31st October 1946.
The rear of Simon of Tekoah's house is actually a square delimited on two sides by the wings of the U-shaped edifice. I call it a square because on market days, as the one I am observing, they open three sections of the strong gate which separates it from a larger public square, and many vendors invade with their stalls the porches which are situated on three sides of the house. I now understand the financial... use, because Simon, being a clever Jew, passes collecting the hires of the places occupied. And he drags after himself the old man, who is now wearing a decent garment, and he introduces him to everybody saying: « As from today you will pay the amount agreed upon to him. »
Then, after completing the tour of the porches, he says to Elianna: « That is your work. Here, and inside, with the hotel and the stables. It is not difficult or hard but it shows you how highly I esteem you. I dismissed, one after the other, three men who were helping me, because they were not honest. But I like you. And then, He brought you to me. And the Master knows hearts. Let us go to Him and tell Him that if He wishes, this is the right time to speak. » And he goes away followed by the old man...
The square is becoming more and more crowded and the noise is increasing more and more. There are women doing their shopping, cattle dealers, buyers of oxen to be yoked to the plough and of other animals, peasants bent under the weight of baskets of fruit and praising their goods, cutlers with all their sharp utensils well displayed on mats, making a great din by striking axes on stumps to show the hardness of the metal, or hammering scythes placed across trestles to show the perfect hardening of the blade, or lifting ploughshares with both hands and driving them into the ground, which bursts open as if it were wounded, to give proof of the robustness of the share which no ground can resist, and copper smiths with amphorae and buckets, pans and lamps, striking the sonorous metal to the point of deafening people, to show them that it is solid, or shouting at the top of their voices offering oil-lamps with one or more flames for the oncoming festival in Chislev; and above all this uproar, as tedious and piercing as the lament of the nocturnal owl, there are the cries of beggars spread out in the strategic points of the market.
Jesus comes from the house with Peter and James of Zebedee. I do not see the others. But I think they must be going round the town announcing the Master, because I see that the crowds recognise Him at once and many people arrive, while the shouting and noise die down. Jesus has alms given to some beggars and He stops to greet two men who, followed by their servants, were about to leave the market after doing their shopping. But they stop, too, to hear the Master. And Jesus begins to speak, taking what He sees as a starting point:
« Everything at the right time, everything in the right place. You do not hold markets on the Sabbath, neither do you trade in synagogues, nor do you work at night, but only during the day. Sinners only trade on the day of the Lord, or desecrate the places destined for prayer by means of human commerce, or steal at night committing robberies and crimes. Likewise: those who trade honestly, busy themselves to demonstrate the good quality of their victuals or of their implements to their customers and those who buy them are happy with the good purchase made. But if, for instance, a vendor should succeed in deceiving a buyer with shrewd artifice, and the tool or the victuals should turn out to be bad, inferior in value to the price paid, would the buyer not have recourse to defensive measures, going from a minimum of stopping buying from that vendor to a maximum of applying to a judge to have his money back? That is what would happen and it would be just. And yet do we not see the people disappointed in Israel by those who sell rotten goods as good ones and denigrate Him Who gives good merchandise, being the Just One of the Lord? Yes, we can all see that.
Yesterday evening many of you came to tell of the evil artifices of bad vendors and I said: “Let them carry on. Be firm in your hearts and God will provide.” Those who sell things which are not good, whom do they offend? You? Me? No. God Himself. He who is deceived is not as guilty as he who deceives. The sin is not so much against man, as it is against God, by trying to sell things which are not good, so that those who want to make a purchase may not come to good things. I do not say: react, revenge yourselves. Such words cannot come from Me. I only say: listen to the true sound of words, watch the actions of those who speak to you, diligently, in the great light, taste the first draught or morsel offered to you, and if they taste sour, and if the behaviour of other people is sinister, if the savour left in your hearts is upsetting, refuse what you are offered as a thing which is not good. Wisdom, justice, charity are never sour, upsetting or fond of acting in the shadow.
I know that I have been preceded by some of My disciples and I will leave two of My apostles with you; further, yesterday evening with deeds more than words, I testified where I come from and with what mission. No long speech is required to draw you to My way. Meditate and be anxious to remain on it. Imitate the founders of this town at the borders of the arid desert. Consider that outside My doctrine there is the aridity of the desert, whilst in My doctrine there are the sources of Life. And whatever may happen, do not be upset or scandalised. Remember the words of the Lord in Isaiah. My hand will never become too short or too small to do good to those who follow My ways, neither will anything ever prevent the hand of the Most High from striking those who offend and grieve Me, yet I came and I found very few willing to receive Me, I called and few replied to Me. Because, as he who honours Me honours the Father Who sent Me, so he who despises Me despises Him Who sent Me. And according to the law of retaliation, he who disowns Me will be disowned.
