2nd March 1945.
Jesus is at Bethany. It is evening. A peaceful April evening. From the wide windows of the dining room one can see Lazarus' garden all in bloom, and beyond it, the orchard that looks like a cloud of light petals. The scent of fresh vegetation, the sweet-sour smell of fruit-tree blossoms, of roses and other flowers, carried into the house by the light evening breeze that makes the door curtains flutter and the lights of the central chandelier flicker, mingles with a strong scent of tuberoses, lilies of the valley and jasmines, mixed in a rare essence, left over from the balm with which Mary of Magdala scented her Jesus, Whose hair still looks dark after the unction. Simon, Peter, Matthew and Benjamin are still in the room. The others are absent and have probably gone out on errands.
Jesus has left the table and is looking at a roll of parchment that Lazarus has shown Him. Mary of Magdala is going round the room... she looks like a butterfly attracted by light. She can do nothing but move round her Jesus. Martha is watching the servants who are removing the wonderful precious dishes lying on the table.
Jesus lays the roll on a tall sideboard of polished black wood inlaid with ivory, and says: « Lazarus, come outside. I must speak to you. »
« At once, Lord » and Lazarus gets up from his chair near the window and follows Jesus into the garden, where the last light of the day is mixing with the first very clear moonlight.
Jesus walks turning His steps beyond the garden, where is the sepulchre in which Lazarus was buried and which now displays a large frame of roses, all in bloom, at its empty mouth. Above it, on the slightly inclined rock, is carved: « Lazarus, come out! » Jesus stops there. The house can no longer be seen, concealed as it is by trees and hedges. There is dead silence and absolute solitude.
« Lazarus, My friend » asks Jesus standing facing His friend and looking at him with a faint smile on His face, which is very thin and paler than usual. « Lazarus, My friend, do you know who I am? »
« You? You are Jesus of Nazareth, my gentle Jesus, my holy Jesus, my powerful Jesus! »
« That with regard to you. But with regard to the world, who am I? »
« You are the Messiah of Israel. »
« And then? »
« You are the Promised One, the Expected One... But why are You asking me that? Do You doubt my faith? »
« No, Lazarus. But I want to confide a truth to you. Nobody, except My Mother and one of My apostles, is aware of it. My Mother, because She knows everything. An apostle, because he participates in this matter. During these three years I told the others, who are with Me, many times. But their love acted as nepenthes and thwarted the truth I had announced. They could not understand... And it is a good thing that they did not understand, otherwise, to prevent a crime, they would have committed another one. A useless one, because what is to happen would take place just the same, notwithstanding any killing. But I want to tell you. »
« Do You doubt that I do not love You as much as they do? Of what crime are You speaking? What crime is to take place? In the name of God, speak! » Lazarus is excited.
« Yes, I will speak. I do not doubt your love. So much so that I entrust and confide My will to you... »
« Oh! my Jesus! Who is about to die does that! I did it when I realised that You were not coming and that I had to die. »
« And I must die. »
« No! » Lazarus utters another deep groan.
