4th August 1945.
In the house at Cana the rejoicing for Jesus' arrival is little less than it was at the miraculous wedding. There are no players, no guests, the house is not adorned with flowers and evergreens, there are no tables laid for many guests, nor any steward near the sideboards and the stone jars, full of wine. But love excels everything and it is given in the right form and measure, that is, not to the guest, who is probably also a distant relation, but still a man, but to the Master Guest Whose true Nature is known and acknowledged and Whose Word is venerated as something divine. The hearts in Cana, therefore, love with their whole selves the Great Friend, Who appeared in His linen tunic at the garden entrance, in the green of the garden and the red of the sunset, beautifying everything with His presence, communicating His peace not only to the hearts to whom He addresses His greeting, but also to things.
And it really seems that a veil of solemn joyful peace is laid out wherever He turns His blue eyes. Purity and peace flow from His eyes, wisdom from His lips and love from His heart. What I am about to say may seem impossible to the reader of these pages. And yet, the same place, which before Jesus' coming was an ordinary place, or a busy place excluding the possibility of peace, which supposedly should be free from work bustling, is ennobled as soon as He appears there, and the bustling becomes orderly and does not bar the possibility of supernatural thoughts mingled with manual labour. I do not know whether I have made myself clear.
Jesus is never sullen, not even when He is more disgusted with something that has happened, but is always majestically dignified and communicates such supernatural dignity to the place in which He moves. Jesus is never a jolly fellow or a complainer laughing coarsely or looking hypochondriac, not even in the moments of greatest delight or deepest depression. His smile is inimitable. No painter will ever be able to reproduce it. It is like a light emanating from His heart, a bright light in the hours of greatest joy because a soul has been redeemed or approaches Perfection: I would say a rosy smile, when He approves of the spontaneous deeds of His friends or disciples and enjoys their company; a blue angelical smile, to remain in the field of hues, when He bends over children to listen to them, teach them and then bless them; a smile mitigated by piety when He looks at the miseries of the flesh or the spirit; finally a divine smile, when He speaks of His Father or Mother, or looks at or listens to His Most Pure Mother.
I have never seen Him hypochondriac, not even in the hours of bitter torment. During the torture of being betrayed, during the anguish when He sweated blood, and the spasm of His passion, if melancholy overwhelmed the sweet refulgence of His smile, it was not sufficient to cancel the peace, which is like a diadem shining with heavenly gems on His smooth forehead and enlightening His divine person. Neither have I ever seen Him indulge in immoderate merriment. He is not averse to a hearty laugh, when the case demands it, but He immediately resumes His noble serenity. But when He laughs, He prodigiously looks younger, to the extent of looking like a twenty year old man and the world seems to blossom through His lovely, hearty, loud, melodious laughter. Neither can I say that I have seen Him do things hurriedly. Whether He moves or speaks, He does so calmly, without, however, being sluggish or listless. It is probably because, tall as He is, He can stride, without running, to go a long way and He can likewise reach at distant things without having to stand up to do so. Even the way He moves is certainly gentlemanly and majestic.
And what about His voice? Well: I have heard Him speak for almost two years, and yet at times I lose the thread of His speech as I become so engrossed in studying His voice. And Jesus, very kindly and patiently, repeats what He said and He looks at me with His smile of the good Master to ensure that nothing is missing in His dictation because of my delight in enjoying and listening to His voice and studying its tone and charm. But after two years I am not in a position to say precisely what the tone is. I definitely exclude the bass tone and also the light tenor tone. But I am always doubtful whether it is a powerful tenor voice or a perfect baritone voice with a very wide vocal range. I would say that it is the latter because His voice at times takes bronze-like notes, mellow and so deep, particularly when He speaks to a sinner, to lead him back to Grace or He points out human deviations to crowds. But when He analyses or condemns forbidden things or He shows the hypocrisy of men, the bronze notes of His voices become clearer; and they are as sharp as the peal of thunder when He imposes the Truth or His will and they vibrate like a sheet of gold struck with a crystal hammer when He sings the praises of Mercy or exalts the work of God; but the timbre of His voice is a most loving one when He speaks to or about His Mother. Jesus' voice is then really imbued with love: the reverent love of a son, and the love of God Who praises His most perfect work. And He uses the same tone, although not so strongly, when speaking to His favourites, to converts and to children. And His voice never tires, not even in very long speeches, because it colours and completes His thoughts and words, emphasising their power or kindness, according to the case.
