8th September 1945.
Jesus is in the Korazim plain, along the upper Jordan valley, between the lakes of Gennesaret and Merom. The country is covered with vineyards and it is already vintage time.
He must have been there for some days, because the disciples who were at Sicaminon have joined Him this morning, and among them there is Stephen with Hermas. Isaac apologises for not coming earlier, because, he says, the new disciples and his uncertainty whether he should bring them or not caused the delay. « But » he says « I thought that the way to Heaven is open to all those of good will and these two, although they are pupils of Gamaliel, seem to be so. »
« You are right and you have done the right thing. Bring them here. »
Isaac goes away and comes back with the two disciples.
« Peace to you. Has the apostolic word seemed so true to you that you have decided to join it? »
« Yes, and Yours above all. Do not send us away, Master. »
« Why should I? »
« Because we are disciples of Gamaliel. »
« So what? I honour the great Gamaliel and I would like him to be with Me, because he is worthy of it. That is all he lacks to make his wisdom perfect. What did he say to you when you left him? Because you certainly said goodbye to him. »
« Yes, he said to us: “You are lucky that you can believe. Pray that I may forget in order to remember. »
The apostles who have gathered round Jesus inquisitively, look at one another and ask whispering: « What does he mean? What does he want? To forget in order to remember? »
Jesus hears their whispering and explains: « He wants to forget his wisdom to take on Mine. He wants to forget that he is rabbi Gamaliel to remember that he is a son of Israel awaiting the Christ. He wants to forget himself, to remember the Truth. »
« Gamaliel is not untruthful, Master » replies Hermas apologetically.
« No, he is not. But it is the medley of poor human words which is untruthful. Words taking the place of the Word. You must forget them, divesting yourselves of them and come to the Truth as pure as virgins in order to be reclothed and fecundated. Humility is required for that. The difficulty... »
« Then, we must forget as well? »
« Undoubtedly. You must forget everything pertaining to man. And remember what pertains to God. Come. You can do it. »
« We want to do it » confirms Hermas.
« Have you already lived as disciples? »
« Yes, we have. Since the day we heard the Baptist had been killed. The news spread very rapidly in Jerusalem, where it was brought by Herod's courtiers and commanders. His death roused us from our torpidity » replies Stephen.
« The blood of martyrs is always a new life for torpid people, Stephen. Remember that. »
« Yes, Master. Will You speak today? I hunger for Your word. »
« I have already spoken. But I will speak again, and very much, to you disciples. Your companions, the apostles, have already begun their mission, after due preparation. But they are not sufficient for the needs of the world. And everything is to be done in good time. I am like one who has an expiry date and must do everything within that date. I ask you all to help Me, and in the name of God I promise you help and a glorious future. »
Jesus' keen eyes discovers a man completely enveloped in a linen mantle: « Are you not John, the priest? »
« Yes, Master. The hearts of the Jews are more arid than the cursed large valley. I ran away looking for You. »
« And your priesthood? »
« Leprosy expelled me from it the first time. Men, the second time, because I love You. Your Grace draws me to itself: to You. It expels me as well, from a desecrated place to a pure one. You have purified me, Master, both in my body and in my soul. And what is pure cannot and must not approach what is impure. It would be an offence to Him, Who purified. »
« Your judgement is severe, but not unfair. »
« Master, unpleasant family matters are known to those who live in the family and should be mentioned only to righteous-minded people. You are so, and in any case You know. I would not tell anybody else. Here we are: You, the apostles, I and two who know as well as You and I do. So... »
« All right. But... Oh! You are here, too? Peace be with you. Have you come to hand out more food? »
« No, I came to have some of Your food. »
« Have your crops been spoiled? »
« Oh! no. They have never been so plentiful. But, my Master, I am looking for another bread and a different crop: Yours. And I brought with me the leper whom You cured in my fields. He came back to his master. But both he and I have a master to follow and serve: You. »
« Come: one, two, three, four... A good harvest! But have you taken into consideration your position at the Temple? You know, and I know... and I will say no more. »
« I am a free man and I go with whomever I wish » says John, the priest.
« So am I » says the last arrival: John, the scribe, who dealt out the food at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes on the Sabbath.
« And we are free, too » state Hermas and Stephen.
And Stephen adds: « Speak to us, Lord. We do not know what our mission exactly consists in. Give us the least necessary to enable us to serve You at once. The rest will come as we follow You. »
« Yes. On the mountain You spoke of the beatitudes. And that was a lesson for us. But what are we to do with regard to other people, in our second love, the love for our neighbour? » asks John, the scribe.
