9th December 1946.
It is impossible to stand still in the cold windy morning. A biting wind blowing on the top of the Moriah from north-east is causing garments to flutter and eyes and faces to redden. And yet there are people who have come up to the Temple to pray. But there are no rabbis with their respective groups of disciples. And the Court looks larger and above all more dignified, deprived of the bawling pompous gang that usually dwells there.
And it must be very odd to see it so empty, because everybody is surprised, as if it were something new. And Peter becomes suspicious as well. But Thomas, who looks even more robust, enveloped as he is in a wide heavy mantle, says: « They must have locked themselves in some room, lest they should lose their voices. Are you missing them? » and he laughs.
« Not I! I wish I never saw them again! But I would not like it to be... » and he looks at the Iscariot who is silent, but when he is aware of Peter's glance at him, he says: « Actually they promised not to trouble us any more, unless the Master... should scandalise them. They will certainly be watching us, but as no one here sins or offends, they are not showing themselves. »
« So much the better. And may the Lord bless you, boy, if you succeeded in making them reason. »
It is still early. There are only few people in the Temple. I say « few », and that is what they seem to be, because of its vastness, considering that it takes crowds of people to make it look full. Two or three hundred people are hardly noticed in that complex of courts, porches, halls, corridors...
Jesus, the only Master in the vast Court of the Gentiles, is walking up and down speaking to His disciples and to the other ones He already found in the enclosure of the Temple. He replies to their objections or questions, He clarifies points that they were not able to clarify to themselves and to other people.
Two Gentiles come, they look at Him and go away without saying anything. Two employees of the Temple pass by, they look at Him, but they do not say anything either. Some believers approach Him, they greet Him and listen to Him. But they are still few.
« Are we staying here any longer? » asks Bartholomew.
« It is cold and there is nobody. But it is pleasant to be here so peacefully. Master, today You really are in the House of Your Father. And as the landlord » says James of Alphaeus smiling. And he adds: « This is what the Temple must have looked like in the days of Nehemiah and of the wise pious kings. »
« I think we should go. They are spying upon us from over there... » says Peter.
« Who? Pharisees? »
« No. Those who passed by previously, and others. Let us go away, Master... »
« I am waiting for some sick people. They saw Me come into town, and the news must have already spread. They will come when it is warmer. Let us stay at least until one third of the sixth hour » replies Jesus. And He resumes walking backwards and forwards to avoid standing still in the biting air.
In fact, shortly afterwards, when the sun tries to mitigate the effects of the north wind, a woman comes with a sick girl and asks Jesus to cure her. Jesus contents her. The woman lays her offering at Jesus' feet saying: « This is for other children who are suffering. » The Iscariot picks up the money.
Later, they bring on a litter an elderly man, whose legs are diseased. And Jesus cures him.
The third to come is a group of people who ask Jesus to go outside the walls of the Temple to drive a demon out of a girl, whose rending cries can be heard even in there. And Jesus sets out behind them, going out into the street that takes one to town. Some people, among whom there are foreigners, have gathered round those who are holding the young girl, who is frothing at the mouth, writhing and rolling her eyes. She is uttering all sorts of coarse words and the more Jesus approaches her, the more she utters them and the more she struggles. Four young sturdy men are holding her with difficulty. And with insults she utters cries recognising the Christ and anxious entreaties of the spirit possessing her not to be driven out. And she monotonously repeats also some truths:
« Away! Don't let me see that cursed one! Go away! The cause of our ruin. I know who You are. You are... You are the Christ. You are... No other oil anointed You but that from up there. The power of Heaven covers and protects You. I hate You! Cursed one! Don't expel me. Why do You drive us out and You do not want us, whilst You are keeping close to Yourself a legion of demons in one man only? Don't You know that the whole of hell is in one man only? Of course You know... Let me stay here, at least until the hour of... » His words stop at times, as if they were choked, at times they change, or they stop first and then they are drawled amid cruel howls, as when she shouts: « At least allow me to go into him. Don't send me down into the Abyss! Why do You hate us, o Jesus, Son of God? Are You not satisfied with what You are? Why do You want to rule also over us? We do not want orders! Why have You come to persecute us, since we denied You? Go away! Don't pour the fire of Heaven on us! Your eyes! When they become extinguished, we will laugh... Ha! No! Not even then... You defeat us! You defeat us! May You be cursed and Your Father Who sent You, and He Who proceeds from You and is You... Ha! »
The last shout is really dreadful, the howl of a creature being slaughtered with a murderous sword piercing it slowly, and it is brought about by the fact that Jesus, after interrupting the words of the possessed girl several times, by means of a mental order, puts an end to them touching the forehead of the girl with His finger. And the shout ends in a frightful convulsion until with a loud noise resembling a guffaw and the howl of a wild beast in a nightmare, the demon leaves her shouting: « But I am not going far... Ha! Ha! Ha! » immediately followed by a sharp crash like that of a thunderbolt, although the sky is perfectly clear.