« Do not shout. Let no one hear us. I must speak to you alone. Lazarus, My friend, do you know what is happening this very moment that you are with Me, in the loyal friendship you granted Me from the first moment, and was never upset for any reason? A man, with other men, is negotiating the price of the Lamb. Do you know the name of that Lamb? Its name is Jesus of Nazareth. »
« No! There are enemies, that is true. But no one can sell You! Who? Who is it? »
« One of My apostles. It could but be one of those whom I have disappointed more bitterly and who, tired of waiting, wants to get rid of Him Who by now is nothing but a personal danger. In his way of thinking, he feels that he can gain a good reputation again with the great ones of the world. He will instead be despised both by all good people and by all criminals. He has become tired of Me, of awaiting what he has tried to achieve by every means: human grandeur, which he pursued first in the Temple, then he believed he would attain with the King of Israel, and he is now seeking once again in the Temple and by approaching the Romans... He hopes... But Rome, if she knows how to reward her loyal servants,... knows also how to crush informers with contempt. He is tired of Me, of waiting, of the burden of being good. For those who are wicked, to be, to have to feign to be good, is an overwhelming burden. It can be borne for some time... then... it can no longer be endured... and one gets rid of it to become free. Free? That is what the wicked ones think. That is what he thinks. But it is not freedom. To belong to God is freedom. To be against God is to be in prison with fetters and chains, with loads and lashes, as no galley-slave, as no slave working at constructions ever suffered under the whip of the torturer. »
« Who is it? Tell me. Who is it? »
« It is of no use. »
« Yes, it is... Ah!... It can be but he: the man who has always been a stain in Your group, the man who also a short time ago offended my sister. It is Judas of Kerioth! »
« No. It is Satan. God took flesh in Me: Jesus. Satan has taken flesh in him: Judas of Kerioth. One day... a very remote day... here, in this garden of yours, I comforted the tears and I excused a spirit that had fallen very low. I said that possession is the contagion of Satan who inoculates the human being with his juices and perverts its nature. I said that it is the marriage of a spirit with Satan and animality. But possession is still a trifle as compared with incarnation. I shall be possessed by My saints and they will be possessed by Me. But only in Jesus Christ is God as He is in Heaven, because I am the God Who became Flesh. One only is the divine Incarnation. Likewise Satan, Lucifer, will be in one only, as he is in his kingdom, because Satan is incarnate only in the killer of the Son of God. While I am speaking to you here, he is before the Sanhedrin and is negotiating and is pledging himself to have Me killed. But it is not he, it is Satan. Listen now, Lazarus, My loyal friend. I am going to ask you for some favours. You have never denied Me anything. Your love has been so great that, without going beyond respect, it has always been active beside Me, with countless aids, with so much prevident assistance and wise advice that I have always accepted, because I could see in your heart a true desire for My welfare. »
« Oh! My Lord! But it was my joy to devote myself to You! What shall I do now, if I do not have to devote myself to my Master and Lord? You have allowed me to do too little, far too little! My debt to You, Who have restored Mary to my love and honour, and me to life, is such that... Oh! why did You call me back from death to make me live this hour? By now I had overcome all the horror of death and all the anguish of the spirit, frightened by Satan with temptation at the moment of presenting itself to the Eternal Judge, and there was darkness!... What is the matter with You, Jesus? Why are You trembling and growing wanner than You are usually? Your face is paler than this white rose which is languishing in the moonlight. Oh! Master! Your blood and life seem to be forsaking You... »
« I, in fact, look like a man who is dying with his veins cut. The whole of Jerusalem, and I mean “all My enemies among the mighty ones in Israel” have laid their greedy mouths on Me and are sucking My life and My blood. They want to silence the Voice that for three years, while loving them, has tortured them;... because every word of Mine, even if it were a word of love, was a shock inviting their souls to wake up, and they did not want to hear their souls, as they had tied them with their treble sensuality. And not only the great ones... But the whole of Jerusalem is about to rage at the Innocent and ask for His death... and with Jerusalem also Judaea... and with Judaea also Perea, Idumaea, the Decapolis, Galilee, Syrophaenicia... the whole of Israel gathered in Zion for the “Passing” of the Christ from life to death... Lazarus, since you died and rose again, tell Me: what is dying? What did you feel? What do you remember? »
« Dying?... I do not remember exactly what it was. My bitter suffering was followed by a great languor... I did not seem to suffer any more and I was only very sleepy... Light and noises were becoming dimmer and dimmer and fainter and fainter and more and more remote... My sisters and Maximinus say that I was showing signs of sharp suffering... But I do not remember... »
« Of course. The pity of the Father numbs the intellectual senses of dying people, so that only their flesh suffers, as it is to be purified by the pre-purgatory that is agony. But I... And what do you remember of death? »