« Where is John of Endor? » is Jesus' only answer.
« He is over there, Master, with the people who have been cured. »
« Let him come here. »
John of Endor goes at once. Jesus lays His hand on John's shoulder as a special greeting and says: « Here you are. I will now speak. But I want you, who bear a holy name, to be in front of Me. You, My apostle; you, a priest; you, a scribe; You, John of the Baptist; and finally, you, to complete the sequence of graces granted by God. And if you are the last one to be mentioned by Me, you know that you are not the last one in My heart. One day I promised you this speech. You will now have it. »
And Jesus, as He is wont, climbs a little mound, so that everybody may see Him, and the five Johns are in the first row, in front of Him. Behind them there is a group of disciples mingled with the crowds who have come from every part of Palestine seeking health or doctrine.
« May peace be with you all and wisdom upon you.
Listen. One day, a long time ago, a man asked Me whether and to what extent is God merciful towards sinners. It was a sinner who asked that question, and although he had been forgiven he could not believe that God had forgiven him completely. And I soothed his anxiety by means of parables, I assured and promised him that for his sake I would always speak of mercy, so that his repentant heart, which wept within him like a lost child, should feel sure of being already in the possessions of his Father in Heaven. God is Mercy because God is Love. A servant of God must be merciful to imitate God. God makes use of mercy to attract to Himself His children led astray. A servant of God must make use of mercy as a means of taking misguided men back to God. The precept of love is compulsory for everybody. But it must be three times so in the servants of God. No one will conquer Heaven if one does not love. That is all that is necessary to say to believers. But to the servants of God I say: “You cannot make believers conquer Heaven if you do not love them with perfect love.” And who are you, who are crowding here around Me? Most of you are children of God aiming at perfect life, at the blessed, hard, bright life of the servant of God and minister of the Christ. And which are your duties in such lives of servants and ministers? Complete love for God and complete love for your neighbour. Your aim is to serve. How? Taking back to God those whom the world, flesh, the demon have stolen from God. By which means? By love. Love, which can be active in a thousand ways, and has but one purpose: to make people love. Let us consider our beautiful Jordan. How imposing it is at Jericho! But was it like that at its sources? No. It was just a trickle of water and would have remained such if it had always been alone. Instead from the mountains and hills on both sides of its valley, thousands of tributaries, either alone or made up by many rivulets, flow into its bed, and it grows more and more from the little silvery blue stream so pleasant and joyful in its infancy until it becomes the large solemn placid river, flowing like a sky-blue ribbon between its fertile emerald banks.
Such is love. It is initially a tiny stream among the infants on the Way of Life, who can just avoid grave sins for fear of punishment, but subsequently, as they proceed on the way to perfection, many brooks of this main virtue, by will of love, appear from the rugged, arid, proud, harsh mountains of mankind and everything helps to make it rise and gush out: sorrows and joy, just as upon the mountains the frozen snow and the sun melting it, form rivers. Everything helps to open the way for them: humility as well as repentance. Everything serves to convey them to the initial river. Because a soul, thrust onto that Way, loves to have its ego destroyed, and aspires to rise again drawn by the Sun-God, after becoming a beautiful, mighty, beneficial river.
The brooks that nourish the embryonic stream of awesome love, are, besides virtues, the deeds that virtues teach men to accomplish: deeds, which being streams of love, are deeds of mercy. Let us consider them together. Some were already known to Israel, some will be made known to you by Me, because My law is the perfection of love.
To feed the hungry.
It is a duty of gratitude and love. And a duty of imitation. Children are grateful to their father for the bread he procures for them. And when they are grown into men, they imitate him by procuring with their work bread for their own sons and for their father, by now unable to work, because of his age, an affectionate fair return of the good received. The fourth commandment states: “Honour your father and mother.” One honours their old age by ensuring they do not have to beg for bread of others. But the first commandment comes before the fourth: “Love God with your whole being” and the second: “Love your neighbours as you love yourself.” To love God in Himself and to love Him in one's neighbour is to be perfect. One loves Him by giving bread to those who are hungry, remembering how many times He appeased man's hunger through miracles.
