17th January 1947.
It must be another Sabbath because the apostles are once again all together in the house of Mary of Jacob.
The children are still with them, near Jesus, by the fireside. And just because of that Judas Iscariot says: « So a week has gone by and their relatives have not come » and he laughs shaking his head.
Jesus does not reply to him. He caresses the second-born son.
Judas asks Peter and James of Alphaeus: « And you say that you went along the two roads that take one to Shechem? »
« Yes, we did. But thinking it over, it was quite useless. Highwaymen certainly do not take busy roads, particularly now that Roman squads patrol them continuously » replies James of Alphaeus.
« Why did you go along them, then? » insists the Iscariot.
« Well!... It's the same to us to go here or there. So we took those. »
« And was nobody able to tell you anything? »
« We did not ask anybody. »
« And how were you expecting to know whether they had passed or not? Do people carry banners or leave traces when they go along a road? I don't think so. Because otherwise we would have been found at least by our friends. Instead not one of them has been here since we came » and he laughs sarcastically.
« We do not know why no one has come here. The Master knows. We don't. When people withdraw to a place unknown to everybody, as we did, without leaving any trace of their passage, no one can go to them unless one is informed of the place of their refuge. Now we do not know whether our Brother has told our friends » says James of Alphaeus patiently.
« Oh! Would you believe or make us believe that He did not tell at least Lazarus and Nike? »
Jesus does not say anything. He takes one of the children by the hand and goes out...
« I do not want to believe anything. But even if it is as you say, you and none of us can yet pass judgement on the reasons for our friends' absence... »
« Those reasons are easily understood! No one wishes to have trouble with the Sanhedrin, least of all who is rich and powerful. That's all! We are the only ones who are good at endangering our lives. »
« Be fair, Judas! The Master did not force any of us to stay with Him. Why did you stay, if the Sanhedrin frightens you? » remarks James of Alphaeus.
« And you can go away whenever you wish. You are not in chains... » says the other James, the son of Zebedee.
« No! Never! We are here, and we are staying here. All of us. Who wanted to go away, should have gone away before. Not now. I oppose that, if the Master does not » says Peter slowly but decidedly, striking the table with his fist.
« Why? Who are you that you want to give orders instead of the Master? » Judas asks him violently.
« A man who reasons not like God, as He does, but as a man. »
« Are you suspecting me? Do you think I am a traitor? » asks Judas excitedly.
« You have said it. Not because I think that you would do it deliberately; but you are so... thoughtless, Judas, so fickle! And you have too many friends. And you are too keen on standing out, in everything. Oh! you would not be able to keep quiet! You would speak, either to confute some wicked enemy, or to show that you are the Apostle. So you are here and you are staying here. This way you will do no harm and you will not feel any remorse. »
« God does not force the freedom of man, but you wish to do so? »
« Yes, I do. But after all, tell me. Is it raining on you? Have you not enough bread? Is the air harmful to you? Do the people offend you? None of all that. The house is solid, even if it is not a rich one, the air is good, we have never been short of food, the people honour you. So why are you so restless here, as if you were in jail? »
« “There are two nations that my soul detests, and the third one hated by me is not even a nation: the inhabitants of Mount Seir, the Philistines and the stupid people living at Shechem.” I have replied to you with the words of the Wise Man. And I am right in thinking so. Consider whether these people love us! »
« H'm! To tell you the truth I don't think that the other peoples, yours and mine, are much better. We were pelted with stones in Judaea and in Galilee, in Judaea even more than in Galilee, and in the Temple in Judaea more than in any other place. I cannot say that we have been ill-treated in the territory of the Philistines, or here, or anywhere else... »
« Anywhere else? We have not been anywhere else, fortunately. But even if we had had to go somewhere else I would not have come with you, neither will I come in future. I do not want to get more contaminated. »
« Contaminated That is not what worries you, Judas of Simon. You do not want to alienate those of the Temple. That is what troubles you » says calmly Simon Zealot, who has remained in the kitchen with Peter, James of Alphaeus and Philip. The others have gone out, one after the other together with the two boys and have joined the Master. A meritorious flight as it was made to avoid being uncharitable.
