30th July 1945.
« I think we are going to have a storm today, Master. Can You see those leaden clouds advancing from behind the Hermon? And look how the lake is ruffling! And You can feel the gusts of the north wind alternating with wide warm Sirocco blasts. Whirlwinds: a sure sign of a storm. »
« In how long, Simon? »
« Before the first hour is over. See how the fishermen are hurrying back. They can hear the lake grumble and growl. It will soon be leaden as well, then it will become pitch-black and finally it will burst forth in all its fury. »
« But it looks so calm! » remarks Thomas incredulously.
« You are familiar with gold, and I with water. It will be as I say. It is not even a sudden storm. It is brewing with clear signs. The surface of the water is calm, only tiny ripples, as if it were nothing. But if you were out in a boat! You would hear thousands of knuckles striking the keel and shaking the boat in a strange way. The water is already bubbling underneath. Just wait for the sign from the sky and then you will see!... Let the north wind become knotted with Sirocco! And then!... Ehi! women! Take in what you have been hanging out and shelter your domestic animals. In a short while it will be raining in buckets. »
In fact the sky is becoming more and more greenish, with slate-veins caused by the continuous flowing of clouds that seem to be erupted by great Hermon. They drive dawn back to where it came from, as if the hours were falling back towards night instead of proceeding towards midday. Only a sunbeam persists in shining through the barrier of dark clouds tinging the top of a hill southwest of Capernaum with an unreal yellow-green hue. The lake has changed from sky-blue to purple-blue and the foam of the first small broken waves looks oddly white against the dark water. There are no boats on the lake now. Fishermen hasten to beach their boats, to put away nets, baskets, sails and oars, while peasants make haste to get their harvest in, they ensure that awnings are properly fastened to poles and they close the cattle in their stables; women rush to the well before the rain starts, or they gather together the children, who got up early, and push them into the houses, like brooding-hens aware of an oncoming hail-storm.
« Simon, come with Me. Call also Martha's servant and My brother James. Get a large piece of canvas. A strong large piece. There are two women on the road and we must go and meet them. »
Peter looks at Him curiously, but he obeys without wasting any time. On the way, while they are running southwards through the village, Simon asks: « But who are they? »
« My Mother and Mary of Magdala. »
The shock is such that Peter stops for a moment as if he were nailed to the ground and he exclaims: « Your Mother and Mary of Magdala!? Together!? » He then resumes running, as neither Jesus nor James nor the servant have stopped. But he repeats: Your Mother and Mary of Magdala! Together!... Since when? »
« Since she is Mary of Jesus. Be quick, Simon, it is beginning to rain...»
Peter strives to keep up with his companions, who are taller and faster than he is. Clouds of dust now rise from the parched road, Flown by a wind, which is becoming stronger and stronger every moment, ruffling the lake and raising breakers, which pound roaring on the shore. When it is possible to see the lake it looks like a huge cauldron boiling furiously. Waves three or four feet high rise in all directions, clashing, merging, swelling, then parting in opposite directions, seeking other waves to plunge into: a foaming duel of wave crests, of swelling masses of water, of roaring billows reaching the shore and lashing the houses closest to it. When houses conceal the view of the lake, the latter discloses its presence with a roar exceding the howl of the wind that bends trees tearing off foliage and fruit: a deafening roar exceeding the rumble of prolonged threatening thunders, preceded by flashes of lightning, which are becoming more and more frequent and powerful.
« I wonder how frightened those women must be » mumbles Peter panting.
« Not My Mother. I do not know about the other. But if we do not hurry they will certainly get drenched. »
They have left Capernaum about one hundred yards behind, proceeding through clouds of dust and very heavy rain, a real downpour, which furrows obliquely the gloomy air so violently that the rain is pulverised and thus blinds them and takes away their breath, when they see two women running and seeking shelter under a large tree.
« There they are. Let us run! »
Although Peter's love for Mary lends wings to his feet, short-legged as he is and not a very good runner, he arrives when Jesus and James have already covered the two women with a large piece of a sail.
« We cannot stop here. There is the danger of thunderbolts and in a short while the road will be a torrent. Let us go, Master. At least as far as the nearest house » says Peter out of breath.
They set out with the women in the middle of them, holding the canvas over their heads and backs. The first word that Jesus addresses to Mary, who is still wearing the dress she had on the evening of the banquet in Simon's house, with a mantle of the Blessed Virgin on her shoulders, is: « Are you afraid, Mary? »
Mary Magdalene, whose head is lowered under her veil and whose hair has become thoroughly dishevelled running in the rain, lowers her head even further, blushes and whispers: « No, my Lord. »
Also Our Lady has lost some hairpins and She looks like a little girl with her plaits hanging down her back. She smiles at Her Son Who is beside Her and speaks to Him through that smile.
« You are soaking, Mary » says James of Alphaeus touching Our Lady's veil and mantle.
