« You will put here the vision of Jesus and the beggar on the road to Jericho, which you had on 17th May 1944, and immediately after it, the vision of the conversion of Zacchaeus, of 17th July 1944. »
13th April 1946.
Jesus arrives there at dead of night. The position of the moon makes me think that it is about two o'clock a.m. A beautiful moon, just beginning to wane is beaming in the middle of the clear sky spreading peace on the earth. Peace and abundant dew, the heavy dew of warm countries, beneficial to plants after the parching heat of the sun during the day.
The pilgrims must have followed the gravel bed of the river, which is dry near the banks, as the river is more restricted in its bed because of the summer drought. And from the cane-brake they climb up to the wood limiting the banks and supporting them with the network of the roots of the trees growing near the water.
« Let us stop here and await morning » says Jesus.
« Master... I am aching all over... » says Matthew.
« And I am afraid I have a temperature. A river is not a healthy place in summer... as You know » adds Philip.
« But it would have been worse if from the river we had gone up to the Judaean mountains. That is also well known » says the Zealot, who feels sorry for Jesus, to Whom they all tell their fears and complaints, but Whose mood no one understands.
« Never mind, Simon. They are right. But we shall have a rest shortly... Please, only another short distance... And a short rest here. You can see how the moon is going down westwards. Why wake the old man and Joseph, who is perhaps still ill, when it will soon be daybreak?... »
« The trouble is that everything is wet with dew here. One does not know where to sit... » grumbles the Iscariot.
« Are you afraid of spoiling your garment? Never mind, after these forced marches among dust and dew, there is no strutting about in it! In any case... kind Helkai would prefer it as it is. Your Greek frets... ha! ha! those at the hem and round the sleeves are hanging in ribbons on the thorny bushes of the Judaean desert, and the one round your neck has been ruined by your perspiration... You are now a perfect Judaean... » says Thomas, who is always merry.
« I am perfect a wretch, dirty as I am, and disgusted with it » retorts Judas angrily.
« It is enough for you to have a clean heart, Judas » says Jesus calmly. « That is important... ».
« Important! Important! We are exhausted with fatigue, with starvation... We are ruining our health, and that only is important » replies rudely Judas.
« I am not compelling you to stay... It is you who want to stay. »
« After all this time!... I had better do so. I am... »
« You may as well say the word that makes your lips rankle: “You are compromised in the eyes of the Sanhedrin.” But you can always make amends... and regain their confidence... »
« I do not want to make amends... because I love You and I want to stay with You. »
« In actual fact you say so in such a manner that rather than love it sounds like hatred... » grumbles between his teeth Judas of Alphaeus.
« Well... every man has his own way of expressing his love. »
« Of course! There is also who loves his wife but kills her with blows... I would not like that kind of love » says James of Zebedee endeavouring to put an end to the incident with a jest. But no one laughs. But no one, thanks be to God, replies.
Jesus advises: « Let us go and sit down on the threshold of the house. The eaves are wide and will protect us from the dew, and there is a footing at the base of the little house... »
They obey without speaking and when they arrive at the house they sit in a row along the wall.
But Thomas' simple remark: « I am hungry. These night marches make one hungry » revives the argument.
« Marches don't come into it! The fact is that for days we have been living on nothing! » replies the Iscariot.
« Actually at Nike's and at Zacchaeus' we had good meals, and Nike gave us so much food that we had to give it to the poor, otherwise it would have gone bad. We have never been short of bread. The caravan guide also gave us bread and butter... » remarks Andrew.
Judas, who cannot contradict, is silent.
A cock crows in the distance greeting the first sign of daylight.
« Oh! good! It will soon be dawn! » says Peter stretching himself, as he had almost fallen asleep.
They wait for daybreak in silence.
A bleating in a sheep-fold... Then a harness-bell in the distance on the main road, poles apart from them... The nearby cooing of Ananias' doves. The hoarse voice of a man in the cane-brake... It is a fisherman coming back with his night catch and he is cursing because it is scanty. He sees Jesus and stops. He hesitates, then says: « If I give it to You, will You promise me plenty in future? »
« For profit or for your needs? »
« For my needs. I have seven children, my wife and her mother. »
« You are right. Be charitable and I promise you that you will not lack what is necessary. »
« Here, then. In there, there is also the injured man who is not recovering despite treatment... »
« May God reward you and give you peace » says Jesus.
The man says goodbye and goes away, leaving his fish strung through the mouth with a willow twig.
Silence falls on them again, just broken by the rustling of the canes, by the trills of some birds... Then a creaking is heard nearby. The rustic little gate, which Ananias made, creaks when opened and the little old man appears on the road scanning the sky. A sheep follows him bleating...
« Peace to you, Ananias! »
« Master! But... how long have You been there? Why did You not call, so that I could open the door for You?! »
« Not long. I did not want to disturb anyone... How is Joseph? »
« You know?... He is not well. Pus runs out of his ear and he suffers from headaches. I think he will die. That is, I thought. You are here now and I think that he will recover. I was going out to get some herbs to make a poultice... »
« Are Joseph's companions here? »
« Two of them. The others have gone ahead. Solomon and Elias are here. »
« Did the Pharisees annoy you? »
« Immediately after You left. Not afterwards. They wanted to know where You had gone. I said: “To my daughter-in-law, at Masada.” Did I do the wrong thing? »
« No, you did not. »
« And... have You really been there? » The little old man is anxious.