But without taking into account the gifts of manna and quails, let us consider the continuous miracle of corn, which germinates through the bounty of God Who gave men lands suitable to be cultivated and He adjusts and control winds, rain, heat, seasons, so that the seed may become an ear of wheat and the wheat bread. And was it not a miracle of His mercy the fact that by supernatural light He taught His guilty child that the tall slender grass, ending in golden ears of seed smelling of the warm sun, enclosed in a hard cover of thorny scales, was food, which man had to pick, hull, pulverise, knead and bake? God taught man all that. And He taught him how to pick it, husk it, pound it, knead and bake it. He placed stones near the ears and water near the stone and by means of the reflection of water and sun He lit the first fire on the earth and the wind blew onto the fire some grains of wheat which were roasted smelling pleasantly, so that man might understand that wheat is better when toasted by fire, than as it is in the ear, as birds eat it, or soaked in water, after being pulverised, as a sticky mash. Now that you eat the good bread baked in the family oven, do you not consider how much mercy is shown by the achievement of so much perfection in baking, and how much progress human knowledge has made from the first ear chewed as horses do, to the bread of today? And by whom? By the Giver of bread. And the same applies to all kinds of food, which man, through beneficent enlightenment, has been able to single out among the plants and animals, which the Creator spread over the earth, a place of fatherly punishment for His guilty child.
Thus, to give something to eat to the hungry is a prayer of gratitude to the Lord and Father, Who satisfies our hunger, and it is imitating the Father, Whose likeness was gratuitously granted to us, and which we must continuously increase by imitating His action.
To give drink to the thirsty.
Have you ever thought what would happen if the Father did not let rain fall on the earth? And if He said: “Because of your harsh unkindness towards the thirsty I will stop clouds from descending upon the earth” could we protest and curse? Water, more than wheat, belongs to God. Because wheat is cultivated by man, but only God cultivates the fields of clouds, which descend as rain or dew, fog or snow, nourishing fields and cisterns, filling rivers and lakes, giving shelter to fish, which appease man's hunger with other animals. If someone asks you: “Give me a drink” can you say to him: “No. This water is mine and I will not let you have it”? Liars! Which of you made a snowflake or one single drop of rain? Which of you evaporated a dew-diamond with his astral heat? No one. It is God Who does that. And if water descends from the sky and re-ascends there, it is only because God controls that part of creation as He controls the rest.
Give, therefore, the good cool water of the springs of the earth, or the pure water of your well, or the water that filled your cisterns, to those who are thirsty. It is the water of God. And it is for everybody. Give it to the thirsty. For such a small deed, which costs you no money and involves no work except the handing of a cup or a jug, I tell you that you will receive a reward in Heaven. Because, not the water, but the charitable action is great in the eyes and judgement of God.
To clothe the poor.
Nude, shameful, pitiful miseries pass along the roads of the earth: forlorn old people, people disabled by disease or misfortune, lepers coming back to life through the Lord's bounty, widows laden with children, people deprived of every comfort by mishaps, innocent little orphans. If My eyes scan the vast earth, I can see everywhere people who are naked or covered with rags, which hardly protect their decency but do not shelter them from the cold. And all those poor people look with downcast eyes at the wealthy people who pass by wearing soft garments and comfortable shoes. Downcast eyes and kindness in good people, downcast eyes and hatred in those who are not so good. Why do you not assist their dejection, making the good ones better, by means of your love, and destroying hatred in those who are less good?
Do not say: “I have only enough for myself.” As in the case of bread, there is always something more than what is necessary on the tables and in the wardrobes of people who are not entirely forsaken. Among those who are now listening to Me, there is more than one who from a cast-off garment made clothes for an orphan or a poor boy and out of an old bed-sheet made swaddling-bands for an innocent baby who had none and there is one, a beggar, who for years shared the bread begged for with so much difficulty, with a leper who could not go and beg for it at the doorstep of rich people. And I solemnly tell you that such merciful people are not found among the wealthy, but among the poor humble classes who know by their own experience how painful is poverty.
Here again, as for water and bread, consider that wool and linen with which you dress yourselves, come from animals and plants, which the Father created not only for the rich, but for all men. Because God gave man only one wealth: His Grace, health and intelligence. Not the filthy wealth, which is gold, elevated by you to a useless nobility, whilst as a metal it is not more beautiful than any other and it is much more useless than iron, with which you make spades and ploughs, harrows and sickles, chisels, hammers, saws and planes, the holy tools for holy work. And you elevated it to false nobility through the instigation of Satan, who has made you, the children of God, as wild as beasts. God had given you the riches of what is holy to make you more and more holy! Not this murderous wealth, which sheds so much blood and so many tears.