« It does not matter. We are not getting wet now. Is that right, Mary? He has rescued us also from the rain » says Mary kindly to the Magdalene, of whose painful embarrassment She is fully aware. Mary nods assent.
« Your sister will be happy to see you. She is at Capernaum. She was looking for you » says Jesus.
Mary looks up for a moment and stares at Jesus with her beautiful eyes, while Jesus speaks to her with the simplicity He uses with the other women disciples. But she does not say anything. She is stifled by too many emotions.
Jesus concludes: « I am glad I kept her. I will let you go after I have blessed you. »
His last words are lost in the sharp crash of a nearby thunderbolt. The Magdalene is fear-struck for a moment. She covers her face with her hands, bends her head bursting into tears.
« Don't be afraid! » says Peter encouraging her. « It is over now. You must never be afraid when you are with Jesus. »
Also James, who is beside the Magdalene, says to her: « Do not weep. The houses are not far now. »
« I am not crying for fear... I am weeping because He said to me that He will bless me... I... I...» but she can say no more.
The Blessed Virgin intervenes in order to calm her saying: « Mary, you have already overcome your storm. Think no more about it. Now everything is serene and peaceful. Is that right, My Son? »
« Yes, Mother. It is all very true. Before long the sun will be shining, and everything will look more beautiful, cleaner and fresher than yesterday. It will be the same with you, Mary. »
And His Blessed Mother, pressing the Magdalene's hand continues: « I shall repeat your words to Martha. I am glad that I can see her at once and tell her how her Mary is full of good will. »
Peter, paddling in the watery mud and bearing patiently with the deluge, comes out from under the canvas and runs towards a house to ask for shelter.
« No, Simon » says Jesus. « We all prefer to go home. Is that right? »
Everybody agrees and Peter goes back under the piece of sail.
Capernaum is like a desert. Wind, rain, thunder and lightning prevail there, together with hailstones, which are now striking houses and terraces sounding and bouncing. The lake is dreadfully impressive. The waves lash the houses near it, because the little beach has disappeared and the boats fastened near the houses seem to have sunk so full they are of water, which breakers keep pouring into them, while the water already in them overflows.
They run into the kitchen garden, which has become a huge puddle with rubbish floating on the muddy water, and then enter the kitchen where they are all gathered.
Martha gives a scream when she sees her sister held by the hand by Mary. She clasps her neck, but does not realise how wet she is, she kisses her and calls her: « Miŕ, Miŕ, my darling! » Perhaps that is the pet-name by which they called the Magdalene when she was a little girl.
Mary is weeping, with her head resting on her sister's shoulder, and covers Martha's dark dress with her thick golden hair, the only shining thing in the dark kitchen where a little fire of brushwood gives some light, while a little lamp hardly sheds any.
The apostles are dumbfounded and so are the landlord and his wife, who look into the kitchen upon hearing Martha's scream, and after a moment of understandable curiosity they withdraw discreetly.
When her effusions of loves have somewhat calmed down, Martha notices Jesus and Mary and realises that it is strange that they should be all together. She thus asks her sister, Our Lady and Jesus – I could not say whom she asks more insistently –: « But... how is it that you are all together? »
« The storm, Martha, was approaching. I went with Simon, James and your servant to meet the two pilgrims. »
Martha is so shocked that she does not consider the fact that Jesus was so certain in going to meet them and does not ask: « But... did You know? ». The question, however, is asked by Thomas, who gets no reply because Martha says to her sister: « But why were you with Mary? »
The Magdalene lowers her head.
Our Lady comes to her rescue taking her by the hand and saying: « She came to Me as a pilgrim goes to a place where she can be told which road to take to reach her destination. And she said to Me: “Teach me what I must do to belong to Jesus.” And since she is animated by thorough good will, she understood that wisdom at once! And I found that she was ready to be taken by the hand and led to You, My Son, and to you, good Martha, and to you, brother-disciples, and say to you: “Here is Your disciple and your sister, who will give but supernatural joys to her Lord and to her brothers.” I ask you to believe Me and to love her as Jesus and I love her. »
The apostles then gather round her greeting their new sister. There is, of course, a certain amount of curiosity... But how could that be avoided?! After all... they are still men...
It is Peter's common sense that says: « That's all very well. You have assured her assistance and holy friendship. But we ought to consider that our Mother and sister are drenched to the skin... We are soaking, as well, to tell you the truth... But they are in a worse situation. Their hair is dripping water like willow trees after a storm and their clothes are wet and muddy. Let us light a fire, and get dresses for them and prepare some warm food...»
Everybody becomes busy: Martha takes the two drenched travellers into the room, the fire is kindled and the wet garments, veils and mantles are hung in front of it. I do not know what arrangements they are making in the room... I see that Martha, who has found once again her energy of a very good housekeeper, comes and goes solicitously, carrying basins and hot water, cups of hot milk, garments lent by the landlady, to assist the two Maries...