8th April 1946.
The apostolic group has left the plain behind and along hilly roads, among mountains and valleys, it is going towards Jerusalem. To shorten the journey they have not taken the main roads, but solitary tiring short cuts, which are, however, very quick.
At present they are in the bottom of a green valley rich in waters and little flowers. There are also many sweet-smelling lilies of the valley, which causes Thaddeus to remark that it is only right to call such flowers « lilies of the valley» and praise their fragile yet resistant beauty and their delicate fragrance.
« But they are upside-down lilies» remarks Thomas. « They look down instead of looking up.»
« And how tiny they are! We have flowers which are more pompous than those. I do not understand why they praise them so much...» says Judas scornfully, striking a little tuft of lilies of the valley in flower.
« No! Why? They are so gentle looking!» intervenes Andrew defending the poor flowers and he bends to pick up the broken stems.
« They look like hay, nothing else. The agave is more beautiful, it is so majestic and imposing. Worthy of God and of flowering for God.»
« I see God more in these minute chalices... Look how graceful they are!... Indented, so concave... They look like alabaster, pure wax and they seem to have been made by very tiny hands... Instead it was the Immense One Who made them! Oh! Power of God!...» Andrew is almost ecstatic in contemplation meditating on flowers and the perfection of the Creator.
« You look like a poor little woman suffering from nervous trouble!...» teases Judas of Kerioth laughing maliciously.
« No. In actual fact I also - and I am a goldsmith and thus an expert in the matter - I also find that these stems are perfect. It is more difficult to reproduce them in metal than it is to reproduce an agave. Because you ought to know, my friend, that it is the infinitely small that reveals the ability of a craftsman. Give me a stem, Andrew... And you, whose goggle eyes admire only grand things, come here and look. Which craftsman could make cups so light and perfect as these, decorating them with those tiny topazes down there, in the bottom, and joining them to the stem by means of this graceful curved filigree... It's wonderful!...»
« Oh! what poets have risen among us! You, too, Thomas, so...»
« I am neither a fool nor a poor little woman, you know! I'm an artist. A sensitive artist. And I am proud of it. Master, do You like these flowers?» Thomas asks Jesus Who has been listening without saying anything.
« I like the whole of Creation. But these flowers are among the ones of which I am particularly fond...»
« Why?» ask several apostles. And at the same time Judas asks: « Do you like vipers as well?» and he laughs.
« Yes, they also serve...»
« What purpose?» ask many.
« To bite. Ah! Ah! Ah!» says Judas laughing offensively.
« In that case you should like them very much» retorts Thaddeus interrupting Judas' laughter with a very clear allusion. The others are now laughing at the witty remark.
Jesus does not laugh. On the contrary, He is pale and sad. He looks at His twelve apostles and particularly at the two antagonists who are watching each other, one angrily, the other severely, and He replies to them all, in order to reply to the Iscariot in particular.
« If God created them, it means that they serve. Nothing in creation is useless or entirely harmful. Evil only is clearly and solely noxious and woe to those who allow it to bite them. One of the effects of its bite is the inability to tell Good from Evil, then there is the deviation of reason and of conscience led astray towards evil things, and then spiritual blindness, because of which, Judas of Simon, one does not see the power of God shine on things, even when they are tiny. And His power is written on this flower, through its beauty and scent, and its shape, which is so different from any other flower, and through this drop of dew which trembles and glitters suspended on the waxen edge of the tiny petal and seems a tear of gratitude to the Creator, Who made everything well, useful and varied. But it is written that everything was beautiful for the first parents, until their eyes became opaque with sin... And everything spoke to them of God until the fluid, which distorted their capacity for seeing God, was instilled into things, or rather, into their eyes. Even nowadays, the more the spirit is the sovereign in a human creature, the more God reveals Himself...»
« Solomon sang the wonders of God and so did David... and yet their spirits were not their sovereigns! Master, I caught You out this time.»
« How impudent you are! How dare you say that?»
