5th March 1947.
Tirzah is so surrounded by luxuriant olive-groves, that it is necessary to be very close to the town to realise that it is there. A belt of wonderful fertile vegetable gardens is the last screen of the houses. In the kitchen gardens chicory, salads, legumes, young plants of gourds, fruit-trees and bowers, blend and interlace their different green shades and their blossoms promising fruit or the little fruits promising delights. Vines and early olive-trees, blown by a rather strong breeze, shed their little blossoms spraying the ground with greenish-white snow.
From behind the screen of reeds and willows, which have grown near a dry canal, the bottom of which, however is still damp, appear the eight apostles who had been sent ahead, upon hearing the shuffling of the new-comers. They are openly upset and grieved and they beckon to the arrivals to stop. At the same time they rush forward. When they are sufficiently close to be heard without having to shout, they say: « Come away! Away! Let's go back, into the country. It is not possible to enter the town. They almost stoned us. Come away, to that thicket, and we shall speak… » And anxious as they are to go away without being seen, they push back Jesus, the three apostles, the boy and the women along the dry canal and they say: « We do not want to be seen here. Let's go! Let's go! »
In vain Jesus, Judas and Zebedee's two sons try to find out what has happened. In vain they ask: « But what about Judas of Simon? What about Eliza? » The eight do not listen to them. Walking in the tangle of stalks and water-plants, their feet cut by bog grass, their faces hurt by willows and reeds, slipping on the mud in the bottom, getting hold of weeds, seeking support on the edges and getting bespattered with mud, they move away, pressed from behind by the eight who proceed with their heads almost turned round to see whether anyone from Tirzah is following them. But there is no one on the road but the sun, which is beginning to set, and a lean stray dog.
At long last they are near a large clump of bushes that delimit a property. Behind the shrubs there is a field of flax the long stems of which, undulating in the wind, are beginning to show their sky-blue flowers.
« Here, in here. If we sit down, no one will see us and when it gets dark we shall go away… » says Peter wiping his perspiration…
« Where? » asks Judas of Alphaeus. « The women are with us. »
« We shall go somewhere. In any case the meadows are full of hay cut recently. It will do as a bed. We will make tents with our mantles for the women and we will keep watch. »
« Yes. It is sufficient not to be seen and then to go down to the Jordan at dawn. You were right, Master, in not wanting to take the road through Samaria. For poor people like us, highwaymen are better than Samaritans… » says Bartholomew, who is still panting.
« But what happened, in a word? Has Judas done some… » says Thaddeus.
Thomas interrupts him saying: « Judas has certainly been beaten. I am sorry for Eliza… »
« Have you seen Judas? »
« I have not. But it is easy to prophesy right. If he said that he is your apostle, he certainly got a thrashing. Master, they do not want You. »
« Yes. They have all revolted against You. »
« They are true Samaritans. »
They are all speaking at the same time.
