16th and 17th April 1947.
I. To Annaleah's mother.
Eliza, Annaleah's mother, is weeping disconsolately in her house, closed in a little room, where there is a small bed without any bedclothes, probably Annaleah's bed. Her head is resting on her arms, which, in turn, are lying stretched out on the little bed, as if she wanted to embrace it all. Her body lies heavy on her knees in a languid posture. There is nothing vigorous about her but her tears.
A faint light comes in through the open window. The day has just dawned. But there is a bright light when Jesus enters. I say: enters, meaning that He is in the room, whilst previously He was not. And I will always say so to mean His appearing in a closed place, without repeating myself as to how He shows Himself from behind a great brightness, which recalls that of the Transfiguration, from behind a white fire – allow me the comparison – that seems to melt walls and doors to allow Jesus to enter with His real, breathing, solid, glorified Body: a fire, a brightness that closes itself in Him and conceals Him when He goes away. But afterwards, it takes the beautiful aspect of the Risen Master, but a Man, a real Man, a hundred times more beautiful than He was before His Passion. It is He, but it is He the glorious King.
« Why are you weeping, Eliza? »
I do not know how the woman does not recognise the unmistakable voice. Perhaps sorrow overwhelms her. She replies as if she were speaking to a relative, who has probably come to her after Annaleah's death. « Did you hear those men yesterday evening? He was nothing. Magic power, but not divine. And I was resigning myself to the death of my daughter, thinking that she was loved by God, in peace... He had told me!... » she weeps more loudly.
« But many have seen Him risen. God only can raise Himself from the dead by Himself. »
« That is what I also told those people yesterday. You heard me. I fought against their words. Because their words were the death of my hope, of my peace. But they – did you hear them? – they said: “It was all a make-believe of His followers, in order not to admit that they were fools. He is dead, dead and buried, and decomposed, they have stolen and destroyed His corpse, and now they say that He has risen.” That is what they said... And that is why the Most High sent the second earthquake, to make them feel His wrath for their sacrilegious lie. Oh! I have no more consolation. »
« But if you saw the risen Lord with your own eyes, and you touched Him with your own hands, would you believe?... »
« I am not worthy of that... But I should certainly believe! It would be sufficient for me to see Him. I should not dare touch His Body because, if it were so, it would be a divine body, and a woman cannot approach the Holy of Holies. »
« Raise your head, Eliza, and see Who is standing in front of you! »
The woman raises her white-haired head, her face disfigured by tears, and she sees... She drops even lower on her heels, she rubs her eyes, she opens her mouth to utter a cry that wants to come up, but is stifled in her throat by amazement.
« It is I. The Lord. Touch My Hand. Kiss it. You sacrificed your daughter to Me. You deserve it. And on this hand find again the spiritual kiss of your child. She is in Heaven. She is blessed. You will speak to the disciples about that and about this day. »
The woman is so enraptured that she dare not make the gesture, and it is Jesus Himself who presses the tips of His fingers against her lips.
« Oh! You have really risen!!! Happy! Happy I am! May You be blessed for comforting me! » She stoops to kiss His feet, and she does so, and she remains like that.
The supernatural light envelops the Christ in its brightness and the room is devoid of Him. But the mother's heart is full of unshakeable certainty.
II. To Mary of Simon at Kerioth, with Anne, the mother of Johanna, and old Ananias.
The house of Anne, the mother of Johanna. The country house where Jesus, in the company of Judas' mother, worked the miracle of curing Anne. Here also there is a room and a woman lying on a bed. A woman who is altered beyond recognition by mortal anguish. Her face is worn out. Fever devours it, inflaming her cheekbones, so sunken are her cheeks. Her eyes, black ringed, red with fever and tears, are half closed under her swollen eyelids. Where there is no reddening caused by fever, her complexion is yellowish, greenish, as if bile were spread in her blood. Her lean arms and thin hands are relaxed on the bedclothes, which are raised by her rapid panting.
Near the sick woman, who is no one else but Judas' mother, there is Anne, Johanna's mother. She wipes perspiration and tears, she waves a fan of palm, she changes the cloths, dipped in spicy vinegar, on the forehead and throat of the sick woman, she caresses her hands and loose hair, that in a short time has become more white than black, and is spread on the pillow, and, wet as it is with perspiration, adheres to her ears, which have become transparent. Also Anne weeps, uttering words of comfort: « Don't, Mary! Don't! Enough! He… he has sinned. But you, you know how the Lord Jesus… »
« Be quiet! That Name… to me… said to me… is profaned… I am the mother… of the Cain… of God! Ah! » Her quiet weeping changes into exhausted heart-rending sobbing. She feels she is choking, she catches hold of the neck of her friend, who assists her while she vomits some bile.
« Peace! Peace, Mary! Don't! Oh! what shall I tell you to convince you that He, the Lord, loves you? I repeat it to you! I swear it on the things which are most holy to me: my Saviour and my child. He told me when you brought Him to me. He had for you words and providence of infinite love. You are innocent. He loves you. I am certain, certain that He would give Himself once again to give you peace, poor martyr mother. »
« Mother of the Cain of God! Can you hear it? That wind, out there… It says so… The voice goes all over the world… the voice of the wind, and it says: “Mary of Simon, the mother of Judas, he who betrayed the Master and handed Him over to His executioners.” Can you hear it? Everything says so… The stream out there… The doves… the sheep… The whole Earth shouts that I am… No, I do not want to recover my health. I want to die!… God is just and He will not punish me in the next life. But here, no. The world does not forgive… it does not distinguish… I am becoming mad, because the world howls…: “You are Judas' mother.” »
She is exhausted and collapses on the pillows. Anne recomposes her and goes out to take away the dirty linen cloths…
Mary, her eyes closed, deadly pale after the effort she made, moans: « The mother of Judas! of Judas! of Judas! » She pants, then resumes: « But what is Judas? What did I give birth to? What is Judas? What have I… »
Jesus is in the room, which is lit up by a trembling light, because daylight is still too faint to illuminate the large room, in which the bed is at the end, very far from the only window. He calls her gently: « Mary! Mary of Simon! »
The woman is almost delirious and does not attach importance to the voice. Her mind is far away, carried away by the vortex of her grief, and she repeats the ideas that haunt her brain, monotonously, like the tick-tack of a pendulum-clock: « The mother of Judas! What have I given birth to? The world shouts: “The mother of Judas”… »
Two tears well up in the corners of Jesus' very mild eyes. I am surprised at them. I did not think that Jesus could weep also after His resurrection…
He bends. The bed is so low for Him Who is so tall! He lays His hand on the feverish forehead, pushing aside the cloths damp with vinegar, and He says: « A poor wretch. That and nothing else. If the world shouts, God covers the shout of the world saying to you: “Have peace, because I love you.” Look at Me, poor mother! Gather your lost spirit and put it in My hands. I am Jesus!… »
Mary of Simon opens her eyes, as if she were coming out of a nightmare and she sees the Lord, she feels His Hand on her forehead, she covers her face with her trembling hands and moans: « Do not curse me! If I had known what I was giving birth to, I would have torn my womb to prevent him from being born. »
« And you would have sinned. Mary! oh! Mary! Do not depart from your justice because of the sin of another person. The mothers who have fulfilled their duty must not consider themselves responsible for the sins of their sons. You have done your duty, Mary. Give Me your poor hands. Be calm, poor mother. »
« I am Judas' mother. I am unclean like all the things that demon touched. The mother of a demon! Do not touch me. » She struggles to avoid the divine Hands that want to hold her.
The two tears of Jesus fall on her face burning once again with fever. « I have purified you, Mary. My tears of compassion are on you. I have not shed My tears on anybody since I consumed My sorrow. But I am weeping over you with all My loving pity. » He has succeeded in getting hold of her hands and He sits, yes, He really sits down on the edge of the little bed, holding her trembling hands in His.
The loving compassion of His bright eyes caresses, envelops and cures the poor wretch, who calms down weeping silently and whispering: « Have You no grudge against me? »
« I have love. That is why I have come. Have peace. »
« You forgive! But the world! Your Mother! She will hate me. »
« She thinks of you as of a sister. The world is cruel. That is true. But My Mother is the Mother of the Love, and She is good. You cannot go about in the world, but She will come to you when everything is at peace. Time pacifies… »
« Make me die, if You love me… »
« A little longer. Your son was not able to give Me anything. Give Me a period of time of your suffering. It will be a short one. »
« My son has given You too much… Infinite horror he has given You. »
« And you your infinite sorrow. The horror is over. It no longer serves. Your sorrow serves. It joins these wounds of Mine, and Your tears and My Blood wash the world. All sorrows join together to wash the world. Your tears are between My Blood and the tears of My Mother and around them there is all the sorrow of the saints who will suffer for the Christ and for men, for My sake and for the sake of men. Poor Mary! » He lays her down gently, He crosses her hands and watches her as she calms down…
Anne comes back in and stops dumbfounded on the threshold.
