20th October 1945.
Jesus with Simon Zealot and Marjiam goes through Nazareth towards the country stretching towards Cana. And He crosses His sceptical hostile town, along the more central streets, and cuts diagonally across the market square, crowded in the early morning. Many turn to look at Him; very few citizens greet Him, women, particularly elderly ones, smile at Him, but with the exception of few children, no one comes to Him. People whisper after He has gone by. Jesus certainly sees everything, but pretends He does not. He speaks to Simon or to the boy, who is between them, and proceeds on His way.
They are now at the last houses. A woman, about forty years old, is on the door step of one of them. She seems to be waiting for someone. When she sees Jesus, she makes the gesture of moving, then she stops and lowers her head blushing.
« She is a relative of Mine. She is the wife of Simon of Alphaeus» says Jesus to the apostle.
The woman seems to be on tenterhooks, overwhelmed by clashing sentiments. She changes colour, raises and lowers her head, and her face expresses a keen desire to speak, which is restrained by some reason.
« Peace to you, Salome» greets Jesus when He arrives near her.
The woman looks at Him as if she were surprised at the kindness in the voice of her Relative and she replies, blushing even more: « Peace to...» A lump in her throat prevents her from ending the sentence. She hides her face in her folded arm and weeps desolately, leaning against the doorpost.
« Why are you weeping thus, Salome? Is there anything I can do to console you? Come here, round the corner, and tell Me what the matter is...» and He takes her by the elbow and leads her into a little lane between her house and her neighbour's kitchen garden.
Simon stays at the entrance of the lane with Marjiam who is utterly astonished.
« What is the matter, Salome? You know that I have always loved you. I have always loved you all. And I still love you. You must believe that and trust Me...»
She stops weeping now and again, as if she wanted to listen to those words and understand their true meaning, then she resumes weeping more loudly, uttering disconnected words: « Yes, You... We But not I... Not even Simon... But he is more foolish than I am I said: “Call Jesus”... But the whole village is against us... against You me... and my boy...» When she touches the tragical point, her weeping becomes tragical, too. She writhes and moans striking her face as if she were mad with grief.
Jesus grasps her hands saying: « Don't do that. I am here to comfort you. Speak, and I will do everything...»
The woman looks at Him with eyes wide open with astonishment and grief. But hope gives her energy to speak and to speak in an orderly way: « Will You have mercy on me, even if Simon is guilty? Will You?... Oh! Jesus... You save everybody! My boy! Alphaeus, the last one, is ill... he is dying!... You loved Alphaeus. You used to carve toys in wood for him... You lifted him up that he might pick the grapes and figs of Your trees... and before You left... to travel about, You used to teach him so many good things... Now You would not be able... He is as good as dead... He will never eat grapes or figs again. He will never learn anything...» and she weeps her heart out.
« Salome, be good. Tell Me, what is the matter with him?»
« He is seriously ill with stomach trouble. He has been shouting, suffering terribly and delirious for days. Now he does not speak any more. He is like one whose head has been struck. He moans but does not answer. He can hardly moan. He is deathly pale and his body is getting cold. For days I have begged Simon to come to You. But... Oh! I have always loved him, but now I hate him because he is a fool and for a foolish idea he is allowing my son to die. But, if he dies, I will go away. I will go back to my house. With the other children. He is not capable of being a father at the right moment. And I am defending my children. I will go away. Yes, I will. People can say what they like. But I am going away.»
« Do not say that. Give up your idea of revenge.»
« Of justice. I rebel against them all. See? I had to wait for You, because none of them would say to You: “Come”. But I do. And I had to do it as if it were something wrong. And I cannot say to You: “Come in”, because Joseph's relatives are in the house and...»
« It is not necessary. Can you promise Me that you will forgive Simon? That you will always be a good wife to him? If you promise Me, I will say to you: “Go home, your son is cured and will smile at You” - Can you believe that?»
« I believe in You. Against the whole world, I do believe in You.»
« And can you forgive as you believe?»
« ... But... will You really cure him?»
« Not only I will. But I promise you that Simon will cease doubting about Me, and little Alphaeus, your other children, you and your husband will all come back to My house. Mary speaks of you so often...»
« Oh! Mary! Mary! She was there when Alphaeus was born... Yes, Jesus. I will forgive. I will not say anything to him... No. I will say to him: “This is how Jesus replies to your behaviour: giving your son back to you”. I can say that!»
« Yes, you can... Go, Salome. Go. Weep no more. Goodbye. Peace to you, good Salome. Go now.» He takes her back to the door, He watches her go in, He smiles seeing that in her anxiety she runs along the vestibule without even closing the door, and He sets it ajar, slowly, and closes it.
He then turns to His two companions and says: « And now let us go where we had to go...»
« Do You think that Simon will turn?» asks the Zealot.
« He is not an infidel. He only allows stronger people to dominate him.»
« Well, then! Stronger than a miracle!»
« You can see that you have replied by yourself... I am glad I saved the child. I saw him when he was only a few hours old, and he has always been very fond of Me...»
« As I am? And will he become a disciple?» asks Marjiam keenly and he looks rather sceptical that anyone can love Jesus as he does.
« You love Me as a boy and as a disciple. Alphaeus loved Me only as a boy. But later he will love Me also as a disciple. But for the time being he is only a little boy. He will soon be eight years old. You will meet him.»
« So I am the only boy and disciple?»
« You are, at present. You are the head of the boy disciples. When you are a man remember that you were as good a disciple as men, and so open your arms to all the children who will come to you seeking Me and will say: “I want to be a disciple of Christ.” Will you do that?»
« I will» Marjiam promises gravely...
They are now in the open sunny country and they move away from me in the bright sunshine...