« No. Not because of that. But because I do not like to waste my time and give wisdom to fools. Look! What good has it served to take Ermasteus with us? He went away and has never come back. Joseph told us that he parted from him saying that he would come back for the feast of the Tabernacles. Have you seen him? A renegade... »
« I do not know why he has not come back and I cannot judge him. But I ask you: is he the only one who left the Master and has become His enemy? Are there no renegades among us Judaeans and among the Galileans? Can you prove that? »
« No. It's true. But I am ill at ease here. If they only knew that we are here! If they knew that we familiarise with the Samaritans to the extent of going to their synagogues on Sabbaths! He wants that... Woe to us if we were found out! The charge would be justified... »
« And you mean that the Master would be condemned. But He is already condemned. He has been condemned before people know. Nay He was condemned after He raised a Judaean from the dead in Judaea. He is hated and accused of being a Samaritan and the friend of publicans and prostitutes. He has been... all the time. And you know better than anybody else whether He has been hated. »
« What do you mean, Nathanael? What do you mean? What have I got to do with that? What do I know more than you do? » He is very excited.
« You look like a mouse surrounded by enemies, my boy! But you are not a mouse, neither are we provided with clubs to capture and kill you. Why are you so frightened? If you are at peace with your conscience, why do you become upset over innocent words? What did Bartholmai say to make you so excited? Is it not true that no one more than we, His apostles, who sleep and live near Him, can be aware and witness that He does not love the Samaritan, the publican, the sinner, the prostitute, but He loves their souls, and He takes care of them alone, and only because of them He goes with Samaritans, publicans and prostitutes, and only the Most High knows what effort His Most Pure Son must make to approach what we men and sinners call “filth”? You do not understand and you do not know Jesus yet, my boy! You know Him less than the very Samaritans, Philistines, Phoenicians and any other peoples you may wish... » says Peter and he utters the last words sadly.
Judas does not speak any more and also the others become silent.
The old woman comes back in saying: « In the street there are some people from the town. They say that it is the Sabbath prayer time and that the Master has promised to speak... »
« I will go and tell Him, woman. You can tell those from Ephraim that we are coming » replies Peter and he goes out into the kitchen garden to inform Jesus.
« What are you going to do? Are you coming? If you do not want to come, go away, go out before He is grieved by your refusal » says the Zealot to Judas.
« I am coming with you. One cannot speak here! I seem to be the greatest sinner. Every word of mine is misunderstood. »
As Jesus enters the kitchen, they stop speaking.
They go out into the street and join the people from Ephraim and they go into town with them. They stop only when they are before the synagogue, at the door of which there is Malachi, who greets them and invites them to go in.
I do not notice any difference between the Samaritan place of prayer and those I have seen in other regions. There are always the usual lights, the usual lecterns or shelves with rolls, the seat of the head of the synagogue or of the person who teaches in his stead. If anything, the rolls are much fewer here than in the other synagogues.
« We have already said our prayers while waiting for You. If You wish to speak... Which roll do You want, Master? »
« I do not need any. In any case you would not have what I wish to explain » (1) replies Jesus, and He then turns towards the people and begins to speak:
(1) Of all the Books of the Bible the Samaritans accepted only the five Books of the Pentateuch.
« When the Hebrews were sent back to their country by Cyrus, the king of the Persians, so that they might rebuild Solomon's Temple that had been destroyed fifty years previously, the altar was rebuilt on its base, and the daily holocaust was offered on it morning and evening, as well as the extraordinary one on the first day of each month and those of the solemnities sacred to the Lord and the holocausts of voluntary offerings made by individuals. Later, after accomplishing what is essential and indispensable for the cult, in the second year after their return, they began to deal with what can be called the frame of the cult, its outward appearance, which is not guilty because it is done to honour the Eternal Father, but it is not indispensable. Because the cult of God is love for God, and love is perceived and consumed in one's heart, not by means of dressed stones, precious woods, gold and perfumes. All that is outward appearance that aims more at satisfying one's national or civic pride than at honouring the Lord.
