27th July 1945.
Jesus, hot and covered with dust, goes back to the house in Capernaum with Peter and John.
He has just entered the kitchen garden and is going towards the kitchen, when the landlord calls Him familiarly saying: « Jesus, that lady of whom I spoke to You at Bethsaida, has come again looking for You. I told her to wait and I took her to the room upstairs. »
« Thank you, Thomas. I will go to her at once. If the others come tell them to wait here. » And Jesus goes upstairs immediately, without even taking off His mantle.
On the terrace at the top of the staircase there is Marcella, Martha's maid. She is standing there alone. « Oh! Master. My mistress is inside. She has been waiting for You for so many days » says the woman kneeling down to worship Jesus.
« I rather thought that. I will go to her at once. May God bless you, Marcella. »
Jesus lifts the curtain protecting the room from the excessively bright sunshine, for although the sun is now setting, it is still very warm and the white houses in Capernaum seem to be ablaze in the red glare of a huge brazier. In the room, sitting near the window is Martha, enveloped in a mantle and covered with a veil. She is perhaps contemplating the part of the lake where a woody hill protrudes into the water forming a promontory. Perhaps she is only contemplating her own thoughts. She is certainly absorbed in thought and in fact she does not hear the light shuffling of the feet of Jesus who is walking towards her. And she starts when He calls her.
« Oh! Master! » she exclaims. And she falls on her knees, with outstretched arms, as if she were imploring help and then she bends so low as to touch the floor with her forehead, and she bursts into tears.
« What is the matter? Stand up. Why are you weeping so bitterly? Have you some misfortune to tell Me? You have? What is it? Do you know that I was at Bethany? You do? And I was told that there was good news. But now you are weeping... What happened? » and He compels her to stand up and makes her sit on a bench against the wall, while He sits in front of her.
« Now, take off your veil and mantle, as I am doing. You must be suffocating under them. And I want to see the face of My dear Martha, who is so upset, so that I may disperse all the clouds perturbing it. » Martha obeys, still weeping, and her flushed face and swollen eyes can now be seen.
« Well? I will help you. Mary sent for you. She wept very much, she wanted to know many things about Me, and you thought that that was a good sign, so much so that you wanted Me to come to complete the miracle. And I have come. And now?...»
« Now, nothing, Master! I was mistaken. Too keen a desire makes one see what does not exist... I made You come for nothing... Mary is worse than before... No! What am I saying? I am calumniating her, I am telling lies. She is not worse, because she does not want any more men around her. She is different, but still so bad. She seems to be mad... I no longer understand her... At least before I understood her. But now! Who can understand her? » and Martha weeps desolately.
« Now, calm down and tell Me what she does. Why is she bad? So, she does not want any more men around her. So I suppose that she leads a retired life at home. Is that so? It is? Good. That is very good. The fact that she wanted you to stay with her, as if she wanted to be defended against temptations – that is what you wrote – and the fact that she wanted to avoid temptations by shunning guilty acquaintances or what might lead to such relationship, are signs of good will. »
« Do You think so, Master? Do You really think that? »
« Of course I do. So why do you think that she is bad? Tell Me what she does...»
« Well. » Martha, who is somewhat encouraged by Jesus' certainty, speaks more calmly. « Well. Since I came here, Mary has never left the house or the garden, not even to go out on the lake in her boat. And her nurse told me that even before I came, she hardly ever went out. Apparently this change began at Passover. But before my arrival, some people used to come and see her and did not always refuse to see them. Sometimes she gave instructions not to let anybody pass. And it appeared to be a standing order. But then she would go as far as striking the servants, motivated by unjust anger, if upon hearing the voices of visitors, she went to the hall and found out that they had already been sent away. However, she has not done that again, since I came. The first night she said to me, and that is why I was so hopeful: “Hold me back, if necessary tie me. But don't let me go out, don't let me see anybody but you and my nurse. Because I am not well and I want to recover. But those who come to me or want me to go to them, are like feverish marshes. And they make me grow worse. But their appearance is so handsome, so flowery and joyful, their fruit is so pleasant looking, that I cannot resist them, because I am a poor wretch. Your sister is weak, Martha. And some people take advantage of her weakness to make her do foul things, to which a part of me does not agree. The only part which is still left to me of my poor mother...” and she wept. And I did that. I did it kindly when she was reasonable; but I acted firmly when she looked like a wild beast in a cage. She never rebelled against me. On the contrary, when the worst moments of temptation are over, she comes and weeps at my feet, resting her head on my lap and she says: “Forgive me, forgive me!” and if I ask her: “For what, sister? You have not grieved me”, she replies: “Because a little while ago, or yesterday evening, when you said to me: 'You are not going out from here', I hated and cursed you in my heart and I wished you would die.” Is she not to be pitied, my Lord? Is she perhaps mad? Has her vices made her mad? I think that one of her lovers has given her a philter to make her a slave of his lust and that its poison has gone to her brains...»
