22nd September 1945.
Jesus is sitting in the porched courtyard, which is inside the house in Bethany, the courtyard which I saw crowded with disciples on the morning of Christ's Resurrection. Sitting on a marble seat covered with cushions, leaning with His back against the wall of the house, surrounded by the owners of the house, by the apostles and the disciples John and Timoneus, together with Joseph and Nicodemus, and by the pious women, He is listening to Syntyche, who standing in front of Him, seems to be replying to a question of His. All the people present are more or less interested and are listening in various postures, some sitting on benches, some on the floor, some standing or leaning against the columns or the wall.
« ... it was necessary. In order not to feel all the burden of my situation. It was necessary not to be convinced, to refuse to be convinced that I was all alone, a slave banished from my fatherland. It was necessary to think that my father, mother, brothers and the so fond and kind Ismene were not lost forever. And that, even if the whole world persisted in separating us, just as Rome had divided and sold us like baggage animals, although we were free citizens, a place would gather us all together again in the next life.
I had to think that our life is not only matter to be chained. On the contrary it has a free power that no chain can bind, except the voluntary one to live in moral disorder and in material revel. You call that “sin.” Those who were my light in my night as a slave, give it a different definition. But they also agree that a soul nailed to a body by wicked corporal passions will not reach what you call the Kingdom of God, and we call living together with the gods in Hades. It is therefore necessary to abstain from falling into materialism and strive to achieve freedom from the body, procuring for oneself a heritage of virtue in order to possess a happy immortality and be reunited to those whom one loves.
And I could but think that the souls of the dead are not prevented from helping the souls of the living, so that a daughter could feel her mother's soul close to her and see her face and hear her voice speaking to the daughter, who could reply: “Yes, mother. So that I may come to you. Yes, not to upset you. Yes, not to make you weep. Yes, in order not to darken Hades where you are in peace. For all that I will keep my soul free. It is the only thing which I possess and which nobody can take away from me. And I want to preserve it pure so that I may reason according to virtue.” It was freedom and joy to think thus. And that is what I wanted to think. And act accordingly. Because it is only a half and sham philosophy to think one way and then act in a different one.
To think thus was to rebuild a fatherland also in exile. An intimate fatherland, with its altars, faith, teaching, affections in one's ego... A great mysterious fatherland, yet not even so, because of the mystery of the soul which is consciously aware of the next world, even if at present it knows it only as a sailor at sea can see the details of the sea-coast in a misty morning: vaguely, in a rough draft, with only a few spots clearly outlined and which are enough for the tired seaman tortured by storms to say: “There is the harbour, peace is over there.” The fatherland of souls, the place of our origin... the place of Life.
Because life is generated by death... Oh! I could understand only half of that until I heard one of Your words. Later it was as if a sunbeam struck the diamond of my thought. Everything became enlightened and I understood to what extent the Greek masters were right and how later they became confused, as they lacked one datum, only one, to solve the theorem of Life and Death. The datum was: The True God, the Lord and Creator of everything existing!
May I mention Him with my heathen lips? Of course I may. Because I come from Him, like everybody else. Because He gifted the minds of all men with intelligence, and the wiser ones with a superior intelligence, whereby they seem demigods with a superhuman power. Because He made them write the truths which are already religion, if not a divine religion like Yours, a moral one, capable of keeping souls “alive”, not only for the period of time we remain here, on the earth, but forever.
Later I understood the meaning of: “Life is generated by death.” He who said that was like one not completely drunk, whose intelligence had already become dullish. He spoke a sublime word, but did not understand it fully. I, forgive me my pride, Lord, I understood more than he did and I have been happy since that moment.»
« What did you understand?»
« That our present life is but the embryonal beginning of life and that true Life begins when death gives birth to us... to Hades, as a heathen, to eternal Life, as a believer in You. Am I wrong?»
« You are right, woman» approves Jesus.
Nicodemus interrupts: « But how did you hear of the Master's words?»
« He who is hungry, seeks food, sir. I was looking for my food. I was a reader, and as I was learned with a good voice and pronunciation, I was in a position to read much in the libraries of my masters. But I was not yet satisfied. I could feel that there was something else beyond the walls decorated with human science, and as a prisoner looking for gold, I hammered with my knuckles, I forced doors open to get out, to find... When I came to Palestine with my last master I was afraid I was going to fall into darkness... I was going instead towards the Light. The words of the servant at Caesarea were like as many blows with a pick which demolished the walls making wider and wider breaches through which Your Word came in. And I picked up those words and the news. And like a child stringing beads, I lined them up and adorned myself with them, drawing strength to become more and more purified in order to receive the Truth. I felt that by purifying myself I would find it. Even on this earth. At the cost of my life I wanted to be pure to meet the Truth, Wisdom, Divinity. My Lord, I am speaking foolish words. They are looking at me as if they were thoroughly confounded. But You asked me...»
« Speak. Go on speaking. It is necessary.»
« I resisted external pressure with strength and moderation. I could have been free and, happy, according to the world, if I had wanted. But I would not barter knowledge for pleasure. Because it is of no avail to have other virtues without wisdom. He, the philosopher, said: “Justice, moderation and strength separated from knowledge are like painted scenary, virtues befitting slaves, without anything firm and real.” I wanted to have real things. The master, an imbecile, used to speak of You in my presence. Then the walls seemed to become a veil. It was enough to want to tear the veil and join the Truth. I did it.»
