30th May 1946 (Ascension-Day).
« Where did you leave the boats, Simon, when you came to Nazareth? » asks Jesus while walking north-eastwards, leaving behind the Esdraelon plain and proceeding towards Mount Tabor.
« I sent them back, that they may go fishing, Master. But I told them to be at Tarichea every third day... I did not know how long I would be staying with You. »
« Very well. Which of you wants to go to tell My Mother and Mary of Alphaeus to join us at Tiberias? Joseph's house will be the meeting place. »
« Master... we would all like to go. But it is better if You say who is to go. »
« Then, Matthew, Philip, Andrew and James of Zebedee. Let the others come with Me to Tarichea. You will explain to the women the reason for the delay. And tell them to close the houses and to come. We will be together for the whole duration of the moon. Go, because this is where the road diverges. And may peace be with you. » He kisses the four who part, and He takes to the road again with the others.
But after a few steps He stops and watches Marjiam who is walking with his head lowered a little behind the group. When the boy comes up with Him, Jesus passes His hand under his chin forcing him to raise his head. Tears are streaming down the boy's tanned face.
« Would you like to go to Nazareth, too? »
« Yes, Master... But do as You wish. »
« I want you to be consoled, son... Go... Run after them. My Mother will comfort you. » He kisses the boy and lets him go, and Marjiam starts running and soon comes up with the four apostles.
« He is still a boy... » remarks Peter.
« And he is suffering much... Yesterday evening, as I found him weeping in a corner of the house, he said to me: “It is as if my father and mother had died yesterday... The death of my old grandfather has renewed all the grief in my heart...” » says John.
« Poor son!... But it was a good thing that he was present at that death... » says the Zealot.
« He had so fondly cherished the illusion that he might be able to help the old man!... Porphirea told me that he made all sorts of sacrifices in order to be able to save money. He worked in fields, he made faggots for bakers, he fished, he did not eat any cheese or honey, so that he might sell them... He had that fixed idea in his heart and wanted the old man with him... who knows! » says Peter.
« He is a serious-minded and strong-willed man. Sacrifice and work are no burden to him. Good points » says Bartholomew.
« Yes, he is a good son and will be one of the best disciples. You can see how strictly he controls himself even in the most troubled circumstances... His afflicted heart was longing for Mary, but he did not ask to go. He has understood so well what strength there is in praying, that he exceeds many adults » says Jesus.
« Do you think that he makes sacrifices with an intent fixed in advance? » asks Thomas.
« I am sure he does. »
« It is true. Yesterday he gave some fruit to an old man saying: “Pray for my father's father, who died recently.”, and I remarked to him: “He is in peace, Marjiam. Do you not consider Jesus' absolution valid?” He replied to me: “I do consider it valid. But when offering sacrifices, I think of the souls for whom no one prays, and I say: if my grandfather no longer needs this, let these sacrifices be atonement for those who are forgotten by everybody.” And I remained edified » says James of Alphaeus.
« Yes » says Peter. « Yesterday he came to me and throwing his arms round my neck, because, after all, he is still a boy, he said to me: “Now you really are my father... and I am giving back to you what your kindness had allowed me to save. My old grandfather no longer needs that money... and you and Porphirea are doing so much for me...” I, I found it difficult to restrain my tears, I replied to him: “No, son. We will use that money as alms to poor old people or to orphans and God will make use of your alms to increase the peace to your old grandfather.” And Marjiam kissed me twice so fondly that... well... I could not hold back my tears. And how grateful he is to you, Bartholomew, for meeting the expenses. He said to me: “As far as I am concerned the honour paid to my old grandpa is priceless. I will tell Bartholomew to keep me as his servant.” »
« Oh! poor son! Not even for one hour! He serves the Lord and edifies us all. I honoured a just man. I was able to do it because my name is well known and it is easy for me to find people willing to advance a sum of money. When in Bethsaida I will have the little debt settled, after all it was a trifle... »
« Yes. With regard to money it was not much, because those in Jezreel were generous. But your love for a fellow disciple is not a trifle. Because each act of love is of great value.
You are being perfected in your neighbour's love, which is the latter part of the fundamental precept of the Law of God, and which had been gravely neglected in Israel. The many precepts, the minuteness which followed the simple, yet complete, although brief Law of Sinai, have distorted the former part of the fundamental precept, converting it into a heap of exterior rites which lack what gives them strength, value, truth: that is they lack active consistence of the interior with the exterior forms of cult, through deeds performed and temptations overcome. What value can the ostentation of a cult have in the eyes of God, when internally a heart does not love God, does not annihilate itself in respectful love for God, when a heart does not praise and admire God by loving what He made, and first of all by loving man, who is the masterpiece of the terrestrial Creation?