« Nothing, Master. It is a dark space in my spirit. An empty area. There is an interruption in the course of my life and I do not know how to fill it. I remember nothing. If I looked at the bottom of that black hole that kept me for four days, although it were night and I were a shadow in it, if I could not see, I would feel the humid chill rise from its bowels and blow on my face. It is, after all, a sensation. But if I think of those four days, I have nothing. Nothing. That is the word. »
« Of course. Those who come back cannot tell... The mystery is revealed every time to him who goes in. But I, Lazarus, I know what I shall suffer. I know that I shall suffer in full consciousness. There will be no soothing drink or languor to make My agony less dreadful. I shall feel that I am dying. I already feel it... I am already dying, Lazarus. Like one suffering from an incurable disease, I have continued to die during these thirty-three years. And death has quickened its pace more and more as time brought Me closer to this hour. At first it was only the death of knowing that I was born to be the Redeemer. Later it was the death of him who sees himself opposed, accused, derided, persecuted, hindered... How tiring! Then... the death of having beside Me, closer and closer, till he was grasping Me as a giant octopus grasps a shipwrecked person, him who is My Traitor. How nauseating! And now I am dying in the torture of having to say “goodbye” to My dearest friends and to My Mother... »
« Oh! Master! You are weeping?! I know that You wept also in front of my sepulchre, because You loved me. But now... You are weeping again. You are frozen. Your hands are already as cold as those of a corpse. You are suffering... You are suffering too much!... »
« I am the Man, Lazarus. I am not only the God. I have the sensitiveness and affections of men. And My soul is distressed thinking of My Mother... And yet, I tell you, My torture of enduring to have My Traitor close to Me has become so monstrous, as well as having to bear the satanic hatred of a whole world, and the deafness of those who, if they do not hate, cannot love actively either, because to love actively is to succeed in being what the loved person wants and teaches, whereas here!... Yes, many love Me. But they have remained “what they were”. They did not assume another ego for My sake. Do you know who was able, among My most intimate ones, to change nature in order to become of Christ, as Christ wants? One only: your sister Mary. She started from complete perverted animality to arrive at an angelical spirituality. And she achieved that only through the power of love. »
« You redeemed her. »
« I redeemed them all with My word. But she alone changed completely through active love. But I was saying: and My suffering all these things is so monstrous, that I long for nothing but to see everything accomplished. My strength is failing Me... The cross will not be so heavy as this torture of the spirit and of feelings... »
« The cross?! No! Oh! no! It is too atrocious! It is too disgraceful! No! » Lazarus, who for some time has been holding Jesus' cold hands in his own, standing in front of his Master, releases them and collapses on the nearby stone seat and he covers his face with his hands weeping desolately.
Jesus approaches him, lays a hand on the shoulders shaken by sobs, and says: « What? Am I, Who am about to die, to comfort you, who are alive? My friend, I am in need of strength and help. And I am asking them of you. I have but you who can give Me them. It is better if the others do not know. Because if they knew... Blood would be shed. And I do not want lambs to become wolves, not even for the sake of the Innocent. My Mother... oh! how heart-rending it is to speak of Her!... Mother is already so distressed! She also is dying exhausted... She also has been dying for thirty-three years, and She is now one big sore, like the victim of an atrocious torture. I swear to you that there has been a struggle between My mind and My heart, between love and reason, to decide whether it was just to send Her away, to send Her back to Her house, where She always dreams of the Love that made Her Mother, where She enjoys the savour of Love's kiss of fire, She starts in the ecstasy of that remembrance, and with the eyes of Her soul She always sees the air breathe gently, stirred by an angelical flash. The news of My Death will reach Galilee almost at the moment in which I will be able to say to Her: “Mother, I am the Conqueror!” But I cannot, no, I cannot do that. Poor Jesus, laden with the sins of the world, needs consolation. And Mother will give Me it. And the even poorer world needs two Victims. Because man sinned with woman; and the Woman must redeem, as the Man redeems. But until the hour is struck, I will smile at My Mother reassuringly... She trembles... I know. She perceives that the Torture is approaching. I know. And She repels it through natural disgust and holy love, as I repel Death because I am a “living being” who must die. But it would be dreadful if She knew that in five days' time... She would die before that hour, and I want Her to be alive to get strength from Her lips, as I received life from Her womb. And God wants Her to be on My Calvary to mix the water of Her virginal tears with the wine of My divine Blood and celebrate the first Mass. Do you know what Mass will be? You do not know. You cannot know. It will be My death applied forever to the living or suffering mankind. Do not weep, Lazarus. She is strong. She does not weep. She has wept throughout Her life of a Mother. She no longer weeps now. She has crucified Her smile on Her face... Have you noticed what Her face has become like these last days? She crucified Her smile on Her face to comfort Me. I ask you to imitate My Mother.