And give as it was given to you. Give in the name of the Lord, without being afraid of remaining naked. It would be better to die of cold, after stripping yourselves in favour of a beggar, than chill your hearts, even if clad in soft garments, through lack of charity. The warmth of a good action accomplished is more pleasant than the comfort of a mantle of pure wool and the clad bodies of poor people speak to God saying: “Bless those who have clothed us.”
If to satisfy people's hunger and quench their thirst and clothe the poor joins holy temperance and blessed justice to most holy charity, so that the destiny of our unhappy brothers is modified through our holiness, when we give what we abound in, with God's leave, on behalf of those who are deprived of it through the wickedness of man or through diseases, to give hospitality to pilgrims joins charity to confidence and to the esteem of our neighbour. And that is a virtue, too, you know. A virtue that denotes honesty, besides charity, in those who possess it. Because he who is honest acts righteously, and as we generally think that other people act as we do, so the confidence and simplicity believing that the words of other people are true, show that he who listens to them is one who speaks the truth in important and small matters and does not distrust what other people tell him.
Why should one think of the pilgrim who is asking for shelter: “And what about if he is a thief or a murderer?.” Are you so attached to your wealth, as to be afraid, because of it, of every stranger who arrives at your house? Are you so attached to your lives as to shudder with horror at the thought of being deprived of them? What? Do you think that God cannot defend you from robbers? What? Are you afraid that a passer-by may be a robber, and you are not afraid of the evil guest who robs you of what cannot be replaced? How many give hospitality to the demon in their hearts! I could say: everybody shelters capital sin, yet nobody fears that. Are wealth and life the only valuable things? Is perhaps eternity not more valuable since you allow sin to rob you of it and kill it? O poor souls, robbed of their treasure and handed over to killers, as if they were trifles, whilst houses are locked and bolted, protecting with dogs and safes things that we cannot take with us when we die!
Why should we see a robber in every pilgrim? We are all brothers. Houses should be open to brothers passing by. Is a pilgrim not of our same blood? Of course he is! He is of the blood of Adam and Eve. Is he not our brother? Why not? The Father is one only: God, Who has given each of us an identical soul, as the father only gives the children of the same marriage the same blood. Is he poor? Ensure that your spirit, deprived of the Lord's friendship, may not be poorer than he is. Are his clothes torn? Ensure that your soul may not be more torn by sin. Are his feet covered with mud or dust? Ensure that your ego may not be more worn by vices, than his dirty sandal has been worn by so much walking. Is his appearance unpleasant? Make sure that yours is not more unpleasant in the eyes of God. Does he speak a foreign language? Make sure that the language of your hearts is not incomprehensible in the city of God.
You must see a brother in each pilgrim. We are all pilgrims going towards Heaven and we all knock at the doors along the way to Heaven. And the doors are the patriarchs, the just, the angels and archangels, whom we implore to help and protect us, so that we may reach our goal, without becoming exhausted and dropping into the darkness of night, into the rigours of ice-cold weather, the preys of insidious wolves and jackals, of wicked passions and demons. As we want angels and saints to show us their love by giving us shelter and strength to proceed on our way, so let us do likewise to the pilgrims of the earth. And each time we open our homes and our arms, greeting a stranger with the sweet word of brother, and thinking of God, Who knows him, I tell you that we will have gone many miles along the way leading to Heaven.
To visit the sick.
Truly, as men are pilgrims, so they are sick. And the sickness of the soul is the gravest, it is invisible and lethal. And yet people are not disgusted by it. A moral sore is not disgusting. The stench of vice is not nauseating. Demoniac frenzy is not frightening. The gangrene of a spiritual leper does not make anyone sick. The sepulchre full of rottenness of a man whose soul is dead and putrified does not make anybody run away. He who approaches such impurities is not anathematised. How poor and narrow is the thought of man! But tell Me: which is worth more, the spirit, or blood and flesh? Can matter corrupt what is immaterial simply by being close to it? No, I tell you it cannot. The value of the spirit is infinite as compared to flesh and blood, that is true; but the flesh is not more powerful than the spirit. And the spirit can be corrupted by spiritual things, not by material ones. If a man takes care of a leper, his spirit does not become leprous; on the contrary, because of his charity practised heroically, to the extent of segregating himself in the valley of death out of pity for his brother, every stain of sin will be removed from him. Because charity is absolution from sin and the first purification.