Jesus imposes silence and says: « Let one only speak. You, Simon Zealot, as you are the calmest. »
« Lord, it is soon said. We entered the town and no one troubled us until they learned who we are, as long as they thought that we were pilgrims passing by. But when we asked – and we had to ask! – whether a young, tall, swarthy man, wearing a red mantel and a talith with white and red stripes, and an elderly thin woman, with almost white hair and dark grey clothes had entered the town and had looked for the Galilean Master and His companions, then they got angry at once… Perhaps we should not have spoken of You. We certainly made a mistake… But in the other places we had been received so well that… We do not understand what has happened!… Those who only three days ago were so respectful to You, are now like vipers!… »
Thaddeus interrupts him: « The work of Judaeans… »
« I do not think so. I do not think so because of what they said when they reproached and threatened us. I think… Nay, I am, we are sure that the fact that Jesus refused their offer of protection is the cause of the Samaritan fury. They were shouting: “Away! Go away, you and your Master! He wants to go and worship on the Moria. Well, let Him go and may He and all His followers die. There is no room among us for those who do not consider us as friends, but only as servants. We do not want further trouble unless there is profit as compensation. Stones, not bread for the Galilean. Our dogs should attack Him, instead of our homes receiving Him.” That, and even more than that, they were saying. And as we insisted on learning at least what had happened to Judas, they picked up stones to hit us and they really set their dogs on us. And they were shouting to one another: “Let us station ourselves at all the entrances. If He comes we will avenge ourselves.” We ran away. A woman – there is always a good soul among wicked people – pushed us into her kitchen garden and then she led us along a path through vegetable gardens to the canal, in which there was no water as they had irrigated before the Sabbath. And she hid us there. Then she promised to let us have news of Judas. But she has not come any more. But we are to wait for her here, because she said that if she does not find us in the canal, she will come here. »
There are many comments. Some continue to accuse the Judaeans. Some reproach Jesus lightly, a reproach concealed in their remarks: « You spoke too clearly at Shechem and then You went away. During the last three days they decided that there is no sense in deceiving oneself and causing damage to oneself for one who does not satisfy them… and they drive You away… » Jesus replies: « I do not regret speaking the truth and doing My duty. They do not understand at present. They will shortly understand My justice and will worship Me more than if I had had no justice or if it had been greater than My love for them. »
« There! There is the woman on the road. She is so bold as to show herself… » says Andrew.
« She will not betray us, will she? » says Bartholomew suspiciously.
« She is alone! »
« But she may be followed by people hiding in the canal… » But the woman, who is coming forward carrying a basket on her head, goes on passing the fields of flax where Jesus and the apostles are waiting, then she takes a narrow path and disappears… reappearing suddenly behind those who were waiting and who turn round almost frightened when they hear the rustling of the vegetation.
The woman speaks to the eight men she knows: « Here I am! Forgive me for keeping you waiting so long… I did not want anybody to follow me. I said that I was going to my mother's… I know… And I brought some food for you. The Master… Which is the Master? I would like to venerate Him. »
« That is the Master. »
The woman, who has laid down her basket, prostrates herself saying: « Forgive the sin of my fellow-citizens. If no one had instigated them… But many have taken advantage of Your refusal… »
« I have no grudge, woman. Stand up and speak. Have you any news of My apostle and of the woman who was with him? »
« Yes, I have. Driven out like dogs, they are out of town, on the other side, waiting for night-time. They wanted to go back, towards Enon, looking for You. They wanted to come here, as they knew that their companions were here. I told them not to do that, and to remain quiet as I will take you to them. And I will do so as soon as it gets dark. Fortunately my husband is away, so I am free to leave the house. I will take you to one of my sisters who is married down in the plain. You will sleep there, without saying who you are, not because of Merod, but because of the men who are with her. They are not Samaritans, they come from the Decapolis and are settled here. But it is always wise… »
« May God reward you. Have the two disciples been injured? »
« The man, a little. The woman, nothing. And the Most High certainly protected her because she is bold and she protected her son with her own body when the citizens began to pick up stones. Oh! what a strong woman! She shouted: “Is that how you strike a man who has not offended you? And will you not respect me, who am defending him and am a mother? Have you no mothers, since you do not respect a mother? Were you born of wolves or are you made of mud and manure?” and she looked at the assailers holding her mantle wide open to defend the man, and at the same time she was withdrawing pushing him out of town… And even now she comforts him saying: “May the Most High grant, o my Judas, that the blood you have shed for the Master may become the balm for your heart.” But it is a small wound. Perhaps the man is more frightened than hurt. But take some food now. Here is some fresh milk, for the women, and bread, cheese and fruit. I could not cook any meat. I should have been too late. And here is some wine for the men. Eat while it is getting dark. Then along safe roads we shall go to the two disciples and then to Merod's house. »
« May God reward you again » says Jesus, and He offers and divides the food, putting some aside for the two who are not present.