And at times I remain still, with the pen in my hand, listening, and I then realise that He has gone too far ahead, and that it is impossible to catch up with Him... and I remain still, and Jesus kindly repeats the words. He does the same when I am interrupted, to teach me to patiently endure bothersome things or people, and I make Him understand how « bothersome » they are when they deprive me of the beatitude of listening to Jesus...
Now, at Cana, He is thanking Susanna for the hospitality granted to Aglae. They are by themselves under a pergola laden with grapes which are already ripening. All the others are in the kitchen, refreshing themselves.
« The woman was very good, Master. She certainly was not a burden to us. She helped me every time I did the washing, when we cleaned the house at Passover, as if she were a servant, and I can assure You that she worked like a slave to help me finish our clothes for Passover. She was prudent and withdrew every time someone came to the house; and she endeavoured not to be alone even with my husband. She hardly spoke in the presence of the family and took little food. She got up every morning to tidy herself before the men woke and I always found the fire lit and the house cleaned. But when we were alone she would ask me about You and begged me to teach her the psalms of our religion. She used to say: “That I may pray as the Master prays.” Has she finished to suffer now? Because she did suffer very much. She was afraid of everything and sighed and wept a great deal. Is she happy now? »
« Yes, supernaturally happy and free from fear. She is in peace. And I thank you for the good you did to her. »
« Oh! My Lord. What good? I treated her with love in Your name, because that is all I can do. She was a poor sister. I realised that. And I loved her, out of gratitude to the Most High Who has kept me in His grace. »
« And you have done more than if you had preached in the Bel Nidrasc. Now you have another one here. Did you recognise her? »
« Who does not know her here? »
« Nobody, that is true. But you and the district here do not know the second Mary, the one who will always be faithful to her vocation. Always. I ask you to believe it. »
« You say so. You know. I believe. »
« Say also: “I love.” I know that it is more difficult to pity and forgive one of our own people, who has sinned, than one who has the excuse of being a pagan. But if our regret in seeing family apostasies was keen, let our pity and forgiveness be keener. I have forgiven Israel everything » concludes Jesus, stressing the last words.
« And I will forgive, as far as I am concerned. Because I think a disciple should do what the Master does. »
« You are in the truth and God rejoices because of that. Let us go with the others. It is getting dark. It will be pleasant to rest in the peace of the night. »
« Will You not speak to us, Master? »
« I do not know yet. »
They go into the kitchen where food and drinks have been prepared for supper.
Susanna moves forward and blushing slightly she says: « Will my sisters come upstairs with me? We must lay the tables because afterwards we must prepare beds for the men. I could do it by myself. But it would take me longer. »
« I am coming, too, Susanna » says the Blessed Virgin.
« No, we are enough and it will help us to become acquainted with one another, work does help to fraternise. »
They go out together while Jesus, after drinking some water flavoured with some syrup – I do not know what it is – goes and sits with His Mother, the apostles and the men of the house, in the cool shade of the pergola, leaving the servants and the elderly landlady free to finish preparing the food. The voices of the three women disciples laying the tables can be heard from the room upstairs.
Susanna tells of the miracle which was worked at her wedding and Mary of Magdala replies: « To change water into wine is a great thing, but to change a sinner into a woman disciple is even greater. God grant I become like that wine: that I may be of the best. »
« Have no doubt about it. He changes everything in a perfect way. There was one here, and a heathen in addition, whose sentiments and faith He changed. Can you doubt that the same will not happen to you, who are already an Israelite? »
« One? Young? »
« Young. Beautiful. »
« And where is she now? » asks Martha.
« Only the Master knows. »
« Ah! Well, she is the one of whom I spoke to you. Jesus was with Lazarus that evening and he heard the words which were spoken concerning her. What a sweet scent there was in that room! Lazarus' garments were imbued with it for several days. And yet Jesus said that the heart of the convert excelled it with the perfume of her repentance. I wonder where she has gone. I think to some solitary place...»
