17th July 1945.
« Shall we go to Ekron from Jabneel? » ask some of the apostles while walking across a very fertile country, in which the corn is taking its final sleep in the bright sunshine that has ripened it. The mown fields resemble immense sad death beds, now that they are bereft of corn ears with loads of corn awaiting to be carried elsewhere.
But if the fields are barren, the orchards are a most pleasant sight, with the fruit about to ripen, changing colour from the green of the little hard ones to the soft yellowish, pinkish, waxy shiny shades of those that are more ripe. The figs open their very sweet caskets of flower-fruits, bursting their elastic skins to reveal, through whitish-green or violet cracks, a transparent jelly replete with tiny seeds, which are darker in colour than the pulp itself.
With each tiny wafting breeze the olive-trees shake, likewise, the oval-shaped fruits suspended on delicate stems amid the silver-green foliage. The dignified walnut trees sustain their firm-stalked fruits, which swell within the plush of the husks, while the almond-trees are ripening their fruits as is evidenced by the velvety texture and changing colour of the individual nuts. Grapes in general are swelling while a few bunches, favourably placed, try to show the topaz or ruby of maturity. Day by day the cacti on the plain or lower hill sides are becoming a brighter sight with magnificent coloration on the seed clusters contained within and held skywards and ripened within the protection of the strong thorny leaves.
Isolated palm-trees and thick carob-trees remind one of nearby Africa and while the former click the castanets of their hard fan shaped leaves, the latter have dressed themselves in dark enamel and are standing haughtily stiff on their lovely foliage.
Tall agile goats, both white and black, all with long curved horns and soft keen eyes, feed on cacti and attack fleshy agaves, those huge brushes with hard thick leaves which, like open artichokes, shoot up from the centre of their hearts their gigantic seven branched stalk, resembling a cathedral candelabrum, with its sweet-smelling yellow-red flower blazing on top.
Africa and Europe have come together to cover the ground with most beautiful vegetation, and as soon as the apostolic group leaves the plain to take a path that climbs up the hill literally covered with vineyards on this side facing the sea – a rocky calcareous slope where the grapes must be of immense value when their juice changes into julep – there appears the sea, my sea, the sea of John, the sea of God. It appears draped in its immense blue silk crepe and it speaks of distances, of infinity, of power, while it sings with the sky and the sun the trio of the creating glories. And the plain stretches out in its full undulated beauty with simulations of hills, only a few feet high, adjoining flat areas, with golden dunes stretching as far as towns and villages on the sea, white spots on the blue sea.
« How beautiful! How beautiful! » whispers John ecstatically.
« My Lord! The sea is the life of that boy. You must destine him for the sea. He seems to be seeing his bride when he sees the sea! » says Peter who does not discriminate much between sea and lake. And he smiles kindheartedly.
« He is already destined, Simon. You are all destined. »
« Oh! Good! And where are You sending me? »
« Oh! You!... »
« Tell me, be good! »
« To a place which is greater than your town and Mine and Magdala and Tiberias all put together. »
« I will get lost. »
« Do not be afraid. You will look like an ant on a large skeleton. But going to and fro untiringly you will bring the skeleton back to life. »
« I don't understand that at all... Tell me more clearly. »
« You will understand, you certainly will... » and Jesus smiles.
« And what about me? »
« And me? » They all want to know.
« This is what I will do. » And Jesus bends – they are on the gravelly bank of a torrent in the central part of which the water is still quite deep – and He picks up a handful of very fine gravel. He throws it into the air and it falls spreading in all directions. « There you are. Only this tiny stone is left in My hair. You will be scattered like that. »
« And You, brother, represent Palestine, don't You? » asks James of Alphaeus gravely.
« Yes, I do. »
« I would like to know who will be left in Palestine » asks James once again.
« Take this little stone. As a souvenir » and Jesus gives the little piece of gravel, which had remained entangled in His hair, to His cousin James and smiles.
« Could You not leave me in Palestine. I am the most suitable, because I am the coarsest, but I can still manage at home. Whereas abroad!... » says Peter.
« On the contrary, you are the least suitable to remain here.
You are all prejudiced against the rest of the world and you think it is easier to evangelize in a country of believers rather than in a country of idolaters or Gentiles. It is instead the very opposite. If you considered what true Palestine offers us in its higher classes and also, although to a lesser degree, in its people, and if you bore in mind that here, in a place where the name of Palestine is hated and the name of God, in its true meaning, is unknown, we have certainly not been received any worse than in Judaea, in Galilee and in the Decapolis, your prejudices would vanish and you would realise that I am right when I say that it is easier to convince ignorant people of the True God, than those of the People of God, who are subtle guilty idolaters, and proudly believe they are perfect and wish to remain as they are.