Jesus, Who is now standing, looks at her saying: « You have complied with My wish. There is peace for obedient people. Your soul has understood Me. Live in My peace. »
He lowers His eyes again on Mary of Simon, who looks at Him through a stream of tears which are now more calm, and He smiles at her again. And He says to her: « Lay your hope in the Lord. He will give you all His comfort. » He blesses her and is about to go away.
Mary of Simon utters a passionate cry: « They say that my son betrayed You with a kiss! Is it true, Lord? If it is so, allow me to wash it by kissing Your Hands. There is nothing else I can do! I cannot do anything else to cancel… to cancel… » She is struck with deeper grief.
Jesus, oh! Jesus does not give her His hands to kiss, those hands on which the wide sleeve of His snow-white tunic reaches down to half the metacarpus concealing the wounds, but He takes her head in His hands and He bends and with His divine lips He lightly touches the burning forehead of the most unhappy of all women, and standing up again He says to her: « My tears and My kiss! No one has ever had so much from Me. So be at peace, because there is nothing but love between you and Me. »
He blesses her and, after going across the room quickly, He goes out behind Anne, who did not dare to come forward, or to speak, but is weeping deeply moved.
But when they are in the corridor that leads to the main door, Anne dares to speak and to ask the question which she has at heart: « My Johanna? »
« For fifteen days she has rejoiced in Heaven. I did not mention it there, because too big is the contrast between your daughter and her son. »
« It is true! A great torture! I think she will die of it. »
« No. Not soon. »
« Now she will be more at peace. You have consoled her. You! You Who more than anybody… »
« I Who pity her more than anybody else. I am the Divine Pity. I am the Love. I tell you, woman: if Judas had only cast a glance of repentance at Me, I would have obtained God's forgiveness for him… » How sad is Jesus' face!
The woman is struck by it. Words and silence struggle on her lips, but she is a woman, and curiosity is the winner. She asks: « Was it a… an… Yes, I mean: did that wretched man sin all of a sudden, or… »
« He had been sinning for months and no word of Mine, no act of Mine was able to stop him, so strong was his will to sin. But do not tell her that… »
« I will not!… Lord! Because now, when Ananias ran away from Jerusalem, the very night of the Preparation Day, without even completing the Passover, he came in here shouting: “Your son has betrayed the Master and has handed Him over to His enemies! He betrayed Him with a kiss. And I have seen the Master beaten, covered with spittle, scourged, crowned with thorns, laden with a cross, crucified and dead through the action of your son. And our name is shouted with obscene triumph by the enemies of the Master, and they relate the feats of your son, who, for less than the price that a lamb costs, has sold the Messiah and with the betrayal of a kiss has pointed Him out to the guards!”, Mary fell on the ground, and became black all of a sudden, and the doctor says that her liver has burst and the bile has flown out and all her blood is corrupted by it. And… the world is bad. She is right… I had to bring her here, because they came near her house in Kerioth to shout: “Your son is a deicide and a suicide! He has hanged himself! And Beelzebub has taken his soul, and Satan has come to take even his body.” Is that horrible wonder true? »
« No, woman. He was found dead, hanging from an olive-tree… »
« Ah! And they shouted: “Christ has risen and is God. Your son has betrayed God. You are the mother of the betrayer of God. You are the mother of Judas.” At night, with Ananias and a faithful servant, the only one left to me, because no one wanted to stay near her… I brought her here. But Mary hears those cries in the noises of the earth, in everything. »
« Poor mother! It is horrible, indeed. »
« But did that demon not think of all this, Lord? »
« It was one of the reasons I had recourse to, to hold him back. But to no avail. Judas went so far as to hate God, as he had never loved his father and mother or any other neighbour with true love. »
« That is true. »
« Goodbye, woman. May My blessing comfort you to bear the mockery of the world because of your compassion for Mary. Kiss My hand. I can show it to you. It would have done too much harm to her to see this. » He throws the sleeve back, uncovering the pierced wrist.
Anne utters a groan as with her lips she lightly touches the tips of His fingers.
The noise of a door that is opened and a stifled cry: « The Lord! », A rather old man prostrates himself and remains so.
« Ananias, the Lord is good. He has come to comfort your relative and to comfort us as well » says Anne to console also the elderly man, who is too deeply moved.
But the man dare not move. He weeps saying: « We are of horrible blood. I cannot look at the Lord. »
Jesus goes to him. He touches his head, repeating the same words as He said to Mary of Simon: « Relatives who have done their duty must not consider themselves responsible for the sin of a relative. Take heart, man! God is just. Peace to you and to this house. I have come and you will go where I send you. For the supplementary Passover the disciples will be at Bethany. You will go to them and you will tell them that on the twelfth day from His death, you saw the Lord at Kerioth, alive and true, in Body and Soul and Divinity. They will believe you, because I have already been with them quite a lot. But it will confirm them in their faith on My Divine Nature to know that I am everywhere on the same day. And before that, this very day, you will go to Kerioth to ask the leader of the synagogue to gather the people together, and in the presence of everybody you will say that I came here, and that they are to remember My words of the farewell. They will certainly say to you: “Why did He not come to us?” You will reply so: “The Lord told me to say to you that, if you had done what He told you to do to the innocent mother, He would have shown Himself. You failed in your duty of love, and that is why the Lord has not shown Himself.” Will you do that? »
« That is difficult, Lord! It is difficult to do that! They consider us all as heart lepers… The leader of the synagogue will not listen to me, and he will not let me speak to the people. He may beat me… However, I will do it, because You want it. » The elderly man does not raise his head. He speaks bent in deep prostration.
« Look at Me, Ananias! »
The man looks up trembling with veneration.
Jesus is as bright and handsome as He was on Mount Tabor… The light envelops Him, concealing His features and His smile… And the corridor is left without Him, without any door being moved to let Him pass.
The two worship and worship, as they have become all adoration through the divine manifestation.
III. To the children of Juttah with their mother Sarah.
The orchard of Sarah's house. The children who are playing under the leafy trees. The youngest one who rolls on the grass near a thick row of vine-leaves, the other bigger ones who chase one another with joyful cries of swallows, playing at hide-and-seek behind hedges and vines.
Jesus appears near the little one to whom He gave His name. Oh! holy simplicity of the innocents! Jesai is not surprised seeing Him there all of a sudden, but he stretches out his little arms, so that Jesus may take him in His, and Jesus takes him: there is the greatest simplicity in the acts of both.
The others arrive running – and once again the blessed simplicity of children! – and without any astonishment they approach Him happily. Nothing seems to have changed for them. They probably do not know.
But after Jesus has caressed each of them, Mary, the oldest and most sensible one, says: « So do You no longer suffer, Lord, now that You have risen? I was so sorry!... »
« I no longer suffer. I have come to bless you before I ascend to My Father and yours, in Heaven. But also from there I will always bless you, if you are always good. You will tell those who love Me that I have left My blessing with you today. Remember this day. »
« Are You not coming to the house? Mother is there. They will not believe us » says Mary again.
But her brother does not ask. He shouts: « Mummy, mummy. The Lord is here!... » and running towards the house, he repeats that cry.
Sarah rushes, she looks out of the window... just in time to see Jesus, very handsome at the edge of the orchard, disappear in the light that absorbs Him...
« The Lord! But why did you not call me before?... » says Sarah as soon as she is able to speak. « But when? where did He come from? Was He alone? How foolish you are! »
« We found Him here. A moment before He was not here... He did not come from the road or from the kitchen garden. And He had Jesai in His arms... And He told us that He had come to bless us and to give us His blessing for those who love Him in Jutta and to remember this day. And now He is going to Heaven. But He will love us if we are good. How handsome He was! He had wounds in His hands. But they no longer hurt Him. Also His feet were wounded. I saw them among the grass. That flower there touched just the wound of one foot. I will pick it... » they all speak together, excited with emotion. They even perspire in the excitement of speaking.
Sarah caresses them whispering: « God is great! Let us go. Come. Let us go and tell everybody. You, innocents, will speak. You can speak of God. »
IV. To young Jaia, at Pella.
The young man is working with zeal around a cart. He is loading it with vegetables picked in a nearby vegetable garden. The little donkey beats the hard surface of the country road with its hoof.
