24th October 1946.
The damp cold wind is brushing the trees on the hill and blowing cumuli of greyish clouds in the sky. All wrapped up in their heavy mantles, Jesus, the Twelve and Stephen are descending from Gibeon to the road which takes them towards the plain. They are speaking to one another while Jesus, immersed in silence, is absent from what surrounds Him. And He remains thus until they arrive at a cross-road, half-way down the hill, nay almost at the foot of the hill, where He says: « Let us take this road and go to Nob. »
« What? Are You not going back to Jerusalem? » asks the Iscariot.
« Nob and Jerusalem are practically the same thing for one who is accustomed to long walks. But I prefer to be at Nob. Do you mind? »
« Oh! Master! As far as I am concerned, here or there... I am rather sorry that You did not show up very much in a place so favourable to You. You spoke more at Beth-horon, which was certainly not friendly to You. I think You ought to do the opposite. You should try to attract more and more the towns which You feel are propitious to You, and use them as... defences against the towns dominated by Your enemies. Do You know how important it is to have on Your side the towns near Jerusalem? After all Jerusalem is not everything. Other places may be important as well and exert some influence with their importance on the decisions of Jerusalem. Kings are generally proclaimed such in the most loyal towns, and once the proclamation is made, also the others resign themselves... »
« When they do not rebel, in which case there is fratricidal warfare. I do not think that the Messiah wants to begin His Kingdom with a civil war » says Philip.
« I would like one thing only: that it should begin in you with a correct vision of the situation. But your vision is not right yet... So, when will you be able to understand? »
When the Iscariot realises that a reproach may be coming, he asks once again: « So why did You speak so little here at Gibeon? »
« I preferred to listen and rest. Do you not understand that I, too, need rest? »
« We could have stayed and made them happy. If You are so tired, why did You set off again? » asks Bartholomew sadly.
« My limbs are not tired. I need not stop to rest them. It is My heart that is tired and needs rest. And I rest where I find love. Do you perhaps think that I am insensible to so much bitter hatred? That refusals do not grieve Me? Do you think that the conspiracies against Me leave Me indifferent? That the betrayals of him who feigns to be My friend, whereas he is a spy of My enemies, placed beside Me to... »
« Let that never be, Lord! And You must not even suspect that. You offend us by saying that! » says the Iscariot protesting with sad indignation, which is superior to that of all the others, although they all protest saying: « You grieve us with such words, Master, You distrust us! » And James of Zebedee exclaims impulsively: « I say goodbye to You, Master, and I am going back to Capernaum. With a broken heart, but I am going away. And if Capernaum is not far enough, I will join the fishermen of Tyre and Sidon, I will go to Cintium, I will go I don't know where. But so far that it will be impossible for You to think that I betray You. Bless me for viaticum! »
Jesus embraces him saying: « Peace, My apostle. So many say that they are My friends, you are not the only ones. My words grieve you, they grieve you all. But into which hearts shall I pour My worries and where shall I seek comfort if not in the hearts of My beloved apostles and trustworthy disciples? I am seeking in you part of the union that I left to unite men: the union with My Father in Heaven; and a drop of the love that I left out of love for men: the love of My Mother. I seek them as a support. Oh! the bitter wave, the cruel weight overwhelm and press on My heart, on the Son of man!... My Passion, My hour, is becoming fuller and fuller... Help Me to endure it and fulfill it... because it is so grievous! »
The apostles look at one another moved by the deep grief vibrating in the Master's words, and all they can do is to press round Him, caressing and kissing Him... and Judas on the right hand side and John on the left kiss simultaneously the face of Jesus Who closes His eyes while Judas Iscariot and John kiss Him...
