31st July 1945.
They are all gathered in the large room upstairs. The violent storm has turned into unceasing rain, which at times becomes a drizzle and almost stops and then suddenly changes to a downpour. The lake is certainly not blue today, it is yellowish with streaks of foam when the wind blows or it rains heavily. The hills are all very wet, and tree branches are still bent, thoroughly soaked. A few branches, broken by the wind, are hanging loose and many leaves torn off by hail stones are carried away by little streams everywhere: yellowish water which pours leaves, stones, and earth from the hillsides into the lake. The light is dim, greenish.
In the room there are the Blessed Virgin Mary, Martha and the Magdalene, sitting near a window overlooking the hills, and there are also two women, whom I do not know. But I am under the impression that they are already known to Jesus, Mary and the apostles, as they are apparently at ease. They certainly are more relaxed than the Magdalene is: she is sitting still, with her head lowered, between the Virgin Mary and Martha. They are now wearing their clothes, which have been dried by the fireplace and have been brushed to remove mud stains. No, I am wrong. The Blessed Virgin has put on Her dark blue woolen dress. But the Magdalene has borrowed a dress, which, tall and buxom as she is, is too short and tight for her and she endeavors to make up for the deficiency by enveloping herself in her sister's mantle. She has gathered her hair into two thick plaits, which she has somehow managed to tie in a knot on the nape of her neck, because it takes more than a few hairpins picked up there and then, to support the weight of her hair. In fact I have always noticed that the Magdalene, in addition to hairpins, uses a thin straw-colored ribbon, which looks like a fine diadema and blends with her golden hair.
Jesus, the apostles and the landlord are on the other side of the room, some are sitting on stools, some on the window-sills. Martha's servant is not there. Peter and the other fishermen are watching the weather and making forecasts for the following day. Jesus listens or replies to this one and that one.
« If I had known about this, I would have told my mother to come. It is only fair that the woman should feel at home with her companions » says James of Zebedee casting sidelong glances at the women.
« Eh! If we had known!... But why didn't mother come with Mary? » Thaddeus asks his brother James.
« I don't know. I would like to know myself. »
« Is she perhaps not feeling well? »
« Mary would have told us. »
« I will ask Her » and Thaddeus goes towards the women.
I can hear Mary's clear voice reply: « She is well. But I did not want her to overwork herself in this heat. We ran away like two little girls, did we not, Mary? Mary came late in the evening, when it was dark and we left at dawn. I only said to Alphaeus: “Here is the key. I shall be back soon. Tell Mary.” And I came away. »
« We shall go back together, Mother. As soon as the weather is settled and Mary has a dress, we shall all go together through Galilee and we shall accompany our sisters to the safest road. So Porphirea, Susanna, and your wives and daughters, Philip and Bartholomew, will meet them. » His expression: « Will meet them », instead of saying: « will meet Mary » is really exquisite. And it is also a strong one. It demolishes every prejudice and mental reservation of the apostles concerning the Magdalene. His words impose her, overcoming their reluctance, her shame, everything.
Martha's face shines with joy, Mary Magdalene blushes and her countenance is imploring, grateful, upset; what can I say?... The Most Holy Mother smiles kindly.
« Where shall we go first, Master? »
« To Bethsaida. Afterwards we shall go to Nazareth via Magdala, Tiberias and Cana. From Nazareth we shall proceed to Bethlehem in Galilee via Japhia and Shimron and then to Sicaminon and Caesarea... » Jesus is interrupted by an outburst of weeping of the Magdalene. He raises His head, looks at her and then continues as nothing had happened: « At Caesarea you will find your wagon. That is the instruction I gave the servant and you will go to Bethany. We shall meet later, at the Feast of the Tabernacles. »
Mary Magdalene collects herself at once, she does not reply to her sister's questions, but she goes out of the room and probably withdraws to the kitchen for a little while.
« Jesus, Mary suffers on hearing that she has to come to certain towns. We must understand her... I am saying this more for the disciples than for You » remarks Martha humbly and worriedly.
« That is true, Martha. But it must be so. If she does not face the world at once and does not overcome public opinion, which is a dreadful torturer, her heroic conversion will be paralysed. She must do that at once and in our company. »
« While she is with us no one will say anything to her. I can assure you, Martha, also on behalf of all my companions » promises Peter.
« Of course! We shall treat her as a sister. That is what Mary said she is and that is what she will be for us » confirms Thaddeus.
