2nd December 1945.
When they set foot on the little beach of Capernaum they are welcomed by shouting children who vie with swallows, now busy abuilding their new nests, so quickly they run from the beach to the houses, screeching in their shrill voices, cheerful with the simple joy of children, to whom everything is a wonderful sight and a mysterious object: a little fish found dead on the shore, or a pebble smoothed by the waves and that owing to its hue, looks like a precious stone, or a flower growing between two stones, or the iridiscent scarab captured in flight. All wonderful things to be shown to their mothers so that they may take part in the joy of their children.
But those little human swallows have now seen Jesus and all their flights converge towards Him, Who is about to set foot on the beach. And it is a warm live avalanche of children, a gentle chain of tender little hands, it is the love of children's hearts that welcome Jesus, Who is pressed, surrounded and warmed, as if they were a gentle fire.
« Me! Me!», « A kiss!», « To me!», « Also to me!», « Jesus! I love You!», « Don't go away any more for such a long time!», « I came here every day to see whether You were coming.», « And I used to go to Your house.»
« Take this flower, it was for my mother, but I give it to You.»
« Another kiss to me, a big one. You did not kiss me the first time, because Jael pushed me back...»
And their shrill voices continue to shout, while Jesus endeavours to walk in the midst of the loving net.
« Leave Him now! Go! That's enough now!» shout the apostles and disciples trying to loosen the press. Not a hope! They are like lianas equipped with suckers. They are detached here and they adhere there.
« Leave them! With a little patience we shall get there» says Jesus smiling and He takes extraordinarily short steps in order to proceed without treading on the children's bare feet.
What frees Him from the loving press is the arrival of Manaen with other disciples, among whom are the shepherds who were in Judaea.
« Peace to You, Master!» thunders Manaen who is imposing in his magnificent garment and no longer wears jewels on his forehead and fingers; a wonderful sword is instead hanging on his side and it excites the respectful admiration of the children, who, at the sight of the magnificent knight dressed in purple and carrying such a marvellous weapon on his side, move aside obviously frightened.
And Jesus can thus embrace him and Elias, Levi, Matthias, Joseph, John, Simeon and I do not know how many more. « How come you are here? And how did you know that I had landed?»
« We knew by the shouting of the children. They pierced walls like arrows of joy. But I came here thinking that Your next trip to Judaea is now close at hand and that also the women will be taking part in it... I want to be there as well... To protect You, my Lord, if I am not too proud in thinking so. There is a great deal of excitement in Israel against You. I regret having to say so. But You are aware of it.»
And while speaking thus, they reach the house and go in. Manaen continues his speech after the landlord and his wife have worshipped the Master.
« By now the excitement and interest in You have pervaded every place, rousing and drawing the attention even of the most dull-minded people, who are normally concerned with entirely different matters. The news of what You have worked has passed even through the filthy walls of Machaerus and has reached the lustful refuges of Herod, that is: his palace in Tiberias, the castles of Herodias and the splendid royal palace of the Asmoneans near the Sixtus market. Like a wave of light and power the news passes through dark vile barriers, it demolishes the piles of sins placed as trenches to cover up the foul love affairs of the Court and its cruel crimes, it darts like an arrow of fire writing words that are by far graver than those written on the lewd walls of the lewd bedchambers and throne and banquet halls at Belshazzar's feast. The news shouts Your Name and power, Your Nature and Your Mission. And Herod trembles with fear; Herodias tosses in her bed fearing that You may be the revenging King, who will take her wealth and freedom, if not her very life, leaving her at the mercy of the populace, who will take revenge for her many crimes. They tremble at Court, because of You. They tremble with human and superhuman fear. Since they cut off John's head, a fire seems to be burning the bowels of his murderers. They do not even enjoy any longer their previous miserable peace, the peace of pigs sated with orgies, who silence their reproachful consciences in drunkenness or in copulation. Nothing can appease them... They are persecuted... And they hate each other, after making love, disgusted with each other, accusing each other of committing a crime that now perturbs them as it overstepped the