Many people run away in terror. Many crowd even closer to watch the girl who has calmed down all of a sudden, collapsing into the arms of those supporting her. She remains thus for a few moments, then she opens her eyes, she smiles, she realises that she is among people with no veil on her head and face, she lowers her head, to conceal it by raising her arm against her face.
Those who are with her would like her to thank the Master. But He says: « Do not disturb her modesty. Her soul is already thanking Me. Take her home, to her mother. It is the right place for a girl... » and leaving the people behind Him He goes back to the Temple, to the same place as before.
« Lord, did You notice that many Judaeans followed us? I recognised some of them... There they are over there! They are the ones who were spying upon us previously. Look how they are discussing among themselves... » says Peter.
« They must be discussing into which of them the demon has gone. There is also Nahum, Annas' trustee. He is the right type... » says Thomas.
« Yes. But you did not see because you had your back turned on him. But the fire burst out just over his head » says Andrew while his teeth are almost chattering. « I was close to him and I got a fright!... »
« Actually, they were all gathered together. But I saw the fire burst over us and I thought I was going to die... And more than that, I trembled for the Master. It seemed to be suspended over His head » says Matthew.
« Not at all. I saw it come out of the girl and burst over the wall of the Temple » states Levi, the shepherd disciple.
« Do not argue with one another. The fire did not point out at anybody. It was only the sign that the demon had fled » says Jesus.
« But he said that he was not going far!... » objects Andrew.
« Words of a demon... They are not to be listened to. Let us instead praise the Most High for these three children of Abraham whose bodies and souls have been cured. »
In the meantime many Judaeans, who have come out from here and there - but there is neither a Pharisee, nor a scribe, nor a priest in their group - approach Jesus and surround Him, and one of them comes forward saying: « You have done great things today! The real work of a prophet, of a great prophet. And the spirits of the abyss have said great things of You. But their words cannot be accepted unless Your word confirms them. We are dismayed at those words. But we are seriously afraid of being deceived because Beelzebub is known to be the spirit of falsehood. We would not like to be mistaken or to be deceived. So tell us who You are, speaking the truth and justice. »
« Have I not told you many times who I am? I have been telling you for almost three years, and before Me, John told you at the Jordan and the Voice of God from Heaven. »
« That is true. But we were not there then. We... Since You are just, You must understand our worry. We would like to believe that You are the Messiah. But too often the people of God has been deceived by false Christs. With an unerring word comfort our hearts that are hoping and waiting, and we will worship You. »
Jesus looks at them severely. His eyes seem to be piercing their flesh and laying their hearts bare. He then says: « Very often men can really tell lies better than Satan. No, you will not worship Me. You never will, no matter what I tell you. And even if you did, whom would you worship? »
« Whom? Our Messiah! »
« Would you be worth so much? Who is the Messiah according to you? Tell Me, that I may know what you are worth. »
« The Messiah? The Messiah is he who by God's order will gather together the scattered people of Israel making it the triumphant people under whose power the whole world will be subject. What? Do You not know what the Messiah is? »
« I know, but not as you know. So according to you is He a man Who excelling David and Solomon and Judas Maccabee will make Israel the Nation that will rule over the world? »
« That is what He is. God promised it. All vengeance, all glory, all vindication will come from the promised Messiah. »
« It is written: “You shall worship no one but the Lord your God.” Why then should you worship Me if in Me you can only see the Man-Messiah? »
« What else should we see in You? »
« What? And have you come to question Me with such feelings? Race of sly and venomous vipers! And sacrilegious as well. Because if you could see in Me only the human Messiah and you worshipped Me, you would be idolaters. God only is to be adored. And I solemnly tell you once again that He Who is speaking to you is greater than the Messiah, who you pretend has the missions and duties and powers that you, devoid of spirit and wisdom, imagine. The Messiah is not coming to give His people a kingdom such as you believe, He is not coming to take vengeance upon other powerful people. His Kingdom is not of this world and His power exceeds all the limited power of the world. »
