11th October 1946.
Jesus is at Nob and He must have been there only for a short time as He is organizing Himself, dividing the twelve apostles into three groups of four persons each, to distribute them in houses. He keeps Peter, John, Judas Iscariot and Simon Zealot with Himself, while James of Zebedee is the head of the group consisting of Matthew, Judas of Alphaeus and Philip, and Bartholomew is put at the head of the third group with James of Alphaeus, Andrew and Thomas subjected to him.
« After supper you will go where you have been offered hospitality, and you will come back here in the morning, and I will tell you what you have to do. We shall be all together at meal times. Remember what I have told you many times: that you must preach My Doctrine also through your way of living, your way of living together with one another and with those who receive you in their houses. So be sober, patient, honest in speaking, acting, in looking, so that justice may issue from you like a perfume. You know how the eyes of the world are always watching us, to slander us or to study us, and also out of veneration. But those respecting us are the least of the many eyes watching us. And yet we must take the greatest care of those few, because the study of the world is pointed at their faith to pound it, and everything serves as a weapon to destroy the love of good people for Me and consequently for you. So do not lend a hand to the world with an unholy way of living and do not increase the burden of those who have to defend their faith from the snares of My opponents by scandalising them. Scandal perplexes souls, turns them away, weakens them. Woe to the apostle who scandalises souls. He sins against his Master and against his neighbour, against God and the flock of God. I trust you. Ensure that My grief, which is so deep, is not increased by more grief originating from you. »
« Be not afraid, Master. No sorrow will be caused to You by us, unless Satan leads us all astray » says Bartholomew.
Anastasica, who is in the kitchen with Eliza, comes in and says: « Supper is ready, Master. Come down while the food is still warm. You will refresh Yourself. »
« Let us go. » And Jesus stands up following the woman down the little staircase which from the upper room, where some beds have already been prepared, descends to the little kitchen garden. He then enters the kitchen, which is made pleasant by a lively fire.
Old John is near the fireside with Eliza who is busy with the food and turns round to look with a maternal smile at Jesus coming in. She then hastens to pour into a large tureen the wheat or barley cooked in milk, which I already saw Mary of Alphaeus serve at Nazareth before the departure of John and Syntyche.
« Well. I have always remembered that Mary Clopas told me that You like it. And I had kept the best honey to make it also for Marjiam... I am sorry that the boy has not come... »
« Nike kept him with Isaac, as they are leaving tomorrow at dawn, and she is taking advantage of the wagon as far as Jericho to fulfill the mission of which you are aware... »
« Which mission, Master? » asks the Iscariot with interest.
« A very womanly mission. To bring up an infant. But the infant does not need milk, but faith, because he is an infant in spirit. But a woman is always a mother, and she knows how to do such things. And once she has understood!... She is as good as a man, with the power of her maternal kindness over and above. »
« How kind You are to us, Master! » says Eliza looking at Jesus so lovingly as if she were caressing Him.
« I am truthful, Eliza. We people of Israel, and we are not the only ones, are accustomed to look at and consider woman an inferior being. No. If she is subjected to man, which is just, if she has been struck more severely by punishment for Eve's sin, if her mission is destined to be carried out among veils and in dim light, without showy deeds or words, if everything takes place in her as if it were choked by a curtain, she is not less strong or less capable than men. Even without remembering the great women of Israel, I tell you that there is great strength in the heart of a woman. In her heart. As in the intelligence of us men. And I tell you that the situation of women is about to change with regard to customs as well as with regard to many other things. And it will be just because a Woman will obtain grace and redemption particularly for women as I will do for all men. »
« A woman? And how can You expect a woman to redeem? » remarks Judas of Kerioth with a mocking laugh.
« I solemnly tell you that She is already redeeming. Do you know what to redeem means? »
« Of course I do. It is to remove from Sin. »
« Yes, but to remove from Sin would not help much, because the Opponent is eternal and he would begin to lay snares all over again. But a voice came from the Earthly Paradise, the Voice of God, saying: “I will create enmity between you and the Woman... She will crush your head and you will lay snares for Her heel.” Nothing but snares, because the Woman will have, She has in Herself, what defeats the Enemy. So She has been redeeming since She existed. An active, although concealed redemption. But She will soon come out in the presence of the world, and women will be fortified in Her. »
« That You redeem... all right. But a woman who can... I cannot accept it, Master. »
« Do you not remember Tobit? His hymn? »
« Yes. But it deals with Jerusalem. »
« Has Jerusalem any longer a Tabernacle in which is God? Can God from His glory be present at the sins consumed within the walls of the Temple? Another Tabernacle was necessary, a holy one, to be a star leading errant people back to the Most High. And that is accomplished in the Co-Redeemer Who throughout ages will rejoice at being the Mother of the redeemed. “You shall shine with a bright light. All the peoples of the Earth will prostrate themselves before You. The nations will come to You from afar bringing gifts and will worship the Lord in You... They will invoke Your great name... Those who will not listen to You will be among those cursed, and blessed will be those who gather round You... You will be happy in Your children because they will be the blessed ones gathered near the Lord.” The true hymn of the Co-Redeemer. And the angels who see are already singing in Heaven... The new heavenly Jerusalem begins in Her. Oh! Yes, that is the truth. And the world is unaware of Her. And the dull-minded rabbis of Israel do not know Her... » Jesus is engrossed in His thoughts...
