21st August 1945.
Jesus leaves the tableland on Mount Carmel and descends along dewy paths through woods that become livelier with trills and voices in the early sunshine gilding the eastern side of the mountain. When the sun dissolves the heat haze, the beauty of the whole plain of Esdraelon is displayed with its orchards and vineyards all gathered around houses. It looks like a carpet, mostly green, with a few yellowish oases strewn with red areas, which are the fields where the corn has been cut and poppies now sparkle, a carpet enclosed by the triangular bezel of Mount Carmel, Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon (Little Hermon) and by more remote mountains, the names of which I do not know, which conceal the Jordan and are linked to the south-east to the mountains of Samaria. Jesus stops and looks pensively at all that area of Palestine.
James looks at Him and says: « Are You looking at the beauty of this region? »
« Yes, also at that. But more than anything else I was thinking of future pilgrimages and of the necessity of sending disciples without any delay to do real missionary work, and not just limited work as we have done now. There are many areas where I am not yet known and I do not want to leave any place without the knowledge of Me. It is a worry constantly present in My mind: to go and do everything, while I can... »
« Now and again something happens that delays You. »
« Rather than delay Me they cause changes to My itinerary; because the trips we make are never useless. But there is still so much to be done... Also because after being absent from one place I find that many hearts have gone back to where they started from, and I have to start all over again. »
« Yes, the apathy of souls, their inconstancy and affection for evil are depressing and disgusting. »
« Depressing, yes, but do not say disgusting. The work of God is never disgusting. We must feel pity not disgust for poor souls. We must always have the heart of a father, of a good father. A good father is never disgusted at the diseases of his children. We must never have a dislike for anyone. »
« Jesus, may I ask You a few questions? I did not sleep last night. But I pondered very much while watching You sleep. You look so young when You are asleep. My brother! You were smiling, with Your head resting on Your folded arm, just like the posture of a little boy. I could see You very well in the clear moonlight of last night. And I pondered. And many questions came up from my heart... »
« Tell Me. »
« I was saying: I must ask Jesus how we shall be able to set up that organised body, which You called Church, and in which there will be hierarchies, if I understood properly, considering how incapable we are. Will You tell us what we must do, or shall we have to do it by ourselves? »
« When the time comes, I will tell you who is its head. Nothing else. While I am with you, I will inform you of its various classes with the differences between apostles, disciples and women disciples. Because they cannot be avoided. But as I want the disciples to respect and obey the apostles, so the apostles must love and be patient with the disciples. »
« And what shall we have to do? Preach You all the time and nothing else? »
« That is essential. Then you will have to absolve in My name and bless, readmit to Grace, administer the Sacraments that I will institute... »
« What are they? »
« They are supernatural and spiritual means, applied also through material means, which are used to convince men that the priest is really doing something. You know that man does not believe unless he sees. He always needs something to tell him that there is something. That is why, when I work miracles, I impose My hands, or I wet with saliva, or I give a morsel of soaked bread. I could work a miracle by means of a simple thought. But do you think that in that case people would say: “God has worked the miracle?” They would say: “The invalid is cured because it was time for him to be cured.” And they would ascribe the merit to the doctor, or to medicines or to the physical strength of the invalid. The same will apply to sacraments: religious formalities to administer Grace, or give it again, or fortify it in believers. John, for instance, used to immerse sinners into water to symbolise cleanness from sin. In actual fact the mortification of confessing oneself unclean because of sins committed, was more useful than the water that washed only the body. I will have a baptism as well, My baptism, which will not be only a symbol, but will really cleanse a soul of the original sin and give back to it the spiritual state that Adam and Eve possessed before they sinned, a state, which is now improved, because it will be granted through the merits of the Man-God. »
« But... water does not descend upon the soul! A soul is spiritual. Who can touch it in a new-born baby, in an adult or in an old person? Nobody. »
« See, you admit that water is a material means, with no effect on a spiritual thing? So it will not be the water, but the word of the priest, a member of the Church of Christ, consecrated in his service, or the word of another true believer, who may replace him in exceptional cases, that will work the miracle of redeeming the baptised person from original sin. »
« All right. But man commits sins of his own... Who will remove the other sins? »
« It will always be the priest, James. If an adult is baptised, also the other sins will be removed with the original one. If a man has been baptised and he commits sins, the priest will absolve him in the name of God One and Trine and through the merits of the Incarnate Word, as I do with sinners. »
« But You are holy! We... »
« You must be holy because you touch holy things and you administer what belongs to God. »
« So shall we baptise the same man several times, as John does, in fact he grants immersion into water as many times as one goes to him? »