« You are humiliating us, Master. If You are a Master and we are ignorant, why do You not want to teach us? »
« I have been doing that for three years, and you are more and more in darkness because you reject the Light. »
« It is true. Perhaps it is true. But what happened in the past, may not take place in the future. What? You Who pity publicans and prostitutes and You absolve sinners, are You going to be merciless towards us, only because we are stubborn people and we find it difficult to understand who You are? »
« It is not that you find it difficult. The trouble is that you do not want to understand. To be dull-witted would not be a fault. God has so much light that He could enlighten the dullest intellect providing it were full of good will. You lack that will. Nay you have the very opposite will. That is why you do not understand who I am. »
« It may be as You say. You can see how humble we are. But we beg You in the name of God. Answer our questions. Do not keep us in doubt any longer. How long must our minds be uncertain? If You are the Christ, tell us openly. »
« I have told you. I told you in your houses, in your squares, in the streets, in villages, upon the mountains, along rivers, in front of the sea and the deserts, in the Temple, in your synagogues, in your markets, and you do not believe Me. There is no place in Israel where My voice has not been heard. Even the places that abusively have borne the name of Israel for ages, but are separated from the Temple, even the places that gave the name to this Land of ours, but from rulers have become subjects, and never got completely rid of their errors to come to the Truth, even Syro-Phoenicia, shunned by rabbis as the land of sin, have heard My voice and known who I am. I told you, and you do not believe My words. I acted, and you have not paid attention to My action with good spirit. If you had done that, with the right intention of making sure about Me, you would have ended by having faith in Me, because the deeds I accomplish in the name of My Father bear witness to Me. Those of good will who have followed Me because they recognised Me as the Shepherd, have believed in Me and in the witness that My deeds bear. What? Do you perhaps think that what I do has no beneficial purpose for you? No beneficial purpose for all creatures? Do not believe it. And do not think that the benefit consists in the health of the individual, recovered through My power, or in being freed from being possessed or from the sin of this one or that one. That is a benefit limited to individuals. Too little compared with the power emanated from the supernatural source, from the source which is divine, rather than supernatural, to be considered as the only benefit. There is the collective benefit of the deeds I perform. The benefit of removing all doubts in uncertain people, of convincing opponents in addition to reinforcing the faith in believers. My Father gives Me the power to do what I do for that collective benefit, in favour of all men, present and future, because my works will bear witness to Me with all future generations and will convince them of Me. Nothing is done in the works of God without a good purpose. Always bear that in mind. Meditate on the truth. »
Jesus stops for a moment. He gazes at a Judaean who is standing with his head lowered and then He says:
« You who are so pensive over there, you with the tunic the shade of ripe olives, you are wondering whether even Satan has good purposes. Do not be foolish in order to oppose Me and find errors in My words. My reply to you is that Satan is not the work of God, but of the free will of the rebellious angel. God had made him His glorious minister and thus had created him for a good purpose. Now, speaking to your own ego, you are saying: “Then God is foolish because He gave glory to a future rebel and entrusted His Will to a disobedient angel.” I reply to you: “God is not foolish but He is perfect in His thoughts and deeds. He is the Most Perfect One. Creatures are imperfect, even the most perfect ones. There is always a point of inferiority in them, as compared with God. But God, Who loves them, has granted them free will so that through it the creature may be perfected in virtue and thus become more like God Father.” And I also tell you, o mocker and shrewed seeker of sin in My words, that God draws a good purpose also from Evil brought about voluntarily: that of making men possess a glory they deserved. The victories over Evil are the crowns of the chosen ones. If Evil could not give rise to good consequences for people full of good will, God would have destroyed it. Because nothing in Creation must be completely devoid of incentives or good consequences.