When he turns round to take a basket of lettuce, he sees Jesus Who smiles at him. He drops the basket on the ground and he kneels down, rubbing his eyes, incredulous of what he sees, and he whispers: « Most High, do not lead me into illusions! Lord, do not allow me to be deceived by Satan by means of false seducing appearances. My Lord is really dead! And He was buried, and they now say that His corpse has been stolen. Have mercy, Most High Lord! Show me the truth. »
« I am the Truth, Jaia. I am the Light of the World. Look at Me. See Me. That is why I gave your sight back to you, so that you may witness My power and My Resurrection. »
« Oh! It is really the Lord! It is You! Yes! You are Jesus! » He drags himself along on his knees to kiss His feet.
« You will say that you have seen Me and have spoken to Me and that I am really alive. You will say that you have seen Me today. My peace and My blessing to you. »
Jaia remains alone. He is happy. He forgets the cart and the vegetables. In vain the restless donkey beats the road and brays, protesting because of the long wait... Jaia is enraptured.
A woman comes out of the house near the kitchen garden and sees him there, wan with emotion, his face with a far-away look. She shouts: « Jaffa! What is the matter with you? What happened to you? » She rushes towards him and shakes him. She brings him back to earth...
« The Lord! I have seen the Risen Lord. I have kissed His feet and seen His wounds. They have told lies. It was really God and He has risen. I thought it was a deceit. But it is He! It is He! »
The woman trembles thrilled with emotion and whispers: « Are you quite sure? »
« You are good, woman. For His sake you have taken my mother and me as your servants. Do not refuse to believe!... »
« If you are sure, I believe. But was He really flesh? Was He warm? Did He breathe? Did He speak? Did He really have a voice, or did you think so? »
« I am certain. It was the warm flesh of a living being, it was a real voice, it was breath. As handsome as God, but Man, like me and you. Let us go, let us go and tell those who suffer or are in doubt. »
V. To John of Nob.
The old man is all alone in his house. But he is serene. He is repairing a chair as on one side the nails have come out, and he smiles at I wonder which dream.
There is a knock at the door. The old man, without leaving his work, says: « Come in. What do you want, you who come? Still one of those? I am too old to change! Even if the whole world shouted to me: “He is dead”, I say: “He is living”. Even if I had to die to say so. So, come in! »
He gets up to go to the door, to see who knocks without going in. But when he is near it, the door opens and Jesus goes in.
« Oh! Oh! Oh! My Lord! Alive! I believed! And He comes to reward my faith! Blessed! I did not doubt. In my grief I said: “If He sent me the lamb for the banquet of joy, it means that He will rise this day.” Then I understood everything. When You died and the Earth was shaken, I understood what I had not yet understood. And they thought that I was mad, at Nob, because at sunset on the day after the Sabbath, I prepared a banquet and I went and invited some beggars saying: “Our Friend has risen!” They were already saying that it was not true. They were saying that they had stolen You during the night. But I did not believe them, because since You died I understood that You were dying to rise again, and that that was the sign of Jonah. »
Jesus, smiling, lets him speak. Then he asks: « And do you still wish to die now, or do you want to stay to witness My glory? »
« Whatever You want, Lord! »
« No. What you want. »
The old man is pensive. He then decides: « It would be lovely to go out of this world, where You no longer are as You were previously. But I forgo the peace of Heaven to say to the incredulous: “I have seen Him!” »
Jesus lays His hand on his head blessing him and He adds: « But it will soon be also peace, and you will come to Me with the rank of confessor of the Christ. »
And He goes away. In this case, probably out of pity for the old man, He did not appear or disappear in a wonderful way, but He did everything as if He were the Jesus of days gone by, when He used to enter or come out of a house in a normal human way.
VI. To Matthias, the old solitary man near Jabesh-Gilead.
The old man is working at his vegetables and is talking to himself: « All wealth that I have for Him. And He will never taste them again. I have worked in vain. I believe that He was the Son of God, that He died and has risen. But He is no longer the Master, Who sits at the table of the poor or of the rich and shares the food with equal love, perhaps, no certainly with more love with the poor than with the rich. Now He is the Risen Lord. He has risen to confirm us, His believers, in our faith. And they say that it is not true. That no one has ever risen by himself. No one. No. No man. But He did. Because He is God. »
He claps his hands to drive away the pigeons that come down to steal the seed in the earth that has just been dug and sown, and he says: « It is useless now for you to procreate! He will never relish your little ones again! And you, useless bees? For whom do you produce honey? I was hoping to have Him at least once with me, now that I am not so poor. Every thing has flourished here, after He came... Ah! but with that money, that I have never touched, I want to go to Nazareth, to His Mother, and say to Her: “Make me Your servant, but let me stay here where You are, because You are still He”... » He wipes a tear with the back of his hand...
« Matthias, have you some bread for a pilgrim? »
Matthias looks up, but, as he is on his knees, he cannot see who is speaking from behind the tall hedge, that surrounds his small property lost in this green solitary place beyond the Jordan. But he replies: « Whoever you may be, come, in the name of the Lord Jesus. » And he stands up to open the fence.
He finds himself facing Jesus, and he remains with his hand on the latch, unable to make a gesture.
« Do you not want Me as your guest, Matthias? You did once. And you were regretting that you could not do so again. I am here and are you not opening to Me? » says Jesus smiling...
« Oh! Lord... I... I... I am not worthy that my Lord should come in here... I... »
Jesus passes His hand over the fence and opens the lock saying: « The Lord enters wherever He wants, Matthias. »
He goes in, He proceeds along the humble kitchen garden, He goes towards the house and on the threshold He says: « So, you can sacrifice the little ones of your pigeons. Take your vegetables away from the garden and the honey from your bees. We will share the bread together, and your work will not have been useless, and your desire vain. And this place will be dear to you, and you will not have to go where there will soon be silence and abandonment. I am everywhere, Matthias. He who loves Me, is always with Me. My disciples will be in Jerusalem. My Church will arise there. Make sure you are there for the supplementary Passover. »
« Forgive me, Lord. But I could not resist in that place and I ran away. I arrived there at the ninth hour the day before Preparation Day, and the day after... Oh! I ran away as I did not want to see You die. Only for that, Lord. »
« I know. And I know that you went back, and you were one of the first, to weep over My sepulchre. But I was already out of it. I know everything. Here, I will sit here and rest. I have always rested here... And the angels know that. »
The man busies himself, but he seems to be moving in a church, so reverently he moves about. Now and again he wipes a tear, which is about to mingle with his smile, while he comes and goes to get the little pigeons, kill them, prepare them, poke the fire, pick and wash the vegetables, and put the early figs in a plate, and lay the table with the best tableware. But when everything is ready, how can he sit down and eat? He wants to serve, which seems a great deal to him, and does not want anything else. But Jesus, Who has offered and blessed the food, offers him half of the pigeon, which He has cut, placing the meat on a piece of bread, that He has dipped into the sauce.
« Oh! as to a favourite! » says the man, and he eats, weeping for joy and emotion, without taking his eyes off Jesus, Who eats... drinks, enjoys the vegetables, the fruit, the honey, and offers His chalice to him after taking a sip of wine. Previously He had always drunk water.
The meal is over.
« I am really alive, as you can see. And you are quite happy. Remember that twelve days ago I was dying by the will of men. But nothing is the will of men when the will of God does not agree to it. And more than that, the contrary will of men becomes a servile instrument of the eternal Will. Goodbye, Matthias. As I said that he will be with Me, who gave Me a drink when I was the Pilgrim about Whom every doubt was lawful, so I say to you: you will have part in My celestial Kingdom. »
« But I am losing You now, Lord! »
« In every pilgrim see Me; in every beggar, Me; in every sick person, Me; in everyone needing bread, water and clothes, Me. I am in whoever suffers, and what is done to those who suffer, is done to Me. »
He stretches out His arms blessing and disappears.
VII. To Abraham of Engedi, who dies in His Arms.
The square of Engedi: pillared temple of rustling palm-trees. The fountain: mirror for the April sky. The pigeons: low murmur of organ. Old Abraham passes through it with his working tools on his shoulders. He looks even older, but serene like one who has found relief after a violent storm. He passes also through the rest of the town, and goes to the vineyards near the fountains. The beautiful fertile vineyards, already promising abundant crops. He goes in and begins to hoe, to prune, to tie. Now and again he stands up, he leans on the hoe, he ponders. He smooths his patriarchal beard, he sighs, he shakes his head, in an inward conversation.