« After all!... We are all sinners and the world did not spare us either. So we can understand her struggle » says the Zealot.
« I understand her more than anyone else. It is very meritorious to live where we sinned. People know who we are!... It is a torture. But it is justice and glory to resist there. Precisely because the power of God is manifest in us, we spur others to turn, without even uttering words » says Matthew.
« You can see, Martha, that your sister is understood and loved by everybody. And she will be loved and understood more and more. She will be a reference mark for so many guilty and fearful souls. She is a great strength also for good people. Because after shaking off the last fetters of her humanity Mary will be a fire burning with love. She has only given a different course to the exuberance of her feelings. She has raised her powerful faculty to love to a supernatural level. And she will work wonders there. I can assure you. She is still upset now. But you will see her become calmer and stronger in her new life as days go by. In Simon's house I said: “She is pardoned much because she loves much.” I now solemnly tell you that she will be forgiven everything, because she will love her God with all her strength, her soul, her thought, her blood, her flesh, to the extent of holocaust. »
« She is lucky to deserve such words! I wish I deserved them, too » sighs Andrew.
« You? But you deserve them already! Come here, my fisherman. I want to tell you a parable that seems to have been thought up just for you. »
« Just a moment, Master. I am going to call Mary. She is so anxious to become acquainted with Your doctrine!... »
While Martha goes out the others arrange their seats so as to form a semicircle round Jesus. The two sisters come back and sit once again near the Blessed Virgin.
Jesus begins to speak: « Some fishermen took to the open sea and cast their net and after due time they hauled it on board. They were doing their work with considerable difficulty according to the instructions of a master, who had entrusted them with the task of supplying his town with choice fish, and had said to them: “Do not bother to bring ashore unwholesome or inferior quality fish. Throw them back into the sea. Other fishermen will catch them and as they work for another master, they will take them to his town, because they consume there what is harmful and thus makes the town of my enemy more and more horrible. Nothing unhealthy is to enter my beautiful, bright, holy town.”
Thus, after hauling the net on board the fishermen began their selection work. It was a good catch and the fish differed in appearance, size and colour. Some looked beautiful but their flesh was full of bones and tasted unpleasant; their bellies were full of mud, worms and rotten seaweed, which accentuated the bad taste of the fish. Others instead were ugly looking, like the sinister faces of criminals or resembled nightmare monsters, but the fishermen knew that their flesh was exquisite. Others were so insignificant that no one paid any attention to them. The fishermen continued their work until the baskets were all full of choice fish and only cheap fish were left in the net. “That is enough. The baskets are full. Let us throw the rest into the sea” said many of the fishermen.
But one of them, who had spoken very little, whilst the others had either exalted or derided every fish they happened to handle, went on searching in the net and among the cheap fish he found two or three that he placed on top of the baskets. “What are you doing?” the others asked him. “The baskets are full of beautiful fish. You are now spoiling them by placing that poor fish on top of them. You seem to consider them as the most beautiful of the lot.”
“Leave me alone. I know this kind of fish and I know how delicious it is.”
That is the parable, which ends with the blessing of the master for the patient, skillful, silent fisherman who was able to select the best fish in the great mass of them. Listen now to its application.
The master of the beautiful, bright holy town is the Lord. The city is the Kingdom of Heaven. The fishermen: My disciples. The fish of the sea: mankind, where every kind of people are present. The good fish: the saints.
The master of the dreadful town is Satan. The horrible town: Hell. His fishermen: the world, flesh, wicked passions embodied in Satan's servants, both spiritual, that is demons, and human, that is men, who corrupt their fellow men. The bad fish: mankind unworthy of the Kingdom of Heaven: damned souls.
Among the fishermen of souls for the City of God there will always be those who emulate the skill of the patient fisherman, who perseveres in his search just in those strata of mankind where his less patient companions pick only what appears to be good at first sight. And unfortunately there will be also some fishermen, who, being too absent-minded and talkative – attention and silence are required for the selection work in order to hear the voices of souls and supernatural indications – will not see the good fish and will lose them. And there will be some who through excessive intolerance will reject souls because their exterior aspect is not perfect, whilst they are excellent with regard to the rest.
What does it matter, if one of the fish you catch for Me shows signs of past struggles and mutilations due to many causes, if they do not injure his spirit? What does it matter to you, if one of them was wounded in freeing himself from the Enemy and presents himself with such wounds, if his interior clearly shows his will to belong to God? Tried souls are reliable souls. More reliable than those souls that are like children protected by swaddling clothes, cradles and mothers, and sleep peacefully after being fed, or smile happily, but who later on in life, when they become of age and can reason and have to face the vicissitudes of life, may be the cause of unpleasant surprises because of their moral deviations.
