3rd April 1947.
It is morning again. So serene! So joyful! Even the rare clouds that yesterday were wandering slowly in the cobalt-blue sky are no longer there. Neither is there the heavy sultriness that was so oppressive yesterday. A light breeze blows gently on people's faces. And it carries the scent of flowers, of hay, of pure air. And it gently moves the leaves of the olive-trees. It seems anxious to let people admire the silver shade of the small lanceolate leaves, to shed tiny white scented flowers on the steps of Christ, on His fair-haired head, to kiss Him, to refresh Him – because each tiny calyx has its very small dew-drop – to kiss Him, to refresh Him, then die before seeing the impending horror. And the grass on the hillocks bows shaking the bellflowers, the corollas, the little palms of thousands of flowers. The large wild ox-eye daisies, stars with golden hearts, are standing high up on their stems as if to kiss the hand that will soon be pierced, and the small daisies and the wild camomile kiss His generous feet, which will stop walking for the good of men only when they are nailed to give an even greater good, and the brier-roses smell sweetly, and the hawthorn, which no longer has any flowers, moves its indented leaves. It seems to be saying: « No, no » to those who will use it to torture the Redeemer. And « no » say the reeds of the Kidron. They do not want to strike either, and their will of little things does not want to harm the Lord. And perhaps also the stones on the slopes are happy to be out of town, in the olive-grove, because being there, they will not hurt the Martyr. And the thin rosy convolvuli, which Jesus loved so much, are weeping, as well as the corymbs of the snow-white acacias, similar to clusters of butterflies pressing against one stem, perhaps they are thinking: « We shall never see Him again. » And the myosotes, so slender and pure, drop their corollas when touched by the purple mantle that Jesus is wearing again. It must be beautiful to die being struck by something that belongs to Jesus. All the flowers, also a lost lily of the valley, which perhaps fell there by accident and came up among the protruding roots of an olive-tree, is happy to be seen and picked by Thomas and offered to the Lord... And happy are the thousand birds among the branches to greet Him with joyful songs. Oh! the birds that He always loved do not curse Him! Even a small herd of sheep seem to be wishing to greet Him, although they are sad, having been deprived of their little ones that have been sold for the Passover sacrifice. It is the lament of mothers resounding in the air, as they bleat calling their little ones that will never come back, and they come to rub against Jesus, looking at Him with their meek eyes.
The sight of the sheep reminds the apostles of the rite and when they are almost at Gethsemane, they ask Jesus: « Where shall we go to consume the Passover? Which place are You choosing? Tell us and we will go and prepare everything. »
And Judas of Kerioth says: « Give me Your orders and I will go. »
« Peter. John. Listen to Me. »
The two, who were a little ahead, approach Jesus Who has called them.
« Go ahead and enter the town by the Dung Gate. As soon as you go in, you will meet a man who is coming back from En Rogel with a pitcher of that good water. Follow him until he goes into a house. You will say to him who is in it: “The Master says: 'Where is the room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?'” He will show you a large supper-room, which is ready. Prepare everything there. Go quickly and then join us at the Temple. »
The two go away in a hurry. Jesus instead proceeds slowly. The morning is still cool, and only the first pilgrims appear on the roads leading into town. They cross the little Kidron bridge that is before Gethsemane and enter the town. The gates are no longer watched by legionaries, probably because of a counter-order by Pilate, who has been reassured by the lack of disputes concerning Jesus. There is in fact absolute tranquillity everywhere.
Oh! no one can deny that the Judaeans have been able to control themselves! No one has molested the Master or His disciples. Behaving respectfully if not affectionately, and as well-mannered people, they have always greeted Him, even the most rancorous members of the Sanhedrin. Also yesterday's reproof was borne with incomparable patience. And as Caiaphas' country house is close to that gate, just now a large group of Pharisees and scribes passes by coming from it, and among them there is the son of Annas with Helkai, Doras and Sadoc. And bending their backs covered with wide mantles they pay their respects among the fluttering of garments, fringes and bulky headgear. Jesus greets them and passes by, regal in His red woollen tunic and His mantle of a darker shade, the headgear of Syntyche in His hand, while the sun turns His copper-red hair into a golden wreath and a shining veil reaching down to His shoulders. After He has passed the backs straighten up and the faces appear: those of furious hyenas.