Do you understand how the mistake was made in Israel? It happened because, at first, of one precept they made two, and afterwards, with the decline of spirits, they cut the latter neatly off from the former, as if it were a useless branch. It was not a useless branch, there were not even two branches. It was one trunk only, which from its very base had adorned itself with the individual virtues of the two loves. Look at that big fig-tree which has grown up there, on that hillock. It grew spontaneously, and almost from its roots, that is, as soon as it sprang up from the ground, it split into two branches, which are so united that the two barks have adhered together. But each branch has put forth its own foliage at the sides, in such an eccentric manner, that the little village on this hillock has been named after it the “House of the twin fig-tree”. Now, if one should want to separate the two trunks, which are actually one trunk only, one would have to use a hatchet or a saw. But what would one do? One would cause the tree to die, or, if one were so skillful as to handle the hatchet or the saw in such a way as to injure one only of the two trunks, one would be saved whilst the other would inexorably die, and the survivor, although still alive, would live poorly and would probably wither, bearing no fruit or very little.
The same happened in Israel. They wanted to divide, to separate the two parts, which were so united as to really be one thing only. They wanted to touch up what was perfect, because each work, each thought and work of God is perfect. Therefore, if God on Sinai ordered man to love the Most High God and his neighbour, by means of one only precept, it is evident that they are not precepts which may be practised independently one from the other, but they are one precept only. And as I am never satisfied with perfecting you in this sublime virtue, the greatest of them all, because it rises with the spirit to Heaven and is the only one which subsists in Heaven, I insist on it, the soul of the whole life of the spirit, which dies if it loses Charity, because it loses God.
Listen to Me. Suppose one day a very wealthy couple came and knocked at your door, asking to be given hospitality for their lifetime. Could you say: “We accept the husband, but we do not want the wife” without hearing the husband reply to you: “That is not possible, because I cannot part with the flesh of my flesh. If you do not want to accept her, I cannot stay with you, and I will go away with all my treasures, which I would have shared with you.”?
God is joined to Charity. And Charity is truly, and more intimately and really the spirit of His Spirit even than is a married couple who love each other deeply. God Himself is Charity. Charity is but the most manifest and illustrative aspect of God. Of all His attributes Charity is the sovereign and original one, because all the other attributes of God originate from Charity. What is Power but active charity? What is Wisdom but teaching charity? What is Mercy but forgiving charity? What is Justice but ruling charity? And I could go on thus with regard to all the numberless attributes of God. Now, after what I have said, can you believe that he, who has no Charity, has God? No, he has not. Can you imagine that he may accept God, but not Charity? There is one Charity only and it embraces Creator and creatures and it is not possible to have only one half of it: that for the Creator, without having also the other half: that for our neighbour.
God is in His creatures. He is in them with His indelible sign, with His rights of Father, Spouse and King. The soul is His throne, the body His temple. Now he who does not love one of his brothers and despises him, holds in contempt, grieves and underestimates the Landlord of his brother's house, the King, the Father, the Spouse of his brother, and it is natural that this great Being Who is Everything, and Who is present in a brother, in all brothers, should consider as given to Him the offence given to a lesser being, to a part created by Everything, that is to a single man. That is why I taught you the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, that is why I taught you not to scandalise your brothers, that is why I taught you not to judge, not to have contempt or to reject your brothers, whether they are good or not good, faithful or Gentiles, friends or enemies, rich or poor.
When on a nuptial bed a conception takes place, it is performed through the same action, whether it happens on a golden bed or on straw in a stable. And the creature which forms in a royal womb is not different from that which forms in the womb of a beggar. To conceive, to form a new being, is the same in every spot of the Earth, irrespective of parents' religion. All creatures are born as Abel and Cain were born of Eve's womb. And to the equality of conception, formation and manner of birth of the children of man and woman on the Earth, corresponds another equality in Heaven: the creation of a soul to be infused into the embryo, so that it may be the soul of a man and not of an animal, and it may accompany him from the moment of its creation until death, and may survive expecting the universal resurrection, when it will join the risen body and have with it a reward or a punishment. A reward or punishment according to the deeds accomplished in the earthly life. Do not think that Charity is unfair, and that only because many people do not belong to Israel or to Christ, although they are virtuous in the religion which they follow convinced that it is the true one, they are to remain forever without reward.
After the end of the world no other virtue will survive except Charity, that is, the Union of all the creatures who lived in justice, with the Creator. There will not be several Heavens: one for Israel, one for Christians, one for Catholics, one for Gentiles, one for heathens. There will be one Heaven only. And likewise there will be one reward only: God, the Creator, Who rejoins His creatures who lived according to justice, and in whom, because of the beauty of the souls and bodies of saints, He will admire Himself with the joy of Father and of God. There will be one Lord only. Not one Lord for Israel, one for Catholicism, one for each of the other religions.