« But who is He speaking of? » the Iscariot asks Philip who is beside him.
Before the latter replies, Eliza, who is putting some cheese and black olives on the table, says rather harshly: « He is speaking of His Mother. Don't you understand that? »
« I never knew that She is mentioned by the prophets as a martyr... Only the Redeemer is mentioned, and... »
« And do you think that there is only the torture of the flesh? And don't you know that that is nothing, for a mother, in comparison with the torture of seeing her son die? Your mind - I am not speaking of your heart, for I don't know what it throbs with - does your mind, of which you are so proud, not tell you that a mother would suffer torture and death ten times, rather than hear her son moan? Man, you are a man and you are learned. I am only a woman and a mother. But I tell you that you are more ignorant than I am, because you do not even know the heart of your mother... »
« Oh! You are offending me! »
« No. I am old and I am giving you advice. Let your heart be wise and you will avoid tears and punishment. Do that, if you can. »
The apostles, in particular Judas of Alphaeus, James of Zebedee, Bartholomew and the Zealot, cast sidelong glances at one another stealthily, and lower their heads to conceal the derisive smiles appearing on their lips, because of the frank words of Eliza to the apostle who thinks he is perfect. Jesus, still engrossed, does not hear anything.
Eliza addresses Anastasica saying: « Come, while they finish their meal let us go and prepare two more beds, because three are not enough » and she is on the point of going out.
« Eliza, you are certainly not giving us your beds! » exclaims Peter. « That's not right. John and I can sleep on boards. We're used to that. »
« No, Simon. There are hurdles and mats. They have been laid aside. We will now place them on trestles. » And she goes out with the other woman.
The apostles, tired as they are, are almost dozing in the warmth of the kitchen. Jesus is pensive, His elbow resting on the table, His head on His hand.
There is a knock at the door. Thomas, being nearest to it, gets up to open and he exclaims: « You, Joseph?! And with Nicodemus?! Come in! Come in! »
« Peace to You, Master, and to everybody in this house. We are going to Ramah, Master; Nicodemus invited me there. As we were passing here, we said: “Let us stop to greet the Master.” We were anxious to hear whether... You had been bothered again, as they went looking for You at Joseph's. Actually, they have been looking for You everywhere, after You cured that blind man. They did not walk out of the walls, that is true. They did not move a chair, to avoid infringing the Sabbath, and thus they think they are pure. But to look for You, to follow Bartholmai, oh! they went well beyond the limit! »
« How did they know if the Master did not do anything in the street? » asks Matthew.
« True, we did not know either whether he had been cured. We went to the synagogue and then to say goodbye to Nike, Isaac and Marjiam, who were staying with her. Then, after sunset, we came straight here » says Peter.
« You did not know. But the messengers of the Pharisees did. You did not see. But I did. Two of them were present when the Master touched the eyes of the blind fellow. They had been waiting for hours. »
« Why? » asks Judas of Kerioth with an innocent look.
« Are you asking me? »
« It's strange, that's why I am asking. »
« It's even more strange that for some time there are always spies wherever the Master is. »
« Vultures go where there is a prey and wolves approach herds. »
« And thieves where their accomplices say there is a caravan. You are right. »
« What are you insinuating? »
« Nothing. I was completing your proverb applying it to men. Because Jesus is a man; and men are those who lay snares for Him. »
« Tell us, Joseph, tell us... » many of them say.
« If the Master wishes, I came to tell you. »
« Speak up » says Jesus. And Joseph tells in detail what he had noticed, omitting, however, one particular, that it was Judas who informed the blind man where Jesus was staying.
Comments are manifold, resentful, sorrowful, according to hearts, and Judas of Kerioth is the most (apparently) afflicted and upset, he is against everybody and in particular against the imprudent blind man, who had come and placed himself in Jesus' way on a Sabbath, confiding in the well known kindness of the Master...
« Or was it you who pointed out the man to Him! I was near you and I heard » says Philip full of amazement.
« To point out does not mean to give an order to do something. »
« Oh! I am sure, as I am also sure that you would not have taken the liberty of ordering the Master to work... » says Thaddeus.
