13th August 1945.
The people of Sicaminon, impelled by curiosity, besieged the place where the apostles were, all day long, awaiting the return of the Master. The women disciples, in the meantime, have not wasted any time, but have washed the clothes covered with dust and wet with perspiration, and on the little beach there is a bright display of garments drying in the wind and sunshine. As it is evening and getting dark, the dampness of sea fog is felt, so they hasten to take in the clothes, although they are still dampish. Before folding them they stretch them out in all directions and press them, so that they may look tidy to the respective owners.
« Let us take Mary's clothes to her at once » says Mary of Alphaeus. And she concludes: « She has been really suffering yesterday and today in that little stifling room!... »
I thus realise that Jesus has been absent for more than one day, during which time Mary of Magdala, who had only one dress, had to remain indoors, until her dress was dry.
Susanna replies: « Fortunately she never complains! I did not think she was so good. »
« And so humble, you should say, and reserved. Poor woman! It was the devil who tormented her! Since she was freed by my Jesus, she has become herself once again, exactly as she was when a girl. »
And talking to each other, they arrive back home carrying the laundry.
In the meanwhile Martha is busy preparing food and the Blessed Virgin is cleaning vegetables in a copper basin and then boils them for supper.
« Here you are. Everything is dry, clean and folded. And they badly needed it. Go to Mary and give her her clothes » says Susanna handing the clothes to Martha.
The two sisters come back shortly afterwards. « I thank both of you. The sacrifice of wearing the same dress for days was the most painful one to me » says Mary of Magdala smiling. « I now feel fresh and cool. »
« Go and sit outside, there is a lovely breeze. You certainly need it after being closed in » remarks Martha, who, being smaller than her sister and not so buxom, was able to put on a dress of Susanna's or of Mary of Alphaeus', while her clothes were being washed.
« This time we had to make the best of it. But in future we will bring little bags, like the others, and we will not have all this trouble » says the Magdalene.
« What? Are you going to follow Him as we do? »
« Of course. Unless He tells me otherwise. I am now going to the beach to see whether they are coming back. Are they coming back this evening? »
« I hope so » replies the Most Holy Virgin. « I am worried because He has gone to Phoenicia. But I know that He is with the apostles and after all the Phoenicians may be better than many other people. When I went to the fountain, a mother stopped Me saying: “Are You with the Galilean Master, the One they call Messiah? If so, come and see my son. Fever has been tormenting him for over a year.” I went into the little house. Poor thing! He looks like a little flower about to die. I will tell Jesus. »
« There are others as well who want to be cured. They are more anxious to be cured than to be taught » says Martha.
« It is difficult for a man to be entirely spiritual. The voice and needs of the flesh are more strongly felt » replies the Virgin.
« However, many revive spiritually after a miracle. »
« Yes, Martha. And that is one of the reasons why My Son works so many miracles. Out of love for man, but also to draw him by such means on to His Way, which, otherwise, many would not follow. »
John of Endor, who had not gone with Jesus, comes back home with many disciples who are going to the little houses where they live. Almost at the same time the Magdalene comes back saying: « They are arriving. They are the five boats that left yesterday at dawn. I recognised them very well. »
« They must be tired and thirsty. I will go and get some more water. The water of the fountain is very cool » and Mary of Alphaeus goes out carrying some pitchers.
« Let us go and meet Jesus. Come » says the Blessed Virgin. And She goes out with the Magdalene and John of Endor, because Martha and Susanna, both flushed and very busy preparing supper, remain near the kitchen range.
Walking along a wall they arrive at a little pier, where other fishing boats have already come in and are moored. From the end of the pier it is possible to have a very good view of the whole bay and of the town after which it is called, and one can also see the five boats sailing fast, slightly heeled to one side, as a light northern breeze fills the sails, and is thus favourable and at the same time brings relief to the men who are tired and warm.
« See how well Simon and the others are manoeuvering. They are following the pilot's boat excellently. They have now passed the breaker; they are now taking to the open sea to avoid the current which is strong over there. Good... Now everything is all right. They will soon be here » says John of Endor. The boats in fact are coming nearer and nearer and it is possible to distinguish the people in them.
