8th November 1946.
They are already on the slopes of the Mount of Olives and the three pairs of apostles left at Jericho, Tekoah and Bethany are once again with the Master. But Judas of Kerioth is still absent and the apostles are speaking in low voices about him...
Jesus is infinitely sad... The apostles have noticed that and they are saying to one another: « It is certainly because of Lazarus. He is a broken man... And his sisters arouse so much pity... The Master cannot even stop in their house, persecuted as He is by so much hatred. It would have been a great consolation to the sick man, his sisters and also for the Master. »
« I cannot understand why He does not cure him! » exclaims Thomas.
« It would be also fair. A friend... He helps so much... A just man... » murmurs Bartholomew.
« Ah! with regard to justice, he is just indeed. I think you have persuaded yourself of that these last days... » says the Zealot to Bartholomew.
« Yes, that's true. And also what you imply is true. I was not quite convinced of his justice... Because of their familiarity with Gentiles, because of the education they received from their father who was very, very... I would say inclined to yield to new forms of life different from ours... »
« Their mother was an angel » says Simon Zealot decidedly.
« Perhaps that is the reason why they are just... Let us overlook Mary's past. She is now redeemed... » says Philip.
« Yes, but all that made me suspicious. Now I am really convinced, and I am surprised that the Master... »
« My Brother knows how to appraise the merits of men. We suffered as well for a long time from a natural human jealousy, because we saw that strangers were more gratified than the members of our family. But now we have understood that the error was in our way of thinking and that He was right. We considered His behaviour as being indifferent, and as a depreciation and incomprehension of our value. Now we have understood. He prefers to draw to Himself those who are deformed and unformed. He... with His infinite means, entices the souls that are most wretched and remote and thus more exposed to danger. Do you remember the parable of the lost sheep? The truth, the key to His way of behaving is in that parable. When He sees his faithful sheep follow Him or stay where or how He wishes, His spirit is at peace. And He makes use of that peace to pursue the lost sheep. He knows that we love Him, that Lazarus and his sisters love Him, that the women disciples and the shepherds love Him, and so He does not lose His time with us with any special trial of love. He always loves us. He has us in His heart all the time. We ourselves enter it and we do not want to come out of it. But the others... sinners, those who are misled!... He must run after them, He has to draw them to Himself with love, miracles and His power. And He does that. Lazarus, Mary and Martha will continue to love Him even without a miracle... » says James of Alphaeus.
« That is true. But... What did He mean with His last greeting? You heard Him say: “The love of the Lord for you will be revealed in proportion to your love. And remember that love has two wings to be perfect, and the more unbounded they are, the more perfect love is: faith and hope” » says Andrew.
« Of course! What did He mean? » several of them ask.
There is silence. Then Thomas with a deep sigh concludes an interior speech of his own: « ...But His good patience does not always win redemptions. I also have suffered at time because of the predilections He shows for Judas of Kerioth... »
« Predilection? I don't think so. He reproaches him as He does with any of us... » says Andrew.
« According to justice, yes. But consider how much more severity that man would deserve... »
« That is true. »
« Well, I suffered many times because of that. But now I realise that He certainly does so because... he is the most imperfect amongst us. »
« The most wretched, you must say, Thomas! The most wretched. You think that His sadness (and he points at Jesus Who is walking ahead of them, all alone, absorbed in His grief) is brought about by Lazarus' disease and by the tears of his sisters. I say that it is brought about by Judas' absence. He was hoping to be met by him on the way when He was going to Bethabara. He was hoping to find him at least at Jericho, Tekoah or when He came back to Bethany. Now He no longer hopes. He is now sure of Judas' evildoing. I have watched Him all the time... and I noticed that His face looked utterly desolate when you, Bartholomew, said: “Judas has not come” » says Thaddeus.
« But He is aware of events before they take place, I am certain of that! » exclaims John.
« Of many, not of all of them. I think that His Father conceals some of them from Him, out of pity » says the Zealot.
The eleven are divided into two parties, some agree to one version, some to the other, and each states his reasons supporting his own.
John exclaims: « Oh! I do not want to listen to either, not even to myself! We are all poor men, and we cannot see things right. I am going to Jesus and I will ask Him. »
« No. He might be thinking of something else and this question may remind Him of Judas and make Him more grieved » says Andrew.
« No. I will certainly not tell Him that we were speaking of Judas. I will ask Him so... without any reference. »
« Go then. It may help Him to take His mind off sad thoughts. Don't you see how sad He is? » says Peter pushing John.
