13th July 1945.
We are still in the same place, but the setting sun is more bearable.
« We must go and reach that house » says Jesus.
They set out and reach it. They ask for bread and refreshment. But the farmer drives them away rudely.
« Race of Philistines!' Vipers! They are always the same! They were born of that stock and bear poisonous fruit » grumble the tired and hungry disciples. « May you be given tit for tat. »
« Why do you lack charity? The time of the law of retaliation is over. Come forward. It is not yet night and you are not dying of hunger. Offer this little sacrifice so that these souls may become hungry for Me » says Jesus exhorting them.
But the disciples go into a field and begin to pick the ears of corn, they rub them on the palms of their hands and eat them. I think they do it more out of spite than to satisfy their hunger.
« They are good, Master » shouts Peter. « Are You not having any? And they have a double flavour... I would like to eat up the whole field. »
« You are right! So they would repent for not giving us any bread » say the others while walking through the corn and eating with relish.
Jesus is walking alone on the dusty road. The Zealot and Bartholomew are five or six yards behind Him, speaking to each other.
There is another crossroads, where a secondary road crosses the main one, and a group of sulky Pharisees is standing there. They must be coming back from the Sabbath celebration in the village that can be seen at the end of the secondary road, a large flat town, which looks like a huge animal lying in its den.
Jesus sees the Pharisees, looks at them and smiling kindly greets them: « Peace be with you. »
Instead of replying to His greetings, one of the them asks arrogantly: « Who are You? »
« Jesus of Nazareth. »
« See, I told you it was Him » says another.
In the meantime Nathanael and Simon have come close to the Master, whereas the other apostles are coming towards the road, walking along the furrows. They are still chewing and have some corn in their hands.
The Pharisee who had spoken first, probably because he is the most important one, resumes speaking to Jesus, Who has stopped waiting to hear what they have to say: « Ah! So You are the famous Jesus of Nazareth? Why have You come so far? »
« Because also here there are souls to be saved. »
« We are quite sufficient for that. We know how to save our souls and those of our subjects. »
« If it is so, you are doing the right thing. But I have been sent to evengelize and save. »
« Sent! Sent! Who can prove it to us? Not Your deeds certainly! »
« Why do you say that? Are you not interested in your Life? »
« Of course! You are the one who administers death to those who do not adore You. So You want to kill the whole sacerdotal and Pharisaic classes, and the class of scribes and many more, because they do not worship You and they never will. Never, do You understand? We, the chosen ones in Israel, will never worship You. Neither shall we love You. »
« I do not compel you to love Me and I say to you: “Worship God” because...»
« That is, You, because You are God, are You not? But we are not the horrible people of Galilee nor the foolish people of Judah who follow You forgetting our rabbis...»
« Do not be upset, man. I am not asking for anything. I am fulfilling My mission, I teach people to love God and I repeat the Decalogue to them, because it has been forgotten, and what is worse, it is badly applied. I want to give Life. Eternal Life. I do not wish anybody a bodily death and much less a spiritual one. The Life in which I asked you whether you were interested, is the life of your soul, because I love your soul, even if your soul does not love Me. And it grieves Me to see that you are killing it by offending the Lord and despising His Messiah. »
The Pharisee becomes so excited that he seems to have fallen into a fit of convulsions: he disarranges his clothes, he tears his fringes, he takes off his headgear, he ruffles his hair and shouts: « Listen! Listen! Hear what He says to me, to Jonathan of Uziel, a direct descendant of Simon the Just. That I offend the Lord! I don't know who keeps me from cursing You, but...»