« John's baptism purifies only through the humility of the person who is immersed into water. I already told you. You shall not baptise again those who have already been baptised, unless a person has been baptised with a schismatic formula and not with the apostolic one, in which case a second baptism is to be administered, subject to a precise request of the person to be christened, if adult, and subject to a clear statement that the person in question wishes to become a member of the true Church. In all other cases, to give a soul its friendship and peace with God, you will use the words of forgiveness joined to the merits of Christ, and the soul that has come to you with true repentance and a humble confession, will be absolved. »
« And if a man cannot come because he is so ill that he cannot be moved? Will he die in sin? Will the fear for the judgement of God be added to the misery of his agony? »
« No. The priest will go to the dying person and give absolution. In actual fact he will give the person a more ample form of absolution, not a comprehensive one, but an absolution for each and every sense-organ, by means of which man generally sins. We have in Israel the Sacred Oil, compound according to the prescriptions given by the Most High, with which the altar, the Pontiff, priests and kings are consecrated. Man is really an altar. And he becomes king through his election to a throne in Heaven; he can therefore be consecrated with the oil of Unction. The Holy Oil will be taken with other rites of the Israelite cult and included in My Church, but with different uses. Because not everything in Israel is evil and to be rejected. Nay, many recollections of the old stock will be in My Church. And one will be the Oil of Unction, which will be used also in the Church to consecrate altars, Pontiffs, all ecclesiastic hierarchies, kings and believers, when they become princes and heirs of the Kingdom, or when they need the greatest help to appear before God with their bodies and senses cleansed of all sins. The grace of God will assist both the soul and the body, if God so wishes for the benefit of the sick person. A body does not always react against diseases also because its peace is upset by remorse and because of the work of Satan, who through the death of the sick person hopes to gain a soul to his kingdom and cause despair to those who are left behind. The sick person passes from the satanic grip and internal emotion to a peaceful state, through the certainty of God's forgiveness, which also brings about Satan's departure. And since the gift of Grace was coupled in our first progenitors with the gift of immunity from diseases and from all forms of sorrow, the sick person who has been restored to Grace as great as the Grace of a new-born baby christened with My baptism, may get over the illness. The sick man is assisted also by the prayers of his brethren, who are obliged to have not only physical but above all spiritual pity on invalids, in order to obtain both physical and spiritual salvation for their brother. Prayer is in fact a form of miracle, James. The prayer of a just man, as you have seen in Elijah, can be very powerful. »
« I understand only a little of what You say, but what I do understand fills me with deep respect for the sacerdotal character of Your priests. If I have understood You correctly, we shall have many points in common with You: preaching, absolution, miracles. Three sacraments, therefore. »
« No, James. Preaching and miracles are not sacraments. The Sacraments will be more: seven, like the sacred candelabrum of the Temple and the gifts of the Spirit of Love. And in fact the Sacraments are gifts and flames and are granted to man so that he may burn forever before the Lord. There will be a Sacrament also for the marriage of man. And it is already symbolised in the holy marriage of Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, after she was freed from the demon. The Sacrament will give the married couple all the assistance needed to live together according to the law and the wishes of God. Husband and wife also become the ministers of a rite: the rite of procreation. Husband and wife become also the priests of a small church: their family. They must therefore be consecrated in order to procreate with the blessing of God and to bring up a progeny that will bless the Most Holy Name of God. »
« And by whom will priests be consecrated? »
« By Me, before I leave you. You will, afterwards, consecrate your successors and those whom you will aggregate to yourselves to propagate the Christian faith. »
« You will teach us, will You not? »
« I and He Whom I will send to you. Also His coming will be a Sacrament. It will be granted voluntarily by the Most Holy God in His first Epiphany, and it will then be given by those who have received the fullness of Priesthood. It will be strength and intelligence, confirmation in Faith, it will be holy piety and fear, it will be assistance in advice and supernatural wisdom, and it will be possession of a justice that by its nature and power will turn the child who receives it, into an adult. But you cannot for the time being understand that. But He will make you understand: the Divine Paraclete, the Eternal Love, when the moment comes for you to receive Him. And likewise, you cannot for the time being understand another Sacrament. It is so sublime that it is almost incomprehensible to angels. And yet you, simple men, will understand it by virtue of faith and love. I solemnly tell you that those who will love it and nourish their souls by it, will be able to trample on the demon with impunity. Because I will then be with them. Try to remember these things, brother. You will have to repeat them many times to your companions and to believers. You will all already know through your divine ministry, but you will be able to say: “He told me one day, coming down from Mount Carmel. He told me everything because since then I was destined to be the head of the Church of Israel.” »