I could no longer keep My secret all to Myself. I looked around seeking a sincere reliable friend. I met your loyal eyes. I said: “I will confide it to Lazarus.” When you had a heavy burden in your heart, I respected your secret and I defended it even against the natural curiosity of hearts. I ask you to have the same respect for Mine. Later... after My death, you will make it known. You will mention this conversation. That people may know that Jesus went to His death fully aware of the situation, and to His known tortures He added also this one, that He knew everything, both with regard to people and to His destiny. That it may be known that while He could still have saved Himself, He did not want to, because His infinite love for men desired nothing but to consume the sacrifice for them. »
« Oh! save Yourself, Master! Save Yourself! I can let You escape. This very night. Once You did fly to Egypt! Run away now as well. Come, let us go. Let us take Mary and my sisters with us, and let us go. None of my riches attract me, as You know. You are my wealth and Mary's and Martha's. Let us go. »
« Lazarus, I ran away then, because it was not My hour. Now it is the hour. And I am staying. »
« In that case I am coming with You. I will not leave You. »
« No. You will stay here. Since he who is within the distance of a Sabbath walk is allowed to consume the lamb in his house, you will consume your lamb here, as you have always done. But let your sisters come... For My Mother... Oh! what the roses of divine love concealed from You, o Martyr! The abyss! The abyss! And from it are now rising the flames of Hatred and rushing to gnaw at Your heart! The sisters, yes. They are strong and active... and Mother will be agonizing, bent over My dead body. John is not sufficient. John is love. But he is still immature. Oh! He will mature and become a man in the torture of the oncoming days. But the Woman needs women for Her dreadful wounds. Will you let Me have them? »
« I will give You everything, I have always given You everything with joy, and I only regretted that You wanted so little!... »
« As you can see, I have not accepted from anybody else what I consented to have from My friends in Bethany. That is one of the charges made against Me by the unjust man more than once. But here, among you, I found enough to comfort the Man of all His bitterness as a man. At Nazareth it was the God Who found solace near the Unique Delight of God. Here it was the Man. And before going up to My death I thank you, My faithful, loving, kind, thoughtful, reserved, learned, discreet, generous friend. I thank you for everything. And My Father, later, will reward you... »
« I have already had everything through Your love and Mary's redemption. »
« Oh! no. You are to receive much more. And you will have it. Listen. Do not be so dejected. Pay attention to Me that I may tell you what I want to ask you to do. You will remain here waiting... »
« No, not that. Why Mary and Martha, and not I? »
« Because I do not want you to be corrupted as all men will be corrupted. Jesusalem in the next days will be as corrupt as the air around a putrid carrion that has suddenly been burst by the foot of a heedless passer-by. Infected and infecting. Even people who are not so cruel, even My disciples will be driven mad by its miasmata. They will run away. And where will they go in their bewilderment? They will come to Lazarus. How many times, in these three years, have they come looking for bread, a bed, protection, shelter, and for their Master!... They will come back now. Like sheep dispersed by a wolf that has abducted the shepherd, they will rush to a fold. Gather them. Encourage them. Tell them that I forgive them. I entrust you with the task of forgiving them on My behalf. They will not be able to set their minds at rest for running away. Tell them not to fall into a greater sin by despairing of My forgiveness. »
« Will they all run away? »
« All of them except John. »
« Master. You will not ask me to receive Judas? Let me die tortured, but do not ask me that. Several times my hand, anxious as it was to kill the shame of the family, trembled touching my sword. But I never did it, because I am not a violent man. I was only tempted to do it. But I swear to You that if I see Judas again, I will cut his throat, like a scapegoat. »
« You will never see him again. I swear it to you ».