limit. Salome, as if she were possessed by a demon, is shaken by such eroticism that would degrade even a slave girl. The Royal palace stinks more than a sewer. Herod has asked me about You several times. And every time I always replied to him: “As far as I am concerned He is the Messiah, the King of Israel of the unique royal stock: David's. He is the Son of man foretold by the Prophets, He is the Word of God, He, Who being the Christ, the Anointed of God, has the right to reign over all living beings.” And Herod goes pale with fear as he realises that You are the Revenger. And as his courtiers, in order to comfort him say that You are John, erroneously believed to be dead, thus making him faint with horror, or that You are Elijah or some other prophet of the past, he fights against his fear and the cry of his conscience devoured by remorse, saying: “No. He cannot be John! I had John beheaded and his head is safely kept by Herodias. And He cannot be one of the prophets. One does not live again after dying. Neither can He be the Christ. Who says that He is? Who dares to tell me that He is the King of the unique royal stock? I am the king! Nobody else is! The Messiah was killed by Herod the Great: He was drowned in a sea of blood, as soon as He was born. He was slaughtered like a little lamb... and He was only a few months old... Can you not hear Him weep? His bleating is always resounding within my head together with John's roar: 'It is against the Law for you to have her'... Is it against the Law for me?! No, it isn't! I am allowed everything, because I am 'the king'. I want wine and women here, if Herodias refuses my embraces, and let Salome dance to rouse my senses, which your fearful tales have frightened.” And he gets drunk with the girl-mimes of the Court, while in her rooms the mad woman howls curses against the Martyr and threats to You, and Salome, in her rooms, realises what it means to be born of two lewd parents and to give assent to a crime and to have it committed by yielding one's body to the lubricious craving of a filthy man. When Herod comes to his senses, he wants to be informed about You and would like to see You. That is why he is in favour of my visits to You, as he hopes that I may take You to him. Which I will never do as I am not prepared to take Your holiness into a den of foul beasts. And Herodias would like to have You to strike You. And she shouts so holding her stiletto in her hands... And Salome would like to have You, as she saw You at Tiberias, without Your knowing it, last Ethanim and is mad for You... That is the Royal Palace, Master! But I am remaining there so that I can keep an eye on what they intend doing to You.»
« And I am grateful to you for it and the Most High blesses you. That is also a way to serve the Most High in His decrees.»
« That is what I thought. And that is why I carne.»
« Manaen, since you have come, I ask you to do Me a favour. Do not come towards Jerusalem with Me, but go with the women. I shall go with My disciples along an unknown road and no one will be able to injure Me. But they are women and unprotected and he who is to accompany them is a meek soul and has been taught to offer his other cheek to anyone who should strike him. Your presence will be a safe protection. I understand that it is a sacrifice, but we shall be together in Judaea. My dear friend, do not deny Me this favour.»
« Lord, every desire of Yours is law to Your servant. I am at the service of Your Mother and of the women disciples as from this moment, until You wish so.»
« Thank you. Also this obedience of yours will be written in Heaven. Now, while waiting for the boats, let us cure the sick people who are waiting for Me.»
And Jesus goes down into the kitchen garden where there are stretchers and sick people and He cures them at once, while Jairus and a few friends of Capernaum pay their respects to Him.
In the meantime the women - that is: Porphirea and Salome, Bartholomew's elderly wife and Philip's less elderly one with her young daughters - are busy preparing food for the large crowd of disciples whose hunger will be satisfied with the baskets of fish offered by the people of Bethsaida and Capernaum. And a great deal of gutting the still wriggling silvery fish, of washing them in basins and grilling them is done in the kitchen while Marjiam and some other disciples keep the fire going and bring pitchers of water to help the women.
The meal is soon ready and soon over. And as sufficient boats have already been assembled, all they have to do is to embark for Magdala, on an enchanting lake, which is so serene and angelical in the emerald green setting of its shores.
The hospitable house and gardens of Mary of Magdala welcome the Master and His disciples in the midday sun, and the whole of Magdala rushes to greet the Rabbi, Who is going towards Jerusalem.
