17th October 1945.
Jesus goes out of the house, holding the boy by the hand. They do not go to the centre of Nazareth, on the contrary they leave the village going along the same road which Jesus took the first time He left His house for His public life. When they arrive at the first olive-groves, they leave the main road and follow little paths among trees, in search of the warm sun after the stormy days.
Jesus urges Marjiam to run and jump, but the boy replies: « I prefer to stay with You. I am big, now, and I am a disciple.»
Jesus smiles at the... authoritative profession of age and dignity. It is true that it is a little adult who is walking beside Him. No one would say that he is more than ten years old. But no one can deny that he is a disciple, and least of all Jesus, Who just says: « But you will be bored being silent while I pray. I brought you here so that you may enjoy yourself.»
« I cannot enjoy myself these days... But it is a great relief to me to be beside You... I have longed for You so much these days... because... because...» The boy tightens his trembling lips and speaks no more.
Jesus lays a hand on his head saying: « He who believes in My word must not be as sad as those who do not believe. I always speak the truth. Also when I assure you that there is no separation between the souls of the just people who are in Abraham's bosom and the souls of the just people on the earth. I am Resurrection and Life, Marjiam. And I have brought the latter even before fulfilling My mission. You have always told Me that your parents were longing for the coming of the Messiah and they asked God to live long enough to see Him. So they believed in Me. They died in that faith. Therefore they have already been saved by it, and have risen again and are alive through it. Because My faith gives life by giving thirst for justice. Consider how many times they must have resisted temptations to be worthy of meeting the Saviour...»
« But they died without seeing You, Lord... And they died in that manner... I saw them, You know, when they extracted all the dead people of village from the earth... My mother, my father... my little brothers... What do I care if they said to me to comfort me: “Your relatives are not like these. They did not suffer”? Oh! They did not suffer! So, was it feathers and not rocks that fell on them? And was it air and not earth and water which suffocated them? And did they not suffer thinking of me, when they felt they were dying?...» The boy is shaken by grief. He gesticulates vivaciously standing in front of Jesus, and is almost aggressive...
But Jesus understands his grief, and his need to express it and lets him talk. Jesus is not one of those who says: « Be quiet. You are scandalising me» to those who rave in their grief.
The boy goes on: « And after? What happened after? You know what happened! If You had not come, I would have become a beast or I would have died in the wood like a snake. And I would not have gone to join my mother, father and brothers, because I hated Doras and... and I no longer loved God as I did before, when there was my mother who loved me and made me love my neighbour. I almost hated birds, as they filled their crops, had warm feathers and built their nests, whilst I was hungry, my clothes were torn and I was homeless... And I who love birds, would chase them away, as I was seized by wrath comparing myself with them, and then I would weep realising that I had been bad and had deserved Hell...»
« Ah! So you repented of being bad?»
« Yes, my Lord. But how could I be good? My old father was good. But he used to say: “It will soon be all over. I am old... But I was not old! How many years would I have had to wait before I could work and eat like a man and not like a stray dog? I would have become a thief, if You had not come.»
« You would not, because your mother was praying for you. You can see that I came and took you. That is the proof that God loved you and that your mother was watching over you.»
The boy becomes silent and thoughtful. He seems to be seeking enlightenment from the ground upon which he is treading, walking beside Jesus on the short grass dried up by the north wind of the previous days. He looks up and asks: « But would it not have been a lovelier proof if He had not let my mother die?»
Jesus smiles at the human logic of his young mind. And He kindly but earnestly explains: « Now, Marjiam. I will make you understand the situation by means of a comparison. You told Me that you like little birds, did you not? Now listen. Were little birds created to fly or to be closed in cages?»
« To fly.»
« Good. And what do the mothers of the little birds do to nourish them?»
« They feed them.»
« Yes. But with what?»
« With seeds, flies, grubs, or crumbs of bread, or bits of fruit which they find flying about.»