Are you not replying to Me? Is it hard for you to have to admit that I read your heart and I defeated the unfair illations of your twisted thought? I will not compel you to do so. In the presence of so many people I will leave you to your own pride. I do not claim to be declared winner by you. But when you are alone with these people, who are like you, and with those who sent you, then do admit that Jesus of Nazareth read the thoughts of your mind and choked your objections in your throat with the only weapon of His word of truth. But let us leave this personal interruption and revert to the many people who are listening to Me. If one person only among many should convert his spirit to the Light after hearing My words, My fatigue of speaking to stones, nay, to sepulchres full of vipers, would be recompensed.
I was saying that those who love Me have recognised Me as the Shepherd because of My words and My deeds. But you do not believe, you cannot believe, because you are not My sheep.
What are you? I am asking you. Ask yourselves in the depth of your hearts. Do not be foolish. You can know yourselves for what you are. It is enough to listen to the voices of your souls that are not happy to continue offending the Son of Him Who created them. Even if you know what you are, you will not admit it. You are neither humble, nor sincere. But I will tell you what you are. You are partly wolves and partly wild goats. But none of you, notwithstanding that you wear the skins of lambs pretending to be lambs, are true lambs. Under the soft white fleece you have all the cruel colours, the pointed horns and the fangs and claws of billy-goats or wild beasts, and you want to remain such, because you delight in being such, and you dream of ferocity and rebellion. That is why you cannot love Me and you cannot follow and understand Me.
If you come into the flock, you do so to harm, to cause sorrow and to create disorder. My sheep are afraid of you. If they were like you, they should hate you. But they are not capable of hating. They are the lambs of the Prince of peace, of the Master of love, of the merciful Shepherd. And they cannot hate. They will never hate you as I will never hate you. I leave hatred to you, as it is the wicked fruit of the treble concupiscence with the unrestrained ego in the animal man, who lives forgetting that he is also a spirit, besides being flesh. I keep for Myself what is Mine: love. And I transmit it to my lambs and I offer it also to you, to make you good. If you became good, you would understand Me and you would belong to My flock, like the others who are already in it. We would love one another. I and My sheep love one another. They listen to Me, they recognise My voice.
You do not understand what it really means to know My voice. It means that one has no doubts about its origin and one can distinguish it among a thousand other voices of false prophets as the true voice that came from Heaven. Now and always, also among those who consider themselves followers of the Wisdom, and they partly are, there will be many who will not be able to tell My voice from other voices speaking of God, more or less with justice, but which will be voices inferior to Mine... »
« You always say that You will be going away soon, then You say that You will always speak? If You go away, You will not be able to speak any more » objects a Judaean in the scornful tone in which one would speak to a person of unsound mind.
Jesus replies again in His patient sorrowful tone that sounded severe only when He began to speak to the Judaeans and later, when He replied to the internal objections of a Judaean:
« I will always speak, that the world may not become completely idolatrous. And I will speak to My disciples, who have been chosen to repeat My words to you. The Spirit of God will speak, and they will understand what even wise men will not be able to understand. Because scholars will study the word, the sentence, the manner, the place, the how, the instrument through which the Word speaks, whereas My chosen ones will not get lost in such useless studies, but, lost in love, they will listen and they will understand because the Love will speak to them. They will distinguish the ornate pages of learned people or the false pages of false prophets, of the rabbis of hypocrisy, who teach polluted doctrines or teach what they do not practise, from the simple, true deep words coming from Me. But the world will hate them because of that, because the world hates Me-Light and it hates the children of the Light, the dark world that loves darkness propitious for its sins. My sheep know and will know Me and will always follow Me, also on the ways of blood and sorrow, along which I will be the first one to go, and they will come along them after Me. The ways that lead souls to Wisdom. The ways that the blood and tears of those, who are persecuted because they teach justice, will illuminate so that they may stand out in the dark fumes of the world and of Satan, and they may be like trails of stars leading those who seek the Way, the Truth, the Life, but do not find who can take them there. Because that is what souls are in need of: of a guide who may lead them to the Life, to the Truth, to the right Way.