« Let him speak... I do not take into consideration his words, which the wind dispels and which do not scandalise herbs and trees. We are the only ones to hear them and we know how to attach to them the importance they deserve, do we not? And we do not remember them any longer. Youth is often thoughtless, Bartholmai. You must pity it... But someone was asking Me why I prefer the lily of the valley... This is My reply: “Because of its humility”. Everything in it speaks of humility... The spots it loves... the attitude of the flower... It makes Me think of My Mother... This flower... so tiny! And yet how sweet is the perfume of one flower alone. The air around it is scented by it... My Mother also... humble, reserved, unknown, She asked only to remain unknown... And yet the perfume of Her holiness was so strong that it drew Me from Heaven...»
« Do You see a symbol of Your Mother in that flower?»
« Yes, I do, Thomas.»
« And do You think that our ancestors foresaw Her, when they praised the lily of the valley?» asks James of Alphaeus. « They compared Her then with other plants and flowers: with the rose, the olive-tree, and with the most gentle animals: turtle-doves, wood-pigeons...»
« They all ascribed to Her the most beautiful things they saw in creation. And She is really the Beauty of creation. But I would call Her Lily of the valley and peaceful Olive-tree, if I had to sing Her praises» and Jesus cheers up and brightens thinking of His Mother, and He quickens His pace to be alone...
They continue to walk, notwithstanding the heat of the day, because in the hollow of the valley there is a succession of trees protecting from the sun.
After some time Peter lengthens his stride and joins the Master. He calls Him in a low voice: « My Master!»
« My Peter!»
« Will I disturb You, if I come with You?»
« No, My friend. What have you so urgent to tell Me, that it compels you to come to your Master?»
« A question... Master, I am an inquisitive man...»
« So?» Jesus smiles looking at His apostle.
« And I like to know many things...»
« Which is a fault, My Peter.»
« I know... But I do not think it is a fault this time. If I wanted to know something unbecoming, or knavish actions so that I might criticise who did them, oh! in that case it would be a fault. But You know that I did not ask You whether Judas was somehow connected with Your being called to Bether and because...»
« But you were dying to know...»
« Yes. That's true. But it is a greater merit, isn't it?»
« It is a greater merit. As it is a great merit to control oneself. It proves in him, who behaves thus, real good progress in spiritual life, real active understanding and assimilation of the lessons of the Master.»
« Is that so? And are You glad?»
« Oh! Peter, why ask Me? I am more than happy.»
« Are You really? O my Master! Then is it Your poor Simon who makes You so happy?»
« Yes, it is. Did you not know?»
« I dared not believe it. But seeing You so happy, I got John to ask You yesterday. Because I thought that it might be Judas also who was improving... although I have no proof of that... But I may be a bad judge. John told me that You said that You are happy because there is one who is becoming holy... Just now You told me that You are happy because I am becoming better. Now I know. The one who makes You happy and cheerful is me, poor Simon... But now I wish my sacrifice could make Judas change. I am not envious. I would like everybody to be perfect, to make You perfectly happy. Shall I succeed?»
« Confide, Simon, confide and persevere.»
« I will! I certainly will! For Your sake... and for his as well. Because I am sure that he cannot be glad to be always like that. After all... he could be my son... H'm! Actually I prefer to be Marjiam's father! But... I will be a father to him, working to give him a soul worthy of You.»
« And of you, Simon» and Jesus bends and kisses his hair.
Peter is overjoyed... After some time he asks: « Are You not telling me anything else? Is there no more good news, a flower among the thorns, which You find everywhere?»
« Yes, there is. One of Joseph's friends who is coming to the Light.»
« Really? A member of the Sanhedrin?»
« Yes, but we must not tell anybody. We must pray and suffer for that purpose. Are you not asking Me who it is? Are you not anxious to know?»
« Very much so. But I am not going to ask You. A sacrifice for the unknown man.»
« May you be blessed, Simon! You are making Me really happy today. Continue like that and I will love you more and more and so will God. Now let us stop and wait for the others...»