3rd August 1946.
When they arrive they are warm although they have walked among thick orchards bent under the weight of ripe fruit. From the numerous beautiful vineyards comes the typical aroma of vines when bunches are already ripe and leaves are beginning to wither in autumn.
The first people to be seen are two peasants who are coming back from the orchards laden with baskets of beautiful apples and they inform a servant who passes the news round. In the meantime the two peasants greet Jesus and tell Him that « many disciples who have come from the mountains of Gaulanitis and from Ituraea have stopped in the house on their way to Jerusalem » and that « their masters have decided to go with them to the Tabernacles through Decapolis and Perea. » But they have no time to finish their information as their lords rush out of the house to meet the Master, preceded and followed by many disciples.
Among the disciples are almost all those who were shepherds at Bethlehem and there are others as well, such as the first leper to be cured and his friend, the cripple, who was also restored to health, that is, those from beyond the Jordan, with the exception of Timoneus. I do not see Isaac, or Stephen or Hermas, or Hermasteus and Joseph from Emmaus, or Abel from Bethlehem, or Nicolaus from Antioch or John from Ephesus. They are joined by servants and peasants, among whom is the boy who was miraculously cured of paralysis during the previous vintage and his mother.
« Peace to you all and to this house » says Jesus raising His hand to bless them.
« Come in, Master, and rest under our roof. The season is still warm to walk during these hours. But we will give You refreshment and the rooms are cool at night. »
« I shall only stay here a few hours. I shall leave in the evening. It will shortly be the feast of the Tabernacles and I have still to call at many places. »
The landlords are disappointed but they do not insist. They only say: « We were hoping that You would wait for us. We are picking the grapes tomorrow and we have already begun to pick the fruit. After the wine-pressing we should have all left together, with these disciples of Yours. We are old and the roads are very unsafe since gangs of highwaymen have come, we do not know whence, to infest this bank of the Jordan. They hide in the mountains of Rabbah Ammon and Gilead and along the Jabbok valley and they assault caravans. The Roman legionaries chase them... But... Is it pleasant to meet them? We prefer to be with these... They are Your disciples and God will certainly protect them. »
Jesus smiles wittily but does not say anything on the matter. He goes into the house and welcomes the refreshments which the hosts offer in the way of ablutions and drinks and He then listens to the disciples who inform Him of the work they have done in the mountains: « But with little fruit, Master. Little also at Caesarea Philippi, where, however, we were not molested. But we will go back with You. And then! »
Jesus looks at them, He does not disillusion them and replies: « If you persevere, you will certainly convert them. God always helps His servants. »
Jesus then leaves them and joins the landlady who is laying the tables herself and He invites her to go out with him, as He has to speak to her. The good old lady does not make Him repeat His request twice and to avoid going outside, where it is so warm, she leads Jesus into a long cool room in the northern side of the house.
« Anne, you always say that you would like to serve Me in every possible way...
« Yes, my Lord. Both Judas and I. But You never apply to us. This is a great feast for us because Your disciples are somehow part of You, and having them in the house, we seem to be serving You. »
« It is in fact so, because what is done to a disciple is done to the Master and even one glass of water or a piece of bread given to assist those who work for Me will be rewarded by God Himself. The disciples take care of the spirits of believers and believers must love and assist disciples considering that they have given up everything and are ready to give up their lives in order to show believers the Way, Life and Truth which the Master taught them with instructions to give it to believers. »
« Oh! Lord, let me call my Judas. Your word is so holy!... »
« Call your Judas » agrees Jesus smiling. And the woman goes out and comes back again with her husband to whom she is repeating the Master's words.
« Believe me, we would do it willingly. But we are out of the way, and that is certainly the reason why Your disciples seldom come here » says the old man and I feel that he regrets being left aside.