« No. I have seen to them, as I took them eggs and bread, which I concealed under my clothes, and some wine and oil for the wounds. This is for you. Eat now, as I will watch the road… »
They eat, but the men are devoured by indignation and the women feel listless through depression. All of them, with the exception of Mary of Magdala, as what for the others is fear or dejection affects her like a liqueur that stimulates nerves and courage. Her eyes flash with anger as she looks at the hostile town. Only the presence of Jesus, Who has already said that He has no grudge, keeps her from uttering violent words. And as she cannot speak or act, she gives vent to her anger by snapping at her innocent piece of bread in such a meaningful way that the Zealot cannot help saying to her smiling: « Luckily for those of Tirzah they cannot fall into your hands! You look like a wild beast in chains, Mary! »
« I am. You are right. And in the eyes of God, this restraining myself from going in there, as they deserve, has more value than what I have done so far to expiate. »
« Be good, Mary! God has forgiven you sins graver than theirs. »
« That is true. They have offended You once, my God, and through the instigation of other people. I many times… and by my own will… and I cannot be intolerant and proud… » She lowers her eyes on her bread and two tears fall on it.
Martha lays her hand on her sister's lap saying to her in a low voice: « God has forgiven you. Don't lose heart any more… Remember what you have had: our Lazarus… »
« It is not dejection. It is gratitude. It is emotion… And it is also the ascertainment that I am still devoid of that mercy which I received so plentifully… Forgive me, Rabboni! » she says raising her wonderful eyes to which humility has restored kindness.
« Forgiveness is never denied to humble-hearted people, Mary. »
Night is falling tinging the air with a delicate fading violet hue. Also things not far away become confused. The stalks of flax, previously visible in their beauty, have blended into a uniform dark mass. The birds among leafy branches become silent. The first star begins to shine. The first cricket chirps in the grass. It is night-time.
« We can go. Here, in the fields, we shall not be seen. Come without being afraid. I am not betraying you. And I am not doing this for retribution. I only ask Heaven to have mercy on me, for we are all in need of mercy » says the woman with a sigh.
They stand up and set out after her. They pass round Tirzah at a distance, through fields and half-dark vegetable gardens, but not so far as not to be able to see men around fires at the entrances of roads…
« They are lying in wait for us… » says Matthew.
« Cursed! » whistles Philip between his teeth.
Peter does not speak but he shakes his arms towards the sky in a silent invocation or protest.
But James and John of Zebedee, who have been speaking to each other animatedly, a little ahead of the others, come back and say: « Master, if You do not want to have recourse to punishment because of Your perfect love, shall we have it? Shall we say to the fire of heaven to descend on these sinners and devour them? You told us that we can do everything that we ask with faith and… »
Jesus, Who was walking with His head bowed, as if He were tired, suddenly straightens Himself and casts withering glances at them as His eyes flash in the moonlight. The two withdraw and become silent, frightened as they are by His glances. Jesus, His eyes fixed on them all the time, says: « You do not know what spirits are within you. The Son of man has not come to lose souls, but to save them. Do you not remember what I told you? In the parable of the wheat and the darnel I said: “For the time being let the wheat and the darnel grow together. Because if you tried to separate them now you might pull up also the wheat with the darnel. So leave them till the harvest. At harvest time I shall say to the reapers: collect the darnel now and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the good wheat into my barn.” »
Jesus has already moderated His anger towards the two who, out of wrath excited by their love for Him, were asking to punish those from Tirzah and who are now standing with their heads lowered in front of Him. He takes them by their elbows, one on His right, the other on His left side and He resumes walking, leading them thus and speaking to everybody, as they have all gathered round Him when He stopped. « I solemnly tell you that harvest time is close at hand. My first harvest. And for many there will not be a second one. But – and let us praise the Most High for this – some people who were not able to become ears of good wheat in My time, after the purification of the Passover Sacrifice, will be born again with new souls. Until that day I shall not be pitiless towards anybody… Afterwards there will be justice… »
« After Passover? » asks Peter.