A man, all enveloped in his mantle, comes up the road towards the fountains and the vineyards. I say: a man. But it is Jesus, because it is His garment and His gait. But for the old man it is a man. And the Man asks Abraham: « May I stop here? »
« Hospitality is sacred. I have never denied it to anybody. Come. Come in. May the rest in the shade of my vines be pleasant to you. Do you want some milk? Some bread? I will give you what I possess here. »
« And what can I give you? I have nothing. »
« He who is the Messiah has given me everything, for every man. And no matter what I give, it is nothing when compared to what He has given me. »
« Do you know that they crucified Him? »
« I know that He has risen from the dead. Are you one of those who crucified Him? I am not allowed to hate, because He does not want hatred. But, if I were allowed, I would hate you if you were. »
« I am not one of His crucifiers. Do not worry. So you know everything about Him. »
« Yes, everything. And Elisha... He is my son, you know? Elisha did not come back any more from Jerusalem, and he said: “Dismiss me, father, because I am leaving all my wealth in order to preach the Lord. I will go to Capernaum to look for John, and I will join the faithful disciples.” »
« So your son has left you? So old and alone? »
« What you call abandonment is the joy I have dreamt of. Had leprosy not deprived me of him? And who gave him back to me? The Messiah. And am I losing him because he preaches the Lord? Of course not! I shall find him again also in eternal life. But you speak in a way that makes me suspicious. Are you an emissary of the Temple? Have you come to persecute those who believe in the risen Master? Strike! I will not run away. I will not imitate the three wise men of remote days. I will stay. Because if I fall for Him, I shall join Him in Heaven and my prayer of last year will be answered. »
« That is true. You then said: “I anxiously waited for the Lord, and He heard me.” »
« How do you know? Are you one of His disciples? Were you here with Him when I prayed Him? Oh! if you are such, help me to make my cry reach Him, so that He may remember. » He prostrates himself, thinking that he is speaking to an apostle.
« It is I, Abraham of Engedi, and I say to you: “Come”. » Jesus stretches out His arms towards him, revealing Himself, and inviting him to throw himself into them, relaxing on His Heart.
At that moment a boy comes into the vineyard. He is followed by an adolescent and he shouts: « Father! Father! Here we are to help you. »
But the trilling cry of the boy is drowned by the powerful cry of the old man, a true cry of liberation: « Here I am! I am coming! » And Abraham throws himself into the arms of Jesus, shouting again: « Jesus, Holy Messiah! Into Your hands I commit my spirit! »
A blessed death. A death I envy! On the Heart of Christ, in the serene peace of the April flowery country...
Jesus lays the old man gently on the flowery grass that waves in the breeze, at the foot of a row of vines, and He says to the children, who, astonished and frightened, are about to burst into tears: « Do not weep. He died in the Lord. Blessed are those who die in Him! Go, boys, and tell those of Engedi that their synagogue leader has seen the risen Lord and had his prayer answered by Him. Do not weep! Do not weep! » He caresses them while leading them to the exit.
He then goes back to the deceased man and tidies his beard and hair, He lowers his eyelids, which were half closed, He puts the body in order, and on it He lays the mantle that Abraham had taken off to work.
He remains there until He hears some voices coming from the road. Then He stands up. Wonderful... Those who rush there see Him. They shout. They run faster to reach Jesus. But He disappears from their eyes in the refulgence of beams brighter than the sun.
VIII. To Elijah, the Essene of Mount Cherith.
The harsh solitude of the rough mountain at the bottom of which flows the Cherith. Elijah is praying, even more emaciated and bearded, wearing a coarse woollen garment, which is neither grey nor brown, and makes him look like the rocks surrounding him.
He hears a noise resembling that of wind or thunder. He looks up. Jesus has appeared on a rock hanging balanced over the precipice, at the bottom of which there is the torrent.
« The Master! » He throws himself on the ground, face downwards.
« I, Elijah. Did you not hear the earthquake on Preparation Day? »
« Yes, I did, and I went down to Jericho and to Nike. I did not find any of those who love You. I asked after You. They hit me. Then I felt the earth tremble once again, but not so violently, and I came back here to do penance, thinking that the dam of celestial wrath had opened. »
« Of Divine Mercy. I died and have risen. Look at My wounds. Join the servants of the Lord on Mount Tabor and tell them that I sent you. »
He blesses him and disappears.
IX. To Dorcas and her child in the castle of Caesarea Philippi.
Dorcas' little boy, supported by his mother, is taking his first steps on the rampart of the fortress. And Dorcas, bent as she is, does not see the Lord appear. But when, having left the little boy somewhat free, she sees him walk steadily and fast towards the corner of the rampart, she straightens herself up to run, so that he may not fall and may perish passing through the battlements or openings made on purpose for offensive weapons. And in doing so she sees Jesus, Who takes up the child, pressing him to His heart and kissing him.
The woman dare not make a gesture. But she utters a loud cry. A cry that makes those of the courts look up and causes faces to lean out of windows: « The Lord! The Lord! The Messiah is here! He has really risen. » But before people can rush there, Jesus has already disappeared.
« You are mad! You were dreaming! Plays of light have made you see a ghost. »
« Oh! He was really alive! See how my son is looking there and how he is holding in his hands an apple as beautiful as his little face. He is gnawing at it with his little teeth. I have no apples... »
« Nobody has ripe apples these days, and so fresh... » they say rather shocked.
« Let us ask Tobias » say some of the women.
« What do you want to do? He can hardly say “mummy”! » say the men mockingly.
But the women bend over the little boy and say: « Who gave you the apple? »
And the lips, that can hardly say the most simple words, in a joyful smile that displays his tiny little teeth and his still empty gums, without any hesitation says: « Jesus. »
« Oh! »
« Hey! you call him Jesai! He can say his name. »
« Jesus you, or Jesus the Lord? Which Lord? Where did you see Him? » insist the women.
« There, the Lord. Jesus the Lord. »
« Where is He? Where did He go? »
« There. » He points at the sky full of sun and smiles happily and bites his apple.
And while the men go away shaking their heads, Dorcas says to the women: « He was handsome. He seemed to be dressed in light. And on His hands He had the signs of the nails, as red as gems against so much whiteness. I saw Him very well, because He held the child so » and she makes the gesture of Jesus.
The superintendent hastens there, he makes them repeat the story, he ponders, and concludes: « The psalm says: “On the lips of children and babes in arms You have placed the perfect praise.” And why not the truth? They are innocent. And we... Let us remember this day... No! I am going to the village of the disciples. I am going to see whether the Rabbi is there... And yet... He was dead... Who knows!... »
And with this « who knows! » that ends its conclusion internally, the superintendent goes away, while the women, full of excitement, continue asking questions of the child, who laughs and repeats: « Jesus, there. And then there. Jesus Lord » and he points at the place where Jesus was, then at the sun where he saw Him disappear, happy, happy.
X. To the people gathered in the synagogue of Kedesh.
The people of Kedesh are gathered in the synagogue and are discussing the last events with Matthias, the synagogue leader. The synagogue is rather half dark, because the doors are closed and the curtains are lowered on the windows, heavy curtains that the April wind hardly moves.
A lightning illuminates the room. It looks like a lightning, but it is the light that precedes Jesus. And Jesus shows Himself, astonishing many people. He stretches out His arms and the wounds on His hands and feet appear clearly visible, because He shows Himself on the last of the three steps that lead to a closed door. He says: « I have risen from the dead. I remind you of the dispute between the scribes and Me. I have given the wicked generation the sign that I had promised. That of Jonah. I give My blessing to those who love Me and are faithful to Me. » Nothing else. He disappears.
« But it was He! Where from? And yet He was alive! He had said so! Well! Now I understand. The sign of Jonah: three days in the bowels of the Earth and then the resurrection... »
A babble of comments...
XI. To a group of rabbis at Giscala.
A poisonous group of rabbis who try to convince some hesitating men of their requests. They would like to get these men to go to Gamaliel, who has closed himself in his house and does not want to see anybody.
These men say: « We tell you that he is not here. We do not know where he is. He came. He consulted some rolls. He went away. He did not say one word »; « He was frightening, so upset and aged he was » reply the others.
With a bad grace the rabbis turn their backs on those who have spoken and, they go away saying: « Also Gamaliel is as mad as Simon! It is not true that the Galilean has risen! It is not true! It is not true! It is not true that He is God. It is not true. Nothing is true. We alone are in the truth. » The very pain they take in saying that it is not true, proves that they are afraid that it is true, that they need to be reassured.