How many gems, how many pearls I see where you can see land and sea only! The land of the multitudes which are not Palestine. The sea of Mankind which is not Palestine and which, as sea, desires only to receive searchers to give them those pearls, and as land, to be searched to allow those gems to be taken. There are treasures everywhere. But they are to be looked for. Every clod of earth may conceal a treasure and nourish a seed, every depth may hide a pearl. What? Would you perhaps expect the sea to make havoc in its depths by means of furious storms to detach pearl-oysters from their beds and open them by the striking power of billows and thus offer them on the shore to lazy people who do not want to work, to cowards who do not want to run risks? Would you expect the earth to make trees out of grains of sand and give you fruit without any seed? No, My dear. Fatigue, work, courage are required. And above all, no prejudices.
You, I know, disapprove, some more some less, of this journey among the Philistines. Not even the glories, which this land reminds us of, the glories of Israel that speak from these fields, fecundated by Hebrew blood, shed to make Israel great, and from those towns torn one by one from the hands of those who possessed them, to crown Judah and make it a powerful nation, are capable of making you love this pilgrimage. And I will not say to you: not even the idea of preparing the ground to receive the Gospel and the hope of saving souls can convince you. I will not say that to you, among the many reasons which I present to your minds so that you may consider the justice of this trip. That thought is still too high for you. You will arrive at it one day. And then you will say: “We thought it was a whim, a pretext, we thought that the Master lacked love towards us by making us go so far, on a long painful journey, risking unpleasant situations. Instead it was love, it was foreseeing, it was to smooth our way, now that we no longer have Him with us, and we feel more lost than ever. Because then we were like vine shoots which grow in all directions, but they know that the vine will nourish them and that nearby there is a strong pole to support them, now instead we are shoots which must form a pergola by themselves, being still nourished by the stump of the vine, but with no trunk on which to lean.” That is what you will say and you will thank Me.
And after all!... Is it not lovely to go like this, dropping sparks of light, notes of heavenly music, celestial corollas, perfumes of truth, serving and praising God, on lands enveloped in darkness, in dumb hearts, on souls as sterile as deserts, to overcome the stench of Falsehood, and do that all together, thus, You and I, the Master and His apostles, with one only heart, one only desire, one only will? So that God may be known and loved. So that God may gather all peoples under His tent and everybody may be where He is. That is the hope, the desire, the hunger of God! And that is the hope, the desire, the hunger of souls, who are not of different races, but belong to one race only: the one created by God. And since they all are the sons of the One God, they have the same desires, the same hopes, the same hungers for Heaven, for Truth, for real Love...
Centuries of errors seem to have changed the instinct of souls. But it is not so. Errors envelop minds. Because minds are mingled with flesh and feel the effects of the poison with which Satan inoculated the animal man. And thus errors can envelop hearts because they are engrafted into the flesh as well, and feel the effect of the poison. The treble concupiscence bites senses, sentiments and thoughts. But the spirit is not engrafted into the flesh. It may be stunned by the blows which Satan and concupiscence deliver it. It may be almost blinded by the allurements of the flesh and by the sprays of boiling blood of the animal man, into whom it is infused. But it has not changed its longing for Heaven, for God. It cannot change. See the clear water of this torrent? It descended from the sky and it will go back to the sky through the evaporation of water caused by winds and sun. It descends and rises again. Elements are not consumed, they go back to their origin.
The spirit goes back to its origin. If this water here, among these stones, could speak, it would tell you that it longs to go back to the sky, to be blown by the winds along the fields of the firmament, a soft white cloud, or a pinkish one at dawn, or bright copper at sunset, or like a violet flower at twilight when stars begin to peep. It would tell you that it would like to act as a sieve for the stars peeping through the gaps of cirri to remind men of Heaven, or as a veil for the moon, so that she might not see the nocturnal ugly deeds on the earth, rather than be here, confined between banks, under the menace of becoming mud, compelled to see copulations of water snakes and toads, while it is so fond of the solitary freedom of the atmosphere. Also spirits, if they dared to speak, would say the same thing: “Give us God! Give us the Truth!” But they do not say that, because they know that man is not aware of, does not understand or mocks the entreaties of the “great beggars”, of the spirits who seek God to satisfy their terrible hunger: their hunger for the Truth.
The idolaters, the Romans, the atheists, the unhappy we meet on our way, and you will always meet, those who are despised in their desire for God, either through politics or family selfishness, or through heresies born of filthy hearts and spread throughout nations: they are all hungry! They are hungry! And I have mercy on them. And should I not have mercy on them, being He Who I am? If out of pity I provide food for men and sparrows, why should I not have mercy on the spirits, who have been prevented from being of the True God, and who stretch out the arms of their spirits shouting: “We are hungry!”? Do you think that they are wicked, or savages, or unable to go as far as love God's Religion and God Himself? You are wrong. They are spirits awaiting love and light.