« No. It is not a question of philters or madness. It is something quite different. But go on. »
« So she is respectful and obedient to me. And she has not ill-treated the servants any more. But after the first evening, she has not asked anything else about You. and if I mention You, she changes the subject. But she sits for hours and hours on a rock where the belvedere is, looking at the lake, until she becomes dazzled, and every time a boat sails by she asks me: “Do you think it is the boat of the Galilean fishermen?” She never mentions Your Name or the names of the apostles. But I know that she thinks of You and of them in Peter's boat. And I realise that she thinks of You because sometimes in the evening, when we are walking in the garden or before going to bed, and I am doing needlework, while she does nothing, she says to me: “Is that how one must live according to the doctrine you follow?” And sometimes she weeps, sometimes she laughs sarcastically, like a mad person or a demon.
On other occasions she lets down her hair, which is always arranged so artistically, and she makes two plaits, she puts on one of my dresses and then she comes to me, with her plaits behind her back or in front of her, modest and young looking in my high-necked dress, and also because of her plaits and countenance and she says to me: “Is that what Mary should be like?” and even then sometimes she weeps kissing her wonderful plaits, which are as thick as her arms and reach down to her knees, the living gold which was my mother's pride, at times, instead, she laughs in her ghastly way or she says to me: “Look, I had rather do this and be done with it” and she ties her plaits round her neck and pulls them tight until her face becomes purple, as if she wanted to strangle herself.
At times she pities or ill treats herself, and that obviously happens when she feels the temptations of her flesh more fiercely. I have caught her striking her breast and scratching her face savagely or banging her head against a wall and when I asked her: “Why are you doing that?” she would look at me with a wild deranged expression saying: “To tear myself, my bowels, my head to pieces. Cursed harmful things must be destroyed. And I am destroying myself.” And if I speak to her of God's mercy, of You – because I still speak to her of You, as if she were the most faithful of Your women disciples, and I swear to You that at times I am horrified at mentioning Your name in her presence – she replies: “There can be no mercy for me. I have gone beyond the limit.” She is then seized by a fit of despair and shouts, beating herself till she draws blood: “Why have I this monster that tears me to pieces? And it gives me no peace. And it leads me to evil deeds by means of sweet singing voices, to which it then adds the cursing voices of my father and mother, of you and Lazarus, because you and Lazarus curse me, too, and Israel curses me and it makes me hear them to drive me mad...”
When she says that, I reply to her: “Why are you worried about Israel, which is only a people, and you do not think of God? But since you trampled on everything without considering what you were doing, endeavour now to overcome everything and do not worry about worldly things, but care only for God, your father and mother. If you change your life, they will not curse you, but will stretch their arms out to you...” And she listens to me, pensive, astonished as if I were telling her an unreal story, and then she weeps... But does not reply.
At times, instead she orders the servants to bring her wines and drugs and she eats and drinks those artificial nourishments and explains: “I do that to forget.” Now, since she found out that You are here in the lake area, every time she sees me come to You, she says: “I will come sometime, too” and laughing in that manner which is an insult to herself, she concludes: “Thus the eye of God will fall also upon manure.” But I do not want her to come. And now, when I want to come, I wait until she falls asleep, when she is exhausted with being angry, with drinking and weeping... with everything. Also today I ran away like that, so that I can go back at night before she awakes. That is my life... I no longer hope...» and she resumes weeping more bitterly than previously, as her tears are no longer restrained by the effort of speaking calmly.
« Do you remember, Martha, what I told you once? “Mary is ill.” You did not want to believe it. Now you can see it. You say that she is mad. She says herself that she is ill and suffers from a sinful fever. I say: she is ill because she is possessed by a demon. It is still a disease. And her incoherent behaviour, her fury, her tears, her affliction, her longing for Me are stages of her illness, which has come to a moment of crisis and has its most violent fluctuations. You are doing the right thing in being good to her and patient with her. You are right in speaking to her of Me. Do not be disgusted at mentioning My Name in her presence.