« No. After the time. I am not speaking of these men of the present. I am looking at future ages. Man is renewed continuously like crops in fields. And harvests follow one another. And I will leave what is necessary for future generations to become good wheat. If they do not want to do that, at the end of the world My angels will separate the darnel from the good wheat. Then it will be the eternal Day of God alone. At present in the world it is the day of God and of Satan. The Former sows Goodness, the latter throws his damned darnel, his scandals, his wickedness, his seeds that stir up wickedness and scandals, among the seeds of God. Because there will always be those who rouse people against God, as here, with these people, who are really less guilty than those who incite them to do wrong. »
« Master, every year we purify ourselves at the Passover of the Unleavened Bread, but we always remain what we were. Will it be different this year? » asks Matthew.
« Very different. »
« Why? Explain it to us. »
« Tomorrow… Tomorrow, or when we are on the way, and Judas of Simon is with us, I shall tell you. »
« Oh! yes. You will tell us and we shall become better… In the meantime forgive us, Jesus » says John.
« I really called you with the right name. But thunder does no harm. A thunderbolt, yes, can kill. But thunder often is a forewarning of thunderbolts. The same happens to those who do not remove from their spirits every disorder that is against love. Today they ask to be allowed to punish. Tomorrow they punish without asking. The day after tomorrow they punish even without any reason. It is easy to descend… That is why I tell you to divest yourselves of all harshness against your neighbour. Do as I do and you will be certain of never doing wrong. Have you ever seen Me revenge Myself on those who grieve Me? »
« No, Master. You… »
« Master! Master! We are here. Eliza and I. Oh! Master, how worried we were about You! And how afraid I was of dying… » says Judas of Kerioth coming out from behind rows of vines and running towards Jesus. His forehead is bandaged. Eliza follows him more calmly.
« Have you suffered? Were you afraid to die? Is life so dear to you? » asks Jesus freeing Himself from Judas who embraces Him weeping.
« Not life. I was afraid of God, to die without being forgiven by You… I always offend You. I offend everybody. Also this woman… And she reacted acting as a mother to me. I felt I was guilty and I was afraid of death… »
« Oh! a beneficial fear, if it can make a saint of you! But I always forgive you, you know that, provided you are willing to repent. And what about you, Eliza? Have you forgiven him? »
« He is a big unruly boy. And I can be indulgent. »
« You have been brave, Eliza. I know. »
« If she had not been there, I do not know whether I would have seen You again, Master! »
« So you can see that she remained with you out of love, not out of hatred… Have you been injured, Eliza? »
« No, Master. The stones fell around me without hurting me. But my heart was in agony thinking of You… »
« It is all over now. Let us follow the woman who wants to take us to a safe house. »
They set forth again along a lane that is white in the moonlight and takes them eastwards.
Jesus has taken the Iscariot by the arm and has gone ahead with him. He speaks to him kindly. He tries to work upon his heart upset by his recent fear of God's judgements: « You can see, Judas, how easily one can die. Death is always on the look-out around us. You can see how what seems negligible when we are full of life becomes important, fearfully important when death skims us. But why should one wish to have such frights, why should one create them to have them present at the moment of death, when with a holy life one can ignore the terror of the impending divine judgement? Do you not think that it is worth living a just life in order to have a peaceful death? Judas, My friend. The divine paternal mercy has allowed that to happen, so that it might be an appeal to your heart. You are still in time, Judas… Why do you not want to give your Master, Who is about to die, the great, the very great joy of knowing that you have come back to Good? »
« But can You still forgive me, Jesus? »
« And would I speak to you like this if I could not? How little you still know Me! I know you. I know that you are like one who is seized by a giant octopus. But if you wanted, you could still free yourself. Oh! you would certainly suffer. It would be painful to tear off those chains that torture and poison you. But later, how much joy, Judas! Are you afraid that you may not have enough strength to react against those who influence you? I can absolve you in advance of the sin of infringing the Passover rite… You are ill. Passover is not compulsory for sick people. No one is more sick than you are. You are like a leper. Lepers do not go up to Jerusalem, while they are such. You must realise, Judas, that to appear before the Lord with an unclean spirit, such as you have, does not honour Him, but it offends Him. First it is necessary… »
« Why do You not purify and cure me, then? » asks Judas, and he already sounds hard and indocile.