« I am going. Who is coming with me? »
« Go by yourself. He speaks to you without reserve. And then you will tell us... »
John goes away. « Master! »
« John! What do you want? » and Jesus with a smile that brightens His face embraces His dearest apostle with one arm, holding him close to Himself while walking.
« We were talking among ourselves and we were uncertain about one thing. This: whether You know all the future or is part of it hidden from You. Some of us said one thing, some another. »
« And what did you say? »
« I said that the best thing was to ask You. »
« And so You came. You did the right thing. This gives you and Me the opportunity to enjoy a moment of love... Only so rarely now we can have some peace!... »
« It's true! How beautiful the early days were!... »
« Yes. For the man, which we are, they were more beautiful. But for the spirit which is in us, these days are better. Because the word of God is better known and because we suffer more. The more one suffers, the more one redeems, John... So, although we remember the happy days, we must be more fond of these ones that grieve us, and through grief they give us souls. But I will answer your question. Listen. I know as God. And I know as man. I know future events because I am with the Father since before time and I see beyond time. As a man free from imperfections and limitations connected with the Sin and with sins, I have the gift of introspection of hearts. Such gift is not limited only to the Christ. But in different degrees it is in all those who, having achieved holiness, are so united to God that one can say that they do not act by themselves, but through the Perfection existing in them. So I can reply to you that as God I am aware of the future of centuries, and as a just man I know the state of hearts. »
John is pensive and silent. Jesus leaves him alone for a moment, then says: « For instance now I see this thought in you: “Then my Master knows the state of Judas of Kerioth exactly!” »
« Oh! Master! »
« Yes. I know. I know and I will continue to be his Master, and I would like you to continue to be his brothers. »
« Holy Master!... But do You really always know everything? See, at times we say that it is not so, because You go to places where You find enemies. Before going, do You know that You will find them, and You go there to fight them with Your love, to gain them to love, or... do you not know and do You see Your enemies only when they are in front of You and You read their hearts? Once You said to me - You were very depressed even then, and always for the same reason - You said that You were like one who cannot see... »
« I experienced also that torture of man: to have to proceed without seeing, relying entirely on Providence. I must be acquainted with everything pertaining to man, with the exception of consumed sin. Not because of a protective barrier placed by My Father against the flesh, the world and the demon, but because of My will of man. I am like you. But I have a stronger will-power than you. So I am subject to temptation but I do not yield to them. And My merit lies in that, as it does for you. »
« You tempted!... It seems almost impossible to me... »
« Because temptations do not affect you very much. You are pure, and you think that I, being purer than you, should not experience temptation. In fact the carnal one is so weak as compared with My chastity, that it is never perceived by My ego. It is as if a petal struck a solid piece of granite. It skims it... The very demon is tired of shooting that arrow at Me. But, John, do you not consider how many other temptations there are around Me? »
« Around You? You do not crave for riches or honours... So which are they?... »
« And do you not take into consideration that I have a life, affections, and duties towards My Mother, and that such things tempt Me to avoid the danger? The Snake calls it “danger”. But its true name is “Sacrifice”. And do you not think that I have feelings, too? My moral ego is present in Me and suffers offences, derision, double-dealing. Oh! My John! Do you realise how loathsome falsehood and liars are to Me? Do you know how many times the demon tempts Me to react against these things that grieve Me, by relinquishing My meekness and becoming hard-hearted and intolerant? And lastly, do you not consider how many times he blows his breath burning with pride, and says: “Be proud of this or that. You are great. The world admires You. The elements are at your service!” The temptation to delight in being holy! The most subtle one! How many lose the holiness already acquired, because of such pride! How did Satan corrupt Adam? By tempting his sensuality, his thought, his spirit. Am I not the Man Who must recreate man? The new mankind is to come from Me. And there is Satan trying the same means to destroy, and for good, the race of the children of God. Now go to your companions and repeat My words to them. And do not wonder whether I know or do not know what Judas is doing. Consider that I love you. Is that thought not sufficient to fill a heart? » He kisses him and dismisses him.
And when He is once again all alone, He raises His eyes to the sky that can be seen through the branches of the olive-trees and He says in a plaintive voice: « Father! Grant Me at least this, that I may be able to conceal the Crime until the last hour, to prevent My beloved disciples from staining their hands with blood. Have mercy on them, Father! They are too weak to refrain from reacting against offence! Let there be no hatred in their hearts in the hour of perfect Love! » and He wipes the tears that God only sees..