28th February 1946.
« Lord, would You come with me, with me alone, to see an unhappy mother. I desire this more than anything else» says Mary of Simon, standing respectfully before Jesus, while after the midday meal, the apostles have scattered to rest before resuming their journey in the evening. Jesus instead is resting in the shade of the apple-trees laden with small green apples about to ripen and Mary seems to be resuming a conversation previously begun.
« Yes, woman. I also wish to be with you, all alone in these last hours, as I was the first time I came here. Let us go.» And they go into the house where Jesus takes His mantle and Mary her veil and mantle.
They follow paths through fields, orchards and forest trees. It is still warm. Waves of warm air come from the fields where the crops are ripe. But the mountain breeze moderates the heat which would have been unbearable down in the plain.
« I am sorry to make You walk in this heat. But later... it would no longer be possible. And I have always longed for this thing, without ever daring to ask You. A short while ago You said to me: “Mary, to show that I love you, as if you were My mother, I say to you: ask Me whatever you wish to have and I will satisfy you” and so I dared. Lord, do You know where we are going?»
« No, woman.»
« We are going to the house of the woman, who was to be Judas' mother-in-law... (Mary sighs heavily). She was to... She is not and never will be, because Judas left the girl who died of a broken heart... and her mother now bears me and my son ill-will. She always curses us... Judas is so... weak and inclined to Evil, that he needs blessings only!... I would like You to speak to her... You can convince her... and tell her that it was a mercy that the marriage did not take place... that it is no fault of mine... that she may die without any grudge; because she is dying slowly with such grief in her soul. I would like to be at peace with her... because I have suffered and I was ashamed of what happened and it grieves me to see that the person who has been my companion since I came here when I got married, is no longer my friend. In short, Lord, You know...»
« Yes, do not worry. Your request is an honest one and I will fulfill the task because it is a good thing.» After crossing a little valley, they climb up another hill, on which there is a village.
« Anne has lived here since her daughter died. In her estate. Before she was at Kerioth. But while she lived there, her reproaches broke my heart every time we met.»
They take a side path just before the village and arrive at a low house, in the fields.
« Now! My heart is trembling, now that I am here! She will refuse to see me... she will reject me... she will be upset and her poor heart will suffer even more... Master...»
« Yes, I will go. You stay here, till I call you. And pray in order to assist Me.»
And Jesus goes, all alone, as far as the wide-open door of the house, which He enters greeting with His kind salutation.
A woman comes towards Him: « What do You want? Who are You?»
« I have come to bring relief to your mistress. Take Me to her.»
« Are You a doctor? It is of no avail! There is no hope. Her heart is dying.»
« There is still her soul to be saved. I am the Rabbi.»
« You are of no use even as such. She is displeased with the Eternal Father and does not want to listen to sermons. Leave her alone.»
« I have come just because she is in that frame of mind. Let me go in and she will not be so unhappy in her last days.»
The woman shrugs her shoulders and says: « Come in!»
There is a cool half-dark corridor with several doors. At the end of the corridor the last door is half-open and moaning can be heard from it. The woman enters the room saying: « My mistress, there is a rabbi who wants to speak to you.»
« Why?... To tell me that I am cursed? That I will have no peace not even in the next life?» says the sick woman panting and upset.
« No. To tell you that your peace will be complete, if you only wish so, and you will be happy forever with your Johanna» says Jesus appearing at the door.
The sick woman, whose face is yellow and swollen, and who is panting in her little bed, leaning on many pillows, looks at Him and says: « Oh! What words! It is the first time that a rabbi does not reproach me... What hope!... My Johanna... with me... blessed... no more grief... the grief caused by a cursed man... she who gave birth to him did not avoid it... she betrayed me... after enticing me... My unhappy daughter...» she pants more and more.
« See? You are making her feel worse. I knew. Come away.»
« No. You go away. Leave me alone with her...» The woman goes out shaking her head.
Jesus approaches the bed slowly. He kindly wipes the perspiration on the face of the woman, who finds difficulty in doing so because her hands are incredibly swollen, and He fans her head with a fan made with palm leaves. He helps her to drink as she seeks some refreshment in the liquor on the night table. He seems a son near a diseased mother. He finally sits down, kindly but firmly determined to fulfill His mission.