Judas of Kerioth, who was always looking around with his treacherous face, moves to the roadside under the pretext of tying his sandal and, I can see him very well, beckons to those men to wait for him... He lets the group of Jesus and His disciples go ahead, always busy at the buckle of his sandal to strike an attitude; he then passes quickly close to the scribes and Pharisees and whispers: « At the Beautiful Gate. About the sixth hour. One of you. » and he darts away quickly, joining his companions. Frank, impudently frank!...
They go up to the Temple. Only few Jews as yet. But many Gentiles. Jesus goes to worship the Lord. He then comes back and He tells Simon and Bartholomew to buy the lamb getting the money from Judas of Kerioth.
« I could have done it! » says Judas.
« You will have other things to do. You know that. There is that widow to whom the offering of Mary of Lazarus is to be taken, informing her that after the festivities she should go to Bethany, to Lazarus. Do you know where she lives? Have you understood? »
« Yes, I know! Zacharias, who knows her well, showed me the place. » And he adds: « I am very glad to go. Not so much because of the journey, as because of the lamb. When have I to go? »
« Later. I shall not stop long here. I will rest today, as I want to be fit for this evening and for My night prayer. »
« All right. »
Well, I wonder: Jesus, Who in the past days has said nothing about His intentions in order not to let Judas have any details, why does He now say, why does He repeat what He will do during the night? Has His Passion already begun with the blindness of foresight, or has this foresight increased so much that He can read in the books of Heaven that that is « the night » and that therefore it is necessary to make it known to him who is waiting to know, so that he may hand Him over to His enemies, or has He always known that His immolation is to begin that night? I cannot give any answer. Jesus does not give me any reply. And I remain with my queries, while I watch Jesus Who is curing the last sick people. The last ones... Tomorrow, in a few hours, He will no longer be able... The Earth will be bereft of its powerful Healer of bodies. But the Victim, from His scaffold, will begin the series, uninterrupted for twenty centuries, of His spiritual healings.
Today I am contemplating rather than describing. My Lord makes me project my spiritual sight from what I see happening in the last day of Christ's freedom, to what it will be throughout ages... Today I am contemplating the feelings, the thoughts of the Master rather than what is happening around Him. I am already in the distressing understanding of His torture at Gethsemane...
As usual Jesus is overwhelmed by the crowd that has increased and consists now mainly of Hebrews, who forget to hasten to the place where lambs are sacrificed, anxious as they are to approach Jesus, the Lamb of God, Who is about to be immolated. And the people go on asking questions and they want further explanations.
Many are Hebrews who have come from the Diaspora, and having heard people speak of the reputation of the Christ, of the Galilean Prophet, of the Rabbi of Nazareth, they are curious to hear Him speak and are anxious to get rid of every possible doubt. And they push through the crowd and they implore those from Palestine saying: « You always have Him with you. You know who He is. You can hear His words whenever you wish. We have come from afar and we shall be departing immediately after satisfying the precept. Let us go to Him! » The crowd gives way with difficulty to make room for them. And they approach Jesus and watch Him with curiosity. They talk in low voices to one another, group by group.
Jesus observes them, even if at the same time He listens to a group of people who have come from Perea. Then, after dismissing the latter group of people, who have given him money for the poor, as many people do, and He has handed it to Judas as usual, He begins to speak.
« You are all of the same religion, but of different places of origin, and many of those who are present here are wondering: “Who is this man who is called the Nazarene?”, and their hopes clash with their doubts. Listen:
It is said of Me: “A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a flower will come from this root and the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him. He will not judge by what appears to the eyes, He will give no verdict on hearsay, but He will judge the wretched with integrity, He will take up the cudgels for the lowly. The shoot of the root of Jesse, placed as a signal among nations, will be implored by peoples and His sepulchre will be glorious. After hoisting a flag for the nations, He will gather together the refugees of Israel, He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the Earth.”
It is said of Me: “Here is the Lord God coming with power, His arm will triumph. He carries with Him His prize, His work is before His eyes. Like a shepherd he will pasture his flock.”
It is said of Me: “Here is My Servant with Whom I will stay, in Whom My soul delights. I have endowed Him with My spirit. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout, He will not break the crushed reed, He will not put out the smoky wick, He will do justice according to truth. Without being sad or turbulent, He will succeed in establishing justice on the Earth, and the islands will await His law.”
It is said of Me: “I, the Lord, have called You in justice, I have taken You by the hand, I have preserved You, I have appointed You as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison and those who lie in darkness from the dungeon.”