« Here is another question I wanted to ask You. I was thinking about it last night. Shall I have to say to my companions: “I will be the head here?” I don't like it. I will do it if You tell me. But I do not like it. »
« Be not afraid. The Paraclete Spirit will descend upon you all and will instill holy thoughts into you. You will all have the same thoughts for the glory of God in His Church. »
« And will there be no more of those... so unpleasant discussions that we have now? Even Judas of Simon will no longer be the cause of disagreement? »
« He will no longer be, do not worry. But there will still be differences of opinion. That is why I said to you: be careful and watch, without ever tiring, doing your duty to the end. »
« Another question, my Lord. How am I to behave during persecutions? By what You say, it looks as if I am the only one of the Twelve to be left. So the others will go away to avoid persecutions. And what about me? »
« You will stay in your place. Because if it is necessary that you are not all exterminated until the Church is well consolidated, which justifies the dispersion of many disciples and of almost all the apostles, nothing would justify your desertion and your abandoning the Church of Jerusalem. Nay, the greater its danger is, the more you will have to watch over it, as if it were your dearest child about to die. Your example will strengthen the souls of believers. And they will need it to pass the test. The weaker you see them, the more you will have to support them with pity and wisdom. If you are strong, do not be pitiless with weak people. Support them saying: “I have received everything from God to become so strong. I must admit it humbly and act charitably on behalf of those who have not been blessed with so many gifts of God”, and you must share your strength through your word, your assistance, your calm and example. »
« And if among the believers there should be some wicked ones, who are the cause of danger and of scandal to the others, what shall I do? »
« Be wise when you accept them, because it is better to be few and good, than many and not good. You know the old apologue of the good apples and the bad ones. Make sure it does not happen also in your church. But should you find people who betray you as well, endeavour in every way to get them to repent, using severe measures as a last resource. But if it is a matter of small individual faults, do not be so severe as to dismay people. Forgive, always... A heart is more easily redeemed by forgiveness joined to tears and loving words than by anathema. If the fault is a grave one, but is the result of a sudden attack by Satan, and is so grave that the culprit feels the need to run away from your presence, go and look for the offender. Because he is a lamb led astray, and you are the shepherd. Do not be afraid of degrading yourself by going along muddy paths, searching pools and precipices. Your forehead will then be crowned with the crown of the martyr of love, and it will be the first of the three crowns... And if you are betrayed yourself, as the Baptist was, and like many others, because every holy man has his traitor, forgive. Forgive the traitor more than you would forgive anybody else. Forgive as God forgave men and as He will forgive. Call him “son” again, who will grieve you, because that is how the Father calls you through My lips, and, truly, there is no man who has not caused deep sorrow to the Father in Heaven... »
There is a long period of silence while they cross pastures strewn with grazing sheep.
At last Jesus asks: « Have you no more questions to ask Me? »
« No, Jesus. And this morning I understood my tremendous mission more clearly... »
« Because you are less upset than you were yesterday. When your time comes, you will be even more calm and you will understand even better. »
« I will remember all these things... everything... except... »
« What, James? »
« Less what did not let me look at You last night without weeping. What I do not really know whether You told me, and whether I should believe it if really told by You; or whether it was a fright by the demon. How can You be so calm if... if that should really happen to You? »
« And would you be calm if I said to you: “That shepherd is dragging himself along with great difficulty because of his maimed leg. Try to cure him in the name of God”? »
« No, my Lord. I would be beside myself thinking that I was tempted to usurp Your place. »
« And if I ordered you? »
« I would do it out of obedience and I would no longer be upset because I would know that You want it, and I would not be afraid of not knowing how to do it. Because, if You sent me, You would certainly give me the strength to do what You want... »
« You say so, and you are right. You can thus see that I, by obeying the Father, am always in peace. »
James lowers his head weeping.
« Do you really want to forget? »
« As You wish, my Lord... »
« You have two options: to forget or to remember. By forgetting you will be relieved from sorrow and from the necessity of being absolutely silent with your companions, but you will be left unprepared. By remembering you will become prepared for your mission, because in order never to complain and to be strengthened spiritually seeing the whole of Christ in the brightest light, one thing only is necessary: to remember what the Son of man suffers in His earthly life. Make your choice. »
« To believe, to remember, to love. That is what I would like. And to die, as soon as possible, Lord... » And James continues to weep silently. If it was not for the tears shining on his brown beard, one would not realise that he is weeping.