The woman watches Him and calms down, and with an agonising smile she says: « You are handsome and kind. Who are You, Rabbi? You are as gentle as my beloved daughter was in comforting me.»
« I am Jesus of Nazareth!»
« You?!... And You have come to me?... Why?...»
« Because I love you. I have a mother, too, and in every mother I see Mine, and in the tears of mothers, I see My Mother's...»
« Why? Does Your Mother weep? Why? Has another son of Hers died?»
« Not yet... I am Her only Son and I am still alive. But She already weeps because She knows that I must die.»
« Oh! Poor woman! How dreadful to know beforehand that a son must die. But how does She know? You are healthy. You are strong. You are good. I deluded myself until she died, and she was so ill!... How can Your Mother know that You must die?»
« Because I am the Son of man, foretold by the prophets. I am the Man of sorrows seen by Isaiah, the Messiah sung by David and described as the tortured Redeemer. I am the Saviour, the Redeemer, woman. And death, a dreadful death is awaiting Me... and My Mother will be present... and My Mother has been aware, since I was born, that Her heart will be broken by sorrow like My own... Do not weep... Through My death I will open the gates of Heaven to your Johanna...»
« Also to me! To me!...»
« Yes. In due course. But first you must learn to love and forgive. To begin to love again. To be just. And to forgive... Otherwise you will not be able to go to Heaven, with Johanna, and with Me...»
The woman weeps uncontrollably. She moans: « To love... To love when men have taught us to hate... when God has ceased to love us having no mercy on us... it is difficult... How can we love, when men have tortured us, and our friends have hurt us and God has abandoned us?...»
« No. He has not abandoned you. I am here. To make heavenly promises to you. To assure you that your grief will turn into joy, if you so wish. Listen to Me, Anne... You are weeping because the marriage was cancelled, and that has become the cause of all your grief, and because of that you say that a man is a murderer and his poor mother an accomplice. Listen, Anne. In the next few months you will realise that it was a grace from Heaven that Johanna did not get married to Judas...»
« Don't mention his name to me!» shouts the woman.
« I am mentioning it, to tell you that you must thank the Lord and you will be thanking Him in a few months' time...»
« I will be dead...»
« No. You will be alive and you will remember Me, and you will understand that there are sorrows greater than yours...»
« Greater? It's not possible!»
« What about My Mother Who will see Me die on a cross?» Jesus has stood up. He is imposing. « And what about the grief of the mother of the betrayer of Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Think, woman, of that mother... You... The whole of Kerioth, the country around it and beyond it have sympathised with you in your grief! You have been as proud of it as of the crown of a martyr. But that mother! Like Cain, without being Cain, being instead Abel: victim of her traitorous son, the killer of God, a sacrilegious cursed son, she will not be able to stand the look of men, because each glance will be like a stone of lapidation, and in every word, in every voice of man, she will seem to be hearing a curse, an abuse and she will never find shelter on the Earth until her death, until God, Who is just, takes the martyr with Himself making her forget that she is the mother of the murderer of God, by giving her the possession of God... Is that mother's sorrow not greater?»
« Oh! immense sorrow!...»
« You understand... Be good, Anne. Admit that God was good in what He did...»
« But my daughter is dead! Judas made her die, to have a richer dowry... His mother approved...»
« No. That is not true. I can assure you, and I read hearts. Judas is My apostle but I tell you – he behaved badly and will be punished for it. But his mother is innocent. She loves you, and would like to be loved by you... Anne, you are two unhappy mothers. But you are proud of your dead child, who was innocent and pure, celebrated and honoured by the world... Mary of Simon cannot be proud of her son. His conduct is reproved by men.»
« That is true. But if he had married Johanna, he would not be reproved.»
« But in a short time you would see Johanna die of a broken heart, because Judas will die a violent death.»
« What are You saying? Oh! poor Mary! When? How? Where?»
« Soon. And in a dreadful way... Anne! You are good! You are a mother! You are aware of the sorrow of a mother! Anne, become Mary's friend once again! Let sorrow join you as joy was to unite you. Let me go away happily, knowing that she will have a friend, one only, at least one»
« Lord... to love her... means to forgive her... It is very hard... I seem to be burying my daughter once again... to be killing her myself...»