« Yes, I was there. She is well. »
« But... did she not listen to You?... »
« No, she did not. We must pray very much for her. »
« And for the little ones... That she may bring them up for the Lord... » says the old man and two large tears stream down his face to say what he does not speak. He concludes: « Did You see them? »
« I can say that I saw one... I got a glimpse of the others. They are all well. »
« I offer my renunciation and forgiveness to God... But... it is so grievous having to say: “I will never see them again”... »
« You will soon see your son and you will be in peace with him in Heaven. »
« Thank You, Lord. Come in... »
« Yes. Let us go at once to the injured man, Where is he? »
« In the best bed. »
They go into the well-kept kitchen garden, and from it into the kitchen and from the kitchen into the little room. Jesus bends over the sick man who moans in his sleep. He bends... and breathes into the ear enveloped in lints already impregnated with pus. He stands up and withdraws noiselessly.
« Are You not waking him? » asks the old man in a low voice.
« No. Let him sleep. He is no longer suffering. He will rest. Let us go to the others. »
Jesus sets the door ajar without making any noise and goes into the large room where are the little beds purchased the last time. The two disciples, being tired, are still sleeping.
« They keep vigil until morning. I keep watch over him from morning till evening. So they are tired. They are so good. »
The two must be sleeping with their ears cocked, because they awake at once: « Master! Our Master! You came just in time! Joseph is... »
« Cured. I have already seen to him, He is sleeping and does not know. There is nothing wrong with him now. All he has to do is to purge himself of the pus and he will be as healthy as previously. »
« Oh! In that case purge us as well, because we have sinned. »
« How? »
« In order to assist Joseph we did not go to the Temple... »
« Charity makes every place a temple. And in the Temple of charity there is God. If we all loved one another, the whole Earth would be a Temple. Do not worry. The day will come when Pentecost means “Love”. A manifestation of love. You have celebrated, anticipating times, the future Pentecost, because you have loved your brother. »
From the other room Joseph's voice is heard calling: « Ananias! Elias! Solomon! But I am cured! » and the man, thin and still pale, but no longer suffering, appears covered only with his short tunic. He sees Jesus and says: « Ah! It was You, my Master! » and he runs to kiss His feet.
« May God grant you peace, Joseph, and forgive Me if you suffered because of Me. »
« I glory in having shed my blood for You, as my father did. I bless You for making me worthy of that! » Joseph's simple plain face shines with joy uttering these words and looks noble, with the handsomeness which originates from an interior light.
Jesus caresses him and says to Solomon: « Your house serves to do much good. »
« Oh! because it is Yours, now. Previously it served only for the sound sleep of the ferryman. But I am glad that it has been useful to You and to this just man. We shall now have some good days here with You. »
« No, My friend. You will leave at once. We are no longer granted any rest. This period of time will be a real test and only those with a strong will will remain faithful. We shall now break the bread together and then you will leave at once, going along the river, preceding Me by half a day. »
« Yes, Master. Joseph also? »
« Yes. Unless he is afraid of new injury... »
« Oh! Master! Would to God that I had to precede You in death shedding my blood for You! »
They go out into the dewy kitchen garden shining in the early sun. And Ananias does the honours of the house by picking some early figs from the branches better exposed, and he apologises for being unable to offer a young pigeon because the two broods were used for the sick man. But there is the fish and they get busy preparing the food.
Jesus is walking between Elias and Joseph who tell Him of the recent adventure and of the strength of Solomon, who carried the injured man on his back for miles and miles, which they covered a little at a time, by night...
« But you, Joseph, have forgiven those who injured you, have you not? »
« I never had a grudge against those unhappy people. I offered forgiveness and my sufferings for their redemption. »
« That is what one must do, My good disciple! And what about Ogla? »
« Ogla has gone with Timoneus. I do not know whether he will go on with him or whether he will stop at Mount Hermon. He always said that he wanted to go to Lebanon. »
« Well. May God inspire him to do what is best. »
Many birds now chirp in chorus among the branches, while bleatings, the voices of children and women, braying donkeys, squeaking pulleys of wells, tell that the village is awake.
In the kitchen garden the bread is broken, the fish handed round and they have their meal. Immediately afterwards, the three disciples, blessed by Jesus, leave the house and walk fast along the road, as far as the river, and vanish into the cool shady canebrakes... They can no longer be seen...
« And now let us rest until evening and then we will follow them » orders Jesus.
And some lie down on the little beds, some on the piles of nets, which Ananias made, saying that thus he is not idle and he earns his daily bread, and they all seek a refreshing sleep.
In the meantime Ananias, after picking up the garments wet with perspiration, goes out noiselessly, closes the door and the gate and goes down to the river to wash them, so that they may be fresh and dry by evening...
« And here you will put the vision: “Jesus in a little village of the Decapolis” of 2nd October 1944, and then the other one: “The Demoniac of the Decapolis” of 29th September 1944. »