« Will he run away? It does not matter. I said: “If I see him again”. Now I say: “I will get him, even if he were at the world's end, and I will kill him”. »
« You must not wish that. »
« I will do it. »
« You will not do it, because you will not be able to go where he is. »
« In the bosom of the Sanhedrin? In the Holy of Holies? I will get him even there and I will kill him. »
« He will not be there. »
« At Herod's? They will kill me, but I will kill him first. »
« He will be with Satan. And you will never be with Satan. Give up that murderous intent at once, otherwise I will leave you. »
« Oh! oh!... But... Yes, for You... Oh! Master! Master! Master! »
« Yes. Your Master... You will receive the disciples, you will comfort them. You will lead them once again towards peace. I am the Peace. And also later... Later you will help them. Bethany will always be Bethany, until Hatred rummages in this home of love, thinking that it will put out its flames, whereas it will spread them throughout the world to set it all ablaze. I bless you, Lazarus, for everything you have done and for what you will do... »
« Nothing, nothing. You brought me back from death, and You do not allow me to defend You. So what have I done? »
« You gave Me your houses. See? It was our destiny. The first flat in Zion in a ground belonging to you. And the last one also in one of them. It was My destiny that I should be your Guest. But you could not defend me from death. At the beginning of this conversation I asked you: “Do you know who I am?” Now I reply: “I am the Redeemer.” The Redeemer must consume the sacrifice to the final immolation. In any case, believe Me. He Who will be raised on the cross and will be exposed to the eyes and the mockery of the world will not be alive, but dead. I am already dead, killed before and more by lack of love than by torture. And one more thing, My friend. Tomorrow at dawn I am going to Jerusalem. And you will hear people say that Zion applauded her meek King as a triumpher, as He entered the town riding a little donkey. Do not let that triumph deceive you and do not jet it make you think that the Wisdom now speaking to you was not wise this peaceful evening. Popular favour will vanish faster than a star that furrows the sky and disappears into unknown spaces, and in five days' time, in the evening at this time, My torture will begin with a deceitful kiss that will open the mouths, singing hosannas tomorrow, into a chorus of dreadful curses and cruel condemning voices.
Yes, at last, o town of Zion, o people of Israel, you will have the Passover Lamb! You will have it in the rite now close-at-hand. Here it is. It is the Victim that has been prepared for ages. Love procreated it, having prepared an immaculate womb as its nuptial room. And Love consumes it. Here it is. It is the conscious Victim. Not like the lamb that being unaware goes on grazing in the meadow or with its pink snout presses its mother's round dug, while the butcher is sharpening a knife to slaughter it. But I am the Lamb that consciously says: “Goodbye!” to life, to His Mother, to His friends, and goes to the sacrificer and says: “Here I am!” I am the Food of man. Satan has made men starve and their hunger has never been satisfied. And it cannot be satisfied. One food only can sate it, because it removes their hunger. And here is that food. Here is your bread, man. Here is your wine. Consume your Passover, o Mankind! Cross your sea, reddened by satanic flames. Tinged with My Blood you will cross it, o race of man, preserved from the fire of hell. You can cross it. Heaven, pressed by My desire, is already half-opening the eternal gates. Look, o souls of the dead! Look, o living men! Look, o souls, that will be incorporated in future bodies! Look, o angels of Paradise! Look, o demons of Hell! Look, o Father; look, o Paraclete! The Victim smiles. It no longer weeps...
Everything has been said. Goodbye, My friend. I shall not see you either, before I die. Let us kiss each other goodbye. And do not be doubtful. People will say to you: “He was a madman! He was a demon! A liar! He died while He was saying that He was the Life.” Reply to them and particularly to yourself: “He was and is the Truth and the Life. He is the Vanquisher of death. I know. And He cannot be the eternal Dead One. I am waiting for Him. And all the oil in the lamp, that his friend is keeping ready to make light for the world, invited to the wedding of the Triumpher, will not be burnt, before He, the Bridegroom, comes back. And this time it will never be possible to put the light out.” Believe that, Lazarus. Obey My wish. Can you hear how this nightingale is singing after being silent because of the outburst of your tears? Do the same. After the inevitable tears shed on the Victim, let your soul sing the unerring song of your faith. May you be blessed by the Father, by the Son, by the Holy Spirit. »
How much I suffered! The whole night, from 11 o'clock p.m. on Thursday 1st March to 5 o'clock Friday morning. I saw Jesus in a state of anguish only a little inferior to that at Gethsemane, particularly when He speaks of His Mother, of the traitor, and shows His repugnance to death. I obeyed Jesus' order to write this on a separate notebook to have a more detailed Passion. You saw my face this morning... a weak image of what I suffered... and I am not saying anything else, because there are insurmountable aspects of modesty.