Jesus is on the first one with Isaac. He has stood up and His tall figure appears in all its magnificence until the furling sail conceals Him for a few minutes. In fact the boat veers round to approach the little pier and passes before the women standing on the point. Jesus smiles waving to them, while they begin to walk fast to reach the landing place at the same time as the boat.
« May God bless You, My Son! » says Mary greeting Jesus Who is disembarking on the quay.
« May God bless You, Mother. Have You been worrying? The man whom we were looking for, was not in Sidon. We went as far as Tyre. And we found him there. Come, Ermasteus... Here, John. This man wants to be taught. I entrust him to you. »
« I shall not disappoint You in teaching him Your word. Thank You, Master! There are many people waiting for You » replies John of Endor.
« There is also a poor sick boy, Son, and his mother wants You to go there. »
« I will go to her at once. »
« I know who she is, Master. I will take You there. Ermasteus, come with us. You will begin to know the infinite goodness of our Lord » says the man from Endor.
Peter lands from the second boat, James from the third, Andrew from the fourth, John from the fifth; the four pilots followed by the other apostles or disciples who were with them all gather round Jesus and Mary.
« Go home. I shall soon be there as well. In the meantime prepare the supper and tell those who are waiting that I will speak to them at the end of vesper. »
« And what if there are some sick people? »
« I will cure them first. Even before supper, so that they may go back home happily. »
They part. Jesus with John of Endor and Ermasteus goes towards the town, the others walk back along the pebbly beach, telling what they have seen or heard, as happy as children returning to their mothers.
Also Judas of Kerioth seems happy. He shows all the offerings given to him by the murex fishermen, and above all he shows a little bundle containing the precious substance. « This is for the Master. If He does not wear it, who can possibly do so? They called me to one side saying: “We have some precious madrepores in our boat, and we have also a pearl. Imagine! A treasure. I do not know how we were so lucky. But we will give them willingly to you for the Master. Come and see them.” I went with them to please them, while the Master had withdrawn into a cave to pray. They were beautiful corals and a pearl, not a big one, but beautiful. I said to them: “Don't deprive yourselves of these things. The Master does not wear jewels. Give me instead some of that purple to make an ornament for His tunic.” They had this little packet. They insisted in giving it all to me, at all costs. Take it, Mother, make something nice with it for our Lord, as You know how to do it. But make sure You do so. If He becomes aware of it, He will have it sold for the poor. And we like to see Him dressed as He deserves. Is that right? »
« Oh! It is true! I suffer when I see Him dressed so plainly amongst other people, while He is a king, and they are less than slaves and yet they wear gorgeous decorations and garments. And they look at Him as if He were unworthy of being near them! » says Peter.
« Ehi! Did you see how those gentlemen in Tyre were laughing when we took leave of the fishermen?! » replies his brother.
« I said to them: “You ought to be ashamed, you dogs! A single thread of His white tunic is worth all your finery.” » says James of Zebedee.
« Since Judas has been able to get it, I would like You to have it ready for the Tabernacles » says Judas Thaddeus.
« I have never spun purple. But I will try... » says the Blessed Virgin touching the light bright-coloured wool, as soft as silk.
« My nurse is an expert at that. We shall find her at Caesarea. She will let you see how to do it. You will learn at once, because You do everything so well. I would put a band round the neck, the sleeves and at the hem of His tunic: purple on snow-white linen or wool, with palm or rosette decorations as we see on the marble of the Holy, and David's knot in the centre. It would look lovely » says the Magdalene who is an expert in such beautiful things.
Martha says: « Our mother made that design, because it was so beautiful, on the tunic that Lazarus wore on his journey to Syria when he took possession of our land there. I kept it because it was the last work of our mother. I will send it to You. »
« I will do it praying for your mother. »
They have reached the houses. The apostles spread out to gather those who want the Master, particularly sick people...
And Jesus comes back with John of Endor and Ermasteus. And He passes by greeting those who have crowded in front of the little houses. His smile is a blessing.