And the faithful crowd march nimbly and happily along the cool slopes of the Galilean hills, followed by a comfortable wagon in which there are Johanna with Porphirea, Salome, the wives of Bartholomew and Philip with the latter's two young daughters and the two cheerful little orphans adopted by Johanna, Matthias and Mary, whose aspects have altered beyond recognition from what they were five months ago. Marjiam is marching bravely with the grown up people, and as instructed by Jesus he is in the apostolic group, between Peter and John, and does not miss a word; of what Jesus says.
The sun is shining in a very clear sky and gusts of warm wind carry the scents of woods, mint, violets, early lilies of the valley, rose-bushes full of flowers, and above all, the fresh lightly bitterish scent of the blossoms of fruit-trees, which everywhere pour a shower of snow-white petals on the grassland. They all have petals in their hair while they proceed among the continuous warbling of birds, among enticing songs and anxious calls from one thicket to another, between bold males and demure females, while sheep graze, fat through their maternity, and the first little lambs knock their little muzzles against the round udders to increase the secretion of milk, or they jump about the meadows covered with tender grass, like happy children.
They soon reach Nazareth after Cana, where Susanna joins the other women, taking with her the products of her land in baskets and vases and a whole shoot of red roses, all in bud and about to open, « to be offered to Mary» she says.
« I have some, too, see?» says Johanna uncovering a kind of box, in which many roses have been laid among damp moss: « They are the first and the most beautiful ones. But still nothing for Her, Who is so dear!»
I see that every woman has brought food for the Passover pilgrimage and with the food some have brought flowers, some plants for Mary's garden. Porphirea apologises for bringing only a vase of camphor, which is magnificent with its tiny blue-green leaves that exhale their aroma even when they are lightly touched. « Mary wanted this balsamic plant...» she says. And they all praise her for the luxuriant beauty of the young tree. « Oh! I have watched over it all winter, protecting it from frost and hail in my room. Marjiam helped me to take it out in the sun every morning, and bring it in at night... And if there had been no boat and no wagon, that dear boy would have loaded it on his shoulder to carry it to Mary, to do Her and me a favour» says the humble woman, who takes heart more and more through Johanna's kindness and who is beside herself with the joy of going to Jerusalem with the Master, her husband and Marjiam.
« Have you never been there?»
« When my father lived I used to go every year. But later... My mother did not go any more... My brothers would have taken me, but I was a help to my mother and she would not let me go. Then I married Simon and my health has not been very good. The journey would have taken Simon a long time and he was bored... So I stayed at home waiting for him... The Lord saw my desire... and it was the same as if I offered my sacrifice in the Temple...» says the meek woman.
And Johanna, who is near her, lays her hand on her wonderful plaits, saying: « My dear!». And there is so much love, understanding and meaning in that adjective.
There is Nazareth... there is the house of Mary of Alphaeus who is already in the arms of her sons; and with her hands, which are dripping and red as she is doing the washing, she caresses them, and then, drying her hands in her coarse apron, she runs to embrace Jesus... And there is the house of Alphaeus of Sarah, immediately before Mary's house. Alphaeus tells his oldest grandchild to run and tell Mary, and he strides towards Jesus holding an armful of grandchildren in his arms and he greets Him together with the children held in his arms like a bunch of flowers offered to Jesus. And there is Mary: She appears at the door, in the sunshine, wearing a light blue dress, which is slightly faded, with Her golden hair shining on Her virginal forehead and forming a heavy knot of plaits on Her nape; She falls on the chest of Her Son, Who kisses Her with all His love.
The others stop discreetly to leave them free in their first meeting. But Mary moves away, turns round, Her face, unaltered by age, is now rosy because of the surprise and Her bright smiles, and She greets with Her angelical voice: « Peace to you, servants of the Lord and disciples of My Son. Peace to you, sisters in the Lord» and She exchanges a sisterly kiss with the women disciples, who have come off the wagon.