But you, who have received My word, must not fear the abuse of men or tremble because of the outrage committed first against Me, and then against you, because you love Me. Although I appear to be persecuted and will seem to be struck, I will comfort and protect you. Be not afraid, do not fear man, who is mortal, he is today and tomorrow he is but a remembrance and dust. But fear the Lord, fear Him with holy love, without being frightened, but be afraid of not knowing how to love Him proportionately to His infinite love. I will not say to you: do this or that. You are aware of what is to be done. I say to you: love. Love God and His Christ. Love your neighbour as I taught you. And you will do everything, if you know how to love.
I bless you, citizens of Tekoah, the town at the border of the desert, but an oasis of peace for the persecuted Son of man, and may My blessing be in your hearts and in your homes, now and forever. »
« Stay, Master! Stay with us. The desert has always been kind to the saints of Israel! »
« I cannot. There are other people awaiting Me. You are in Me, I in you, because we love one another. »
Jesus makes His way with difficulty through the crowd, who follow Him forgetting their trades and everything else. Sick people cured bless Him again, hearts comforted thank Him, beggars greet Him: « Living Manna of God »...
The old man is beside Him and remains with Him as far as the outskirts of the town. And only when Jesus blesses Matthew and Philip who are remaining at Tekoah, he makes up his mind to leave his Saviour and he does so kissing Jesus' bare feet, weeping and uttering words of gratitude.
« Stand up, Elianna, and come here that I may kiss you. The kiss of a son to his father and may that reward you for everything. I apply to you the words of the prophet: “You who are weeping, shall weep no more, because the Merciful One has had mercy on you.” The Lord will give you a little bread and a little water. I could not do more. If you have been driven away by one only, I have all the mighty ones of the people driving Me away, and I am fortunate if I find food and shelter for My apostles and Myself. But your eyes have seen Him Whom you desired to see, and your ears have heard My words, just as your heart must feel My love. Go and be at Peace because you are a martyr of justice, one of the precursors of all those who will be persecuted because of Me. Do not weep, father! » And He kisses his white-haired head.
The old man kisses His cheek and whispers in His ear: « Do not trust the other Judas, my Lord. I do not want to soil my tongue... but do not trust him. He does not come with good intentions to my son... »
« Yes. But think no more of the past. It will soon be all over and no one will be able to harm Me any more. Goodbye, Elianna. The Lord is with you. »
« Master, what did the old man say to You in such a low voice? » asks Peter who is walking beside Jesus, and with some difficulty, because Jesus is striding with His long legs, and Peter cannot, because he is rather short.
« Poor old man! What do you think he could tell Me, that I did not already know? » replies Jesus, evading a precise answer.
« He spoke of his son, did he not? Did he tell You who he is? »
« No, Peter. I can assure you. He kept that name in his heart. »
« But do You know him? »
« I do. But I will not tell you. »
They remain silent for a long time. Then the anxious question of Peter and his confession. « Master, but why, for what purpose does the Iscariot go to the house of a very wicked man, such as the son of Elianna? I am afraid, Master! He has no good friends. He does not go openly. He has no strength to resist evil. I am afraid, Master. Why? Why does Judas go to such people, and secretly? » Peter's face is an expressive mask of a sorrowful query.
Jesus looks at him but does not reply. In fact, what can He reply, in order not to tell a lie and not to hurl faithful Peter against unfaithful Judas? He prefers to let Peter speak.
« Are You not replying? I have had no peace since yesterday, when the old man thought he had recognised Judas among us. It is like the day when You spoke to the wife of the Sadducee. Do You remember? Do You remember my suspicion? »
« Yes, I do. And do you remember what I said to you then? »
« Yes, Master, I remember. »
« There is nothing else to be said, Simon. The actions of men have appearances that are different from reality. But I am glad that I provided for that old man. It is as if Ananias had come back. Actually, if Simon of Tekoah had not accepted him, I would have taken him to Solomon's little house, to have a father there always waiting for us. But for Eli it is better as it is. Simon is good and he has many grandchildren. Eli loves children... And children make one forget many sad things... »
With His usual skill in distracting His interlocutor, and leading him on to a different subject, when He finds that it is not convenient to answer dangerous questions, Jesus has distracted Peter from his thoughts. And He continues to speak to him of children, whom they have met here and there, until they remember Marjiam, who is perhaps hauling the nets just then, after fishing in the beautiful lake of Gennesaret.
And Peter, whose thoughts are now far from Eli and Judas, smiles and asks: « But after Passover, we are going there, are we not? It is so beautiful. Oh! much more than it is here. We Galileans are sinners, according to those of Judaea... But to live here! Oh! Eternal Mercy! If we are going to be punished, there will certainly be no reward here. »
Jesus calls the others who have been left behind and He goes away with them along the road warmed by the December sunshine.