It is said of Me: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to announce the Good News to the meek, to cure those whose hearts are broken, to preach liberty to slaves, freedom to prisoners, to preach the year of grace of the Lord.”
It is said of Me: “He is the Strong one, He will feed His flock with the power of the Lord, with the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. They will be converted to Him, because as from now He will be glorified to the utmost limits of the world.”
It is said of Me: “I will go and look for My sheep Myself. I will look for the lost ones, I will bring back those that have been driven away, I will bind those with fractures, I will nourish the weak ones, I will watch over the ones that are fat and strong, I will pasture them with justice.”
It is said: “He is the Prince of peace and will be the peace.”
It is said: “Here comes your King, the Just One, the Saviour. He is poor, He is riding a little donkey. He will announce peace to the nations. His dominion will be from sea to sea, to the utmost limits of the Earth.”
It is said: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people, for your holy city, so that prevarication may be removed, sin may come to an end, wickedness may be canceled, eternal justice may come, visions and prophecies may be fulfilled, and the Holy of Holies may be anointed. After seven plus sixty-two the Christ will come. After sixty-two He will be killed. After one week He will confirm the will, but in the middle of the week victims and sacrifices will stop, and the abomination of desolation will be in the Temple, and it will last until the end of time.”
So will there be a shortage of victims in these days? Will the altar have no victim? It will have the great Victim. Here, the prophet sees it: “Who is this coming with garments stained with crimson? He is handsome in His garment and He marches in the fullness of His strength.”
And He Who is poor, how did He dye His garment with purple? Here, the prophet explains it: “I abandoned My body to those who struck Me, My cheeks to those who tore at My beard, I did not turn My face away from those who insulted Me. My handsomeness and My splendour were lost, and men no longer loved Me. Men have despised Me and considered Me the last one! The man of sorrows, My face will be veiled and scorned and they will regard Me as a leper, whereas on behalf of everybody I shall be covered with sores and put to death. Here is the Victim. Be not afraid, Israel! Be not afraid. The Passover Lamb is not unavailable! Be not afraid, o Earth! Be not afraid. Here is the Saviour. Like a sheep He will be led to the slaughter-house, because He wanted that, and He did not open His mouth to curse those who are killing Him. After being condemned He will be raised and consumed in pain, with His limbs dislocated, His bones uncovered, His feet and hands pierced. But after the anguish through which He will justify many, He will possess multitudes because, after delivering His life to death for the salvation of the world, He will rise from the dead and will rule the Earth, He will nourish peoples with the waters seen by Ezekiel, flowing out of the true Temple that, even if it is knocked down, will rise again through its own strength, and with the wine by which also the snow-white garment of the spotless Lamb has been dyed purple, and with the Bread descended from Heaven.”
You who are thirsty, come to the waters! You who are hungry, take your nourishment! You who are worn out and you, sick people, drink My wine! Come, you who have no money, you who are in bad health, come! And you who are in Darkness! And you who are dead, come! I am Riches and Health. I am Light and Life. Come, you who are looking for the Way! Come, you who are seeking the Truth! I am Way and Truth! Do not be afraid of not being able to consume the Lamb because there are no really holy victims in this desecrated Temple. You will all be able to eat of the Lamb of God, Who has come to take away the sins of the world, as the last of the prophets of My people said of Me. Of that people whom I ask: My people, what have I done to you? In what have I grieved you? What else could I have given you more than what I gave you? I taught your minds, I cured your sick people, I helped your poor people, I satisfied the hunger of your crowds, I loved you in your children, I forgave and prayed for you. I loved you to the extent of Sacrifice. And what are you preparing for your Lord? One hour, the last one, is given to you, My people, My regal and holy town. Come back in this hour to the Lord your God! »
« He has spoken true words! »
« That is what is said! And He really does what is said! »
« Like a shepherd He has taken care of everybody! »
« As if we were stray sheep, sick, in darkness, He has come to lead us to the right way, to cure our souls and bodies, to enlighten us. »
« All the peoples really go to Him. Look over there, at those Gentiles, how admired they are! »
« He has preached peace. »
« He has given love. »
« I do not understand what He says about the sacrifice. He speaks as if He had to be killed. »
« It is so, if He is the Man seen by the prophets, the Saviour. »
« And He speaks as if all the people had to ill-treat Him. That will never happen. The people, we, love Him. »
« He is our friend. We will defend Him. »
« He is a Galilean, and we Galileans will give our lives for Him. »
« He is of David's stock, and we men of Judaea will raise our hands to defend Him. »
« And we, whom He loved as He loved you, we from Hauran, from Perea, from the Decapolis, shall we ever forget Him? We will all defend Him. »
These are the voices of the crowd, which by now is very numerous. How transient are human intentions! Judging by the position of the sun I think it must be about nine o'clock a.m. our time. Twenty-four hours later these people will have been round the Martyr for many hours, to torture Him with their hatred and blows, and shouting they will request His death. Few, very few, too few among the thousands of people who are crowding from every part of Palestine and farther away, and who have received light, health, wisdom, forgiveness from Christ, will be those who not only will not try to tear Him away from His enemies, because their small number compared with the multitude of the strikers prevents them, but will not even be able to comfort Him giving Him a proof of their love by following Him with a friendly attitude. The praises, assents and admired comments spread through the large court, like waves that from the open sea go far to die on the beach.