Poor soul of My Mary! Her soul also was created by the Father and it is in no way different from all other souls, from yours, from Lazarus', from the souls of the apostles and disciples. Her soul also was included and foreseen to be amongst the souls for whom I became flesh in order to be their Redeemer. In actual fact I have come more for her than for you, Lazarus, the apostles and disciples. Poor soul of My Mary, who is suffering so much! Oh My poor Mary who has been poisoned with seven poisons besides the first universal poison! Oh My imprisoned Mary! But let her come to Me! Let her breathe the air I breathe, let her hear My voice and meet My glance!... She calls herself: “Manure...” Oh! My poor dear soul in whom the demon of pride is the weakest of the seven possessing her! Only because of that she will be saved! »
« And if she should find someone who may lead her astray once again, when she comes out? She is afraid of that herself...»
« And she will always be afraid of that, now that she has gone so far as to loathe vice. But be not afraid. When a soul already has the desire of coming to God, and is held back only by the diabolic Enemy, who is aware that he is going to lose his prey, and by the personal enemy of one's ego, which reasons in a human way and judges itself in a human way, ascribing to God its own judgement to prevent the soul from controlling the human ego, then that soul is already strong enough against the attacks of vice and of vicious people. It has found the Polar Star and will no longer deviate.
And do not say to her again: “You have not thought of God and You are instead thinking of Israel?” It is an implicit reproach. Do not do that. She has just come out of a fire. She is one big sore. Touch her lightly only with balms of kindness, of forgiveness and hope... Leave her free to come. You must tell her when you are thinking of coming, but do not say to her: “Come with me.” On the contrary, if you understand that she wants to come, do not come yourself. Go back and wait for her at home. She will come back to you broken by Mercy. Because I must remove the wicked power that is holding her and for a few hours she will look like a woman whose veins have been cut or whose bones have been removed by a doctor. But later she will feel better. She will be dumbfounded. She will be in great need of caresses and silence. Assist her as if you were her second guardian angel: without letting her perceive your presence.
And if you see her weeping, let her weep. And if you hear her asking herself questions, leave her alone. And if you see her smile, and then become serious, and then smile once more in a different way, with a different look, with a different countenance, do not ask her questions, do not make her feel uneasy. She is suffering more now, ascending, than she did, descending. And she must ascend by herself, as she descended by herself. She could not bear you to look at her when she was descending, because your eyes were full of reproach. And she cannot bear you to look at her now that her sense of shame has been aroused at last. Then she was strong, because Satan, her master, was with her and a wicked strength supported her and she could challenge the world, and yet she could not bear to be seen by you in her sin.
Now Satan is no longer her master. He is still a guest in her, but Mary's will is holding him by the throat. And she has not Me yet. That is why she is too weak. She cannot even bear your caressing sisterly eyes watching her confession to her Saviour. All her energy is employed and consumed in holding the septuple demon by the throat. For all the rest she is defenceless and unclothed. But I will reclothe her and fortify her. Go in peace, Martha. And tomorrow tell her tactfully that I shall be speaking near the torrent of the Fountain, here in Capernaum, after vesper. Go in peace. I bless you. »
Martha is still perplexed. « Do not become incredulous, Martha » says Jesus Who is watching her.
« No, my Lord. But I was thinking... Oh! Give me something that I may give Mary, to give her a little strength... She is suffering so much... and I am so afraid that she may not be able to triumph over the demon! »
« You are a little girl! Mary has Me and you. Can she possibly not succeed? However, take this. Give me your hand, which has never sinned, and has always been kind, merciful, active and pious. It has always made gestures of love and prayer. It has never been lazy or idle or corrupt. Now, I will hold it between My hands to make it even holier. Raise it against the demon and he will not endure it. And take this belt of Mine. Never part with it. And every time you see her, say to yourself: “The power of Jesus is stronger than this belt of Jesus and by it everything can be overcome: demons and monsters as well. I must not be afraid.” Are you happy now? My peace be with you. Go in peace. »
Martha worships Him and goes out. Jesus smiles when he sees her climb on to the wagon, which Marcella has called to the gate, and depart towards Magdala.