« I will not cure you! When a man is ill he seeks cure by himself, unless it is a child or a fool who are devoid of will-power… »
« Treat me as such. Treat me as a fool and see to it, without my being aware of it. »
« It would not be just because you can use your will-power. You know what is good and what is evil for you. And My curing you would be of no avail without your will to remain cured. »
« Give me such will as well. »
« Give you it? So should I impose a good will on you? And your free will? What would it become? What would your ego of a man, of a free creature be? Dominated? »
« As I am dominated by Satan, I may also be dominated by God! »
« How you hurt Me, Judas! You pierce My heart! But I forgive you what you do to Me… Dominated by Satan, you said. I did not mean such a dreadful thing… »
« But You were thinking of it because You know that it is true, and because You are aware of it, if it is true that You can read the hearts of men. If it is so, You know that I am no longer free to do what I like… He has seized me and… »
« No. He approached you, tempting you, testing you, and you received him. There is no possession if at the beginning there is no assent to some satanic temptation. The snake introduces his head between the bars closely placed to defend hearts, but he would not be able to enter if man did not widen a passage to admire his alluring aspect and listen to and follow him… Only then man becomes dominated, possessed, because he wants it. God also darts the very kind lights of His paternal love from the heavens, and His lights penetrate us. Or rather: God, to Whom everything is possible, descends into the hearts of men. It is His right. Since man knows how to become a slave dominated by the Dreadful one, why does he not know how to become a servant of God, nay a son of God, and he drives away his Most Holy Father? Are you not replying to Me? Are you not telling Me why you wanted Satan and preferred him to God? And yet, you would still be in time to save yourself! You know that I am going to die. No one knows as well as you do… I do not refuse to die… I am going. I am going towards death because My death will be the Life for so many. Why do you not want to be one of them? Only for you, My friend, My poor sick friend, shall I die in vain? »
« Your death will be of no use for so many, do not delude Yourself. You had better run away and live far from here, enjoying life and teaching Your doctrine, because it is a good one, but without sacrificing Yourself. »
« Teach My doctrine! What truth could I teach, if I did the opposite of what I teach? What Master should I be if I preached obedience to the will of God and I did not obey it, and love for men and I did not love them, to renounce flesh and the world and I loved both flesh and the honours of the world, not to give rise to scandals and I scandalised not only men, but also the angels, and so forth? Satan is speaking through you just now. As he spoke at Ephraim. As he spoke and acted many times through you, to upset Me. I have recognised all such actions of Satan, accomplished through you, and I did not hate you, I did not get tired of you, but I only felt sorry, infinitely sorry. Like a mother who watches the progress of an illness that will be the cause of her son's death, I have watched the progress of evil in you. Like a father who does not regret anything provided he can find the medicines for his sick son, I regretted nothing in order to save you, I overcame disgust, anger, bitterness, dejection… Like a desolate father and mother, disappointed in all earthly power, turn to Heaven to obtain the life of their son, so I have moaned and I still moan imploring a miracle that may save you, may save you, may save you on the brink of the abyss that is already collapsing under your feet.
