21st May 1946.
Another Sabbath at Nazareth. That is, another beginning of a Sabbath, because Myrtha and Naomi arrive with young Abel, just when the sunset of Friday is beginning. They dismount from their little donkeys, which Abel takes away, obviously to a stable, probably to that of the two friendly ass-drivers of Nazareth, who have become disciples. The women go in through the workshop, door, which has been left open to ventilate the large room, where up to a short time before, the heat of the coarse fireplace has joined the intense summer heat.
Thomas is putting away his tools, Simon is sweeping the sawdust, while Jesus is cleaning pots of glue and paint.
« Peace to You, Master, and to you, disciples » greet the two women, bowing low as soon as they enter and then, after walking across the workshop, prostrating themselves at Jesus' feet.
« Peace to you. You are very faithful, to come in this heat! »
« Oh! nothing! One feels so well here, that one forgets everything. Where is Your Mother? »
« She is in there, finishing a dress for Aurea. You may go in. »
The two women walk away with their knapsacks and one can hear their clear voices, which are rather deep, blend with the shrill rather strident voice of Aurea and with the silvery voice of Mary.
« They will be happy now! » says Thomas.
« Yes. They are good women » replies Jesus.
« Master, Myrtha has not only kept the son she had, but she got another child. And in little more than one year... » says the Zealot.
« Yes! In little more than one year! It is already over a year since Mary of Lazarus was converted. How time flies! It seems yesterday... How many things last year! The lovely retreat before the election! Then John of Endor! Then Marjiam! Then Daniel of Nain, then Mary of Lazarus and then Syntyche... But where is Syntyche? I often think about her and I cannot understand why... » Thomas stops speaking to himself, because Jesus and Simon do not reply to him, on the contrary they go out into the kitchen garden to wash themselves and then join the women disciples.
And we begin to see again... Abel of Bethlehem in Galilee comes back and finds Thomas who is still pensive, in front of the place where he generally works, moving, lost in thought, his tiny masterpieces in gold-work.
« Have you found work? » asks the disciple bending over the tiny objects.
« Oh! I have made all the women in Nazareth happy. I would never have thought that there were so many buckles, bracelets, necklaces and lilies to be repaired. I had to ask Matthew to bring me some metal from Tiberias. I have more customers... ha! ha! (he laughs happily) than my father has. It is true that I do not ask for money... »
« You lose. everything? »
« No. I charge only the value of the metal. My work is a present. »
« You are generous. »
« No. I am wise. I am not idle. I set an example of industriousness and detachment from money and... I preach... Be quiet! I think that I have preached more by doing so, without telling a parable, without saying a word in the synagogue, than I would have done if I had spoken incessantly. And then... I do a bit of training. I have promised myself to propagate our faith with my work when I will have to go and preach Jesus among the infidels. And I am training myself. »
« You are wise both as a goldsmith and as an apostle. »
« I strive to be so for Jesus' sake. So you have acquired a sister. Treat her well, you know? She is like a little dove in its nest. I am telling you, because in my trade I am accustomed to dealing with women. She is a candid dove who was scared to death by a hawk, and who is looking for motherly and brotherly wings to defend her. If your mother had not wanted her, I would have asked to have her for my twin sister. One child more, one less! My sister is so good, you know? »
« Also my mother. She lost a little daughter when she remained a widow. Perhaps her milk had gone bad, grieved as she was over the death of her husband... I can hardly remember my little sister... and perhaps I would not remember her at all if my mother did not mourn her death so often, and if every poor girl in Bethlehem were not entitled to some food and clothing in our house, in memory of the dead baby... But as I was brought up in the company of my mother only, I have ended up by loving little girls very much myself... I realise that this one is not a little girl... but I will consider her such, because of her heart, if she is as my mother, Naomi and you say... »
« You can be sure. Let us go into the other room. »
In the other room, that is, in the dining room, are the women, Jesus and the Zealot. And Myrtha, who came full of hope, is winning over Aurea by fitting for her a linen dress which she made for the girl.
« It fits you really well » she says taking it off her and caressing her while she adjusts her dress which had become crumpled when putting on the new one. « It really fits well. And everything will be all right. You will see, my dear daughter... Oh! here is my Abel. Come here, son. Here is Aurea. She will be a member of our family now, you know? »
« I know, mother, and I am happy with you. » He looks at the girl... he studies her... his dark eyes stare at and get lost in her large pale blue ones. He is satisfied with his examination. He smiles at her. He says to her: « We will love each other in the Lord Who saved us and we will love Him and have Him loved. And I will be a brother to you in spirit and in affection. I promise it in the presence of the Master and of my mother » and with a beautiful limpid smile of a pure youth, well advanced in high spirituality, he holds out his strong tanned hand to her.
Aurea hesitates and then, blushing, she puts her left hand into the right hand offered to her and says: « We will do that. In the Lord. »
The adults smile...
« One can enter here without knocking at the doors... »
« Here is Simon of Jonah! This time he could not resist temptation... » says Thomas laughing, while he runs out.
« Yes! I did not resist... Peace to You, Master! » He kisses Jesus and is kissed by Him. « Who can resist? » He sees Mary and bows greetings, he then resumes: « But, to satisfy our consciences, we came by Tiberias and we looked for Judas. Because... we are all here, eh?! The others are coming. Including Marjiam... So I was saying that we came by Tiberias. H'm! Yes! to look for Judas in the event that... he should think of coming to Capernaum, at least on the fourth Sabbath... It would not be nice if we were all away... And we found him... yes! Nay, Isaac found him, as he had gone to see Jonathan... Because Isaac ended up by coming to Capernaum waiting for You with I don't know how many more, who have remained there to become more learned under the good guidance of Hermas and Stephen, of your son, Naomi, and of John, the priest... But Isaac came with us, because he, too, will die if he does not see You... Poor Isaac! he was not made welcome by Judas. But Isaac, during his long sickness, must have destroyed all feelings of impatience, grudge and anger... He never reacts! Even if they box his ears, he smiles... What a peaceful man! Well. He said to us: “I saw Judas. He is not coming. Do not insist.” I understood. I asked him: “Did he answer you insolently? Tell me. I am the chief and I must know...”