Always bear in mind the following principle: “What would I like done to me, if I were like him?.” And act as you would like other people to act on your behalf. Israel still has its ancient laws. But the day will come, and its dawn is no longer very far, when men will worship, as the symbol of absolute beauty, the image of One, Who will be the material repetition of the Man of sorrows of Isaiah and the Tortured Victim of David's psalm, Who will become the Redeemer of mankind, because He made Himself similar to a leper, and all those who are parched with thirst, ill, exhausted, weeping on the earth will hasten towards His wounds as deer rush to springs of water, and He will quench their thirst, will cure them, restore them, will comfort their souls and bodies, and the best believers will yearn to be like Him, covered with wounds, shedding their blood, beaten, crowned with thorns, crucified, for the sake of men to be redeemed, continuing thus the work of the King of kings and Redeemer of the world.
You, who are still Israel, but are already putting on wings to fly to the Kingdom of Heaven, begin to consider, as from this moment, this new conception and evaluation of sickness, and while blessing God for keeping you in good health, bend over those who are suffering and dying. One of My apostles said one day to one of his brothers: “Do not be afraid to touch lepers. No disease will attack us by God's will.” He was right. God protects His servants. But even if you were infected when curing sick people, you would be placed, in the next life, among the martyrs of love.
To visit prisoners.
Do you think that there are only criminals on galleys? One eye of human justice is blind and the other suffers from sight trouble, so that it mistakes camels for clouds and a snake for a flowery branch. It judges erroneously. Even more so because those who preside over it often deliberately stir up clouds of smoke, so that it may see more erroneously. But even if prisoners were all robbers or killers, it would be wrong for us to become robbers and murderers by depriving them of the hope of forgiveness through our scorn.
Poor prisoners! They dare not raise their eyes to God, laden as they are with their crimes. Their fetters really hurt their souls more than their feet. Woe to them if they despair of God! To the crime against their neighbour they would add the sin of despairing of forgiveness. The galley is expiation, just as dying on the scaffold. But it is not sufficient to pay what is due to human society for the crime committed. It is necessary to pay also and above all what is due to God, in order to expiate and have eternal life. But he who rebels and despairs, expiates only with regard to society. Let the convict or prisoner have the love of his brothers. It will be light in the dark. It will be a voice. A hand pointing upwards while the voice says: “May my love tell you that God also loves you, as He put in my heart this love for you, my unfortunate brother” and light enables men to see God, their merciful Father.
Let your charity go with greater reason to comfort the martyrs of human injustice: both those who are utterly innocent and those who have been led to kill by a cruel force. Do not judge what has already been judged. You do not know why man was driven to kill. You do not realise that many times the man who kills is nothing but a dead person, and automaton devoid of reason, because a bloodless murder has deprived him of reason with cruel cowardly betrayal. God knows. That is enough. In the next life many galley-slaves, murderers and robbers will be seen in Heaven, whereas many, who seemed to have been robbed and killed, will be seen in Hell, because in actual fact the pseudo-victims were the true robbers of the peace, honesty and trust of other people and the true murderers of hearts. They were victims only because they were the last to be struck, after they had been striking covertly for years. Murder and theft are sins. But between one who kills and robs because he is led to such crimes by others and later repents, and one who induces others to sin and does not repent, the latter will be punished more severely, because he persuades others to commit sin and does not feel remorse.
Thus, by not passing judgement on them, be compassionate to prisoners. Always bear in mind that if all the murders and thefts of men were to be punished, few men and women would not die in galleys and on the scaffold. What shall we call those mothers who conceive but do not wish to give birth to the fruit of their wombs? Oh! Do not let us pun! Let us call them frankly by their name: “Murderers.” What shall we say about those men who steal other people's reputation and positions? Simply what they are: “Thieves.” What is the name for those men and women, who are adulterous or torture their relatives to the extent of driving them to homicide or suicide, and for the mighty ones of the earth who drive their subjects to desperation and through desperation to violence? Here it is: “Murderers.” Well? Is no one running away? So you can see that we live without any worry among criminals, who have evaded justice, who crowd houses and towns, rub against us in streets, sleep in the same hotels as we do, and share food with us. And yet, who is without sin? If God's finger should write on the wall of the room wherein the thoughts of man germinate, that is on man's forehead, words describing one as one was, is, or will be, very few would bear the word: “Innocent” written in bright letters. The other foreheads would bear the words: “Adulterers” “Murderers” “Thieves” “Killers” in letters as green as envy, or as black as treason, or as red as crime.