Some scribes, Judaeans and Pharisees try to counteract the enthusiasm of the people as well as the ferment of the people against the enemies of the Christ saying: « He is raving. His tiredness is so great and makes Him delirious. He mistakes honours for persecutions. His words have torrents of His usual wisdom, but mixed with delirious sentences. No one wants to hurt Him. We have understood. We have understood who He is... »
But the people are doubtful about such a great change of humour and some rebel against them saying: « He cured my insane son. I know what madness is. One who is mad does not speak like that! »
And another one says: « Let them say. They are vipers who are afraid that the club of the people may break their backs. They sing the sweet song of the nightingale in order to deceive us, but, if you listen carefully, there is the hiss of the snake in it. »
And also another one: « Sentries of the people of Christ, look out! When the enemy caresses, he has a dagger concealed in his sleeve, and he stretches out his hand to strike. Keep your eyes open and your hearts ready! Jackals cannot become meek lambs. »
« You are right: the owl lures and enchants simple little birds with the immobility of its body and with the false joy of its greeting. It laughs and invites with its cry, but it is ready to devour. »
And so forth, from group to group.
But there are also some Gentiles, who have been constant and more and more numerous in listening to the Master during the days of the festivity. They are always at the edge of the crowd, because the Hebrew-Palestinian exclusivism is strong and repels them pretending the places closest to the Master, so they wish to approach Him and speak to Him.
A large group of them casts glances at Philip, who has been pushed into a corner by the crowd. They approach him saying: « Sir, we wish to see Jesus, your Master, at close quarters, and speak to Him at least once. »
Philip stands on the tips of his toes to see whether there is any apostle closer to the Lord. He sees Andrew and after calling him, he shouts: « There are some Gentiles here who would like to greet the Master. Ask Him whether He will receive them. »
Andrew, a few metres away from Jesus, squeezed in the crowd, pushes his way through the crowd, working generously with his elbows without regard and shouting: « Make way! Make way, I say. I must go to the Master. » He reaches Him and informs Him of the wish of the Gentiles.
« Take them to that corner. I will come to them. »
And while Jesus tries to pass through the crowd, John, who has just come back with Peter, struggles to make way for Him and is assisted in doing so by Peter, Judas Thaddeus, James of Zebedee and Thomas, who leaves the group of his relatives that he met in the crowd in order to help his companions.
Jesus is where the Gentiles already are and they greet Him. « Peace be with you. What do you want of Me? »
« To see You and speak to You. Your words have upset us. We have always been wanting to speak to You to tell You that Your word affects us. But we were waiting for a suitable moment to do so. Today... You are speaking of death... We are afraid that we shall not be able to speak to You any more, if we do not take advantage of this hour. But is it possible that the Hebrews may kill their best son? We are Gentiles, and we have received no favour from Your hand. Your word was unknown to us. We have heard people speak of You vaguely. But we had never seen You or approached You. And yet, as You can see, we pay homage to You. It is the whole world that honours You with us. »
« Yes, the hour has come when the Son of man is to be glorified by men and by spirits. »
Now the crowd is round Jesus once again but with the difference that the Gentiles are in the first row and the others behind.