“Oh! no” he replied. “He did not answer insolently, but his insolence did. He is to be pitied...” Well, let us pity him... Well, we are here. And happy to... Here are the others... » And with the others there are Judas and James of Alphaeus with their mother and the disciples of Nazareth: Aser, Ishmael and Simon of Alphaeus, and, a rarity, also Joseph of Alphaeus.
They unburden themselves of their bags. Nathanael has brought some apples and Philip a basketful of grapes as golden as Aurea's hair. Peter and Zebedee's sons some pickled fish. Matthew, who has no home cared for by women and thus has nothing good, has brought a jar full of earth with inside it a slender trunk, which judging by its foliage, I would say is a lemon or orange-tree or another citrus-tree and he explains: « It's a rarity... Only who goes to Cyrene can get them, and I know a man who was at Cyrene, one of the revenue authorities like me once. He has now retired at Ippo. I went to him to get the plant because it must be planted out at the new moon. The fruit is beautiful and good, its flower is sweet-smelling and looks like a waxen star, a star like Your name... Here » and he offers the plant to Mary.
« But what a trouble for you, Matthew, all this weight! I am grateful to you. My garden is becoming more and more beautiful, thanks to you all. Porphirea's camphor, Johanna's roses, your rare plant, Matthew, the other flower plants brought by Judas of Kerioth... How many beautiful things, how kind you all are to Jesus' Mother! »
All the apostles are moved; they only cast sidelong glances at each other when Mary mentions Judas' name.
« Yes. They love You. But we love You, too » says gravely and stiffly Joseph of Alphaeus.
« Of course! You are the dear children of My dear relative Alphaeus and of Mary, who is so good. And You love Me. It is natural. We are relatives... These instead are not our blood, and yet they are like sons to Me, like brothers to Jesus, as they love Him so much and follow Him... »
Joseph takes the hint immediately, he clears his throat, searching for words... He finds them... He says: « Of course! But if I am not yet with them, it is because I think also of the consequences for Him, for You... and... and... Well! I love You, too, You especially, poor woman, as You are left all by Yourself too long... And I have come to tell Jesus that I am glad that He has remembered also the needs of His Mother and has done what was necessary here... » and, satisfied with being the « head » of the kindred and thus in a position to praise and admonish, he deigns to commend Jesus for all the work of carpentry, painting and other jobs done in that month: « That is how it should be done! One can now see that this woman has a son! And I am happy to be able to say that I have found again my wise Jesus of Joseph. Bravo! »
And the wise Jesus of Joseph, the most wise Divine Word humiliated in our flesh, meek and humble, accepts the praises mixed with... the authoritative advice of His cousin Joseph, smiling so kindly, that it helps to check any untimely reaction of the apostles in His favour.
And Joseph, having set off, seeing that they listen to him, does not stop, but he continues: « I do hope that from now on Nazareth will no longer see a poor woman forlorn, while Her Son unwisely leaves the trodden path to beat paths which are uncertain, both with regard to their ends and their consequences. I will speak to my friends, to the head of the synagogue... We will forgive You... Oh! Nazareth will be happy to open out her arms to You, as to a son who has come back... as an example of virtue to all the citizens. Tomorrow I will take You to the synagogue myself and... »
Jesus raises His hand imposing silence and calmly but very resolutely, He says: « I will certainly come to the synagogue, as a believer, exactly as I went there on the other Sabbaths. But it is not necessary for you to plead in My favour. Because one hour after sunset I will set out again to evangelize, as it is My duty to obey the Most High. »
A bad let-down for Joseph!... A very bad one!... All his good naturedness is shattered and his hostile intolerance comes to light again: « All right! But do not look for me in the hour of need. I have done my duty and Your certain misfortunes will not fall on me. Goodbye. I am one too many here because I cannot understand you, and you cannot understand me. I am going away, with no grudge, but very sad... May the Lord protect You as He protects all those who... are simple-minded, incomplete... Goodbye, Mary! Take heart, poor Mother! »
« Goodbye, Joseph. But I must take heart for you, not for Him. Because you are the one who is out of the path of God and you grieve Me » says Mary calmly but sure of Herself.
« You are a fool, that's what you are! And if you were not the head of the family I would give you a thrashing, as you are a creature of my blood but not of my spirit... » shouts Mary of Alphaeus. And she would have said more, but Mary implores her: « Be quiet! For My sake. »
« I'll be quiet. Yes. But... tell me if I have to see a rascal like him among my sons!... » The rascal in the meantime has gone away, while good Mary of Alphaeus unburdens her soul with regard to that stubborn son. And she ends giving vent to her feelings by bursting into tears, and sobbing she expresses her greatest pain: « And I will not have him with me in Heaven, I will not have him! I will see him in torments! Oh! Jesus! It's for You to work the miracle! »
« Yes, Mary! Do not weep! His hour will come, too. The eleventh perhaps. But it will come. I can assure you. Do not weep... » says Jesus comforting her... And when her weeping is over He says to the apostles and disciples: « Let us go into the olive grove while the women prepare their things. We will speak among ourselves. »