« You did not know what you were going to find» says the Iscariot.
« I knew how to believe that the god rewards virtue. I did not want gold, or honours, or physical freedom, no, not even that. But I wanted the truth. I asked God for that or to die. I wanted to be spared the humiliation of becoming an “object”, and even more, of agreeing to become one. Renouncing everything which is corporal in looking for You, o Lord, because a research through senses is never perfect - as You noticed when seeing You I ran away, deceived as I was by my eyes - I abandoned myself to God Who is above us and within us and informs souls of Himself. And I found You because my soul led me to You.»
« Yours is a heathen soul» remarks once again the Iscariot.
« But a soul always has something divine within itself, particularly when it has striven to be preserved from error... It therefore tends to things of its own nature.»
« Are you comparing yourself to God?»
« Why do you say that, then?»
« What? Are you, a disciple of the Master, asking me? Me, a Greek woman and only recently freed? Do you not listen to Him when He, speaks? Or is the ferment in your body such that it blunts your mind? Does He not always say that we are the children of God? So we are gods if we are the children of the Father, of His and our Father, of Whom He always speaks to us. You may reproach me for not being humble, but not for not believing or not paying attention.»
« So you think that you are worth more than I am? Do you think that you have learned everything from your Greek books?»
« No, neither one nor the other. But the books of wise men, wherever they come from, have given me the minimum necessary to support myself. I do not doubt that an Israelite is worth more than I am. But I am happy with the destiny which comes to me from God. What else could I wish for? In finding the Master I found everything. And I think that was my destiny, because I really see a Power watch over me and it has fixed a great destiny for me and I have done nothing but comply with it, as I feel it is a good one.»
« Good? You have been a slave, and of cruel masters... If the last one, for instance, had recaptured you, how could you have complied with your destiny, you very wise woman?»
« Your name is Judas, is it not?»
« Yes, and so?»
« And so... nothing. I want to remember your name besides your irony. Bear in mind that irony is not advisable even in virtuous people... How would I have complied with my destiny? Perhaps I would have killed myself. Because in certain cases it is better to die than to live, although the philosopher says that that is not right and it is impious to procure welfare by oneself because only the gods have the right to call us to stay with them. And this waiting for a sign of the gods to do it, has always kept me from doing it, even in the chains of my sad fate. But now, in being recaptured by my filthy master, I would have seen the supreme sign. And I would have preferred to die rather than live, I, too, have my dignity, man.»
« And if he recaptured you now? You would still be in the same situation...»
« Now I would not kill myself. Now I know that violence against the flesh does not injure the spirit that does not consent. I would now resist until I were bent by force and killed by violence. Because I would take that as a sign from God that through such violence He would call me to Himself. And I would now die tranquilly, knowing that I would be only losing what is perishable.»
« You have replied very well, woman» says Lazarus and Nicodemus gives his approval as well.
« Suicide is never allowed» says the Iscariot.
« Many are the things which are forbidden, but the prohibition is not complied with. But, Syntyche, you must consider that as God has always guided you, so He would have prevented you from doing violence to yourself. Go now. I will be grateful to you if you look for the boy and bring him here» says Jesus kindly.
The woman bows to the ground and goes away. They all follow her with their eyes.
Lazarus whispers: « She is always like that! I fail to understand how what in her has been “life” is instead “death” for us Israelites. If You still have the chance of examining her again, You will see that whilst Hellenism corrupted us, though we already possessed Wisdom, it saved her. Why?»
« Because the ways of the Lord are wonderful. And He opens them to whoever deserves it. And now, My friends, I will dismiss you because night is falling. I am happy that you all have heard the Greek woman speak. As you have ascertained that God reveals Himself to the best people, you must conclude that it is hideous and dangerous to exclude all those who are not Israelites from the people of God. Bear that in mind for the future... Do not grumble, Judas of Simon. And you, Joseph, do not have unjustified scruples. None of you are contaminated for approaching a Greek woman. Make absolutely sure that you do not approach or give hospitality to the devil. Goodbye, Joseph; goodbye, Nicodemus. Will I be able to meet you again, while I am here? Here is Marjiam... Come, boy, say goodbye to the heads of the Sanhedrin. What do you say to them?»
« Peace be with you... and I say also: pray for me at the hour of incense.»
« You have no need for that, child. But why just at that hour?»
« Because the first time I entered the Temple with Jesus, He spoke to me of the evening prayer... Oh! It is so beautiful!...»
« And will you pray for us? When?»
« I will pray... in the morning and in the evening. That God may preserve you from sin during the day and the night.»
« And what will you say, my child?»
« I will say: “Most High Lord, let Joseph and Nicodemus be true friends of Jesus.” And that will be enough, because he who is a true friend, does not grieve his friend. And he who does not grieve Jesus is sure to possess Heaven.»
« May God preserve you thus, child!» say the two members of the Sanhedrin caressing him. They then greet the Master, the Blessed Virgin and Lazarus individually and all the others in a body and go away.