« Very well. Now listen. If in springtime you should find a nest on the ground, with little ones in it and their mother on them, what would you do?»
« I would take it.»
« All of it? As it is? Including the mother?»
« All of it. Because it is too unpleasant to be little ones without a mother.»
« But in Deuteronomy it is written that one must take the little ones only, letting the mother free, as it is her mission to proliferate.»
« But if she is a good mother, she will not go away. She will fly to her little ones. That is what my mother would have done. She would not have given me to You either for good, because I am still a boy. Neither could she have come with me because my brothers were younger than I am. So she would not have let me go.»
« Very well. But listen: according to you, would you love that mother of the little birds and the little ones more if you kept the cage open so that she might come and go with suitable food, or if you kept her in prison as well?»
« Eh!... I would love her more by letting her come and go until the little ones have grown up... and my love would be complete if I kept them and once they have grown up, I let the mother free, because birds were created to fly... Really... to be utterly good... once the little ones have grown up I should let them free as well, and let them fly away... It would be the best love I could have for them... And the most just... Of course! The most just because I would do nothing but allow what God wanted for birds to be accomplished...»
« Very clever of you, Marjiam! You have spoken as a wise man. You will be a great teacher of your Lord, and those who listen to you will believe you, because you will speak to them as a wise man!»
« Really, Jesus?» His little face, previously worried and sad, then absorbed in thought, reserved in the effort of judging what was best, settles down and brightens for the joy of the praise.
« Yes, really. Now look! You have judged thus, because you are a clever boy. Now consider how God will judge, since He is Perfection itself, with regard to souls and what is best for them. Souls are like birds, enclosed in the cages of bodies. The earth is the place where they are brought with their cages. But they yearn for the freedom of Heaven; for the Sun which is God; for Nourishment suitable to them, which is the contemplation of God. No human love, not even the holy love of a mother for her children or of children for their mother, is so strong as to suffocate such yearning of souls to be rejoined to their Origin, which is God. Likewise God, because of His perfect love for us, finds no reason so strong as to exceed His desire to be rejoined to the soul longing for Him. What happens then? Sometimes He loves it so much that He says to it: “Come! I will free you.” And He says so even if there are some children around a mother. He sees everything. He knows everything. What He does, He does well. When He frees a soul - the limited intelligence of men may not think so, but it is true - when He frees a soul, He always does it for a greater welfare of the soul itself and of its relatives. As I have already told you, He then adds to the ministry of the guardian angel the ministry of the soul which He has called to Himself, and which loves its relatives with a love free from human burdens, because it loves them in God. When He frees a soul, He binds Himself to take its place in taking care of the survivors. Has He not done that with you? Has He not made you, little child of Israel, My disciple, My future priest?»
« Yes, my Lord, He has.»
« Now consider this. Your mother will be freed by Me and will not need your suffrages. But had she died after Redemption and were she in need of suffrages, you could pray for her as a priest. Just think: all you could have done was to spend some money to give an offering to a priest of the Temple so that he would make on her behalf a sacrifice of victims, such as lambs or doves or other fruits of the earth. That in case you had remained the little peasant Jabez near your mother. Instead, you, Marjiam, the priest of Christ, could offer directly for her the true Sacrifice of the perfect Victim, in Whose name all forgiveness is granted!»
« And will I no longer be able to do it?»
« Not for your father, mother and little brothers. But you will be able to do it for friends and disciples. Is that not beautiful?»
« Yes, Lord.»
« Well, then, let us go back home and be cheerful once again.»
« Yes... But I did not let You pray!... I am sorry...»
« But we did pray! We considered the truth, we contemplated God in His bounty... All that is prayer. And you did it as a true adult. Come on, now. Let us sing a psalm of praise for the joy which is within us.» And He begins to sing: « “My heart is stirred by a noble theme...”»
Marjiam joins his silvery voice to the bronze and golden voice of Jesus.