I will now reveal a great truth to you. Remember it. Hand it down to your successors. Do not always wait for the Holy Spirit to clarify the truth after years or centuries of darkness. Listen. You may say: “Then, what justice is there in belonging to the holy religion, if at the end of the world we shall be treated exactly as the Gentiles?” I reply to you: the same justice which there is - and it is true justice - for those who, although they belong to the holy religion, will not be beatified, because they they did not lead a holy life. A virtuous heathen, only because he lived according to choice virtue, convinced that his religion was good, will have Heaven at the end. When? At the end of the world, when of the four abodes of the dead, two only will remain: that is, Paradise and Hell. Because Justice, at that time, will only be able to keep and give the two eternal kingdoms to those, who from the tree of free will, chose good fruits or wanted wicked ones. But what a long expectation before a virtuous heathen achieves that reward!... Do You not think so? And that expectation, particularly from the moment when Redemption will have taken place with all its consequent wonders and the Gospel will have been preached all over the world, will be the purgation of the souls which lived with justice in other religions, but were not able to enter the true Faith, after they became acquainted with its existence and the proof of its reality. Their abode will be Limbo for centuries and centuries, until the end of the world. The believers in the true God, who were not heroically holy, will have a long Purgatory, which may last until the end of the world for some of them. But after expiating and waiting, the good, irrespective of their provenance, will all sit at the right hand of God; the wicked, whichever their provenance may be, at the left hand and then in the dreadful Hell, while the Saviour will enter the eternal Kingdom with all the good souls. »
« Lord, forgive me if I do not understand. What You say is very difficult... at least for me... You always say that You are the Saviour and that You will redeem those who believe in You. So those who do not believe, either because they did not know You, as they lived before You, or because - the world is so large! - they had no news of You, how can they be saved? » asks Bartholomew.
« I told you: because of their just lives, of their good deeds, and through their faith which they believe is the true one. »
« But they did not have recourse to the Saviour... »
« But the Saviour will suffer also for them. Do you not consider, Bartholomew, what ample value My merits of Man-God will have? »
« My Lord, they will always be inferior to those of God, to those You have always had. »
« Your reply is and is not correct. The merits of God are infinite, you say. Everything is infinite in God. But God does not have any merits in the sense that He has not merited. He has attributes, virtues of His own. He is He Who is: Perfect, Infinite, Almighty. But to merit, it is necessary to do something, and with effort, superior to our nature. For instance, to eat is not a merit. But to eat frugally can become a merit, if we make real sacrifices, in order to give to the poor what we save. It is no merit to be silent. But it becomes a merit if we are quiet instead of retorting an insult. And so forth. Now, you know that God does not need to make any effort, because He is Perfect, Infinite. But the Man-God can make an effort by humiliating His infinite divine Nature within human limitations, by defeating human nature, which is not absent or metaphorical, but real, in Him, with all its senses and feelings, with its possibility of suffering and dying, with its free will. No one loves death, particularly when it is painful, untimely and undeserved. No one loves it. And yet, every man must die. So man ought to look at death with the same calm with which he sees every living being come to an end. Well, I force my Humanity to love death. Not only. But I chose life to be able to have death. For the sake of Mankind. Thus, in my condition of Man-God I gain those merits which I could not have gained if I had remained God. And through them, which are infinite, because of the manner in which I gain them, because of the divine Nature joined to the human nature, because of the virtues of Charity and Obedience, with which I put Myself in condition to deserve them, because of Fortitude, Justice, Temperance, Prudence, because of all the virtues which I put in My heart to make it acceptable to God, My Father, I will have infinite power, not only as God, but also as Man, Who sacrifices Himself for the sake of everybody, that is, Who reaches the extreme limit of Charity. It is sacrifice which gives merit. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the merit. A complete merit for a complete sacrifice. Perfect merit for a perfect sacrifice. And it may be used according to the holy will of the victim, to whom the Father says: “Let it be as you wish!”, because the victim has loved both God and his neighbour measurelessly. I tell you. The poorest man can be the richest and benefit countless brothers, if he can love to the extent of sacrifice. I tell you: even if you did not have a crumb of bread, a glass of water, a ragged garment, you can always help. How? By praying and suffering for your brothers. Help whom? Everybody. In which way? In a thousand holy ways, because if you can love, you will be able to act, teach, forgive, administer as God does, and to redeem, as the Man-God redeems. »
« O Lord, grant us that charity! » says John with a sigh.
« God gives you it, because He gives Himself to you. But you must receive it and practise it more and more perfectly. No event is to be separated from charity, as far as you are concerned. Both with regard to material and to spiritual events. Everything is to be done with charity and for Charity. Sanctify your actions, your days, put salt in your prayers, and light in your actions. Light, flavour, sanctification are Charity. Without it rites are of no value, prayers are vain, offerings false. I solemnly tell you that the smile with which a poor man greets you as brothers is of greater value than a sack of money which one may throw at your feet only to be noticed. Love, and God will always be with you. »
« Teach us how to love thus, Lord. »
« I have taught you for two years. Do what you see Me do and you will be in Charity and Charity will be in you, and on you there will be the seal, the chrism, the crown, which will really make you known as the ministers of God-Charity. Let us stop now in this shady place. The grass is thick and long and the trees mitigate the heat. We will proceed in the evening... »