God wants the Temple of the spirit. He is not satisfied with a Temple of walls and marbles that is devoid of spirits full of love. I solemnly tell you that the temple of a pure loving heart is the only one that God loves and in which He dwells with His light, and that foolish are the contests that divide regions and towns with regard to the beauty of their places of prayer. Why vie in the riches and ornaments of the houses in which God is invoked? Can the finite satisfy the Infinite, even if it were a finite ten times more beautiful than Solomons' Temple and all the royal palaces put together? God, the Infinite Who cannot be contained and honoured by any space or by any material magnificence, finds one place only worthy of honouring Him as befits Him, and He can be, nay He wants to be contained in the heart of man, because the spirit of a just man is a temple over which the Spirit of God hovers, among the perfumes of love; and it will soon be a temple in which the Spirit will really dwell, One and Trine, as It is in Heaven.
And it is written that as soon as the masons had laid the foundations of the Temple, the priests went with their ornaments and trumpets and the Levites with cymbals, according to David's orders. And they sang that “God is to be praised because He is good and His mercy is everlasting.” And the people rejoiced. But many priests, heads of families, Levites, elderly people were shedding torrents of tears thinking of the previous Temple, and thus the sound of the people's weeping could not be distinguished from the shouts of joy, as they were so confused. And we also read that the peoples of nearby districts disturbed those who were building the Temple to avenge themselves on the builders who had rejected them when they had offered to build with them, as they also sought the God of Israel, the Only True God. And those disturbances interrupted the work until God was pleased to let them continue. That is what we read in the book of Ezra.
How many and what lessons does the passage that I mentioned give us? First of all the one already mentioned on the necessity that the cult is perceived by one's heart and not professed by stones or wood or also by clothes or cymbals and songs, which are devoid of the spirit. Then that the lack of reciprocal love is always the cause of delays and trouble, even when a good purpose is involved. Where there is no charity, God is not there either. It is useless to seek God unless we put ourselves in a suitable condition to find Him. God is found in charity. He or those who settle in charity find God also without having to make any painful search. And he who has God with him is successful in all his enterprises.
In the psalm that sprang from the heart of a wise man after meditating on the painful events that accompanied the reconstruction of the Temple and of the walls it is said: “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain the masons toil at it. If the Lord does not guard the city and protect it, in vain the sentries watch.”
Now how can God build the house, if He knows that its inhabitants do not have Him in their hearts, since they do not love their neighbours? And how will He protect the city and give strength to its defenders, if He cannot be in them as they are devoid of Him through their hatred for their neighbours? Has it helped you, peoples, to be divided by barriers of hatred? Has it made you greater? Richer? Happier? Neither hatred nor rancour is ever of any avail, he who is alone is never strong, he who does not love is never loved. And it is of no use, as the psalm says, to get up before daybreak to become great, rich and happy. Let every man rest to console himself in the sorrows of life, because sleep is a gift of God as is light and all the other things that man enjoys; let every man rest but let him have charity as his companion in his sleep and in his watch, and his work, his family and his business will thrive, and above all his spirit will prosper and conquer the royal crown of the children of the Most High and heirs to His Kingdom.
It is written that while the crowd was singing hosannas, some people were shedding torrents of tears because they were thinking of and regretting the past. But it was not possible to distinguish the different voices in the clamour of shouts.
Children of Samaria! And you, My apostles, children of Judaea and of Galilee! Also nowadays there are people who sing hosannas and people who weep while the new Temple of God is rising on eternal foundations. Also nowadays there are people who hinder the work and people who seek God where He cannot be found. Also nowadays some people want to build according to Cyrus' order and not according to God's, that is according to the order of the world and not according to the voices of the spirit. And also nowadays there are people who weep with foolish human regret over an inferior past, a past that was neither good nor wise, so much so that it roused the anger of God. Also nowadays we have all those situations, as if we were still in the obscurity of remote days and not in the days of Light.