« But if it is the hour of Your glorification, You will not die, as You say, or as we have understood. Because it is not a glorification to die in that way. How will You be able to gather the world under Your sceptre, if You die before doing so? If Your arm is immobilised by death, how will it be able to triumph and gather peoples together? »
« By dying, I give life. By dying, I build. By dying, I create the new People. It is through sacrifice that one gains victory. I solemnly tell you that if the wheat grain that has fallen on the ground does not die, it remains unfruitful. If instead it dies, then it yields a rich harvest. He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world, will save it for the eternal life. It is My duty to die to give this eternal life to all those who follow Me to serve the Truth. Let those who want to serve Me come: the places in My kingdom are not limited to this or that people. Let whoever wants to serve Me come and follow Me, and where I am, My servant will be there as well. And he who serves Me will be honoured by My Father, the Only, True God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, the Creator of everything that exists, the Thought, Word, Love, Life, Way, Truth; Father, Son, Holy Spirit, One being Trine, Trine being One, Only, True God. But now My soul is upset. And what shall I say? Shall I perhaps say: “Father save Me from this hour”? No. Because I have come for this: to arrive at this hour. So I will say: “Father, glorify Your Name!” »
Jesus stretches out His arms crosswise, a purple cross against the white marbles of the porch and He raises His head, offering Himself, praying, ascending with His soul to the Father.
And a voice, louder than thunder, immaterial inasmuch it is not like any human voice, but very sensible to all ears, fills the clear sky of the beautiful April day and vibrates, more powerful than the chord of a gigantic organ, in a very beautiful tonality, and proclaims: « I have glorified Him and I will glorify Him again! »
The people have been frightened. That voice, so powerful that the soil and what is on it vibrated because of it, that mysterious voice, different from any other, coming from an unknown source, that voice that fills everything, from north to south, from east to west, terrorises the Hebrews and amazes the heathens. The former, when possible, throw themselves on the ground, murmuring in their fear: « We shall die now! We have heard the voice of Heaven. An angel has spoken to Him! » and they beat their breasts awaiting death. The latter shout: « A peal of thunder! A rumbling roar! Let us run away! The Earth has roared! It has quaked! » But it is impossible to run away in the throng that increases with those who from outside the walls of the Temple rush inside shouting: « Have mercy on us! Let us run! This is a holy place. The mountain where the altar of God rises will not split! » So they all remain where they were, where the crowd and fear block them.
Priests, scribes, Pharisees, Levites, magistrates, who were scattered in the meanders of the Temple, rush to its terraces. They are excited and dumbfounded. But of all of them only Gamaliel with his son comes down among the people in the courts. Jesus sees him passing by, all white in his linen garment, which is so white that it gleams even in the strong sun shining on it.
Jesus, looking at Gamaliel, but as if He were speaking to everybody, raises His voice saying: « Not for Me, but for you, has this voice come from Heaven. »
Gamaliel stops, turns round, and with the glances of his very deep dark eyes – which the habit of being a master worshipped like a demigod has involuntarily made as hard as those of predators – he pierces through the sapphire, limpid, majestically mild eyes of Jesus...
And Jesus resumes: « The judgement of this world takes place now. Now the Prince of Darkness is about to be driven out. And when I have been lifted up, I will draw everybody to Myself, because that is how the Son of man will save. »
« We have learnt from the books of the Law that the Christ lives forever. And You say that You are the Christ and You say that You must die. And You also say that You are the Son of man and that You will save, being lifted up. So who are You? The Son of man or the Christ? And who is the Son of man? » ask the crowds, who are taking heart again.
« They are only one person. Open your eyes to the Light. Only for a short time the Light will still be with you. Walk towards the Truth while you have the Light among you, that you may not be overtaken by darkness. Those who walk in darkness do not know where they will end up. While you have the Light among you, believe in It, to be the children of the Light. » He becomes silent.
The crowd is perplexed and divided. Some go away shaking their heads. Some watch the attitude of the main dignitaries: Pharisees, chiefs of the priests, scribes... and particularly of Gamaliel, and they regulate their conduct on that attitude. And others nod assent and bow to Jesus clearly meaning: « We believe! We honour You for what You are. » But they dare not side openly with Him. They are afraid of the vigilant eyes of Christ's enemies, of the mighty ones, who are watching them from the high terraces dominating the splendid porches surrounding the courts of the Temple.
Also Gamaliel, after remaining pensive for some minutes, and he seems to be questioning the marbles of the pavement for answers to his inward questions, sets out again towards the exit, after shaking his head and shoulders, as if to express disappointment or scorn... and he passes straight in front of Jesus, without looking at Him any more.
