1st December 1945.
They are not walking any longer, but are running in the fresh dawn, which is more pleasant and clearer than the previous mornings; sparkling dewdrops and many-coloured petals fall on their heads and in the meadows, adding other hues to the countless shades of the little flowers growing on the banks of streams and in fields, and glistening on the grass like diamonds. They are running in the middle of warbling birds and in a light breeze that rustles among branches and caresses the hay and corn that grow higher and higher day by day; and they hear the cheerful babbling of brooks flowing within their banks and gently bending the stems of flowers touching their clear water. They are running as if they were going to a tryst. Even the elderly ones, such as Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, the Zealot share the joyful haste of the younger ones. And the same is happening among the disciples, where the older ones vie with the younger ones in walking fast.
The meadows are still wet with dew when they reach the area of Bethsaida, enclosed in a little space between the lake, the river and the mountain. A youth bent under bundles of sticks is coming down from the wood in the mountain. He is coming down very fast, almost running, but he cannot see the apostles from his posture... He is singing happily while running under his burden of sticks, and as soon as he reaches the main road, at the first houses in Bethsaida, he throws his load to the ground and straightens himself up to rest, pushing back his dark hair. He is tall and thin, erect, and his body, although slender and agile, is strong. He is a handsome looking adolescent.
« It's Marjiam» says Andrew.
« Are you mad? That's a man» replies Peter.
Andrew cups his hands to his mouth and calls him in a loud voice. The young man, who was about to bend to pick up his load, after fastening the belt of his short tunic, which barely reaches his knees and is open at his chest probably because it is rather tight, turns round in the direction of the call and sees Jesus, Peter and the others who are looking at him, standing near a group of willows dipping into a large stream, the final left-hand tributary of the Jordan before the lake of Galilee, just outside the village. He drops the bundle, raises his arms and shouts: « My Lord! My father!» and he darts off.
Peter also dashes off, wading the brook in his sandals, he just pulls his garments up, and then runs along the dusty road, leaving the wet marks of his sandals on the dry ground.
« Father!» « Son!»
They embrace each other and Marjiam is really as tall as Peter, and thus his dark hair falls on Peter's face when they kiss each other. But as Marjiam is so slender, he looks taller.
Then, Marjiam breaks away from the loving embrace and resumes his race towards Jesus, Who is now on this side of the stream and is coming slowly forward surrounded by the apostles. Marjiam falls at His feet, with his arms raised and he exclaims: « Oh! My Lord, bless Your servant!»
But Jesus bends, lifts him up and presses him to His heart kissing both his cheeks and wishing him « everlasting peace and increase in wisdom and grace in the ways of the Lord.»
The apostles also give a hearty welcome to the boy, particularly those who have not seen him for months and they congratulate him on his growth.
But Peter!... If he had procreated him he would not have been so pleased! He walks round him, looks at him, touches him, and asks the others: « Isn't he handsome? Isn't he well built? Look how straight he is! What a broad chest! And his straight legs!... A bit thin, not very sinewy as yet. But he is promising! Very good! And his face? Tell me whether he looks like the poor little fellow I carried in my arms last year, when he looked like a frail, miserable, sad, frightened bird... Well done, Porphirea! Ah! she has been very clever feeding him with plenty honey, butter, oil, eggs and fish liver. I must congratulate her at once. Do You mind, Master? May I go to see my wife?»
« Go, Simon. I will soon be with you.»
Marjiam, whose hand is still in that of Jesus, says: « Master, my father will certainly tell mother to prepare a meal for You. Let me go and help her...»
« Yes, go. And may God bless you for honouring your father and mother.»
Marjiam runs away, picks up his bundle of firewood, puts it on his shoulder, reaches Peter and walks beside him.
« They look like Abraham and Isaac climbing the mountain» remarks Bartholomew.
« Oh! Poor Marjiam! That would be the last straw indeed!» says Simon Zealot.
« And poor brother of mine! I don't know whether he would have the strength to act as Abraham...» says Andrew.
Jesus looks at him and then looks at the grey head of Peter, who is moving away close to his Marjiam, and He says: « I solemnly tell you that the day will come when Peter will rejoice knowing that his Marjiam has been imprisoned, beaten, scourged, sentenced to death, and that he would have the heart to lay the boy on the scaffold himself to clothe him with the purple of Heaven and to fertilise the earth with the blood of a martyr, and he will be jealous and sorrowful for one reason only: that he is not in the place of his son and subordinate, because his election to Supreme Head of My Church will compel him to spare himself for the Church until I say to him: “Go and die for it.” You do not know Peter yet. I do.»
« Do you foresee martyrdom for Marjiam and my brother?»
« Are you sorry, Andrew?»
« No. I am sorry that You do not foresee it also for me.»
« I solemnly tell you that you will all be clad with purple, except one.»
« Who?... Who?...»
« Let us be silent on the grief of God» Jesus says sadly but solemnly. And they are all silent, looking frightened and pensive.
They walk along the first road in Bethsaida, among vegetable gardens full of fresh greenery. Peter, with other people of Bethsaida, is leading a blind man towards Jesus. Marjiam is not there. He must have stayed at home to help Porphirea. Among the people of Bethsaida and the relatives of the blind man, there are many disciples who have come from Sicaminon and other towns, and among them there are Stephen, Hermas, John the priest, John the scribe and many more. (It is now quite a problem to remember them all: they are so many).
« I brought him to You, Lord. He has been waiting here for several days» explains Peter, while the blind man and his relatives singsong: « Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!», « Touch with Your hand the eyes of my son, and he will see», « Have mercy on me, Lord! I believe in You!»
Jesus takes the blind man by the hand and walks back a few steps with him, to put him in the shade, as the street is flooded with sunbeams. He places him against a foliage-covered wall of the first house in the village, and stands in front of him. He wets both His forefingers with saliva and rubs the man's eyes with his moist fingers, He then presses His hands against his eyes, with the base of each hand against an eye-socket and His fingers spread out among the hair of the poor fellow. He prays and then removes His hands, asking: « What do you see?»
« I see some men. They must be men. But that is how I imagined trees in bloom. But they are certainly men, as they are walking and making signs to me.»
Jesus imposes His hands once again, then He removes them asking: « And now?»
« Oh! Now I clearly see the difference between trees planted in the ground and those men who are looking at me... And I see You! How handsome You are! Your eyes are like the sky and Your hair seems sunbeams... and Your look and Your smile come from God. Lord, I adore You!» and he kneels down kissing the hem of His tunic.
« Stand up and come to your mother who, for years has been your light and comfort and whose love you only know.»
He takes the man by the hand and leads him towards his mother, who has knelt down a few steps away in adoration, as shortly before she had done imploring.
« Stand up, woman. Here is your son. He now sees daylight and may his heart wish to follow the eternal Light. Go home and be happy. And live holily out of gratitude to God. But going through villages do not tell anybody that I cured you, lest the crowds should rush here and prevent Me from going where it is just that I should go, to confirm the faith and take light and joy to other children of My Father.»
And He quickly disappears along a little path among kitchen gardens, going toward Peter's house, which He enters greeting Porphirea kindly.