« Me? Far from it. I pointed him out only to ask for a clarification. »
« Yes. But the action of pointing out is at times an invitation to act. And that is what you did » replies Thaddeus.
« You say so, but it is not true » asserts Judas impudently.
« Is it not true? Are you really sure? As sure as you are alive, that you never spoke to the blind man about Jesus, that you did not influence him to apply to Jesus, and, what is more, that you did not encourage him to do so at once, before Jesus left the town? » asks Joseph of Arimathea.
« Of course I am sure. Who ever spoke to that man? I certainly did not. I am always with the Master, day and night, and when I am not with Him, I am with my companions... »
« I thought you had done that yesterday, when you went away with the women » says Bartholomew.
« Yesterday! I went and came back faster than a swallow. How could I look for the blind fellow, find him and speak to him in such a short time? »
« You might have met him... »
« I never saw him! »
« Then that man is a liar because he stated that you told him to come, and where and what to do; and you had assured him that Jesus would listen to you and... » says Joseph of Arimathea.
Judas interrupts him violently: « That's enough! He deserves to be blinded again for all the lies he tells! I, I can swear it on the Sanctuary, I only know him by sight, and I have never spoken to him. »
« Yes, it's really enough. Your soul is in order, Judas of Kerioth, who do not fear God because you know that your actions are holy. You... happy fellow who are afraid of nothing » Joseph says to him, looking at him severely, with piercing eyes.
« No, I am not afraid, because I am without sin. »
« We all sin, Judas. And it is not so bad if we do repent after our first sins, and we do not increase them in number and wickedness! » says Nicodemus who had never spoken so far. He then addresses the Master saying: « It is sad that Joseph of Sephoris has been threatened with being banished from the synagogue, if he gives You hospitality again and Bartholmai has already been ejected from it. He had gone there with his father and mother; but the Pharisees were waiting for him at his synagogue, they refused to let him go in and they cried anathema on him. »
« That is too much! For how long, o Lord... » shout many.
« Peace! Peace! It is nothing. Bartholmai is already on the way to the Kingdom. So what has he lost? He is in the Light. So is he not a child of God more than he was previously? Oh! Do not confuse values! Peace! Peace! We will no longer go to Joseph's either... I am sorry that Isaac knows that he has to take My Mother and Mary of Alphaeus there... But it would have been for a few hours only, because there is one who has already done what is necessary. » He turns to John of Nob and says: « Father, are you afraid of the Sanhedrin? You can see how much it costs to give hospitality to the Son of man... You are old. You are a faithful Israelite. You may be driven out of the synagogue on your last Sabbaths. Could you put up with that? Speak frankly, and if you are afraid, I will go away. There must be still a den in the mountains in Israel for the Son of God... »
« I, Lord? But of whom shall I be afraid but of God? I do not fear the mouth of the sepulchre, on the contrary I look at it as a friendly thing. And shall I be afraid of the mouths of men? I would be afraid only of the judgement of God, if for fear of men, I should drive away from me Jesus, the Christ of God! »
« All right. You are a just man... I will stay here... when I am not in the nearby villages, as I intend to do once again. »
« Come to Ramah, to my house, Lord » says Nicodemus.
« And if that should harm you? »
« Do the Pharisees not invite you with evil intentions? Could I not do it to study Your heart? »
« Yes, Master. Let us go to Ramah. My father will be so happy, if he is at home. And if he is not there, as often is the case, he will find Your blessing when he comes back » says Thomas imploringly.
« We will go to Ramah, as the first place. Tomorrow... »
« Master, we are going. Our mounts are outside and we shall be at Ramah before the end of the second vigil. The roads are white in the moonlight as if a pale sun were shining on them. Goodbye, Master. Peace be with You » says Nicodemus.
« Peace to You, Master... and, listen to a good piece of advice from Joseph the Elder. Be somewhat shrewd. Look around Yourself. Open Your eyes and keep Your lips closed. Act, but never say beforehand what You are going to do... And do not come to Jerusalem for some time, and if You come, do not stop at the Temple except for the time necessary to pray. Do You understand me? Goodbye, Master. Peace to You. » Joseph has put much stress on the words that I have underlined, and while saying them he was gazing intensely at Jesus. His very eyes were a warning.
They go out into the little kitchen garden, white in the moonlight. They untie two strong donkeys, which were tied to the trunk of a walnut tree, they mount and depart along the solitary white road...
Jesus goes back into the kitchen with His apostles. « But what did he mean, after all? »
« And how did the Pharisees find out? »
« What will they do to Joseph of Sephoris? »
« Nothing. Just words. Nothing but words. Forget about it. It is all over and without any consequence. Let us go. Let us say our prayer and part for the night. “Our Father... »
He blesses them, He looks at them go away, then with the four whom He has kept, He goes up to the room where the beds are.