« Oh! Marjiam! I will no longer be able to hold you in My arms! You are a man now. But come to the Mother of all good children, I can still give you a kiss. My dear! May God bless you and make you grow in His ways, as strongly as your young body is growing, and even more. Son, we must take him to his grandfather. He will be so happy to see him thus» She then says turning round to Jesus.
She then embraces James and Judas of Alphaeus. And She gives them the news that certainly pleases them most of all: « Simon this year is coming with Me, as a disciple of the Master. He told Me.»
And She greets one by one the more familiar ones, the more influential ones, saying graceful words to each of them. Manaen is led towards Her by Jesus, Who introduces him as Her escort in the journey to Jerusalem.
« Are You not coming with us, Son?»
« Mother, I have other places to evangelize. We shall meet at Bethany.»
« May Your will be done now and always. Thank you, Manaen. You: a human angel; our guardians: the angels in Heaven; and we shall be as safe as if we were in the Holy of Holies.» And She offers Her little hand to Manaen in token of friendship. And the knight, who has been brought up in courtly manners, kneels down to kiss the gentle hand offered to him.
In the meantime the flowers and what is to be left in Nazareth has been unloaded. The wagon is taken to one of the stables in town.
The little house looks like a rosary with the roses that the women disciples have strewn everywhere. But Porphirea's plant, laid on a table, is the one that is mostly admired by Mary, Who has it taken to a suitable place according to the directions of Peter's wife.
They cannot certainly all go into the little house or the kitchen garden, which is not an estate, but is seems to rise toward the sky and become airy, so many are the clouds of blossoms on the trees in the garden. And Judas of Alphaeus asks Mary smiling: « Have You picked Your branch for Your amphora today?»
« Most certainly, Judas. And I was contemplating it when you arrived...»
« And You were dreaming once again, Mother, of Your remote mystery...» says Jesus, embracing Her with His left arm and drawing Her close to His heart.
Mary raises Her flushed face and says with a sigh: « Yes, Son, and I was dreaming again of the first throb of Your heart within Me...»
Jesus says: « Let the women disciples, the apostles, Marjiam, the shepherd-disciples, John the priest, Stephen, Hermas and Manaen stay here. The others can spread out looking for lodgings...»
« Many can stay with me...» shouts Simon of Alphaeus from the door where he has been stopped. « I am their fellow-disciple and I claim them.»
« Oh! brother, come in, that I may kiss your» says Jesus effusively, while Alphaeus of Sarah, Ishmael and Aser, the two disciples, formerly donkey drivers, of Nazareth, say: « Come to our houses!»
The disciples who have not been chosen to stay, go away and the door can be closed... but it is opened once again immediately afterwards, for the arrival of Mary of Alphaeus, who cannot stay away, even if her washing is going to be spoiled. They are about forty people and they spread through the warm peaceful garden, until food is handed out, and everybody finds it has a celestial flavour, so happy they are to take it in the house of the Lord, and handed out by Mary.
Simon comes back after settling the disciples and says: « You did not call me with the others, but I am Your brother and I am staying here just the same.»
« Very well, Simon, come here. I wanted you to be here to meet Mary. Many of you know Mary as the “mother”; some as the “spouse”. But no one knows Her as the “virgin” Mary. I want you to become acquainted with Her in this garden in bloom, to which your hearts desire to come when you are compelled to be far away, as to a resting place after your apostolate work.
I listened to you apostles, disciples and relatives speak, and I heard your impressions, your recollections and your statements concerning My Mother. I will transfigure all that, which is admirable although still very human, into a supernatural knowledge. Because My Mother is to be transfigured, before Me, in the eyes of the most deserving, to show Her as She is. You see a woman. A woman different from other women, because of Her holiness, but in actual fact you see Her as a soul enveloped in a body, just like all women Her sisters. But now I wish to reveal to you the soul of My Mother. Her true and eternal beauty.