Jesus, instead, looks at him compassionately... and he raises His voice again, very loudly – it sounds like the blare of a trumpet – to overcome every noise and be heard by the great scribe who is going away disappointed. He seems to be speaking to everybody, but it is clear that He is speaking for him alone. He says in a very loud voice:
« He who believes in Me, does not really believe in Me, but in Him Who sent Me, and he who sees Me, sees Him Who sent Me. And He is indeed the God of Israel! Because there is no other God but He. That is why I say: if you cannot believe in Me as the man who is said to be the son of Joseph of David and the son of Mary, of the stock of David, of the Virgin seen by the Prophet, born at Bethlehem, as is announced by the prophecies, preceded by the Baptist, as also has been said for ages, believe at least the voice of your God Who has spoken to you from Heaven. Believe in Me as the Son of this God of Israel. Because if you do not believe in Him Who has spoken to you from Heaven, you do not offend Me, but your God Whose Son I am.
Do not remain in darkness! I have come as Light to the world, so that he who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. Do not create remorses for yourselves, as you might not be able to appease your minds when I have gone back whence I came, and they would be a severe punishment of God for your stubbornness. I am willing to forgive, while I am among you, until judgement is passed, and as far as I am concerned, I wish to forgive. But the mind of the Father is different from Mine. Because I am Mercy and He is Justice.
I solemnly tell you that if a man listens to My words and does not comply with them. I will not judge him. I did not come to the world to judge it, but to save it. But if I do not judge, I solemnly tell you that there is who will judge you by your actions. My Father, Who sent Me, will judge those who reject His Word. Yes, he who despises Me and does not acknowledge the Word of God, and does not receive the words of the Word, well, he has who will judge him: the very word that I have announced will judge him on the last day. It is said: God is not to be scoffed at. And the God scoffed at will be terrible with those who considered Him mad and mendacious.
Bear in mind, all of you, that the words you heard Me utter, come from God. Because I have not spoken on My own account, but the Father Who sent Me, prescribed what I must say and of what I have to speak. And I obey His order, because I know that His commandment is just. Each command of God is eternal life. And I, your Master, set for you the example of obedience to all commands of God. You may rest assured that the things I told you and I am telling you, I said them and I am saying them as My Father told Me to say them to you. And My Father is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; the God of Moses, of the patriarchs and of the prophets, the God of Israel, your God. »
Words of light that fall into the darkness that is already growing darker in hearts!
Gamaliel, who had stopped once again, his head bowed, resumes walking... Others follow him shaking their heads or sneering...
Jesus also goes away... But first He says to Judas: « Go where you have to go », and to the others: « Each of you is free to go where you have or you wish to go. Let the shepherd disciples remain with Me. »
« Oh! take me also with You, Lord! » says Stephen.
« Come... » They part.
I do not know where Jesus goes. But I know where Judas of Kerioth goes. He goes to the Beautiful Gate climbing the several steps that from the Court of the Gentiles lead to that of the women, and after going across it, climbing more steps at the end of it, he casts a glance at the Court of the Hebrews, and stamps his feet angrily, as he does not find the person he is looking for.
He goes back. He sees one of the Temple guards. He calls him. With his usual haughtiness he says to him: « Go to Eleazar ben Annas. Tell him to come to the Beautiful Gate immediately. Judas of Simon is waiting for him for grave matters. »
He leans against a column and waits. Shortly afterwards Eleazar, the son of Annas, Helkai, Simon, Doras, Cornelius, Sadoc, Nahum and others arrive with much fluttering of garments.
Judas speaks in a low but excited voice: « This evening! After supper. At Gethsemane. Come there and get Him. Give me the money. »
« No. We will give you it when you call for us this evening. We do not trust you! We want you to stay with us. You never know! » says Elkai with a sneer. The others nod assent in chorus.
Judas flares up in a temper at the insinuation. He swears: « I swear by Jehovah that I am telling the truth! »
Sadoc replies to him: « All right. But it is better to do it this way. Come when it is time, take those who are charged to capture Him and go with them, lest the stupid guards may arrest Lazarus by chance and may bring about a lot of trouble. By means of a signal you will point out the man to them... You must understand! By night... there will not be much light... the guards will be tired, sleepy... But if you guide them!... Well! What do you say? » The perfidious Sadoc addresses his companions saying: « As a signal I would suggest a kiss. A kiss! The best signal to point out the betrayed friend. Ha! Ha! » They all laugh. A chorus of sneering demons.
