kindness, He wants to say to Judas by means of His loving attention: “Remember that this is how a mother is to be treated.” Now, for the time being he appears to be good... Oh! If it were only true! Help me, help me with Your prayers, You Who are holy, so that my son may not be unworthy of the grace that God granted him! If he does not want to love me, if he cannot be grateful to me, who gave birth to him and brought him up, it does not matter. But let him really love Jesus; let him serve Him loyally and gratefully. But if that cannot be then... then may God take his life. I would rather have him in a sepulchre... at last I would have him because since he reached the age of reason he was hardly ever mine. Better dead than a bad apostle. Can I pray for that? What do You say? »
« Pray the Lord that He may do what is best. Do not weep any more. I have seen prostitutes and Gentiles at the feet of My Son, and publicans and sinners with them. They all became lambs through His Grace. Hope, Mary, hope. The grief of mothers saves their sons, do you not know that?...»
And everything ends on that pitiful question.