They bring Him the inevitable man with eye trouble, who is almost blind with ulcerous ophthalmia, and He cures him. Then it is the turn of a man sick with malaria, as emaciated and yellow as a Chinese, and He cures him. Then a woman asks for a particular miracle: milk for her breast, which has none, and she shows her baby, only a few days old, underfed and all red probably because of some inflammation. She moans: « See? We are told to obey man and to procreate. But what does it serve if we see our children languish? This is my third one, and I have buried two in the grave, because of my unfruitful breast. And this one is about to die, too, because he was born in this hot season, the others lived: one ten months, the other six, to make me weep even more when they died of intestine trouble. If I could give them my milk, that would not happen...»
Jesus looks at her and says: « Your child will live. Have faith. Go home and as soon as you are there offer your breast to the baby. Have faith. »
The woman goes away obediently with the poor baby, who moans like a kitten, close to his mother's heart.
« Will she have milk? »
« Of course she will. »
« I say that the baby will live, but she will never have any milk, and it is already a miracle if he lives. He is almost dead with privations. »
« Instead I say that she will have milk. »
« Of course. »
« No, she will not. »
The people present are of different opinions.
Meanwhile Jesus withdraws to eat. When He comes out to preach, the crowd is even larger because the news of the miracle of the boy sick with fever, which Jesus worked as soon as He landed, has spread throughout the town.
« I give you My peace that it may prepare you to understand. It is not possible to hear the Voice of the Lord in a storm. Every perturbation is detrimental to Wisdom, which is peaceful, as it comes from God. Perturbations instead do not come from God, because worries, anxieties, doubts are the work of the Evil One to upset the children of man and separate them from God.
I will tell you a parable that you may understand My teaching more clearly.
A farmer had many trees in his fields and many vines which yielded much fruit, among which there was a special quality, of which he was very proud. One year that vine produced many leaves but few grapes. A friend said to the farmer: “That is because you did not prune it enough.” The following year the man pruned it much more. The vine had few shoots and fewer grapes. Another friend said to him: “That is because you pruned it too much.” The third year the farmer left it alone. The vine did not produce any grapes at all, only a few crumpled leaves, covered with blight. A third friend stated: “It is dying because the soil is not good. Burn it.” “Why? It is the same soil that the others have and I tend it exactly as I do with the others. Before it was doing so well!.” His friend shrugged his shoulders and went away.
An unknown wayfarer passed by and stopped to look at the farmer sadly leaning on the poor vine. “What is the matter?” he asked. “Someone dead in the family?.” “No. But this vine, of which I was so fond, is dying. It has no more sap and yields no fruit. One year little, the next one less, this year nothing. I have done everything they told me, but to no avail.”
The unknown wayfarer entered the field and approached the vine. He felt the leaves, took a lump of earth in his hand, smelt it, crumpled it with his fingers, looked at the trunk of the tree supporting the vine. “You must remove that trunk. The vine is made barren by it.”
“It has been its support for years!”
“Tell me, man: when you planted this vine, what was it like, and what was that trunk like?”
“Oh! It was a lovely three year old vine-shoot. I got it from another vine of mine, and to bring it here, I dug a deep hole, so that its roots would not suffer when they were taken away from the native soil. I dug a similar hole here as well, nay a larger one, so that it should be at ease at once, and I hoed the soil around it, to make it soft, so that the roots could spread out at once, without any difficulty. I settled it carefully, laying underneath it some good manure. As you know, roots grow strong immediately if they find suitable nourishment. I did not pay so much attention to the elm-tree. It was only a little tree planted there to support the vineshoot. In fact I planted it superficially near the vine-shoot, I earthed it up and went away. They both took roots, because the soil is good. The vine grew every year, it was looked after, hoed and pruned. The elm-tree instead hardly grew. But for what it was worth!... Then it grew strong. See how lovely it is now? When I come here, from afar I can see its top standing out like a tower and it looks like the ensign of my little kingdom. Once the vine covered it up and one could not see its beautiful foliage. But look how lovely it is up there, in the sunshine! And what a trunk! Straight and strong. It could have supported this vine for many years, even if it became like the ones that the explorers of Israel took near the Torrent of Grapes. Instead...