So, without being proud, be merciful to your brothers, who from a human point of view have been less fortunate than you are, and are now on galleys expiating what you do not expiate, although guilty of the same crime. Your humility will improve by doing so.
To bury the dead.
The contemplation of death is a lesson for life. I would like to take you all before death and say to you: “Endeavour to live as saints in order to have but this death: a temporary separation of the body from the soul, to rise thereafter triumphantly forever, all gathered together in utter happiness.”
We were all born nude. We all die and our mortal remains are destined to putrefaction. Whether kings or beggars, as we were born so we die. And if the pomp of kings allows their corpses to be preserved for a longer period of time, decomposition is still the fate of dead flesh. What are mummies? Flesh? No. They are matter fossilized by resins, lignified matter. It is not a prey to worms, as it has been altered and burned by essences, but it is a prey to woodworms, just like old wood.
But dust becomes dust once again, because God said so. And yet only because that dust enveloped the spirit and was vivified by it, like something that touched the glory of God – such is the soul of man – we must conclude that it is sanctified dust, not unlike the objects that have been in contact with the Tabernacle. There was at least one moment when a soul was perfect: while God was creating it. And if Sin disfigured it, depriving it of its perfection, because of its Origin it still confers beauty to matter and because of the beauty that comes from God, a body is embellished and deserves respect. We are temples and as such we deserve to be honoured, as the places where the Tabernacle stopped were always honoured.
Grant, therefore, the dead the charity of an honourable rest while awaiting resurrection, and in the wonderful harmony of the human body contemplate the divine mind and hand that conceived and modelled it so perfectly and venerate the work of the Lord also in its remains.
But man is not only flesh and blood. He is also soul and mind. The latter suffer as well, and are to be assisted mercifully.
There are ignorant people who do wrong only because they do not know good. How many do not know or know wrongly the things of God and even moral laws! They languish like famishing people because no one satisfies their hunger and fall into marasmus through lack of nourishing truth. Go and teach them because that is why I have gathered you and I am sending you. Give the bread of the spirit to the hunger of spirits. To teach the ignorant corresponds, in the spiritual field, to appeasing the hunger of those who are starving. And if a reward is granted for a piece of bread offered to a languishing body, so that it may not die, what reward will be given to him who satisfies a spirit with eternal truth and gives it eternal life? Do not be avaricious of what you know. It was given to you without any expense or limit. Give it without avarice, because it belongs to God, like the water of the sky and it is to be given as it was given to us.
Be not avaricious or proud of what you know. But give with humble generosity. And give the limpid charitable relief of prayer to the living and to the dead who thirst for graces. Water is not to be refused to parched throats. What is therefore to be given to the hearts of anguished living people, and what to the expiating souls of the dead? Prayers, prayers that are prolific because they are full of love and spirit of mortification.
Prayer must be true, not mechanical like the noise of a wheel on the road. Is it the noise or the wheel that makes a cart proceed? It is the wheel that wears itself out to move the cart forward. The same applies to vocal mechanical prayer and to active prayer. The former is sound and nothing else. The latter is work, in which strength wears out and suffering increases, but it attains its goal. Pray more by means of mortification than with your lips and you will give relief to the living and the dead, fulfilling the second work of spiritual mercy. The world will be saved more by the prayers of those who know how to pray, than by useless rumbling deadly battles.
Many people in the world believe. But they do not believe firmly. They waver as if they were drawn in opposite directions, and without proceeding by one step only, they wear their strength out unsuccessfully. They are the doubtful ones. Those who hesitate saying: “but”, “if”, “and then.” Those who ask: “Will it really be thus?”, “And if it were not so?”, “Shall I be able?”, “And if I am not successful?” and so on. They are like bearbines, which do not climb up unless they find something to cling to, and even when they do find it, they dangle to and fro, and it is not only necessary to find a support for them, but one must guide them onto it at each turn every day.
Oh! They really try one's patience and charity more than a backward child! But in the name of the Lord, do not abandon them! Give bright faith, ardent strength to those prisoners of themselves and of their hazy disease. Guide them towards the sun and the sky. Be masters and fathers to those dubious minds without tiring or losing your patience. They discourage you? Very well. How often you discourage Me and even more the Father Who is in Heaven and Who must often think that the Word seems to have become Flesh in vain, since men still hesitate even now that they hear the Word of God speak.
