14th September 1946.
A sadder and sadder but always pleasant house in Bethany... The presence of friends and disciples does not remove the sadness of the house. There is Joseph with Nicodemus, Manaen, Eliza and Anastasica; as far as I can understand, the two women could not put up with being far from Jesus and they apologise as if they had disobeyed, although they are quite decided not to go away. And Eliza explains her good reasons which are: the impossibility for Lazarus' sisters to follow the Master and take womanly care of Him and of the apostles, as is necessary with a group of men alone and, furthermore, persecuted.
« We are the only ones who can do that. Because Martha and Mary cannot leave their brother. Johanna is not here. Annaleah is too young to come with us. It is better for Nike to stay where she is, so that she may receive You there. My white hair will prevent disparagement. I shall precede You wherever You go, or I shall stay where You tell me, and You will always have a mother near You, and I shall feel as if I still had a son. I will do what You want, but allow me to serve You. »
Jesus agrees when He hears that they all think that it is the right thing to do. Perhaps, in the deep bitterness of His heart, He wishes to have a motherly heart close at hand, to find in it reflections of His Mother's kindness...
Eliza is triumphant in her joy.
Jesus says: « I shall often be at Nob. You will stay in the house of old John. He told Me that I can stay there when I stop at Nob. I shall find you there every time we come back... »
« Are You thinking of going away in spite of the wet weather? » asks Joseph of Arimathea.
« Yes, I am. I want to go towards Perea, stopping in Solomon's house. Then I will go towards Jericho and Samaria. Oh! I would like to go to many more places... »
« Master, don't go too far away from roads and towns garrisoned by a centurion. They are undecided. And the others are undecided as well. Two fears. Two surveillances. Concerning You. And in turn. But You may be sure that, as far as You are concerned, the Romans are less dangerous... »
« They have abandoned us!... » remarks Judas of Kerioth bluntly.
« Do you think so? No. Among those Gentiles who listen to the Master can you perhaps see those sent by Claudia or by Pontius? Among the freedmen of the former and of her lady friends there are many who could speak in the Bel Nidrasc, if they were Israelites. Don't forget that there are learned people everywhere, that Rome enslaves the world, that her patricians love to take the best booty to adorn their houses. If gymnasiarchs and circus managers choose what can give them profit and glory, patricians select those whose learning or beauty may adorn and gratify their houses and themselves... Master, this subject reminds me of something... May I ask You a question? »
« Speak up. »
« That woman, that Greek woman, who was here last year... and was a charge against You, where is she? Many have tried to find out... not for a good purpose. But I have no evil wish... Only... I don't think it is possible that she has gone back to the wrong doctrine. She was gifted with a great intelligence and sincere justice. But she is no longer about... »
« In a part of the Earth, she, a heathen woman, has been able to practise for a persecuted Israelite the charity which Israelites did not have. »
« Are You referring to John of Endor? Is he with her? »
« He is dead. »
« Dead? »
« Yes, and they could have let him die near Me... There was not a long time to wait... Those, and they are many, who worked to have him sent away, committed murder, as if they had raised their hands armed with knives against him. They broke his heart. And although they know that that is why he died, they do not consider themselves homicides. They do not feel remorse for being so. Brothers can be killed in many ways. With weapons and with words or with some wicked deed, such as informing a persecutor of the place where the persecuted person is, or depriving a poor wretch of his refuge of comfort... Oh! in how many ways one can kill... But man does not feel remorse for that. Man, and that is the sign of his spiritual decline, has killed remorse. »
Jesus is so severe in speaking those words, that no one has the courage to speak. They look at one another stealthily, with lowered heads, and even the best and most innocent ones are embarrassed.
After a moment's silence Jesus says: « No one need inform the enemies of the dead man and Mine of what I said, to give them a satanic joy. But should anyone question you, you may reply that John is at peace, with his body in a far away sepulchre and his soul in expectation of Me. »
« Did that grieve You much, Lord? » asks Nicodemus.
« What? His death? »
« Yes. »
« No, it did not. His death gave Me peace because it was his peace. I was grieved, deeply grieved by those who through low feelings informed the Sanhedrin of his presence among the disciples and brought about his departure. But every man has his systems and only a great good will can change instincts and systems. But I say: “He who denounced, will denounce again. He who brought about death, will bring about death again.” But woe to him. He thinks he is winning whereas he is losing. And the judgement of God is awaiting him. »
« Why are You looking at me thus, Master? » asks John of Zebedee, becoming uneasy and blushing, as if he were guilty.
« Because if I look at you, nobody, not even the most wicked person, will think that you may have hated a brother of yours. »
« It must have been a Pharisee or a Roman... He supplied them with eggs... » says Judas of Kerioth.
« It was a demon. But he did him good whilst wishing to harm him. He hastened his complete purification and peace. »
« How do You know? Who brought You the news? » asks Joseph.
« Does the Master need to have news brought to Him? Does He not see the actions of men? Did He not go and call Johanna that she might come to Him and be cured? What is impossible to God? » says Mary of Magdala passionately.
« That is true, woman. But few people have your faith... And that is why I asked a silly question. »
« All right. But come, now, Master. Lazarus has awaked and is waiting for You... » And she takes Him away abruptly and resolutely, cutting short any further conversation or question.