They have walked along the wall of the house and they are near Hillel's tomb. Howling their denials all the time, they raise their heads... and they run away shouting. The Jesus extremely kind to good people is there, frighteningly powerful, with His arms opened out as on the cross... The wounds on His hands are as red as if they were still dripping blood. He does not utter one word. But His eyes fulminate them.
The rabbis run away, they fall, they get up, they wound themselves against trees and stones, mad, driven mad by fear. They look like homicides who have been taken back into the presence of their victim.
XII. To Joachim and Mary of Bozrah.
« Mary! Mary! Joachim and Mary! Come outside. »
The two, who are in a quiet room, illuminated by a lamp, one intent on sewing, the other on making up accounts, raise their heads, look at each other... Joachim, growing pale with fear, whispers: « The voice of the Rabbi! It comes from the other life... » The woman, frightened, presses against her husband.
But the call is repeated and the two, holding on tightly to each other, to pluck up courage, dare to go out, in the direction of the voice.
In the garden, illuminated by the crescent of the new moon, there is Jesus, shining in a light much stronger than many moons. The light surrounds Him and makes Him God. His very sweet smile and loving eyes make Him Man: « Go and tell those of Bozrah that you have seen Me, real and alive. And you, Joachim, say so at Tabor, to those who have gathered there. » He blesses them and disappears.
« But it was He! It was not a dream! I... Tomorrow I will go to Galilee. He said at the Tabor, did He not?... »
XIII. To Mary of Jacob, at Ephraim.
The woman is kneading flour to make bread. She turns round, upon hearing that she is being called, and she sees Jesus. She throws herself on the floor, face and hands on the floor, in silent adoration, a little frightened.
Jesus speaks: « You will tell everybody that you have seen Me and that I have spoken to you. The Lord is not subjected to the sepulchre. I rose on the third day as I had predicted. Do persevere, you who are on My way, and do not let yourselves be seduced by the words of those who crucified Me. My peace to you. »
XIV. To Syntyche, at Antioch.
Syntyche is preparing a travelling bag. It is evening, because a little lamp is lit, its faint light flickers, and it is placed on a table near the woman intent on folding some garments.
The room is brightly lit up and Syntyche raises her head, surprised, to see what is happening, what is the source of such a bright light in that room which is completely closed. But before she can see, Jesus forestalls her: « It is I. Be not afraid. I have shown Myself to many people to confirm them in their faith. I am showing Myself also to you, My obedient faithful disciple. I have risen. See? I no longer suffer. Why are you weeping? »
The woman, before the beauty of the Glorified Master, finds no words... Jesus smiles at her to encourage her and He adds: « I am the same Jesus Who gladly received you on the road near Caesarea. Although you were so timid then, you did speak to Me and you did not know Me. And now, can you not say one word to Me? »
« O Lord! I was about to leave... To relieve my heart of so much anxiety and sorrow. »
« Why sorrow? Did they not tell you that I had risen? »
« They told me and denied it. But I have not been upset by their contradictions. I knew that You could not rot in a sepulchre. I wept over Your martyrdom. I believed, even before they told me, in Your resurrection. And I continued to believe when others came to say that it was not true. But I wanted to come to Galilee. I was thinking: I can no longer do Him any harm. He is now more God than Man. I do not know whether what I say is right... »
« I understand what you mean. »
« And I said: I will worship Him, and I shall see Mary. I was thinking that You would not remain long among us, and I was hastening my departure. I used to say: when He has gone back to His Father, as He said, His Mother will be somewhat sad in Her joy. Because She is a soul, but She is also a mother... And I will try to comfort Her, now that She is alone... I was proud! »
« No. You were compassionate. I will inform My Mother of your thought. But do not come there. Remain where you are and continue to work for Me. Now more than previously. Your brothers, the disciples, need the work of everybody to propagate My doctrine. You have seen Me. Mary is entrusted to John. Do not worry any more. You will be able to fortify your spirit with the certainty of having seen Me and with the power of My blessing. »
Syntyche is longing to kiss Him. But she dare not. Jesus says to her: « Come. » And she dares to drag herself on her knees close to Jesus and makes the gesture of kissing His feet. But she sees the two wounds and dare not. She takes the hem of His tunic and kisses it weeping. And she whispers: « What they have done to You! »
Then she asks a question: « And John-Felix? »
« He is happy. He remembers nothing but love and lives in it. Peace to you, Syntyche. » He disappears.
The woman remains in her adoring attitude, on her knees, her face raised, her hands stretched out a little, tears on her face, a smile on her lips...
XV. To Zacharias, the Levite.
He is in a small room. Zacharias, the Levite, is pensive. He is sitting, with his head reclined on one of his hands.
« Do not be in doubt. Do not listen to the voices that upset you. I am the Truth and the Life. Look at Me. Touch Me. »
The young man, who has looked up at the first words and has seen Jesus, and has fallen on his knees, shouts: « Forgive me, Lord. I have sinned. I received in me the doubt concerning Your truth. »
« Those who try to seduce your spirit are more guilty than you are. Do not yield to their temptations. I am a real living body. Feel the weight and the warmth, the solidity and strength of My hand. » He takes him by the forearm and lifts him with His strength, saying: « Rise and walk in the ways of the Lord, out of doubt and fear. And you will be blessed if you can persevere till the end. » He blesses him and disappears.
The young man, after a moment's dumbfounded amazement, runs out of the room shouting: « Mother! Father! I have seen the Master. It is not true what the others say! I was not mad. Do not persist in believing falsehood, but bless the Most High with me, as He has had mercy on His servant. I am going away. I am going to Galilee. I will find some of His disciples. I am going to tell them to believe that He has really risen. »
He does not take a sack with food and garments. He puts on his mantle and runs away, without giving his parents time to recover from their amazement and to be able to intervene to hold him back.
XVI. To a woman of the Sharon plain.
A coast road. Perhaps the one that links Caesarea to Joppa, or another one. I do not know. I know that I see a country on one side and the sea on the opposite side, a deep-blue sea beyond the yellowish line of the shore. The road is certainly a Roman thoroughfare, as is evidenced by its paving.
A woman in tears is going along it in the early hours of a clear morning. The day has just dawned. The woman must be very tired, because now and again she stops and sits down on a milestone or on the road. Then she gets up and proceeds, as if something were urging her to go on, notwithstanding her great tiredness.
Jesus, a wayfarer enveloped in a mantle, sets off beside her. The woman does not look at Him. She proceeds absorbed in her grief. Jesus asks her: « Why are you weeping, woman? Where are you coming from? And where are you going all alone? »
« I am coming from Jerusalem and I am going back home. »
« Far? »
« Half way between Joppa and Caesarea. »
« On foot? »
« In the valley, before Modin, some highwaymen took my donkey and what was on it. »
« It was unwise of you to go all alone. It is not customary to come by oneself at Passover. »
« I did not come for Passover. I remained at home, because I have, and I hope I still have him, a boy who is ill. My husband had gone with other people. I let him go ahead and four days later I set off. Because I said: “He is certainly in Jerusalem for Passover. I will look for Him.” I was somewhat afraid. But I said: “I am not doing anything wrong. God sees. I believe. I know that He is good. He will not reject me, because...” » She stops, as if she were frightened, and casts a quick glance at the man who is walking beside her, and who is so covered up that one can hardly see his eyes, the unmistakable eyes of Jesus.
« Why have you become silent? You are afraid of Me. Do you think that I am an enemy of Him Whom you were looking for? Because you were looking for the Master of Nazareth, to ask Him to come to your house and cure the boy while your husband was away... »
« I see that you are a prophet. It is so. But when I arrived in town, the Master was dead. » Tears choke her...
« He has risen. Do you not believe it? »
« I know. I believe it. But I... But I... For some days I hoped to see Him myself... They say that He has shown Himself to some people. And I delayed my departure... every day a torture, because... my boy is so ill... my heart was divided... whether I should go to comfort him at his death... or stay looking for the Master... I did not expect Him to come to my house, but to promise to cure him. »
« And would you have believed? Do you think that from afar?... »
« I believe. Oh! if He had said to me: “Go in peace. Your son will recover”, I should not have doubted. But I do not deserve it, because... » she weeps, pressing her veil against her lips, so as to be prevented from speaking.