Open your hearts to the Light, fill yourselves with the Light, so that at least you, to whom I-Light am speaking, may see. This is the new time in which everything is rebuilt. But woe to those who will refuse to enter it and will hinder those who are building the Temple of the new faith, of which I am the corner Stone and to which I will give My whole self to make mortar for the stones, so that the building may rise holy and strong, admirable for ages, as wide as the Earth that will be completely covered by its light. I say light, not shadow, because My Temple will be made of spirits, not of opaque matters. I shall be its stone with My Eternal Spirit, and all those who follow My word and the new faith will be incorporeal bright holy stones for it. And the light will spread over the Earth, the light of the new Temple, and will cover it with wisdom and holiness. And only those will be left out of it who with impure tears weep and regret the past, because it was for them the source of completely human profits and honours.
Open to the new time and to the new Temple, o men of Samaria! Everything is new in it, and the ancient separations and borders, of thought and spirit, no longer exist. Sing, because the exile out of the city of God is about to come to an end. Are you happy to be considered as exiles and lepers by the other peoples of Israel? Do you rejoice feeling that you are like people rejected by the bosom of God? Because that is what you feel, what your souls feel, your poor souls, which are closed in your bodies and are under the control of your arrogant thought that refuses to say to other men: “We erred, but like lost sheep we are now going back to the Fold.” You do not want to say that to other men: and that is wrong. But at least say so to God. Even if you stifle the cries of your souls, God hears their groaning, as they are unhappy to be exiled from the house of the universal and most holy Father.
Listen to the words of the gradual psalm. You really are pilgrims who for ages have been going towards the high city, towards the true Jerusalem, the celestial one. From there, from Heaven, your souls descended to vivify a body, and they sigh to go back there. Why do you want to sacrifice your souls and disinherit them of the Kingdom? Which fault is theirs if they descended into bodies conceived in Samaria? They come from Only One Father. They have the same Creator as the souls of Judaea and Galilee, of Phoenicia and of the Decapolis. God is the aim of every spirit. Every soul tends to that God, even if all kinds of idolatry, or baleful heresies, schisms, or lack of faith, keep it in the ignorance of the true God, an ignorance that would be absolute if the soul did not have an indelible embryonal remembrance of the Truth and did not yearn for it. Oh! make that remembrance and yearning grow greater. Open the doors to your souls. Let the Light enter! Let the Life enter! Let the Truth enter! Let the Way be open! Let everything gush in brightly and vitally, like the rays of sunlight and the waves and the winds of equinoxes, so that the plant may grow from its embryo and rise upwards, closer and closer to its Lord.
Come out from your exile! Sing with Me: “When the Lord brings captives home, their souls seem to dream with joy. Our mouths are filled with smiles and our lips with songs. We shall now say: 'The Lord has worked marvels for us.' ” Yes, the Lord has done great things for you and you will be overflowing with delight.
Oh! My Father! I pray to You for them as I pray for everybody. O Lord, let these prisoners of ours come back home, because, for You and for Me, they are prisoners in the chains of obstinate error. Lead them back, of Father, like a torrent that flows into the great river, lead them to the great sea of Your mercy and peace. My servants and I, shedding tears, are sowing Your truth in them. Father, grant that at the time of the great harvest, we, Your servants in teaching Your Truth, may reap the chosen corn of Your granaries with joy in these furrows, which now seem spread only with bramble and poison. Father! Father! Through our fatigue, and tears, and grief, and labours, and dead companions, who were and will be our companions in sowing, grant that we may come to You carrying, as sheaves, the choice part of this people, the souls reborn to Justice and Truth for Your glory. Amen. »
The silence, which was really impressive, so absolute as it was in such a large crowd that filled the synagogue and the square in front of it, is broken by a whispering that grows louder and louder and becomes a murmur... a cry... a hosanna. The crowds gesticulate, comment and applaud...
What a difference from the conclusion of the speeches in the Temple! Malachi says on behalf of everybody: « You only can tell the truth thus, without offending and mortifying anybody! You are really the Holy One of God! Pray for our peace. We have been hardened by ages of... beliefs and by ages of insults. And we must break this hard crust of ours. Bear with us. »
« Even more than that: I love you. Be of good will, and the crust will break by itself. May the Light come to you. »
He makes His way through the crowd and goes out followed by the apostles.