Judas is furious. But he does not withdraw. He will not withdraw any more. He suffers because they sneer at him, not because of what he is about to do. So much so that he says: « But remember that I want the money counted in the purse before going out from here with the guards. »
« You will have it! You will have it! We will give you also the purse, so that you may keep those coins as a relic of your love. Ha! Ha! Ha! Goodbye, snake! »
Judas is livid. He is already livid. Never again will he lose that colour and that expression of desperate terror. On the contrary, it will grow more and more hourly, until it becomes unsustainable when he is hanging from the tree... He runs away...
Jesus has taken shelter in the garden of a friendly house. A quiet garden of the first houses in Zion. It is surrounded by high ancient walls. It is noiseless and cool, covered as it is with the quivering leaves of old trees. Not far away the voice of a woman is singing a sweet lullaby.
Some hours must have gone by, because Lazarus' servants, who have come back after going I do not know where, say: « Your disciples are already in the house where the supper is being prepared, and John, after coming with us to take the fruit to Johanna of Chuza's children, has gone to get the women and take them to Joseph of Alphaeus, who arrived only today, when his mother no longer hoped to see him, and then, from there to the house of the supper, because night is falling. »
« We shall go as well. It is supper time... » Jesus stands up and puts on His mantle.
« Master, there are some people out there. Wealthy people. They would like to speak to You without being seen by the Pharisees » says a servant.
« Let them come in. Esther will not object. Is that right, woman? » says Jesus, addressing a woman of ripe age who is coming to greet Him.
« No, Master. My house is Yours, as You know. You have made use of it for too short a time! »
« Sufficiently long as to say to My heart: it was a friendly house. » He says to the servant: « Bring in those who are waiting. »
About thirty dignified looking people come in. They greet Him. One of them speaks on behalf of everybody: « Master, Your words have shaken us. We have heard the voice of God in You. But they say that we are foolish, because we believe in You. So what shall we do? »
« He who believes Me does not believe in Me, but believes in Him Who sent Me, and Whose most holy voice you have heard today. He who sees Me does not see Me, but sees Him Who sent Me, because I am one thing with My Father. That is why I say to you that you must believe in order not to offend God, Who is your Father and Mine, and loves you to the extent of sacrificing His Only-Begotten for you. Because, if hearts doubt whether I am the Christ, there is no doubt that God is in Heaven. And the voice of God, Whom I called Father today in the Temple, asking Him to glorify His Name, has replied to Him Who was calling Him Father, without saying that He is a “liar or blasphemer” as many say. God has confirmed who I am. I am His Light. I am the Light that has come to the world. I have come as Light to the world, so that he who believes in Me may not remain in Darkness. If a man listens to My words, and then does not comply with them, I will not judge him. I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who despises Me and does not accept My words, has who will judge him. It is the word announced by Me that will judge him on the last day. Because it was wise, perfect, kind, simple, as God is. Because that Word is God. It is not I, Jesus of Nazareth, called the son of Joseph, a carpenter of the stock of David, and the son of Mary, a Hebrew girl, a virgin of the stock of David, married to Joseph, it is not I Who has spoken. No, I have not spoken on My own account. But it is My Father, He Who is in Heaven and His name is Jehovah, Who spoke today, He Who sent Me, and He told Me what I must say and of what I must speak. And I know that in His commandment there is eternal life. So the things I say, I say them as the Father said them to Me, and there is Life in them. That is why I say to you: listen to them. Put them into practice and you will have Life. Because My word is Life. And he who accepts it, accepts at the same time with Me, also the Father of Heaven Who sent Me to give you the Life. And he who has God in himself, has the Life in himself. Go. May peace come to you and remain with you. »
He blesses and dismisses them. He blesses also the disciples. He keeps only Isaac and Stephen. He kisses and dismisses the others. And when they have gone, He is the last to go out, with the two and He goes with them, along the most solitary and already dark lanes, to the house of the Last Supper. And when He arrives there, He embraces and blesses Isaac and Stephen with particular fondness, He kisses them, He blesses them once again, He watches them go away, then He knocks at the door and goes in...
Jesus says: « You will put here the visions of the farewell to My Mother, of the Supper-room and of the Supper. And now let the two of us, you and I, make the true Passover commemoration. Come... »