« Because your husband is one of the accusers and crucifiers of Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is God. And God is just, woman. He does not punish an innocent person because of a guilty one. He does not torture a mother because a father is a sinner. Jesus Christ is Mercy alive... »
« Oh! are you perhaps one of His apostles? Perhaps you know where He is? You... Perhaps He sent you to me to tell me this. He has heard, He has seen my grief, my faith, and He has sent you to me as the Most High sent the archangel Raphael to Tobias. Tell me whether it is so, and although I am so tired as to be feverish, I will retrace my steps to look for the Lord. »
« I am not an apostle. But the apostles have remained in Jerusalem for many days after His Resurrection... »
« That is true. I could have asked them. »
« So. They continue the Master. »
« I did not think they could work miracles. »
« They have still worked them... »
« But now... I was told that one only remained faithful, and I did not think... »
« Yes. Your husband told you so, sneering at you in his frenzy of false triumpher. But I tell you that man can sin, because God alone is perfect. And he can repent. And if he does repent, his strength grows, and God increases His graces in him for his contrition. Did the Most High Lord not forgive David? »
« But who are you? Who are you who speak so gently and wisely, if you are not an apostle? An angel perhaps? The angel of my child. He has perhaps breathed his last and you have come to prepare me... »
Jesus lets His mantle fall off His head and face, and passing from the humble aspect of a common pilgrim to His magnificence of God-Man, risen from the dead, with kind solemnity He says: « It is I. The Messiah crucified in vain. I am the Resurrection and the Life. Go, woman. Your son lives, because I have rewarded your faith. Your son is cured. Because, if the Rabbi of Nazareth has finished His mission, the Immanuel continues His until the end of time for all those who have faith, hope and charity in the One and Trine God, of Whom the incarnate Word is one Person, Who through divine love left Heaven to come to teach, to suffer, to die in order to give the Life to men. Go in peace, woman. And be strong in faith, because the time has come when in a family the husband will be against his wife, the father against his sons, and these against him, out of hatred or love for Me. But blessed are those whom persecution will not tear away from My Way. »
He blesses her and disappears.
XVII. To some shepherds on the Great Hermon.
A group of herds and shepherds. They have stopped on some slopes with wonderful pastures. And they are speaking of the events of Jerusalem. And they are distressed, saying to one another: « We shall no longer have the friend of shepherds on the Earth », and they recall the many meetings they had with Him here or there... « Meetings » says an old man « that we shall never have again. »
Jesus appears as if He were setting foot in that place from behind an entangled wood, where the tall trees are embraced by low bushes that conceal the sight of the path.
They do not recognise Him in the solitary man, and seeing Him so enveloped in white garments, they whisper: « Who is it? An Essene? Here? A rich Pharisee? » They are puzzled.
Jesus asks them: « Why do you say that you will never meet the Lord again? Because He, of Whom you are speaking, is the Lord. »
« We know. But do you not know what they have done to Him? Now some people say that He has risen, some say that He has not. But even if He has risen, which we prefer to believe, He will have gone away by now. How can He love and remain among people who have crucified Him? And we, who loved Him, even if not everyone had made His acquaintance, are sad because we have lost Him. »
« There is still a way to have Him. He taught it. »
« Oh! yes. By doing what He taught us. Then one has the Kingdom of God and is with Him. But one must first live and then die. And He is no longer among us to comfort us. » They shake their heads.
« My dear children, for those who live what He taught, keeping His teachings in their hearts, it is just the same as if they had Jesus in their hearts. Because Word and Doctrine are one thing only. He was not a Master Who taught things that were not as He was. So, he who does what He said, has Jesus alive in himself and is not separated from Him. »
« What you say is correct. But we are poor men and... we want to see also with our eyes to feel our joy properly... I have never seen Him, neither has my son, nor Jacob, nor Melkiah, nor James, nor Saul. See, only among us, how many have not seen Him? We have always looked for Him, but when we arrived, He had left. »
« Were you in Jerusalem on that day? »
« Oh! we were there! But when we heard what they wanted to do to Him, we ran away like madmen up the mountains, and we went back to town after the Sabbath. We are not guilty of His Blood, because we were not in town. But we did the wrong thing in being cowards. We would at least have seen Him and greeted Him. He would certainly have blessed us for our greetings... But we did not really have the courage to look at Him amid tortures... »
« He blesses you now. Look at Him Whose face you wish to know. »
He shows Himself, magnificently divine on the green of the meadow. While their amazement throws them on the ground, but glues their eyes to His divine Face, He disappears in a refulgent light.
XVIII. At Sidon, to the little boy born blind.
The little boy is playing all alone under a thick pergola. He hears someone call him and he finds himself in front of Jesus. Not in the least frightened, he asks Him: « But are You not the Rabbi Who gave me my eyes? » and he fixes his limpid eyes of a child, of the same blue hue as Jesus', on the divine sparkling eyes.
« It is I, My child. Are you not afraid of Me? » He caresses his head.
« No, I am not afraid. But my mother and I have wept very much, when my father came back before the time and he told us that he had run away because they had taken the Rabbi to put Him to death. He did not celebrate Passover and now he has to leave again to celebrate it. So, did You not die? »
« I died. Look at My wounds. I died on the cross. But I have risen again. Tell your father to remain for some time in Jerusalem, after the second Passover, and to stay near the Mount of Olives, at Bethphage. He will find there who will tell him what to do. »
« My father was thinking of looking for You. At the Feast of the Tabernacles he did not succeed in speaking to You. He wanted to tell You that he loves You because of the eyes that You have given me. But he was not able to do so, neither then nor now... »
« He will do so through his faith in Me. Goodbye, My dear child. Peace to you and to your family. »
XIX. To Johanan's peasants.
Johanan's fields kissed by the moon. Dead silence. The poor houses of the peasants, in a sultry night that compels people to keep at least a door open in order not to die stifled by the heat in the low rooms, where too many bodies are crammed in comparison with the capacity of the place.
Jesus goes into one large room. The very moon seems to lengthen her beams to form a royal carpet for Him on the floor of beaten earth. He bends over a man who is sleeping, lying face downwards in the heavy sleep of fatigue. He calls him. He passes on to another one, to another one. He calls them all, His poor faithful friends. He passes as lightly and quickly as an angel in flight. He goes into other hovels... Then He goes to wait for them outside, near a group of trees.
The peasants, half asleep, come out of their hovels. Two, three, one only, five together, some women. They are surprised that they have all been called like that, by a known voice, that said the same words to everybody: « Come to the apple-orchard ». They go there, the men finishing to put on their poor clothes, the women to arrange their plaits, and they speak in low voices.
« It sounded like the voice of Jesus of Nazareth to me. »
« Perhaps His spirit. They killed Him. Did you hear that? »
« I cannot believe it. He was God. »
« And yet also Joel saw Him pass under the cross... »
« I was told yesterday, while I was waiting for the bailiff to deal with his market business, that some disciples passed through Jezreel and they said that He has really risen. »
« Be quiet! You know what the master says. Who says that, gets scourged. »
« Is put to death, perhaps. But would it not be better, rather than suffer like this? »
« And now He is no longer here! »
« And they are even more wicked, now that they have succeeded in killing Him. »
« They are wicked, because He has risen. »
They speak in low voices while going to the place pointed out to them.
« The Lord! » shouts a woman, the first to fall on her knees.
« His fantasm! » shout others, and some are afraid.
« It is I. Be not afraid. Do not shout. Come forward. It is really I. I have come to confirm your faith, as I know that other people are laying snares for it. See? My Body casts a shadow because it is a real body. You are not dreaming. My voice is a real one. I am the same Jesus Who shared bread with you and gave you love. And also now I give you love. I will send My disciples to you. And it will be still I, because they will give you what I used to give you and what I have given them in order to be able to communicate with those who believe in Me. Bear your crosses, as I bore Mine. Be patient. Forgive. They will tell you how I died. Imitate Me. The way of sorrow is the way to Heaven. Follow it in peace and you will have My Kingdom. There is no other way beside that of resignation to the will of God, of generosity, of charity towards everybody. If there were another one, I should have pointed it out to you. I have come along this one, because it is the just way. Be faithful to the Law of Sinai, which is immutable in its ten commandments, and to My Doctrine. My disciples will come to teach you, so that you may not be abandoned to the intrigues of wicked people. I bless you. Always remember that I have loved you and that I have come to you before and after My glorification. I solemnly tell you that many people would like to see Me now, and they will not see Me. Many mighty people. But I show Myself to those whom I love and who love Me. »
A man dares to say: « So... Does the Kingdom of Heaven really exist? Were You really the Messiah? They influence us... »
« Do not listen to their words. Remember Mine, and receive those of My disciples who are known to you. They are words of truth. And those who receive them and put them into practice, even if he is a servant or a slave here, will be a citizen and coheir to My Kingdom. »
He blesses them stretching out His arms and disappears.