They take to the road again, and Jesus can terminate His interrupted thought: « In so much anguish My heart seeks places where it may find love and rest, where, instead of speaking to arid stones, or sly snakes or dreamy butterflies, it can listen to the words of other hearts and find comfort, as it perceives them to be sincere, loving, just. Gibeon is one of these places. I had never come here. But I found a field ploughed and sown by very good workers of God. That synagogue leader! He came towards the Light, but he already was a luminous spirit. How much a good servant of God can do! Gibeon is certainly not free from the intrigues of those who hate Me. Insinuations and corruption will be tried there as well. But it has a synagogue leader who is just, and the poisons of Evil lose venom in it. Do you think it is pleasant to Me having always to correct, criticise and even reproach? It is much more agreeable to be able to say: “You have understood Wisdom. Proceed along your way and be holy”, as I said to the synagogue leader of Gibeon. »
« So shall we go back there? »
« When the Father makes Me find a peaceful place I enjoy it and bless My Father for it. But I have not come for that. I have come to convert to the Lord places which are guilty and remote from Him. You know that I could stay at Bethany, but I am not staying there. »
« Also to avoid harming Lazarus. »
« No, Judas of Simon. The very stones know that Lazarus is My friend. So, in that respect, it would be useless for Me to check My desire for consolation. But it is because... »
« Because of Lazarus' sisters, Mary in particular. »
« Not even that, Judas of Simon. Even stones know that the lust of the flesh does not upset Me. Consider that of the many charges made against Me, the first to be dropped was that one, because even My most bitter enemies realised that by sustaining it they would unmask their false practices. No honest person would have believed that I am sensual. Sensuality can allure only those who do not feed on the supernatural and who abhor sacrifices. But what allurement can the pleasure of an hour have for those who have vowed themselves to sacrifice and are victims? The joy of victim souls is entirely in the spirit and, if they are clothed with flesh, it is nothing but a garment. Do you think that the clothes we wear have feelings? The flesh is the same for those who live of the spirit: a garment, nothing else. The spiritual man is the true superman, because he is not a slave of senses, whereas the material man is valueless, with respect to the true dignity of man, because he has too many appetites in common with brutes, and he is also inferior to them as he surpasses them by turning animal instinct into a degraded vice. »
Judas bites his lip perplexedly, then he says: « Yes, in any case, You would not be able to harm Lazarus any longer. Death will soon rescue him from all dangers of revenge... So why do You not go to Bethany more often? »
« Because I have not come to enjoy Myself, but to convert. I have already told you. »
« But... Do You rejoice at having Your brothers with You? »
« Yes. But it is also true that I have no favouritism for them. When we have to part to find room in houses, they generally do not stay with Me, but you do. And that is to show you that in the eyes and minds of those who have vowed themselves to redemption, flesh and blood have no value, but only the improvement of hearts and their redemption are of value. We shall now go to Nob and we shall part once again for the night. And I will keep you with Me again and I will keep also Matthew, Philip and Bartholomew. »
« Are we perhaps the least improved? I in particular, since You always make me stay with You? »
« You are right, Judas of Simon. »
« Thank You, Master. I realised that » says the Iscariot with ill repressed anger.
« If you have understood, why do you not strive to improve yourself? Do you think that I might lie in order not to mortify you? On the other hand, we are among brothers, and the faults of one must not be an object of derision, and if one is admonished in the presence of the others, who are aware of each brother's imperfections, one must not feel dejected. No one is perfect, I tell you. But also reciprocal imperfections, so painful to see and put up with, must be a reason to improve yourselves so that reciprocal inconvenience may not be increased. And believe Me, Judas, although I see you for what you are, no one, not even your mother, loves you as I do or strives to make you good as your Jesus does. »
« However, You reproach and mortify me, even in the presence of a disciple. »
« Is it the first time that I have recalled you to justice? »
Judas is silent.
« Answer My question. I tell you! » Jesus says authoritatively.
« No. »
« And how many times did I do that in public? Can you say that I shamed you? Or must you say that I covered you up and defended you? Speak up! »
« You defended me, it's true. But now... »
« But now it is for your own good. A man who caresses his guilty son will have to bandage his wounds later, says the proverb. And another proverb says that a horse badly broken-in turns out stubborn, and an uncontrolled son turns out headstrong. »
« Am I perhaps Your son? » asks Judas changing countenance, as he no longer frowns but looks contrite.
« If I had begotten you, you could not be more so. And I would have My viscera torn out to give you My heart and make you as I would like you to be... »
Judas has one of his fits of repentance... and looking really sincere he throws himself into Jesus' arms shouting: « Ah! I do not deserve You! I am a demon and I do not deserve You! You are too good! Save me, Jesus! » and he weeps, he really weeps with the pain of a heart upset by evil things and by the remorse of grieving the Master Who loves him.