« She is lonely, and she was a stranger. I am here, and I am known. She expiates in solitude, I... living in the world, amongst those who know me. I do not envy her destiny, as I am with the Master. But I hope I will be able to imitate her one day, by being without anything that may distract me from Him. »
« Would you leave Him? »
« No. But He says that He will go away. My soul will then follow Him. I can defy the world with Him. Without Him I would be afraid of the world. I shall put a desert between me and the world. »
« And what about Lazarus and me? What shall we do? »
« What you did in your grief. You will love each other and will love me. And without blushing... Because you will then be alone, but you will know that I am with the Lord. And I will love you in the Lord. »
« Mary is strong and well determined in her decisions » comments Peter who has heard. And the Zealot replies: « She is a straight blade like her father. She has her mother's features, but her father's unyielding spirit. »
And the lady with the unyielding spirit is running down the stairs to tell her companions that supper is ready.
The country fades away in the serene moonless night. Only the faint light of stars shows the dark masses of trees and the white ones of houses. Nothing else. Some night birds are fluttering silently round Susanna's house, in search of flies, skimming past the people sitting on the terrace round a lamp, which throws a faint yellowish light on the faces of those who are gathered round Jesus. Martha, who must be terrified of bats, gives a scream every time a big noctule skims past her. Jesus instead is busy with the moths attracted by the lamp and with His long arm He endeavours to keep them away from the flame.
« They are both very stupid animals » says Thomas. The former mistake us for bluebottles, the latter mistake the flame for the sun and get burnt. They have not even got a shadow of brains. »
« They are animals. Do you expect them to reason? » asks the Iscariot.
« No. But I would like them to have instinct at least. »
« It is not possible for them to have it. I am talking of moths. Because they die after their first trial. Instinct awakes and develops through painful surprising experience » comments James of Alphaeus.
« And what about bats? They should have it because they live for years. They are stupid, that's all » retorts Thomas.
« No, Thomas. Not more than men. Many times men also look like stupid bats. They fly, or rather they flutter, like drunk men, round things that can only cause grief. Here you are: My brother has struck one down with his mantle. Give Me it » says Jesus.
James of Zebedee, at whose feet the stunned bat has fallen and is now tossing clumsily on the floor, picks it up with two fingers by one of its membranous wings and holding it out, like a dirty rag, lays it on Jesus' lap.
« Here is the unwary animal. Let us leave it alone and you will see that it will recover, but it will not change its habits. »
« An unusual rescue, Master. I would have killed it » says the Iscariot.
« No. Why? It has a life, too, and is keen on it » replies Jesus.
« I don't think so. It either does not know it has a life or is not keen on it. It endangers it! »
« Oh! Judas! Judas! How severe you would be with sinners, with men. Also men know that they have one life and another one and they do not hesitate to endanger both one and the other. »
« Have we got two lives? »
« The life of the body and the life of the soul, you know that. »
« Ah! I thought You were referring to reincarnation. Some people believe in it. »
« There is no reincarnation. But there are two lives. And yet man endangers both of them. If you were God how would you judge men, who are gifted with reason besides instinct? »
« Severely. Unless it were a person of unsound mind. »
« Would you not take into account the circumstances that make people morally insane? »
« No, I would not. »
« So you would have no mercy on anyone who knows God and is acquainted with the Law, and yet sins. »
« I would have no mercy. Because man must be able to control himself. »
« He should be able. »
« He must, Master. It is an unpardonable disgrace that an adult should commit certain sins, particularly when nothing forces him. »
« Which sins according to you? »
« The sins of sensuality first. One degrades oneself irreparably...»
Mary of Magdala lowers her head... Judas goes on: « ...and one corrupts others as well, because a kind of ferment exhales from the bodies of impure people and it upsets even the pure and urges them to imitate the impure...»
While the Magdalene lowers her head further, Peter says: « Hey, there! Don't be so severe! The first to be guilty of such unpardonable disgrace was Eve, and you are not going to tell me that she was corrupted by the impure ferment exhaling from a lascivious person. In any case I would like you to know that, as far as I am concerned, I am in no way upset even if I sit near a lustful person. It's his business...»
