22nd October 1945.
It is late in the morning when Peter, all alone and unexpected, arrives at the house in Nazareth. He is laden like a porter with baskets and little sacks. But he is so happy that he feels neither weight nor fatigue.
He smiles blissfully at Mary, Who goes to open the door, and he greets Her with joy and veneration at the same time. He then asks: « Where are the Master and Marjiam?»
« They are on the embankment, above the grotto, but towards Alphaeus' house. I think that Marjiam is picking olives and Jesus is certainly meditating. I will call them.»
« I will see to that.»
« Leave all your bundles first.»
« No. They are a surprise for the boy. I like to see him open his eyes wide and rummage eagerly... It makes him so happy, poor boy.»
He goes out into the kitchen garden, he goes under the embankment, he hides in the cavity of the grotto, and he then shouts, altering his voice a little: « Peace to You, Master», and then in his natural voice: « Marjiam!...»
Marjiam's shrill voice, which filled the peaceful air with exclamations, becomes quiet... There is a pause, then the almost girlish voice of the boy asks: « Master, but was that not my father calling me?»
Jesus was perhaps so engrossed in thought that He did not hear anything, and He openly admits it. Peter calls once again: « Marjiam!» and he laughs his usual hearty laugh.
« Oh! it is him! Father! Father! Where are you?» He leans out to look in the kitchen garden, but does not see anything...
Jesus also comes forward and looks... He sees Mary Who is smiling on the doorstep and John and Syntyche who are also smiling from the room at the end of the kitchen garden near the stone-oven.
But Marjiam comes to a decision: he jumps from the embankment, just near the grotto, and Peter is ready to catch him before he touches the ground. It is touching to see how they greet each other. Jesus, Mary and the two disciples at the end of the kitchen garden watch them, smiling, and then they all gather round the little fond group.
Peter frees himself, as best he can, from the grip of the boy to bow to Jesus and greet Him once again. Jesus embraces him with the boy, who is still clinging to the apostle and asks: « And mother?»
But Peter replies to Jesus Who asks him: « Why did you come so soon?»
« Did You think I could stay away so long without seeing You? And then... Eh! then there is Porphirea who did not leave Me in peace: “Go and see Marjiam. Take him this. Take him that.” She seemed to think that Marjiam was among highwaymen or in a desert. The other night she got up just to make honey cakes and as soon as they were baked, she sent me off...»
« Ah! honey cakes!...» shouts Marjiam. Then he becomes silent.
« Yes. They are in here with figs dried in the oven, olives and red apples. And she baked an olive oil loaf for you. And she sent you some cheese made with the milk of your sheep. And there is also a water resistant tunic. And then, and then... I don't know what else there is. What? Are you no longer in a hurry? Are you weeping? Oh! Why?»
« Because I would have preferred you to bring her here, instead of all these things... I am very fond of her, you know?»
« Oh! Divine Mercy! Who would have thought that?! If she were here listening to you, she would melt like butter...»
« Marjiam is right. You could have come with her. She certainly wishes to see him after such a long time. We women are just like that with our children...» says Mary.
« Well... But she will see him before long, won't she, Master?»
« Yes, after the Dedication, when we go away... No... When you come back, after the Dedication, you will come with her. She will stay here with him for a few days, and then they will go back to Bethsaida together.»
« Oh! How lovely! I will be here with two mothers!» The boy is cheerful once again and happy.
They all go into the house and Peter relieves himself of his bundles.
« Here is some dried, pickled and fresh fish. It will be useful to Your Mother. And here is some of that cream cheese, which You like so much, Master. And here are some eggs for John. I hope they are not broken... No. Good. And some grapes. I got them from Susanna at Cana, where I slept. Then... Ah! Look at this Marjiam! Look how clear it is. It seems to be made with Mary's hair»... And he opens a jar of treacly honey.
« Why so much stuff? You have gone to a lot of trouble, Simon» says Mary looking at the bundles, parcels, vases and jars on the table.
« Trouble? No. I had a good haul and I made a good profit. That, as far as the fish is concerned. With regard to the rest: it is all home made. It costs nothing but gives so much joy to bring it. In any case... We are now at the Dedication... That is the custom. Isn't it? Are you not tasting the honey?»
« I cannot» says Marjiam seriously.
« Why? Are you not well?»
« No. But I cannot take it.»
« But why?»
The boy blushes but does not reply. He looks at Jesus and is silent. Jesus smiles and explains: « Marjiam made a vow to obtain a grace. He cannot eat honey for four weeks.»