God is merciful towards the souls that seek and do not find, not through their fault, but because of the laziness of shepherds who are like idols. God is merciful towards the souls that get lost when they are abandoned to themselves and are received by Lucifer's ministers, who are always ready to welcome those who have lost their way, to make them proselytes of their doctrines. God is merciful towards those who have been deceived only because the rabbis of God, the so-called rabbis of God, have taken no interest in them. God is merciful towards all those who come up against depression, darkness, death, through the fault of false teachers who have only the appearance of teachers and the pride of being called such. And for those poor souls, as He sent the prophets for His people, as He sent Me for the whole world, so later, after Me, He will send the servants of the Word, of Truth and Love to repeat My words. Because My words give the Life. Therefore My sheep of the present times and of the future will have the Life that I give them through My Word, and it is eternal Life for those who accept it, and they shall never perish and no one will ever be able to snatch them from My hands. »
« We have never rejected the words of the true prophets. We have always respected John, who was the last prophet » replies a Judaean angrily, and his companions echo him.
« He died in time not to be hated and persecuted also by you. If he were still alive, his “it is against the Law” uttered for an incest, would be repeated also to you as you commit spiritual adultery by fornicating with Satan against God. And you would kill him as you intend to kill Me. »
The Judaeans become angrily uproarious and are ready to strike, as they are tired feigning to be meek.
But Jesus is not worried. He raises His voice to dominate the tumult and He shouts: « And you have asked Me who I am, hypocrites? You said that you wanted to know to be certain? And now you say that John was the last prophet? And twice you condemn yourselves for lying. Once because you say that you have never rejected the words of the true prophets, and then because, by saying that John is the last prophet and that you believe the true prophets, you deny that I also am a prophet, at least a prophet, and a true one. Lying lips! Deceitful hearts! Yes, I solemnly tell you, here in the house of My Father, that I am more than a Prophet. I have what My Father gave Me. What My Father gave Me is more precious than everything and everybody, because it is something on which the will and power of men cannot lay their rapacious hands. I have what God gave Me and although it is in Me, it is still God, and no one can snatch it from the hands of My Father or from Me, because it is the same Divine Nature. My Father and I are One. »
« Ah! How horrible! Blasphemy! Anathema!! » The howling of the Judaeans resounds in the Temple, and once again the stones used by the money-changers and vendors of animals to hold their enclosures fast, supply those who are looking for suitable weapons to strike.
But Jesus rises with His arms folded on His chest. He has climbed on a stone bench to be taller and more visible and He thus dominates the crowds with His sapphire eyes. He dominates and darts piercing glances at them. He is so solemn that He paralyses them. Instead of throwing the stones, they drop them or hold them in their hands, no longer daring to throw them at Him. Also their shouting subsides in a strange bewilderment. It is really God flashing in His Christ. And when God flashes thus, even the most arrogant man becomes mean and frightened. I wonder what mystery is concealed in the fact that the Judaeans could be so cruel on Good Friday. What mystery there was in the fact that the Christ lacked that power of domination on that day. It was really the hour of Darkness, the hour of Satan, and they were the only ones who reigned... The Divinity, the Paternity of God had abandoned the Christ, Who was nothing but the Victim...