Judas, look at Me! Before long My Blood will be shed for the sins of men. Not one drop will be left in My veins. The clods of earth, the grass, the garments of My persecutors and Mine… the wood, the iron, the ropes, the thorns of the nabaca… and the spirits awaiting salvation will drink of it… You alone do not want to drink it? I would give all this Blood of Mine for you only. You are My friend. How willingly one dies for one's friend! To save him! One says: “I shall die. But I shall continue to live in the friend to whom I gave life.” Like a father, like a mother, who continue to live in their offspring after they have passed away. Judas, I implore you! I am not asking for anything else in this eve of My death. A convict is granted a last grace by his judges and also by his enemies, and his last wish is satisfied. I ask you not to be damned. I do not ask so much Heaven as I ask you and your will… Think of your mother, Judas. What will your mother be afterwards? And the name of your family? I appeal to your pride, which is as bold as ever, to defend you from dishonour. Do not disgrace yourself, Judas. Consider: years and ages will go by, kingdoms and empires will fall, the stars will lose their brightness, the configuration of the Earth will change, and you will always be Judas, as Cain is always Cain, if you persist in your sin. Time will come to an end, and only Paradise and Hell will remain. And in Paradise and in Hell, for the men raised from the dead and received forever with their souls and bodies where it is right for them to be, you will always be Judas, the cursed greatest culprit, if you do not mend your ways. I will descend to free the spirits from Limbo, I will lead multitudes of them out of Purgatory, and you… I shall not be able to take you where I am… Judas, I am going to die, I am going happily, because the hour I have been awaiting for millennia has come: the hour to reconcile men to their Father. I shall not reconcile many of them. But the number of those saved, whom I shall contemplate when dying, will console Me for the torture of dying in vain for so many. But, I tell you, it will be dreadful to see you, My apostle and friend, among the latter. Do not give Me such a cruel pain!… I want to save you, Judas.
Look. We are going down to the river. Tomorrow at dawn, when everybody is still sleeping, we will cross it, the two of us, and you will go to Bozrah, to Arbela, to Aera, wherever you wish. You know the houses of the disciples. At Bozrah look for Joachim and Mary, the woman I cured of leprosy. I will give you a note for them. I will say that a quiet rest in different air is necessary for your health. It is the truth, unfortunately, because your spirit is diseased and the air of Jerusalem would be lethal to you. But they will think that your body is ill. You will remain there until I come to take you away. I will see to your companions… But do not come to Jerusalem. See? I did not want the women to come, except the strongest ones among them, and those who being mothers are entitled to be near their sons. »
« Also mine? »
« No. Mary will not be in Jerusalem… »
« She is the mother of an apostle as well, and she has always honoured You. »
« Yes. And she would be entitled like the others to be near Me, Whom she loves with perfect justice. But just because of that she will not be there. Because I told her not to come, and she knows how to obey. »
« Why is she not to be there? In what is she different from the mother of Your brothers and from the mother of Zebedee's sons? »
« You. And you know why I am saying this. But if you listen to Me, if you go to Bozrah, I will send word to your mother and will have her brought to you, as being so good, she may help you to recover. Believe Me, we are the only ones to love you thus, without limit. There are three who love you in Heaven: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, Who have contemplated You and Who are awaiting your decision to make you the jewel of Redemption, the greatest prey snatched from the Abyss; and three on the Earth: your mother, My Mother and I. Make us happy, Judas! Both us in Heaven and us on the Earth, who love you with true love. »
« You have said it: only three love me; the others do not… »
« Not as we do. But they love you so much. Eliza defended you. The others were worried about you. When you are away from us, You are in everybody's heart and your name is on everybody's lips. You are not aware of all the love that surrounds you. Your oppressor conceals it from you. Believe My word. »
« I believe You. And I will try to please You. But I want to do it by myself. I went wrong by myself, by myself I must recover from evil. »
« God only can do by Himself. Your thought is a thought of pride. In pride there is still Satan. Be humble, Judas. Grasp this hand that is offered to you in a friendly way. Take shelter in this heart that opens to protect you. Here, with Me, Satan could do you no harm. »