« All right. You will eat it after... Take the jar just the same... Just imagine! I didn't think he was... so...»
« So generous, Simon. He who becomes accustomed to penance from his childhood, will find the path of virtue easy throughout life» says Jesus, while the boy goes away with the jar in his hands.
Peter watches him go and is amazed. He then asks: « Is the Zealot not in?»
« He has gone to Mary of Alphaeus. But he will soon be back. You will be sleeping together tonight. Come into the next room, Simon Peter.»
They go out while Mary and Syntyche tidy up the room invaded by bundles.
« Master... I have come to see You and the boy. That is true. But also because I have been thinking a lot these days, particularly after the arrival of three poisonous hornets... whom I told more lies than there are fish in the sea. They are now going to Gethsemane as they think that John of Endor is there and then they will be going to Lazarus, hoping to find Syntyche and You there. Let them walk!... But they will come back and... Master, they want to cause You trouble because of those two wretched people...»
« I made all the necessary arrangements months ago. When they come back looking for these two persecuted people, they will not find them anywhere in Palestine. See these chests? I made them for John and Syntyche. Did you notice all those folded garments near the loom? They are for them. Are you surprised?»
« Yes, Master. Where are You sending them?»
« To Antioch.»
Peter whistles meaningfully and then asks: « To whom? And how will they go there?»
« To a house belonging to Lazarus. The last one Lazarus has where his father governed in the name of Rome. And they will go by sea...»
« Ah! I see! Because if John had to go there on foot...»
« By sea. I am glad I can speak to you about it. I was going to send Simon to say to you: “Come”, to prepare everything. Listen. Two or three days after the Feast of the Dedication we will leave from here few at a time, in order not to attract anybody's attention. The group will be formed by Me, you, your brother, James and John, My two cousins, John and Syntyche. We will go to Ptolemais! From there you will take them by boat to Tyre. There you will board a ship sailing to Antioch, as if you were proselytes going back home.
You will then come back and you will find Me at Achzib. I will be on the mountain top every day. In any case the Spirit will guide you...»
« What? Are You not coming with us?»
« I would be noted too much. I want to give peace to John's soul.»
« And what will I do since I have never been away from here?»
« You are not a child... and soon you will have to go much farther than Antioch. I trust you. You can see that I esteem you very much...»
« And what about Philip and Bartholomew?»
« They will come and meet us at Jotopata and will evangelize while waiting for us. I will write to them and you will take the letter.»
« And... those two over there, do they already know their destiny?»
« No. I want them to celebrate the Feast in peace...»
« H'm. Poor people... Fancy that! People are persecuted by criminals and...»
« Do not foul your mouth, Simon.»
« No, Master... Listen... How will we carry these chests? And John? He looks seriously ill to me.»
« We will take a donkey.»
« No. We will take a cart.»
« And who will drive it?»
« Eh! If Judas of Simon learned to row, Simon of Jonah will learn to drive a cart. It should not be difficult to lead a donkey by the bridle. We will put the chests and those two in the cart... and we will go on foot. Yes, it is better to do that, believe me.»
« And who will give us the cart? Remember that I do not want our departure to be noted.» Peter thinks... He makes up his mind: « Have You any money?»
« Yes. Still quite a lot of the money we got for Misace's jewels.»
« In that case it is easy. Give me a sum. I will get a donkey and cart from someone and... yes... we will make a present of the donkey to some poor wretch and the cart... we will see... I am glad I came. And must I really come back with my wife?»
« Yes. It is better.»
« Good. But those two poor wretches! I am sorry that we shall no longer have John with us. True, we would not have had him for long... But, poor man! He might have died here, like Jonah...»
« They would not have allowed him. The world hates those who redeem themselves.»
« He will feel humiliated...»
« I will find a reason to make him leave with - a relieved mind.»
« Which reason?»
« The same as I used to send away Judas of Simon: to work for Me.»
« Ah!... The difference is that in John it will be holiness, whereas in Judas it is only pride.»
« Simon, do not backbite.»
« That is more difficult than to make a fish sing! It is the truth, Master, it is not backbiting... But I think that Simon has come with Your brothers. Let us go...»
« Let us go. Not a word to anybody.»
« Are You telling me? I cannot omit mentioning the truth when I speak, but I can be silent, if I want. And I do want! I swore it to myself. Imagine me going to Antioch! To the ends of the earth! Oh! I wish I were already back! I shall sleep no more until it is all over...»
They go out and I see no more.