« Such thoughts originate in Darkness! Do not listen to them. Listen to Me, the Light of the world. The Light of the world tells you that Johanna's destiny has been less bitter dying a virgin than dying the widow of Judas. Believe Me, Anne. And consider that Mary of Simon is more unhappy than you are...»
The woman is pensive, she struggles, weeps and says: « But I have cursed her, both her and the fruit of her womb! I have sinned...»
« And I absolve you. And the more you love her, the more you will be absolved in Heaven.»
« But if I become her friend... I will meet Judas. Lord, I cannot do that!...»
« You will never meet him again. I will never come back to Kerioth again, neither will Judas. We have already said goodbye to the people...»
« Oh! You said...»
« That I will not come back again. Judas said that he will not be able to come back until after My accession. But he believes he will be seeing Me ascending a throne. Instead death on a cross is waiting Me. And he thinks that he will become one of My ministers. Death instead is awaiting him. But You shall not tell anybody that. Never. His mother is not to know until everything has been accomplished. You said: “Poor woman! To know beforehand that her son must die.” But if My Mother's suffering, also because of that, is already increasing the merits of My Sacrifice, silence is compassion for Mary of Simon. You shall not speak.»
« No, my Lord. I swear to it in the name of my Johanna.»
« I want another promise! A great, holy one! You are good. You already love Me...»
« Yes, so much. I have been at peace since You came here...»
« When Mary of Simon no longer has her son and the world insults her with sneering words, you, you only, will open your heart and your house to her. Will you promise Me? In the names of God and of Johanna. She would have done that, because Mary was still the mother of the man she still loved» insists Jesus.
« ... Yes!» replies the woman shedding tears.
« May God bless you, woman, and give you peace... and good health. Come let us go and meet Mary, and give her the kiss of peace»
« But Lord I cannot walk. My legs are swollen and I cannot move them. See? I am here, all dressed, but I am just a trunk...»
« You were. Come!» and Jesus stretches out His hand invitingly.
The woman, staring at Jesus' eyes, moves her legs, she stretches them out of the little bed, lays her bare feet on the floor, stands up and walks... She seems fascinated. She is not even aware that she has already been cured... She goes out into the dim corridor, her hand still in Jesus'... She goes towards the door. She is almost there when she meets the servant seen previously, who utters a cry of joyful fear... Other servants rush there, fearing she was dying, whereas they see that their mistress, who shortly before was about to breathe her last and hated Mary of Simon, is now walking fast with her arms stretched out, after leaving Jesus' hand, towards poor Mary, whom she calls and embraces to her heart, while they both weep...
... On their way back to the house, after the peaceful farewell, Mary of Simon thanks her Lord and asks: « When will You come back to do more good?»
« Never, woman. I have already told the citizens. But My heart will always be with you. Remember, always remember that I loved you and I love you. Remember that I know that you are good, and that is why God loves you. Always bear that in mind, also in the most dreadful hours. You must never think that God considers you guilty. In His eyes your soul appears and will always appear adorned with the gems of your virtues and the pearls of your suffering. Mary of Simon, mother of Judas, I want to bless you, I want to embrace you and kiss you so that your faithful sincere maternal kiss may compensate Me for any other one... and My kiss may make amends for all your sorrows. Come, mother of Judas. And thank you, thank you for all the love and honour you have given Me» and He embraces her and kisses her forehead, as He does with Mary of Alphaeus.
« But we will meet again! I will come at Passover...»
« No. Do not come. I beseech you. Do you want to make Me happy? Do not come. Women at next Passover... no!»
« But why?...»
« Because... there will be a frightful rising in Jerusalem next Passover. It is no place for women! Nay... Mary, I will order your relative to join you. You must stay together. You need him because... Judas from now on will not be able to assist you or to come...»
« I will do as You say... So never again I shall see Your face which reflects the peace of Heaven? How much peace You have infused from Your eyes into my sorrowful heart!...» says Mary weeping.
« Do not weep. Life is short. Later you will see me forever in My Kingdom.»
« So You think that your humble servant will enter it?...»
« I already see your seat among the martyrs and co-redeemers. Do not be afraid, Mary. The Lord will be your eternal compensation. Let us go. Night is falling and it is time for Me to resume My journey...»
And they go back the same road through fields and orchards, towards the house, where the apostles are waiting.
Jesus bids goodbye hurriedly, blesses and sets out at the head of His apostles... While He goes away, Mary weeps, on her knees...