Come here, Mother. Do not blush. Do not withdraw shyly, sweet dove of God. Your Son is the Word of God and He can speak of You and of Your mystery, of Your mysteries, o sublime Mystery of God. Let us sit down here, in the pleasant shade of the trees in blossom near the house, near Your holy room. Thus! Let us lift this fluttering curtain, so that waves of holiness and Paradise may come out of this virginal room, to saturate us all with Your virtues... Yes. Me as well. That I may smell of You, o perfect Virgin, so that I may be able to bear the stench of the world, in order that I may see purity after saturating My eyes with Your Purity... Marjiam, John, Stephen come here, and you, women disciples, stand directly in front of the open door of the chaste abode of the most Chaste amongst women. And you, My friends, stand behind. And You, My beloved Mother, here, beside Me.
A little while ago I said to you: “the eternal beauty of the soul of My Mother”. I am the Word, and thus I can make use of words without erring. I said: eternal, not immortal. And I deliberately said so. He is immortal who, after being born, does not die. Thus the souls of the just are immortal in Heaven, the souls of sinners are immortal in Hell, because a soul, once it has been created, does not die but to grace. But a soul has life, it exists from that moment that God thinks it (1). It is the Thought of God that creates it. The soul of My Mother was thought by God from everlasting. It is therefore eternal in its beauty, in which God poured every perfection to receive delight and comfort from it.
(1) The verb to think, in this particular case, means to create, as is clarified by the sentence which immediately follows it: « It is the Thought of God that creates it. »
It is written in the Book of our ancestor Solomon, who foresaw You, and can thus be called Your prophet: “God possessed me from the beginning of His works, from the very beginning, before Creation. From everlasting I was firmly set, from the beginning, before the Earth came into being. The deep was not yet, and I was conceived. There were no springs to gush with water, the mountains were not yet settled on their huge mass, and I already was. Before the hills I came to birth. He had not yet made the Earth, the rivers, or the poles of the world, and I already existed. When He prepared the sky and Heaven I was present. When with inviolable law He closed the abyss under the vault, when He fixed firm the celestial vault and He suspended there the sources of water, when He assigned the sea its boundaries and He ordered the water not to pass its limit, when He laid down the foundations of the earth, I was by His side arranging everything. I was always joyfully at play in His presence. I played in the universe.”
Yes, Mother, with Whom God, Immense, Sublime, Virgin, Uncreated, was pregnant and carried You like a most sweet burden, rejoicing at feeling You stir within Him, when with Your smiles He created the Universe! He laboriously gave birth to You to give You to the world, most gentle soul, born of the Deity to be the “Virgin”, the Perfection of Creation, the Light of Paradise, the Advice of God, Who looking at You forgave Sin, because You alone, by Yourself can love as all Mankind put together cannot love. In You is the Forgiveness of God! You are the Treatment of God, You are the caress of the Eternal Father on the wound that man inflicted on God! In You is the Salvation of the world, Mother of the Love Incarnate and of the granted Redeemer! The soul of My Mother! Merged in Love with My Father, I looked at You within Me, o soul of My Mother!... And Your splendour, Your prayer, the idea of being carried by You comforted Me forever and ever for My destiny of sorrow and inhuman experience of what the corrupted world is for the most Perfect God. Thank You, Mother! When I came I was already full of Your consolation, I descended perceiving You alone, Your perfume, Your song, Your love... Joy, My joy!
Now that you know that one only is the Woman in Whom there is no stain, that one only Human Being costs the Redeemer no injury, listen to the second transfiguration of Mary, the Elect Daughter of God.
It was a clear afternoon in the month of Adar and the trees were in bloom in the silent kitchen garden, and Mary, Joseph's bride, had picked a flowery branch to replace the one that was in Her room. Mary, taken from the Temple to adorn a house of saints, had recently come to Nazareth. And with Her soul divided among Temple, house and Heaven, She was looking at the flowery branch, considering that by means of a similar branch, which had bloomed in an unusual manner, a branch cut off in this garden in the depth of winter and had bloomed as if it were springtime before the Ark of the Lord - perhaps the Sun-God beaming in His Glory had warmed it - God had revealed His will to Her... And She was thinking also that on the day of their wedding Joseph had brought Her other flowers, but never like the first one on the thin petals of which it was written: “I want You united to Joseph”... She was thinking of many things... And while thinking She ascended to God. Her hands were busy with distaff and spindle and were spinning a yam that was thinner than the hair of Her young head...