Jesus lets him weep... Then James asks: « And if in future You should allude again to... to Your martyrdom, shall I say that I know? »
« No. Be quiet. Joseph was able to be silent on his sorrow of a bridegroom when he thought his bride was unfaithful to him and on the mysteries of Her virginal conception and of My Nature. Imitate him. That was a tremendous secret as well. And it was to be kept, because if it had been disclosed, out of pride or carelessness, the whole Redemption would have been endangered. Satan is constant in watching and acting. Remember that. If you spoke now, you would damage too many people and too many things. Be silent. »
« I will... and it will be a double burden... »
Jesus does not reply. He lets James weep freely, sheltered by his linen hood.
They meet a man carrying an unhappy child tied to his back.
« Is he your son? » asks Jesus.
« Yes. He was born thus, and was the cause of his mother's death. Now, my mother is also dead, and when I go to my work, I take him with me to watch him. I am a woodcutter. I lay him on the grass, on my mantle, and while I cut trees down, he plays with flowers, the poor wretch! »
« It is a great misfortune. »
« Yes, it is. But we must accept peacefully what God wants. »
« Goodbye, man. Peace be with you. »
« Goodbye. Peace to You. »
The man climbs the mountain, Jesus and James continue to descend.
« How many misfortunes! I was hoping that You would cure him » says James with a sigh.
Jesus does not appear to hear.
« Master, if that man had known that You are the Messiah, perhaps he would have asked You to work a miracle... »
Jesus does not reply.
« Jesus, will You let me go back and tell him? I feel sorry for that boy. My heart is already so grieved. Give me at least the joy of seeing the little fellow cured. »
« You may go. I will wait for you here. »
James runs back. He comes up with the man and calls him.« Man, stop, listen! The man who was with me is the Messiah. Give me your boy that I may take him to Him. You may come as well, if you wish so, to see whether the Master will cure him. »
« Go, man. I have all this wood to cut. I am already late because of the child. And if I do not work, I get no food. I am poor, and he costs me so much. I do believe in the Messiah, but it is better if you speak to Him on my behalf. »
James bends to pick up the boy lying on the grass.
« Be careful » warns the woodcutter. « He is painful all over. »
In fact, as soon as James attempts to lift him, the boy weeps moanfully.
« Oh! How painful! » exclaims James with a sigh.
« A dreadful pain » says the woodcutter working with a saw on a hard trunk, and he adds: « Could you not cure him? »
« I am not the Messiah. I am only a disciple... »
« Well? Doctors learn from other doctors. Disciples learn from their Master. Come on, be good. Don't make him suffer. Try. If the Master wanted to come, He would have come. He sent you either because He does not want to cure him or because He wants you to cure him. »
James is undecided. He then makes up his mind. He stands up and he prays as he has seen Jesus pray. Finally he enjoins: « In the name of Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel and Son of God, be cured » and immediately afterwards he kneels down saying: « Oh! My Lord, forgive me! I acted without Your permission! But I did it out of pity for this child of Israel. Have mercy, my God! On him and on me, a sinner! » and he sheds bitter tears bent over the boy outstretched on the grass. His tears fall on to the twisted inert legs.
Jesus suddenly appears on the path. But no one sees Him, because the woodcutter is working, James is weeping and the boy is looking at him curiously, and then caressing him, he asks: « Why are you weeping? » and he stretches out his little hand to caress him again, and without realising it, he sits up by himself, he stands up and embraces James to comfort him. It is James' cry that makes the woodcutter turn round and he then sees his boy standing straight on his legs, which are no longer inert or twisted. And turning round he sees Jesus.
« There He is! » he shouts pointing to the back of James who turns round and sees Jesus looking at him beaming with joy.
« Master! I do not know how it happened... pity... that man... this child... Forgive me! »
« Stand up. Disciples are not above their Master but they can do what the Master does, when they do it for a holy reason. Stand up and come with Me. May you two be blessed and remember that also the servants of God accomplish the deeds of the Son of God » and He goes away, dragging James who continues to say: « How could I do that? I do not understand yet. How did I work a miracle in Your name? »
« By being pitiful, James. Through your desire to make Me loved by that innocent child and by that man who believed and doubted at the same time. John worked a miracle near Jabneel out of love, curing a dying man whom he anointed while praying. You cured here by means of your tears and your pity. And with your faith in My Name. See how peaceful it is to serve the Lord when a disciple has good intentions? Now let us walk fast, because that man is following us. It is not right that your companions should be aware of this, for the time being. I will soon be sending you in My name... (a deep sigh of Jesus), as Judas of Simon is anxious to work (another heavy sigh). And you will work... But it will not do everybody good. Quick, James! Your brother, Simon Peter and the others would suffer if they knew about this, as if it were favouritism. But it is not. It is to prepare someone among you twelve who may be capable of guiding the others. Let us go onto the gravel bed of the torrent that is covered with leaves. All trace of us will be lost... Are you sorry for the boy? Oh! we shall meet him again... »