This morning we were woken by the threatening bleating of the billy-goat that wanted to drive away the big dog which had come to sniff Me. And you laughed seeing how the ram pointed its horns threateningly, after tearing the little rope by which it was tied to the tree, under which we slept, and with one bound it placed itself between Me and the dog, without considering that it might have been attacked and slaughtered by the Molossian hound in the uneven struggle to defend Me. Likewise, the peoples who seem wild rams to you, will go as far as to courageously defend the Faith of Christ, once they have learned that Christ is Love inviting them to follow Him. He invites them. He does. And you must help them to come.
Listen to a parable.
A man got married and his wife bore him many sons. But one of them was born deformed in his body and seemed to be of a different race. The man considered him a dishonour and did not love him, although the child was innocent. The boy was brought up amongst the lowest servants and was thoroughly neglected and thus he was considered an inferior being also by his brothers. His mother had died in giving birth to him and consequently she could not mitigate his father's harshness, or stop the mockery of his brothers, or correct the wrong ideas conceived in the primitive mind of the child, a little wild beast unwillingly tolerated in the house of the beloved sons.
And thus the boy became a man. His reason developed late but finally reached maturity and he understood that it was unfair for a son to be brought up in a stable, to be fed with a piece of bread and clothed with rags, without ever receiving a kiss, or being spoken to or being invited to his father's house. And he suffered bitterly and would lament in his den: “Father! Father!” He ate his bread, but there was still a great hunger in his heart. He covered himself with his clothes, but he felt bitter cold in his heart. Some animals and some pitiful people of the village were friendly to him. But his heart was full of solitude. “Father! Father!”... The servants, his brothers, his fellow citizens heard him moan thus all the time, as if he were mad. And he was called the “madman”.
At last one of the servants dared to go to him, when he had become almost an animal, and said to him: “Why do you not throw yourself at the feet of your father?”
“I would, but I dare not...”
“Why do you not come into the house?”
“I am afraid.”
“But would you like to?”
“Of course I would! Because that is what I hunger for, why I feel cold, and I feel as if I were in a desert. But I do not know how to live in my father's house.”
The good servant then began to teach him, to make him look more decent, to relieve him of his terror of being unpleasant to his father, saying: “Your father would like to have you, but he does not know whether you love him. You always avoid him... Relieve your father of the remorse of dealing too severely with you and of the grief of knowing that you are forlorn. Come. Your brothers also will no longer laugh at you because I told them of your grief.”
And the poor son one evening was guided by the good servant to his father's house and he cried: “Father, I love you, let me come in!...”
And his father, who was now old and was sadly pondering on his past and his eternal future, started at that voice and said: “My sorrow is subsiding at last because in the voice of my deformed son I heard my own, and his love is the proof that he is blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh. Let him therefore come and take his place amongst his brothers and blessed be the good servant who made my family complete by bringing the rejected son among all the sons of his father.”
That is the parable. But in applying it, you must bear in mind that the Father of the spiritually deformed sons, that is, God - because schismatics, heretics, those who are separated, are spiritually deformed – was compelled to be severe by the voluntary deformities wanted by His sons. But His love never yielded. He is waiting for them. Take them to Him. It is your duty.
I taught you to say: “Our Father, give us this day our bread.” But do you realise what “our” means? It does not mean yours, of you twelve. Not yours as disciples of the Christ. But yours as men. For all men. For the present and the future ones. For those who know God and for those who do not know Him. For those who love God and His Christ and for those who do not love Him or love Him badly.
I put on your lips a prayer for everybody. It is your ministry. You, who know God and His Christ and love Them, must pray for everybody. I told you that My prayer is a universal one, and will last as long as the world. And you must pray universally, joining your voices and your hearts of apostles and disciples of Jesus' Church to those of people belonging to other Churches, which may be Christian but not apostolic. And you must insist, because you are brothers, you in the house of the Father, they outside the house of the common Father, with their hunger, their homesickness, until they also, like you, are given the true “bread” which is the Christ of the Lord, which is administered on apostolic tables, not on any other where it is mixed with impure aliments. You are to insist until the Father says to those deformed brothers: “My grief is subsiding, because I heard the voice and the words of My Only-Begotten First-Born in your voices. Blessed be those servants who have led you to the House of your Father in order to complete My Family.” Servants of an Infinite God, you must put infinity in every intention of yours. Have you understood?
There is Jabneel. Once the Ark passed by here on its way to Ekron, which was not able to keep it and sent it back to BethShemesh. The Ark is going to Ekron once again. John, come with Me. All the others will remain in Jabneel. Meditate and be careful how you speak. Peace be with you. »
And Jesus goes away with John and the ram which, bleating, follows Him like a dog.