« It is fear that keeps you. But you may do it. You will not be burnt to ashes just the same. But you will be in due course, and then you will invoke Me. But between you and Me, there will then be a red stream: My Blood. »
« All right. But in the meantime, since You say that You are a saint, why do You allow certain things? Since You say that You are a Master, why do You not teach Your apostles before anybody else? Look at them, behind You!... They still have in their hands the instrument of their sin! Can You see them? They have picked corn and this is the Sabbath. They have picked ears of corn, which do not belong to them. They have infringed the Sabbath and they have stolen. »
« They were hungry. In the village where we arrived yesterday evening, we asked for bread and lodgings. They drove us away. Only an old woman gave us some of her bread and a handful of olives. May God give her one hundredfold, because she gave us everything she had, and she only asked for a blessing. We walked for a mile and then we stopped, complying with the law, and we drank the water of a stream. Then, at sunset, we went to that house... They rejected us. You can see that we were willing to obey the Law. »
« But you did not. It is not legal to do manual work on Sabbaths and it is never legal to take what belongs to other people. My friends and I are scandalised. »
« But I am not. Have you not read how David at Nob took the consecrated bread of the Proposition for himself and his companions? The sacred loaves belonged to God, in His house, and by a perpetual order were to be kept for the priests. It is written: “They will belong to Aaron and his sons, who shall eat them in a holy place, because they are a most holy thing.” And yet David took them for himself and his companions, because he was hungry. If, therefore, the holy king entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Proposition on a Sabbath, although it was not legal for him to eat it, and yet it was not imputed to him as a sin, because also after that event God continued to love him, how can you say that we have sinned if we pick on the soil of God the ears of corn that have grown and ripened through His will, the ears that belong also to birds, and you deny that men, the sons of the Father, may eat? »
« They asked for those loaves, they did not take them without asking. And that makes the difference. In any case it is not true that God did not impute that sin to David. God struck him very hard! »
« Not because of that. It was because of his lewdness, of the census, not because...»
« Oh! That's enough. It is not legal, and that is all. You have no right to do it and you shall not do it. Go away. We do not want you in our land. We do not need you. We do not know what to do with you. »
« We shall go. »
« And forever, remember that. Let Jonathan of Uziel never find you again in his presence. Go! »
« Yes, we will go. But we will meet again. And then it will be Jonathan who wants to see Me to repeat his judgement, and to rid the world of Me forever. But then it will be Heaven that will say to you: “It is not legal for you to do it”, and that “it is not legal” will resound in your heart like the sound of a bugle-horn throughout your life and beyond. As on Sabbaths the priests in the Temple infringe the Sabbath rest but do not commit sin, so we, servants of the Lord, can attain love and help from the Most Holy Father, without thus committing sin, since man denies us his love. There is One here Who is by far greater than the Temple and can take anything He wants of what exists in creation, because God has made everything a footstool for the Word. And I take and give. And that applies both to the ears of corn of the Father, laid on the immense table of the Earth, and to the Word. I take and give. Both to the good and to the wicked. Because I am Mercy. But you do not know what is Mercy. If you knew what My being Mercy means, you would also know that I want nothing but mercy. If you knew what Mercy is, you would not have condemned innocent people. But you do not know. You do not even know that I do not condemn you, you do not know that I will forgive you, nay, I will ask the Father to forgive you. Because I want mercy and not punishment. But you do not know. You do not want to know. And that is a greater sin than the one you impute to Me, it is greater than the one you say these innocent men have committed. You must know that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath and that the Son of man is master also of the Sabbath. Goodbye...»
He turns to His disciples: « Come. Let us go and look for a place where to lie down among the sands that are now near. The stars will keep us company and dew will refresh us. God, Who sent manna to Israel, will provide nourishment also for us, His poor faithful servants. » And Jesus leaves the rancorous group and goes away with His disciples, while night is falling with its first violet shadows...
They find at last a hedge of Indian figs, on the top leaves of which, bristling with thorns, are some fruit, which are beginning to ripen. Anything is good when one is hungry. And stinging themselves, they pick the ripest ones and proceed thus, until the fields become sandy dunes. The noise of the sea can be heard in the distance.
« Let us rest here. The sand is soft and warm. Tomorrow we will go to Ashkelon » says Jesus and tired as they are, they all lie down at the foot of a high dune.