« I will tell them to come here frequently. In the meantime I ask you to grant me a grace... »
« You? It is a grace for us to serve You! Give us Your order, Lord. We are old and we cannot follow You as many people do. But we are anxious to serve You. What is it that You want? If these vineyards and this house, which are so dear to us because they belonged to my father and our children were born here, are to Your liking and if You want them, we will give them to You. We only ask You to promise us divine mercy on our spirits. »
« You can be sure that it will be with you. But I am not asking for such a sacrifice. Listen. I am going to Judaea and winter is drawing near. At Korazim there is a widow with many children and the oldest is little more than a boy. His father was a carpenter... »
« Ah! The carpenter! Oh! everybody has spoken about Your action... But Korazim was not converted, although Your deed more than Your word should have achieved that. Their mother worked here at harvest time... But she is not healthy... We know, we know. »
« Well, I am not asking you to let them lead an idle life, but to assist them. You will always need someone to repair this thing or that one. Think of Joseph and let his fair reward be completed by your pity and love. »
« Oh! Master! Is that all? I would say, what do you say, woman? I think we should take the two little girls who gleaned here. The house is large and you are old, and Mary and Naomi are also old... For little things... »
« That is what we will do, Judas. In remembrance of our little girl... Our only daughter, Lord... She flourished for three years... and then... So many years have gone by... but my heart still aches... If You had been here with us, she would not have died... I would not have lost her... A daughter is always a smile... » The old woman is moved and the old man sighs.
« She is not lost... She is waiting for you... She is an innocent soul and you may be sure that you will find her. It is necessary to be more afraid for those children who are adult but do not live completely in the ways of the Lord... »
« That is true! It is true!... You are aware, Lord... You know everything. In this house, which is so peaceful, there is such sorrow... Master, can a sacrifice obtain a grace at times? »
« Not at times. Always. »
« Ah! it is pleasant to hear You say so. Go in peace, Master. The widow of Korazim will be helped and You will find them to be happy at springtime. Because if You recommend them for the winter months, it means that You are not coming back until spring. »
« I am not coming back... I am going down to Judaea and I am not coming back. »
« And is also the little disciple coming to Judaea? »
« Yes, Marjiam is coming to Judaea... »
« A long journey, Master. He looks very sickly... »
« He lost his last relative. You know his story... and this new grief has debilitated him. »
« It is also his age and his growing... But we know... we are aware of the good he does. A little master, a real little master... His relative was in the plain of Esdraelon, was he not? And did he die there? And did he suffer there? »
« Yes, woman. Why are you asking? »
« Because... Master, I should not be telling You, Who are a Master. But I am a woman and a mother and I have wept... I say: why do You want to take him towards those places? Leave him with me as far as Jerusalem... I will feel as if I were going down to the holy City with my young sons once again... and he will not get tired and will not suffer any longer. The other disciples are coming as well... »
Jesus is pensive. He objects: « Marjiam is happy to be with Me and I with him. »
« Yes, but if You tell him, he will be happy to obey. You will be separated only for a few days. What is a little more than two weeks for one who is so young? He has time to enjoy Your company... »
Jesus looks at her and at the old man, who are so unaware that the time left to enjoy the Saviour is not very long. But He does not say anything. He stretches out His arms as if to say: « Let it be done as you wish » and He only says: « Then, call Marjiam and Simon. »
The old man goes out and comes back with the two. Simon looks around inquiringly. He seems to be suspicious of who knows what. But when he hears the reason he calms down and says: « May God bless you! The boy is run down and, to tell you the truth, I thought it was imprudent to make him walk so far... »
« But I was willing to come! I was with the Master, and if the Master was taking me with Him it means that I was fit to go... He does everything well... » and Marjiam's voice is almost choked by tears.
« That is true, Marjiam. But one must be compliant. These are two good friends: to Me and to all My friends. I agree to their wish and you... »
« As You wish, my Master. But at Jerusalem... »
« At Jerusalem you will come with Me » promises Jesus. And Marjiam, a good boy, does not reply.
They leave the room and Jesus joins the disciples who are so happy because of the unexpected meeting.
The old landlord loiters round the group. Jesus notices it and interrogates him.
« Well, the fact is that I would like to hear You speak. You are tired, I can see that. But before the meal, before we withdraw to rest, because You will be resting at least until evening, will You not say anything? »
« I will speak before I leave. So also the servants of the house and of the fields will be able to hear Me. Your wife is calling us now, see?... »
And Jesus stands up and goes into the room where the tables have been laid for the blessed guests.