I wish to remind you of the parable of the prodigal son. And you will hear many more because I will always endeavor to teach you right judgment in examining consciences and in selecting the best method to guide consciences, which are individual and therefore each has its own special way of feeling and reacting to temptations and to your teaching. Do not think that it is easy to select souls. Far from it! It takes a spiritual eye shining with divine light and it takes an intellect infused with divine Wisdom, and possession of virtues in heroic degree, first of all charity. It is necessary to be able to concentrate on meditation because each soul is an obscure text to be read and meditated. And continuous union with God is required, forgetting all selfish interests. One must live for souls and for God, and be able to overcome prejudices, resentments, aversion. It is necessary to be as kind as a father and as hard as a warrior. Kind to give advice and to encourage. Hard to be able to say: “That is not allowed and you shall not do it.” Or: “It is right to do that and you shall do it.” Because – and you must consider this carefully – many souls will be thrown into the ponds of hell. But not only the souls of sinners. There will be also the souls of evangelical fishermen: of those who will have failed in their ministry, contributing thus to the loss of many souls.
The day will come, the last day of the earth, the first of the completed and eternal Jerusalem, when the angels, like the fishermen of the parable, will separate the just from the wicked and at the inexorable command of the Judge, the good will pass into Heaven and the wicked into the eternal fire. And then the truth will be made known concerning the fishermen and the fish, hypocrisy will collapse and the people of God will appear as they are, with their leaders and those saved by the leaders. We shall then see that many, who were outwardly insignificant and ill-treated, are the brightest ones in Heaven, and that the quiet patient fishermen are the ones who have done most and now shine with as many gems as the souls they saved.
I have told you the parable and explained it. »
« And my brother?!... Oh! but... » Peter looks at him... and then at the Magdalene...
« No, Simon. I have no merit there. It was all the Master's work » says Andrew frankly.
« So, are the other fishermen, Satan's I mean, going to get the remnants? » asks Philip.
« They endeavour to take the best, the souls capable of the greatest prodigy of Grace, and they make use of the same men to do so, beside their own temptations. There are so many in the world who for a mess of pottage sell their birthright! »
« Master, the other day You said that there are many who allow themselves to be seduced by the allurements of the world. Are they those who fish for Satan? » asks James of Alphaeus.
« Yes, My brother. In that parable man allowed himself to be seduced by much money, which could give him much pleasure, losing thus every right to the Treasury of the Kingdom. But I solemnly tell you that out of one hundred men only one third can resist the temptation of gold or other enticements, and of that third only half can do it heroically. The world is dying suffocated because it voluntarily overburdens itself with the ties of sin. It is better to be devoid of everything rather than possess mean and illusive riches. Endeavour to imitate wise jewellers, who, when they are informed that a very rare pearl has been found, do not bother to keep so many small jewels in their safes, but they get rid of everything to buy the wonderful pearl. »
« Why then do You say that there is a difference in the missions with which You entrust those who follow You, and You say that we have to consider those missions as a gift of God? Should we not forgo them as well, because they are but crumbs compared to the Kingdom of Heaven » says Bartholomew.
« Not crumbs: they are means. They would be crumbs, or better still, they would be dirty straw, if they became man's aim in life. Those who busy themselves to obtain a position with a human profit, turn that position, even if it is a holy one, into dirty straw. You must instead accept it obediently, as a joyful duty and a complete holocaust, and you will turn it into a very rare pearl. A mission is a holocaust if fulfilled unreservedly, it is martyrdom and a glory. It drips tears, perspiration, blood, but forms a crown of eternal royalty. »
« You can really answer all questions! »
« Have you understood? Do you understand what I say by means of comparisons taken from every day life, but enlightened by a supernatural light that explains their eternal meaning? »
« Yes, Master, we do. »
« Remember then the method to teach crowds. Because that is one of the secrets of scribes and rabbis: to remember. I solemnly tell you that each of you, imbued with the wisdom that ensures the possession of the Kingdom of Heaven, is like the father of a family who takes from his treasury what is necessary for his family, making use of old and new things, for one only purpose, which is the welfare of his children. It is no longer raining. Let us leave the women in peace and go to old Tobit who is about to open his spiritual eyes on the dawn of next life. Peace to you, women. »