25th September 1946.
The Bethabara ford has just been crossed. Across the blue river which is quite rich in water as it is nourished by the affluents replenished by the autumn rains, one can see the other bank, the eastern one, with many people jesticulating. On the western bank, instead, where Jesus is with His apostles, there is only one shepherd and a herd grazing the green grass on the bank.
Peter throws himself on the remains of a little wall which is there, without even drying his legs, still wet after wading. Because it is true that in this season they use boats, but to avoid running them aground where the water is shallow, they make use of them only where the water is deeper and stop to disembark the passengers where the keel rubs against submerged herbs. Thus passengers are compelled to walk for a few steps in the water.
« What is the matter with you? Are you not feeling well? »
« No. But I cannot stand this any more. On mount Nebo violence, and before that at Heshbon, and previously at Jerusalem and at Capernaum, after mount Nebo at Callirhoe, and now at Bethabara... Oh! ... » he bends his head holding it with his hands and weeps...
« Don't lose heart, Simon. Don't deprive Me of your companion's courage and of yours! » Jesus says to him approaching him and laying His hand on the apostle's heavy grey mantle.
« I cannot stand that! I cannot see You ill-treated thus! If I reacted... perhaps I could. But... having to restrain myself... and hear their insults, and see You suffering, as if I were a powerless baby... oh! it breaks my heart and I feel worn out... How can one bear to see Him thus!? He seems to be ill, to be dying of marshfever... He looks like a chased culprit who cannot find a place where to stop and have a morsel of food or a drop of water, or find a stone on which to rest his head! That hyena on mount Nebo! Those snakes at Callirhoe! That madman who is still over there! (and he points at the other bank). Less of a demon the one from Callirhoe, although You say that only the second one was possessed by Beelzebub! I am afraid of possessed people, I think that if Satan seized them thus, they must have been very bad. But... man may fall without being completely willing to do so. Those instead who without being possessed behave as they do, with their reason completely free!... Oh! will You never subdue them, considering that You do not want to punish them? And they... will defeat You... » And the faithful apostle, whose tears had stopped during his outburst of anger, resumes weeping bitterly...
« My dear Peter, and do you think that they are not possessed? Do you think that to be possessed one must be like the man from Callirhoe or like other people we have come across? Do you think that obsession is displayed only by unbecoming shouts, by bounds, by fury, by mania for living in dens, by stubborn silence, by impediments in limbs, by benumbed minds, so that the person possessed speaks and acts unconsciously? No. There are also more subtle and powerful obsessions, nay possessions, and they are the most dangerous ones because they do not hinder or weaken reason, so that it may not accomplish good deeds, but they develop it, nay: they expand it so that it may be powerful in serving him who possesses it. When God takes possession of an intellect and makes use of it for His service, He instills into it, in the hours in which it is at God's service, a supernatural intelligence which greatly increases the natural intelligence of the subject. Do you think, for instance, that Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the other prophets, if they had had to read and explain those prophecies, as written by others, would not have found the indecipherable obscurities that present-day people find? And yet, I tell you, they understood them perfectly while receiving them. Look, Simon. Let us take this flower which has grown here at your feet. What can you see in the shade enveloping its calyx? Nothing. You can see a deep calyx and a little mouth and nothing else. Now look at it while I pick it and I put it here in the rays of sunlight. What do you see? »
« I see some pistils, some pollen, and a little crown of down which looks like cilia around the pistils and a tiny strip, all beetle-browed, adorning the large petal and the two small ones and I see a tiny drop of dew at the bottom of the calyx... and oh! A midge has gone down into it, to drink, and has become entangled in the beetle-browed down and cannot free itself So! Let me have a better look. Oh! The down is sticky like honey I see! God made it thus, so that the plant may feed on it, or birds may be nourished eating the flies, or the air may be purified... How wonderful! »
« But without the strong sunshine you would not have seen anything. »
« Eh! no! »
« The same happens in the case of a divine possession. Man, who of his own puts only the good will to love his God wholly, to give himself up to His will, to practise virtues and control passions, is absorbed in God, and in the Light that is God, in the Wisdom that is God he sees and understands everything. Later, when the absolute action comes to an end, a state takes over in the creature, whereby what has been received is transformed into a rule of life and sanctification, but becomes obscure, or rather, what previously seemed clear becomes crepuscular. The demon, a perpetual mimic of God, causes a similar effect, although limited because God only is infinite, in the mental obsession of those who are possessed because they gave themselves spontaneously to him in order to be triumphant, and he grants them a superior intelligence, devoted exclusively to evil, to harming, to offending God and man. But as the satanic action finds the soul consenting, it is continuous and thus leads it by degrees to a complete knowledge of Evil. They are the worst possessions. Nothing appears outwardly and consequently such possessed people are not avoided. But they exist. As I have often told you, the Son of man will be struck by people possessed that way. »
« But could God not strike Hell? » asks Philip.
« He could. He is the stronger. »
« And why does He not do so to defend You? »
« The reasons of God are known in Heaven. Let us go. And do not lose heart. »
The sheperd, who has been listening without pretending to do so, asks: « Have You a place where to go? Are You expected? »
« No, man. I should go beyond Jericho. But no one is expecting Me. »
« Are You very tired, Rabbi? »
« Yes, I am tired. They would not give us hospitality or allow us to stop as from mount Nebo. »
« Well... I wanted to tell You... I come from Beth-hoglah, the ancient... My father is blind and I cannot go too far as I do not want to leave him by himself for months. But my heart suffers because of that and so does the herd. If You want... I would give You hospitality. It is not far. The old man believes so much in You. Joseph, Joseph's son, Your disciple, knows. »
« Let us go. »
The man does not wait to be told twice. He gathers the herd and sets it going towards the village, which must be north-west of the place where they are now. Jesus follows the herd with His disciples.
« Master » says the Iscariot after some time « Beth-hoglah will not have anyone who can afford to buy the gifts of that man... »
« We shall sell them when we go to Jericho to see Nike. »
« The fact is... that this man is poor and we will have to requite him, but I have not a penny left. »
« We have food, and plenty of it. Also for some beggars. We need nothing else for the time being. »
« As You wish. But it would have been better if You had sent me ahead. I could have... »
« It is not necessary. »
« Master, that is lack of trust! Why don't You send us as You did previously, by twos? »
« Because I love you and I take care of your welfare. »
« It is not right to keep us unknown like this. People will think that... we are not worthy, not able... Once You used to let us go, we preached, we worked miracles, we were known... »
« Do you regret that you no longer do so? Did it do you any good to go without Me? You are the only one to complain that you do not go by yourself... Judas!... »
« Master, You know whether I love You! » says Judas resolutely.
« I know. And I keep you with Me that your spirit may not become corrupted. You are the only one who gathers and hands out, sells or barters on behalf of the poor. That is enough. Even too much. Look at your companions, not one of them asks for what you ask. »
« But You allowed the disciples... Such difference is unfair. »
« Judas, you are the only one to say that I am unjust... But I forgive you. Go on and send Andrew to Me. »
And Jesus slackens His pace to wait for Andrew and speak to him privately. I do not know what He says to him. I see Andrew smile gently and bend to kiss the hands of the Master and then go on.
Jesus remains alone, behind them all... and He proceeds with bowed head, wiping His face with the hem of His mantle as if He were perspiring. But the drops streaming down His emaciated pale cheeks are tears, not beads of perspiration.
Jesus says: « You will put here the vision of 3rd October 1944; “The Wife of the Sadducean Necromancer”. »