Her soul was weaving a carpet of love, moving quickly, like a shuttle on a loom, from the earth to Heaven. From the needs of the house, of Joseph, to those of the soul, of God. And She sang and prayed. And the carpet was forming on the mystical loom, it rolled off from the earth to Heaven, it ascended to get lost up there... Formed with what? With the thin, perfect strong threads of Her virtues, with the flying thread of the shuttle, which She thought was “Hers”, whereas it was God's: the shuttle of the Will of God, on which was rolled the will of the little, great Virgin of Israel, Unknown to the World, Known to God, rolled and made one with the Will of the Lord. And the carpet was adorned with the flowers of love, of purity, with palms of peace and palms of glory, with sweet-smelling violets, with jasmines... Every virtue flowered on the carpet of love, which the Virgin of God unrolled invitingly from the earth to Heaven. And as the carpet was not sufficient She thrust Her heart singing: “Let My Beloved come into His garden and eat the fruit of His trees... Let My Beloved come down to His garden, to the bed of spices, to pasture in the gardens and gather lilies. I am My Beloved's and My Beloved is Mine. He pastures among the lilies!” And from infinite distance, among torrents of Light, a Voice came that human ear cannot hear and human throat cannot utter. And it said: “How beautiful You are, My love! How beautiful You are!... Your lips distill wild honey... You are a garden enclosed, a sealed fountain, My sister, My promised bride... “ and the two voices joined together to sing the eternal truth: “Love is stronger than death. Nothing can quench or drown 'our' love.” And the Virgin was thus transfigured when Gabriel descended and called Her back to the Earth, with his ardour, and joined Her soul to Her body again, so that She might hear and understand the request of Him, Who had called Her “Sister” but wanted Her to be His “Bride”.
And the Mystery took place there... And a modest woman, the most modest of all women, Who was not even aware of the instinctive incentive of the flesh, fainted before the Angel of God, because even an angel upsets the humility and modesty of the Virgin, and only when She heard him speak She calmed down, and She believed, and She said the word, whereby “their” love became Flesh and will defeat Death and no flood will be able to quench it or wickedness to submerge it...»
Jesus bends gently over Mary Who has slid to His feet, almost ecstatically, in the recollection of the remote hour, shining with a special light, which seems to issue from Her soul, and He asks Her in a low voice: « Which was Your reply, Most Pure Mother, to him who assured You that by becoming Mother of God, You would not lose Your perfect Virginity?»
And Mary, almost in a dream, slowly, smiling, Her eyes shining with joyful tears: « I am the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be done to Me according to your Word» and She reclines Her head on the knees of Her Son, adoring Him.
Jesus covers Her with His mantle, concealing Her from everybody's eyes and He says: « And it was done. All will be done until the end. Until Her next transfiguration and the one after that. She will always be the “Handmaid of God”. She will always act according to what “the Word” says. My Mother! That is My Mother. And you ought to begin to become fully acquainted with Her holy Figure... Mother! Mother! Raise Your face, My Beloved... Call Your devout admirers back to the Earth, where we are for the time being...» He says uncovering Mary after a little while, during which no noise was heard except the humming of bees and the gurgling of the little fountain.
Mary raises Her face wet with tears and whispers: « Why did You do that to Me, Son? The secrets of the King are sacred...»
« But the King can reveal them whenever He wishes. Mother, I did it, so that the words of the Prophet may be understood: “A Woman will enclose the Man in Herself”, and the words of the other Prophet: “The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son.” And also that My disciples, who are struck with horror at too many things that they consider degrading for the Word of God, may have, as counterbalance, many other things confirming them in the joy of being “Mine”. Thus they will no longer be scandalised and will conquer Heaven... Now those who have to go to the house where they are guests, may go. I am staying with the women and Marjiam. All the men must be here tomorrow at dawn, because I want to take you to a place nearby. We shall then come back and say goodbye to the women, and then we shall go to Capernaum to gather other disciples and tell them to follow the women...»