You will not presume that you are of greater worth than God is or I am! So open the prisons of these prisoners of “but” and “if.” Relieve them from their chains of: “Shall I be able?”, “If I am not successful?.” Convince them that it is enough to do one's best and God is satisfied. And if you see them fall off their support, do not pass by ignoring them, but lift them up once again. Like mothers, who do not pass by if their child falls, but they stop, pick him up, clean him, comfort him and hold him until he is no longer afraid of falling again. And they do so for months and years if the boy's legs are weak.
Clothe those who are naked spiritually by forgiving those who offend you:
Offences are against charity. Lack of charity divests one of God. So he who offends becomes naked and only the forgiveness of the offended person can put clothes back on such nudity. Because he brings God back to it. God waits for the offended person to forgive before He forgives both the person offended by man, and the offender of man and of God. Because – let us admit it – there is no one who has not given offence to his Lord. But God forgives us if we forgive our neighbour, and forgives our neighbour if the person offended forgives. It will be done to you as you do to others. Forgive, therefore, if you wish to be forgiven and you will rejoice in Heaven for your charitable behaviour, as if a mantle studded with stars were placed on your holy shoulders.
Be merciful to those who are weeping. They have been wounded by life and their hearts are grieved in their affections.
Do not lock yourselves up in your serenity as in a stronghold. Weep with those who are weeping, comfort who is distressed, console the loneliness of those who have been deprived of a relative by death. Be fathers to orphans, sons to parents, brothers to one another.
Love. Why love only those who are happy? They already have their share of sunshine. Love the weeping. They are the least amiable for the world. But the world is not aware of the value of tears. You are. Love, therefore, those who are weeping. Love them if they are resigned in their grief. Love them even more if they rebel against their sorrow. Do not reproach them but kindly convince them of the truth of grief and the utility of sorrow. Through the veil of tears they may see the face of God deformed, and His countenance full of revengeful arrogance. No. Do not be scandalised! It is only a hallucination brought about by the fever of grief. Assist them so that their temperature may abate.
Let your fresh faith be like ice applied to a delirious patient. And when the raging fever drops and is followed by the seediness and torpid hebetude typical of those who come out of a trauma, then speak to them once again of God, as of something new, kindly and patiently, as you would deal with children who have become backward through disease... Oh! a lovely tale, told to amuse man, the eternal child! And then be quiet. Do not impose... A soul works by itself. Assist it with caresses and prayer. And when it asks: “So it was not God?”, reply: “No. He did not want to hurt you, because He loves you, also on behalf of those who no longer love you because of death or other reasons.” And when the soul says: “But I accused him”, say: “He has forgotten it, because it was your fever.” And when it says: “I would like to have Him”, say: “Here He is! At the door of your heart, waiting for you to open it to Him.”
Bear bothersome persons. They come in to upset the little house of our ego, just as pilgrims come in to upset the house in which we live. But as I told you to welcome pilgrims, so I tell you to welcome these persons.
Are they bothersome? But if you do not love them, because of the trouble they cause you, they love you, more or less righteously. Welcome them for such love. And even if they came inquiring, hating, insulting you, be patient and charitable. You can improve them through your patience. But you may scandalise them through your lack of charity. Be sorry because they sin; but be more sorry to make them sin and to sin yourselves. Receive them in My name, if you cannot receive them with your own love. And God will reward you, by coming Himself, later, to return the visit and cancel the unpleasant memory by His supernatural caresses.
Finally endeavour to bury sinners in order to prepare the return to the Life of Grace. Do you know when you do that? When you admonish them with paternal, patient, loving insistence. It is as if you were burying little by little the ugly part of the body before delivering it to its sepulchre awaiting the command of God: “Rise and come to Me.”
Do the Jews not purify the dead out of respect for the body, which is to rise again? To admonish sinners is like purifying their limbs, the first operation for burial. The Grace of the Lord will do the rest. Purify them through charity, tears and sacrifices. Be heroes to snatch a soul from corruption. Be heroes.
You will not be left without reward. Because if a reward is given for a cup of water given to a thirsty body, what will be given to him who relieves a soul from infernal thirst?
I have finished. Those are the deeds of corporal and spiritual mercy that increase love. Go and practise them. And may the peace of God and Mine be with you now and ever. »