« Oh! I.. I no longer fear anything! »
« Neither do I. Did you hear that? There is a place also for us! »
« It is necessary to be good! »
« To forgive! »
« To have patience! »
« To be able to resist. »
« To look for the disciples. »
« He has come to us, poor servants. »
« We will tell His apostles. »
« If Johanan knew! »
« And Doras! »
« They would kill us so that we could not speak. »
« But we will keep quiet. We will only tell the servants of the Lord. »
« Micah, do you not have to go to Sephoris with that load? Why do you not go to Nazareth and tell... »
« Whom? »
« The Mother. The apostles. They may be with Her... » They go away, whispering their plans.
XX. To Daniel, a relative of Helkai, the Pharisee, with Simon, the member of the Sanhedrin.
Helkai, the Pharisee, is discussing with some of his peers what to do with Simon, the member of the Sanhedrin, who became insane on Good Friday and now speaks too much and says too many things. There are various proposals. Some say that he should be isolated in some desert place, where his shouting can be heard only by a very faithful servant, who is of their same mind, some, more benignly, feel sure, as it is a transient illness, that it is sufficient to leave him where he is.
Helkai replies: « I brought him here, because I do not know any other place where I can take him. But you know that I mistrust my relative Daniel very much... »
Others, who are even more wicked than Helkai, say: « He wants to run away, to go by sea. Why not please him? »
« Because he is incapable of orderly actions. All alone at sea he would perish, and none of us is capable of steering a boat. »
« And then! Even if we were! What would happen at the landing-stage, considering what he says? Let him choose the way... In the presence of everybody, also of your relative, let him say what he wants to do, and let it be done as he wishes. »
This proposal is approved and Helkai calls a servant and orders him to bring Simon and to call Daniel. They both come and, if Daniel looks like a man who feels ill at ease in the company of certain people, the other looks just like an idiot.
« Listen to us, Simon. You say that we are keeping you in prison because we want to kill you... »
« You must. Because that is the order. »
« You are raving, Simon. Be quiet and listen. Where do you think you would recover your health? »
« At sea. At sea. Out in the open sea. Where no voice is heard. Where there are no sepulchres. Because sepulchres open and the dead come out and my mother says... »
« Be silent! Listen. We love you. Like one of our blood. Do you really want to go there? »
« I certainly do. Because the sepulchres here open up and my mother... »
« You will go there. We will take you to the seaside, we will give a boat and you... »
« But you are committing a homicide! He is mad! He cannot go by himself! » shouts honest Daniel.
« God does not do violence to the will of man. Could we do what God does not do? »
« But he is insane! He no longer has a will. He is more foolish than a new-born baby! You cannot!... »
« Be silent. You are a farmer and nothing else. We know... Tomorrow we will leave for the sea. Cheer up, Simon. For the sea, do you understand? »
« Ah! I shall no longer hear the voices of the Earth! No more the voices... Ah! » a long cry, a delirious agitation, eyes and ears close. And another cry, of Daniel, who runs away terrorised.
« Who is it? What is happening? Stop that madman and that fool! Are we all losing our wits? » shouts Helkai.
But he whom Helkai calls a “fool”, that is his relative Daniel, after running away a few metres, prostrates himself on the ground, whereas the other one froths at the mouth, where he is, in a frightful convulsion, and shouts, shouts: « Make Him be quiet! He is not dead and He shouts and shouts and shouts! More than my mother, more than my father, more than He did on Golgotha! There, there, can you not see there? » He points at the place where Daniel is, placid, smiling, with his face upwards, after being with his face downwards on the ground.
Helkai reaches him and shakes him violently, furious as he is, without bothering about Simon, who rolls on the ground and foams, uttering beastly shouts amid all the others who look terrified as they surround him. Helkai says to Daniel: « You visionary idler, will you tell me what you are doing? »
« Leave me. Now I know who you are. And I am going away from you. I have seen, benign to me, dreadful to you, Him Who you want me to believe is dead. I am going away. I want to protect my soul rather than money and wealth. Goodbye, you cursed one! And if you can, try to deserve God's forgiveness. »
« But where are you going? Where? I do not want! »
« Are you entitled to keep me prisoner? Who gave you that right? I leave you what you love and I will follow what I love. Goodbye » he turns his back on him and goes away, as fast as if he were drawn by a superhuman power, down the green slope of olive-trees and orchards.
Helkai is livid with rage, and he is not the only one. Rage chokes them all. Helkai threatens to take vengeance upon his relative, upon all those who « with their frenzies », he says, maintain that the Galilean is alive. He wants to say, he wants to do...
One, I do not know who it is, says: « We will do, we will do, but we shall not be able to close all the mouths, all the eyes, that speak, because they see. We are defeated! The crime is upon us. Now comes the expiation... » and he beats his breast, seized with such anguish, that he looks like one who is climbing the steps of the scaffold. « The revenge of Jehovah » he also says, and all the age-old terror of Israel resounds in his voice.
In the meantime Simon, wounded, frothing at the mouth, frightened, raves shouting like a damned soul: « Parricide, He said to me! Make Him keep quiet! Quiet! Parricide! The same word as my mother's! So do all the dead speak the same words?!... »
XXI. To a Galilean woman.
The moon, which is almost on the point of setting, is about to conceal her still thin crescent of a new moon behind the summit of a mountain. And her light is, therefore, very faint, and before long she will no longer shine on the wide country.
And yet a wayfarer is on the solitary road, a small road, a path among the fields, more than anything else. He is walking holding a very simple lantern hanging from a ring, one of those which, being as old as the world, I think are generally used by carters to have light at night. As glass was not a common thing – I think it was completely unknown, as I never happened to see any in any house, such as a drinking glass, or a vase, or as a shelter at windows – the flame was protected by something, that could be either mica or parchment. The light that filters is so faint, that it illuminates only a small space around the lantern. But as the moon is completely concealed, the light of the poor lantern seems to grow stronger, forming a clear dancing point in the darkness of the country.
The wayfarer walks, walks... Dawn begins to appear in the sky at the extreme horizon. But it is so feeble, at present, that it does not illuminate anything, and the poor lantern is still needed.
Another wayfarer, all enveloped in a mantle, is waiting or resting near a little bridge.
The one with the lantern, who is making for that bridge, stops in a doubtful attitude. He is uncertain whether he should pass there or go back, where in the gravel-bed of a little torrent, there are large stones that can serve to cross over the little water at the bottom.
The one sitting on the rustic parapet, made of the trunk of a tree with a white-green bark still on it, raises his head, watching the one who has stopped. He stands up and says: « Be not afraid of Me. Come forward. I am a good companion, not a highwayman. » It is Jesus. I recognise Him more by His voice than by His appearance, which is veiled by the deep twilight, that the light cannot penetrate as far as Jesus.
But the person stops, still doubtful.
« Come, woman. Do not be afraid. We shall go together for a stretch of the road and it will be a good thing for you. »
The woman, now I know that it is a woman, comes forward, won over by the kindness of the voice or by a mysterious force and she shakes her head as she proceeds, whispering: « There is no more good for me. »
They now proceed side by side along the path, which is so wide as to allow only two pedestrians to pass. The advancing dawn shows, on one side of the path, a stiff forest in miniature of ripe corn awaiting the sickle. On the other side the corn has already been cut and is lying in sheaves in the field despoiled of its glory of a ripe harvest.
« May they be cursed! » says the woman in a low voice, casting a glance at the sheaves lying in the field.
Jesus is silent.
The day is advancing. The woman puts out the poor lantern and, to do so, she uncovers her face disfigured by tears. And she raises her head to look eastwards, where a yellow pink line announces the rising of the sun. She shakes her fist eastwards and she says again: « May you be cursed, too! »
« The day? God made it. As He made the corn. They are favours of God. They are not to be cursed... » says Jesus kindly.
« And I curse them. I curse the sun and the crops. And I have a reason for that. »
« Have they not been good to you for so many years? Did the former not ripen your daily bread, the grapes that change into wine, the vegetables and the fruit of the kitchen garden, did it not make the pastures grow to feed sheep and lambs, on whose milk and meat you fed and with whose wool you wove your garments? And did the corn not give bread to you, to your children, to your father and to your mother, to your husband? »
She bursts into tears and shouts: « I no longer have my husband! They have killed him! He went to work as a day-labourer, because we have seven children and the little we have of our own was not sufficient to appease the hunger of ten people. And yesterday evening he came and said: “I am tired and I feel out of sorts” and he threw himself on the little bed, burning with fever. His mother and I assisted him as best we could, as we intended to send for the doctor in town today... But after cock-crow he died. The sun killed him. Yes, I am going to town. To get what is necessary. I will inform his brothers when I come back. I left his mother to watch her son and my children... and I came away to do what is to be done... And should I not curse the burning sun and corn? »
So reserved as she was previously, so much so that I would not have thought she was a woman, and above all a distressed one, she has now broken the barriers to her sorrow, which overflows violently. She says what she did not say at home « in order not to wake up the children sleeping in the next room », what weighed so much on her heart as to give her the sensation that it was about to burst. Recollections of love, dismay for the future, grief of a widow, pass confusedly like rubble carried away by the swollen waves of a river in spate...