« I have tried to be with You… I have descended lower and lower… It is useless! »
« Do not say that! Do not say that! React against discouragement. God can do everything. Cling to God. Judas! Judas! »
« Be quiet! Lest the others should hear… »
« And you are worried about the others, but not about your spirit? Poor Judas!… »
Jesus speaks no more. But He remains beside the apostle until the woman, who was a few metres ahead of them, goes into a house that appears in a thick olive-grove. Jesus then says to His disciple: « I will not sleep tonight. I will pray and wait for you… May God speak to your heart. Listen to Him… I will remain here, where I am now, to pray. Until dawn… Remember that. »
Judas does not reply to Him. The other apostles and the women have arrived and they all stop together waiting for the Samaritan woman to come back. She comes back soon. She is with another woman, who is like her, and who greets them saying: « I have not got many rooms because the pruners are already here working at the olive-trees. But I have a large barn with plenty straw in it. I have room for the women. Come. »
« Go! I am staying here to pray. Peace to all of you » says Jesus. And while the others go away, He holds back His Mother saying to Her: « I am staying to pray for Judas, Mother. Will You help Me, too? »
« Yes, I will, Son. Is his good will reviving? »
« No, Mother. But we must act as if… Heaven can do everything, Mother! »
« Yes. And I can still delude Myself. But You cannot, Son. You know. My Holy Son! But I will always imitate You. Go peacefully, My darling! Even when You are no longer able to speak to him, because he shuns You, I will try to bring him back to You. And if the Most Holy Father will only listen to My grief… Will You let me stay with You, Jesus? We will pray together… and I shall have You for Me alone all those hours… »
« Yes, stay with Me, Mother. I will wait for You here. »
Mary goes away quickly, and She is soon back.
They sit on their sacks, under the olive-trees. In the blank silence one can hear the gurgling of the river not far away and the chirping of crickets sounds louder in the silence of the night. Then nightingales begin to sing. An owl hoots and a homed owl screeches. And the stars move slowly in the firmament, as bright as queens, now that the moon has set and no longer outshines them. Then a cock breaks the calm air with its sharp crowing. Much farther away a cock replies, hardly audible. Then the silence is broken again by the arpeggio of dew drops falling from the tiles of the next-door neighbour's house on the pavement surrounding it. Then a fresh rustling of leafy branches shaking off the dampness of the night, and the isolated cry of a bird that awakes, and at the same time a change in the sky and the awakening of light. It is dawn. But Judas has not come…
Jesus looks at His Mother, as white as a lily against the dark olivetree and He says to Her: « We have prayed, Mother. God will make use of our prayer… »
« Yes, Son. You are as white as death. Your vitality has exhaled completely during the night, pressing the gates of Heaven and the decrees of God! »
« You are pale, too, Mother. Great is Your fatigue. »
« Great is My sorrow because of Your sorrow. »
The door of the house is opened cautiously… Jesus startles. But it is the woman who led them there, who comes out noiselessly. Jesus says with a sigh: « I was hoping I might have been wrong! »
The woman comes forward with her empty basket. She sees Jesus. She greets Him and is about to go on. But He calls her. He says to her: « May the Lord reward you for everything. I should like to reward you as well, but I have nothing with Me. »
« I do not want anything, Rabbi. I do not want any reward, but although I do not want money, there is one thing I should like. And You can give me it! »
« What, woman? »
« That the heart of my husband should change. And You can do that, because You really are the Holy Man of God. »
« Go in peace. It will be done to you as you wish. Goodbye. »
The woman goes away quickly towards her house that must really be a sad one.
Mary remarks: « Another unhappy woman. That is why she is good!… »
Peter's ruffled head appears from the granary, followed by John's bright one, and then by the severe profile of Thaddeus, the brownish face of the Zealot, and the thin one of young Benjamin… They are all awake. Mary of Magdala is the first woman to come out of the house, and is followed by Nike and then by the others.
When they are all together and the woman who gave them hospitality has brought a pail of milk still frothy, the Iscariot appears. His head is no longer bandaged, but the bruise of the blow tinges half of his forehead and his eye looks even more gloomy in the violaceous ring. Jesus looks at him. Judas looks at Jesus, then he turns his head round looking elsewhere.
Jesus says to him: « Buy of the woman whatever she can give us. We are going ahead. Join us. »
And Jesus, after greeting the woman, sets out. They all follow Him.