« One is always infected by being near. If the body is not, the soul is, and that is worse. »
« You seem a Pharisee! Excuse me, in that case one should lock oneself up in a crystal tower and stay there, sealed up. »
« But do not believe, Simon, that it would help you. Temptations are more dreadful in loneliness » says the Zealot.
« Oh! Well! They would be like dreams. No harm » replies Peter.
« No harm? Don't you know that temptations lead to cogitations, cogitations to compromise to satisfy somehow one's aroused instinct, and then compromise opens the way to refinement of sin in which sensuality is joined to thought? » asks the Iscariot.
« I know nothing about all that, my dear Judas. Perhaps because I have never cogitated, as you say, on certain things. But I think that we have gone very far from bats and that it is a good job that you are not God. Otherwise you would be all alone in Paradise, with your severity. What do You say, Master? »
« I say that it is wise not to be too absolute because the angels of the Lord listen to the words of men and record them in the eternal books and it might not be pleasant one day to be told: “Let it be done to you according to your own judgement.” I say that if God sent Me it means that He wants to forgive all the sins of which man repents, as He knows how weak man is, because of Satan. Judas, tell Me: do you agree that Satan may take possession of a soul so as to force coercion on it, which may diminish the gravity of sin in the eyes of God? »
« I do not. Satan can impair but the inferior part. »
« You are blaspheming, Judas of Simon » exclaim almost together the Zealot and Bartholomew.
« Why? In what way? »
« You are giving the lie to God and the Book. We read in it that Lucifer impaired also the superior part, and God, through His Word, has told us many times » Bartholomew replies.
« It is also said that man has free will. Which means that Satan cannot do violence to man's mind and feelings. Even God does not do it. »
« No, God does not, because He is Order and Loyalty. But Satan does, because he is Disorder and Hatred » insists the Zealot.
« Hatred is not the sentiment opposed to loyalty. You are wrong. »
« I am right, because if God is Loyalty and therefore does not fail to keep His word to leave man free in his actions, the demon cannot belie such word, as he never promised free will to man. But it is true that he is Hatred and therefore attacks God and man, assailing the intellectual freedom of man, in addition to his body, reducing such freedom of thought to slavery in possessed people, whereby man does things, which he would not do, if he were free from Satan » maintains the Zealot.
« I do not agree. »
« What about possessed people, then? You are denying the evidence of facts » shouts Judas Thaddeus.
« Possessed people are deaf, or dumb or insane. They are not lustful. »
« Is that the only vice you have in mind? » asks Thomas ironically.
« It is the most common one and the lowest. »
« Ah! I thought it was the one you are better acquainted with » says Thomas laughing. Judas jumps to his feet as if he wanted to react. But he controls himself and goes downstairs and then walks away through the fields.
There is silence... Then Andrew says: « His idea is not completely mistaken. In fact one would say that Satan takes possession only of senses: sight, hearing, speech and brains. But then, Master, how can certain wicked actions be explained? Are they not possessions? Doras, for example?...»
« Doras, as you say, in order not to be uncharitable towards anybody, and may God reward you for that, or Mary, as we all know, and she is the first to know, after the clear uncharitable hints by Judas, are those who are more completely possessed by Satan, who extends his power over the three great powers of man. They are the most oppressive and subtle possessions, from which only those can free themselves who are so little degraded in their souls as to be still able to understand the invitation of the Light. Doras was not lustful. But even so he would not come to the Redeemer. And that is where the difference lies. That is, whilst in the case of lunatic, dumb, deaf, blind people possessed by the demon, their relatives endeavour and do the necessary to bring them to Me. In the case of those whose spirits are possessed, only their spirits can seek freedom. That is why they are forgiven as well as freed. Because it was their will to begin opposition to the demon's possession. And now let us go and rest. Mary, since you know what it is to be caught, pray for those who lend themselves intermittently to the Enemy's action, committing sin and causing grief. »
« Yes, my Master. I will. And without any ill-feeling. »
« Peace to everybody. Let us drop here the cause of so much discussing. There is darkness with darkness, outside, in the night. But we are going inside to sleep under the protection of the angels. » And He lays on a bench the bat, which makes its first attempts to fly away, and He withdraws with the apostles to the room upstairs, while the women with the landlord and landlady go downstairs.