Jesus lets her speak. Because Jesus knows how to pity sorrow, He allows it to give vent to its feelings, so that man may be relieved thereby, and the tiredness itself, that follows the impetuousness of sorrow, may make him capable of understanding who comforts him. He then says kindly: « At Nain and at Nazareth, and in the places between the former and the latter, there are the disciples of the Rabbi of Nazareth. Go to them... »
« And what do You expect them to do? If He were still here!... But they? They are not saints! My husband was in Jerusalem on that day. And he knows... Oh! no! He knew! He knows nothing any more! He is dead! »
« What did your husband do on that day? »
« When the uproar of the street woke him, he ran up to the terrace of the house where he was with his brothers and he saw the Rabbi pass by, as He was taken to the Praetorium, and with other Galileans he followed Him until He died. They pelted him and the others with stones, when they found out that the were Galileans, up there on the mountain, and they repelled them farther down. But they were there until everything was accomplished. Then... they came away... And now he is dead. Oh! if at least I knew that he is at peace because of his compassion for the Rabbi! »
Jesus does not reply to that wish. But He says: « He will then have seen that there were some disciples on Golgotha. Were all the Galileans perhaps like your husband? »
« Oh! no. Many, also from Nazareth, abused Him. It is known. What a shame! »
« So, if many people also from Nazareth showed no love for their Jesus, and yet He has forgiven them, and many will become holy in future, why do you want to judge all the disciples of Christ in the same way? Do you want to be more severe than God is? God grants much to those who forgive... »
« The good Rabbi is no longer! here! He is no longer here! And my husband is dead. »
« The Rabbi has given His disciples the power to do what He did. »
« I am prepared to believe that. But He alone could defeat death. He alone! »
« And do we not read that Elijah gave the spirit back to the son of the widow of Zarephath? I solemnly tell you that Elijah was a great prophet, but the servants of the Saviour, Who died and has risen because He was the Son of the true God and became incarnate to redeem men, have even a greater power, because on the Cross He forgave them their sins, and they were the first to be forgiven, as He was aware, through divine wisdom, of the true sorrow of their contrite spirits, He sanctified them after His resurrection forgiving them again, and He infused the Holy Spirit into them, so that they could represent Me worthily both with their words and their deeds, and the world might not remain desolate after My departure from it. »
The woman steps back livelily, dumbfounded. She throws her veil back to look at her companion. But she does not recognise Him. She thinks that she has misunderstood. But she dare not speak any more...
« Are you afraid of Me? First you thought that I was a highwayman ready to snatch the money you have in your breast and serves to buy what is necessary for the burial. And you were afraid. Are you now afraid to know that I am Jesus? And is Jesus not the One Who gives and does not take? He Who saves and does not ruin? Go back, woman. I am the Resurrection and the Life. Sudarium and spices are not necessary for him who is not dead, who is no longer dead, because I am He Who defeats death and rewards who has faith. Go! Go home! Your husband is alive. Not one faith in Me is left without reward. » He makes the gesture of blessing her and going away.
The woman comes out of her petrification. She does not ask, she does not doubt... Nothing. She falls on her knees, adoring. Then, at last, she opens her mouth and, searching in her breast, she pulls out a small purse, the poor purse of poor people, to whom misery forbids solemn honours for their dead relatives, and offering her purse she says: « I have nothing else... nothing else to tell You my gratitude, to honour You, to... »
« I no longer need money, woman. You will take it to My apostles. »
« Oh! yes. I will go to them with my husband... But what can I give You, my Lord? What? You appeared to me... this miracle... and I did not recognise You... and I so upset... yes, unjust even with things... »
« Yes. And you did not think that they are because I am, and that everything that God made is good. If there had been no sun, if there had been no corn, you would not have had the present grace. »
« But how much sorrow!... » The woman weeps remembering it.
Jesus smiles and shows His hands saying: « This is the least part of My sorrow. And I consumed it all, without complaining, for your welfare. »
The woman stoops to the ground to confess: « It is true. Forgive my lament. »
Jesus disappears in His light, and when she looks up she sees that she is alone. She stands up, looks round. Nothing can prevent her from seeing, because it is broad daylight, and there is nothing but fields of crops around. The woman says to herself: « And yet I have not dreamt! » Perhaps the demon tempts her to make her doubt, because she is in a state of uncertainty for a moment, while she weighs her purse in her hands.
But then faith triumphs, and she turns her back to the place where she was going, retracing her steps, as fast as if the winds were carrying her without making her fatigue, her face shining with a joy which is greater than any human joy, so peaceful it is. Now and again she repeats: « How good is the Lord. He is really God! He is God! Blessed be the Most High and He Whom He sent. » She cannot say anything else. And her litany mingles with the singing of birds.
The woman is so absorbed that she does not hear the greetings of some reapers who see her pass by and ask her where is she coming from at that early hour... One joins her and says to her: « Is Mark better? Have you been for the doctor? »
« Mark died at cock-crow and has risen from the dead. Because the Messiah of the Lord has done that » she replies, walking fast all the time.
« Sorrow has made her insane! » whispers the man, and he shakes his head joining his companions, who have begun to cut the corn.
The fields are filling with more and more people. But curiosity overwhelms many who decide to follow the woman, who quickens her steps more and more.
She goes on. There is a very poor house, low, solitary, lost in the country. She directs her steps towards it, pressing her hands against her heart.
She goes in. But as soon as she sets foot in it, an old woman throws herself in her arms shouting: « Oh! my daughter, what a grace of the Lord! Take heart, daughter, because what I have to tell you is so great, so happy, that... »
« I know, mother. Mark is no longer dead. Where is he? »
« You know... How? »
« I met the Lord. I did not recognise Him, but He spoke to me and when it pleased Him, He said to me: “Your husband lives.” But here... when? »
« I had just opened the window, and I was looking at the first sunbeam on the fig-tree. Yes, just so. The first beam touched the fig-tree then, against the room... when I heard a deep sigh, like that of one who wakes up. I turned round frightened and I saw Mark sit up and throw behind him the sheet that I had laid on his face, and look up with a face, a face... Then he looked at me and said: “Mother! I am cured!” I... I almost died myself, and he assisted me, and he realised that he had been dead. He does not remember anything. He says that he remembers up to the moment we put him to bed, and then nothing else till he saw an angel, a kind of angel who looked like the Rabbi of Nazareth and who said to him: “Rise!” And he rose. Just when the sun had completely risen. »
« Just when He said to me: “Your husband lives.” Oh! mother, what a grace! How much God has loved us! »
Those who come in find them embraced, weeping. And they think that Mark is dead and that his wife, in a moment of clearness of mind, has realised her misfortune. But Mark, upon hearing the voices, appears, looking serene, with a child in his arms, and the others holding on his tunic, and he says in a loud voice: « Here I am. Let us bless the Lord! »
The newcomers beset him with questions, and as is usual with human things, discrepancies arise. Some believe in a real resurrection, and some, the majority, say that he had only fallen into a torpor, but he had not died. Some admit that Christ has appeared to Rachel and some say that it is a lot of nonsense, because some say: « He is dead » and some: « He has risen, but He is so indignant, He must be, that He works no more miracles for His murderous people. »
« You can say what you like » says the man losing his patience « and say it where you like. As long as you do not say it here, where the Lord has raised me from the dead. And go away, o unfortunate people! And may Heaven enlighten your heads so that you may believe. But go away now and leave us in peace. » He drives them out and closes the door.
He presses his wife and mother to his heart and says: « Nazareth is not far. I am going there to proclaim the miracle. »
« That is what the Lord wants, Mark. We will take this money to His disciples. Let us go and bless the Lord. Just as we are. We are poor, but He also was poor, and His apostles will not despise us. »
She busies herself tying the laces of the children's sandals, while her mother puts some provisions in a bag and closes doors and windows, and Mark goes to do I do not know what.
They go out when they are ready and walk fast, the little ones in their arms, the others happy and somewhat bewildered, eastwards, towards Nazareth, obviously. Perhaps this place is still in the Esdraelon plain, but in a different part than that of Johanan's estate.