“It has killed it. It has overwhelmed it. Everything was right for its life: the soil, its place, light, sunshine, the care you took of it. But the elm-tree killed it. It became too strong. It entangled its roots suffocating them, it took all the sap of the soil, it prevented it from breathing and receiving the necessary light. Cut down this useless powerful tree at once, and your vine will revive. And it will revive even better if you patiently dig up the ground to expose the roots of the elm-tree and then cut them, to ensure that they do not sprout. Their last ramifications will rot in the ground, and once dead they will become life, because they will become manure, a worthy punishment for their selfishness. Burn the trunk, make thus good use of it. A useless harmful tree is good only as firewood, and it is to be removed so that all the nourishment of the soil may go to the good and useful plant. Have faith in what I am telling you and you will be happy.”
“But, who are you? Tell me that I may have faith.”
“I am the Wise One. He who believes in Me will be safe” and he went away.
The man was rather doubtful. Then he made up his mind and he got a saw. And he called his friends to help him. “Are you mad?” “You will lose both elm-tree and vine.” “I would cut off only its top, in order to give air to the vine. But no more.” “It must have a support. You are going to do a useless job.” “I wonder who He was! Perhaps one who hates you, without you knowing it.” “Or a madman” and so on.
“I am going to do what he told me. I have faith in Him” and he cut the elm-tree down at its root, and not happy, he laid bare the roots of both plants in a wide circle around them, and he patiently cut the roots of the elm-tree, taking great care not to damage those of the vine, he then filled in the hole, and as the vine had no support, he placed a strong iron pole near it with the word “Faith” written on a wooden board tied to the top of the pole.
The others went away shaking their heads. Autumn and winter passed and spring came. The vine-shoots twined round the support became adorned with buds, first closed like silvery velvet cases, then half open against the emerald of the fresh leaves, then fully open, and finally producing new strong shoots from the trunk, all covered with tiny flowers that turned into grapes. There were more bunches of grapes than leaves, and the latter were large, green, strong, the size of two, three or more clusters. And each bunch was thick with pulpy, juicy, wonderful grapes.
“And now what do you say? Was the tree the cause of the withering of my vine or was it not? Was the Wise One right or not? Was I right or not in writing on that board the word: 'Faith'?” said the farmer to his incredulous friends.
“You were right. You are happy because you had faith and you were able to destroy the past and neglect the wrong information given to you.”
That is the parable. With regard to the woman with the unfruitful breast, there is the answer. Look towards the town. »
They all turn round and see the woman of a little while ago running towards them, and although she is running she does not detach the baby from her breast now full of milk, which the child sucks with such voracity as to almost choke himself. The woman stops only when she is at Jesus' feet, in front of Whom she detaches the baby from her nipple for a moment, shouting: « Bless him that he may live for You! »
After that moment Jesus resumes: « And you have had a reply to your various conjectures on the miracle. But the parable has a wider meaning than the little episode of faith rewarded. And here it is.
God had planted His vine, His people, in a suitable place, and supplied it with everything necessary to grow and bear more and more fruit, supporting it with masters so that the people might understand the Law more easily, and make it its strength. But the masters wanted to excel the Lawgiver, and they grew more and more until they imposed themselves more than the Eternal Word did. And Israel became sterile. The Lord then sent the Wise One so that those in Israel who with righteous souls are sorry for such barrenness and try this and that remedy, according to the dictates and advice of the masters, who are humanly learned but supernaturally unlearned, and thus far from knowing what is to be done to give life back to the spirit of Israel, may have true healthy advice.
But what happens? Why does Israel not recover its strength and become energetic as in the golden days of its loyalty to the Lord? Because the advice is: remove all parasites that have grown to the detriment of what is Holy: the Law of the Decalogue, as it was given, without any compromise, hesitation, hypocrisy... Remove them to give air, space, nourishment to the Vine, to the People of God... And a strong, straight, inflexible, unique support, with a name as bright as the sun: Faith. But that advice is not accepted. I therefore tell you that Israel will perish, whilst it could revive and possess the Kingdom of God, if it believed and made amends and changed itself substantially.
Go in peace and the Lord be with you. »