Jesus remains thus for a few moments. He then resumes speaking to that corrupt and pusillanimous rabble that has lost all arrogance seeing only a divine flash. « Well? What do you want to do? You asked Me who I was. I told you. You became furious. I reminded you of what I have done, I have shown you and reminded you of many good deeds coming from My Father and accomplished with the power given to Me by My Father. For which of those deeds are you going to stone Me? Because I taught justice? Because I brought the Gospel to men? Because I came to invite you to the Kingdom of God? Because I cured your sick people, making the blind see, the paralytic walk, the dumb speak, because I freed those who were possessed, I raised the dead, I assisted the poor, I forgave sinners, I loved everybody, also those who hate Me, you and those who sent you? So, for which of these deeds do you want to stone Me? »
« It is not because of the good actions You have done, that we want to stone You, but because of Your blasphemy, because You, Who are a man, are making Yourself God. »
« Is it not written in your Law: “I said: you are gods, and children of the Most High”? Now if God called “gods” those to whom He spoke, giving an order: to live so that the likeness and image of God existing in man may appear clearly, and man may not be a demon or a brute; if men are called “gods” in the Scriptures, all inspired by God, whereby they cannot be modified or cancelled according to the will and interest of man; why do you say to Me that I blaspheme, I Whom the Father consecrated and sent to the world, because I say: “I am the Son of God.”? If I did not work the deeds of My Father, you would be right in not believing Me. But I do them. And you do not want to believe Me. Believe at least those deeds, so that you may know and acknowledge that the Father is in Me and that I am in the Father. »
The storm of shouts and violence begins all over again and is louder than previously. From one of the terraces of the Temple, on which priests, scribes and Pharisees were certainly concealed to listen, many voices shout: « Get hold of that blasphemer. His sin is now a public one. We have all heard Him. Death to the blasphemer who proclaims Himself God! Punish Him as you punished the son of Shelomith of Dibri. Take Him out of town and stone Him! It is our right! It is written: “He who blasphemes must die.” » The incitements of the leaders stimulate the wrath of the Judaeans, who try to seize Jesus, tie Him up and hand Him over to the magistrates of the Temple, as they are already rushing there followed by the Temple guards.
But once again the legionaries are faster than they are, as watching from the Antonia they have seen the tumult and they come out of the barracks towards the spot where they are shouting. And they respect no one. The shafts of the lances fall heavily on heads and backs. And they stimulate one another with jeers and insults, to deal with the Judaeans: « Lie down, you dogs! Make way! Strike that stingy fellow hard, Licinus. Go away! Fear makes you stink more than ever! What do you eat, you dirty ravens, to be so fetid? You are right, Basso. They purify themselves, but they still stink. Look at that big-nosed fellow over there! Put them against the wall and we will take their names! And you, owls, come down from there. In any case we know you. The Centurion will have to write a good report for the garrison-commander. No! Leave that one. He is an apostle of the Rabbi. Don't you see that he looks like a man and not like a jackal? Look! Look how they are running away over there! Let them go! To have them all convinced we should have them all transfixed on our shafts! Only then they would be tamed. I wish it happened tomorrow! Ah! I caught you and you are not getting away. I saw you, you know? The first stone was yours. And you will have to answer for striking a soldier of Rome... And this one, too. He cursed us insulting our insignia. Ah? Did he? Really? Come here, we will make you love them in our prison... » And so, charging and sneering, catching some and putting some to flight, the legionaries clear the vast court.
But only when the Judaeans see two of them being arrested, they reveal themselves for what they are: real cowards! They either run away making a din like hens that see a hawk fly down towards them, or they throw themselves at the feet of the soldiers imploring mercy with revolting servility and flattery. A non-commissioned officer, to whose calf an old wrinkled man clings, one of the fiercest against Jesus, calling him « noble and just », gets rid of him with a vigorous jerk that makes the Judaean tumble three steps backwards and he shouts: «Go away, you old stingy fox. » And addressing one of his companions, showing his calf, he says: « They have nails like foxes, and slaver like snakes. Look here. By Jove Maximus! I am going to the thermae at once to get rid of the marks of that slobbery old man! » and he goes away angrily with his calf marked with scratches.
I have lost sight of Jesus completely. I could not say where He has gone or by which gate He has gone out. I only saw for some time the faces of the two sons of Alphaeus and of Thomas appear and disappear in the confusion, struggling to make their way, and the faces of some shepherd disciples intent on the same work. Then they also disappeared and I was left with the last din of the wicked Judaeans intent on running here and there to avoid being captured and identified by the legionaries, who I got the impression enjoyed themselves being able to hit the Jews hard, making up for all the hatred with which they had been gratified.