1st November 1951.
Some years must have gone by, because John seems to be in full manhood, more sturdily built, with a more mature appearance, while his fair hair, beard and moustache are of a much darker colour.
Mary, Who is spinning, while John is tidying up the kitchen of the little house at Gethsemane, the walls of which have been recently whitewashed, while wooden items have been painted – stools, door, a cabinet that serves also as a shelf for the lamp – does not appear at all changed. Her aspect is fresh and serene. All traces left on Her face by the sorrow for the death of Her Son, for His return to Heaven, for the first persecutions against the Christians, have disappeared. Time has not engraved its traces on that kind face. And age has not had the power to alter its fresh pure beauty.
The lamp, lit on the shelf, casts its flickering light on the small industrious hands of Mary, on the snow-white wool wound round the distaff, on the thin thread, on the twirling spindle, on Her golden hair gathered in a thick knot on the nape of Her neck.
Through the open door a very limpid moon-beam penetrates into the kitchen, laying a kind of silver strip from the threshold to the feet of the stool on which Mary is sitting, so that Her feet are illuminated by the moon-beam, and Her hands and head by the reddish light of the lamp. Outside, on the olive-trees surrounding the house of Gethsemane, some nightingales are singing their songs of love.
They suddenly become silent, as if they were frightened, and after a few moments, the shuffling of steps can be heard, and it becomes closer and closer, until it stops on the threshold of the kitchen, at the same time making the white lunar strip disappear, that previously silvered the coarse dark bricks of the floor.
Mary raises Her head and looks towards the door. John, in turn, looks towards the door and an « oh! » full of wonder is uttered by their lips, while, with one movement only they both rush towards the door, on the threshold of which Gamaliel has appeared and stopped. A very old Gamaliel by now, ghastly, so thin is he in his white garments, which the moon, shining on him from behind, makes almost phosphorescent. A Gamaliel crushed, overwhelmed by events, by his remorse, by so many things, even more than by age.
« You here, rabbi? Come in! Come! And peace be with you » John says to him, as he is in front of him and very close to him, while Mary is a few steps behind.
« If you will guide me... I am blind... » replies the old rabbi, in a voice that is trembling more because of secret tears, than because of his age.
John, dumbfounded, asks, with emotion and compassion in his voice: « Blind?! Since when? »
« Oh!... Since long ago! My sight began to grow weaker immediately after... after... Yes. After I did not recognise the true Light that had come to enlighten men, until the earthquake tore the veil of the Temple and shook the mighty walls, as He had said. Really a double veil, that covered the Holy of the Holies of the Temple and the even truer Holy of Holies, the Word of the Father, His eternal Only-Begotten, concealed by the veil of a most pure human flesh, that only His Passion and His glorious Resurrection revealed to the most dull-minded people, and to me first of all, for what He really was: the Christ, the Messiah, the Immanuel. Since that moment darkness began to descend upon my eyes, becoming thicker and thicker. A just punishment for me. For some time I have been completely blind. And I have come... »
John interrupts him asking him: « Perhaps to ask a miracle? »
« Yes. A great miracle. I am asking it of the Mother of the true God. »
« Gamaliel, I do not have the power that My Son had. He was able to give life and sight to blind eyes, word to dumb people, movement to those who were paralysed. But not I » Mary replies to him. And She continues: « But come here, near the table, and sit down. You are tired and old, rabbi. Do not tire yourself any more » and pitifully, with John, She leads him towards the table and makes him sit on a stool.
Gamaliel, before leaving Her hand free, kisses it with veneration, then he says to Her: « I am not asking of You, Mary, the miracle to see once again. No. I am not asking this material thing. What I ask of You, o Blessed amongst all women, is the sight of an eagle for my spirit, so that I may see all the Truth. I do not ask of You the light for my blind eyes, but the supernatural divine true light that is wisdom, truth, life, for my soul and my heart torn by and exhausted with the remorse that gives me no rest. I have no desire to see with my eyes this Hebrew world, so... Yes. So stubbornly rebellious to God, Who has been and is so compassionate towards it, as we really did not deserve that He should be. On the contrary I am glad that I do not have to see it any more, and that my blindness has exempted me from all engagements with the Temple and with the Sanhedrin, who have been so unfair to Your Son and to His followers. What I wish to see, with my mind, my heart, my spirit, is He, Jesus. To see Him in me, in my spirit, to see Him spiritually, as You certainly, o Holy Mother of God, and John, so pure, and James, as long as he lived, and the others, for support in their grave and hampered ministry, see Him. To see Him in order to love Him with my whole self, and through this love, be able to make amends for my sins, and be forgiven by Him, to have the eternal Life, that I failed to deserve... » He bends his head on his arms that are folded on the table and he weeps.
Mary lays Her hand on his head shaken by sobs and replies to him: « No, you have not failed to deserve to have eternal Life! Those who repent their past errors are forgiven everything by the Saviour. He would have forgiven even His betrayer, if he had repented his horrible sin. And the sin of Judas of Kerioth is immense as compared with yours. Consider. Judas was the apostle received by the Christ, instructed by the Christ, loved by the Christ more than anyone else, if one considers that, although He knew everything about him, Christ did not reject him from the group of His Apostles, on the contrary, up to the very last moment, He resorted to every expedient, so that they might not understand who he was and what he was planning. My Son was the Truth itself, and for no reason whatsoever did He ever lie. But when He saw the other eleven be suspicious and they asked Him questions about the Iscariot, without lying, He was able to divert their suspicious and not reply to their questions, ordering them not to be inquisitive, out of prudence and out of charity for a brother. Your fault is by far smaller. And what is more, it cannot even be called a fault. Yours is not incredulity, on the contrary it is excess of faith. You believed so much in the twelve-year-old Boy Who spoke to you in the Temple that, obstinately, but with upright intention, based on your absolute faith in that Boy, on Whose lips you had heard words of infinite wisdom, you awaited the sign to believe in Him and see the Messiah in Him. God forgives those who have such a strong loyal faith. Even more He forgives whoever, although still in doubt about the true Nature of a man, unjustly accused, does not want to take part in his condemnation, which he feels is unjust. Your spiritual seeing the Truth has been growing and growing since you left the Sanhedrin in order not to agree to that sacrilegious deed. And it increased even more when, being in the Temple, you saw the fulfillment of the sign, so longed for, that marked the beginning of the Christian era. It increased further when at the foot of the cross of My Son, already cold and dead, you prayed with those mighty anguished words. It has become almost perfect every time that, either with your words, or by withdrawing aside, you defended the servants of My Son or you refused to take part in the condemnation of the first martyrs. Believe Me, Gamaliel, every act of sorrow, of justice, of love of yours, has increased your spiritual sight in you. »
« A11 that is still not enough! See, I had the rare grace of becoming acquainted with Your Son as from His first public manifestation, when He came of age. I should have seen since then! I should have understood! I was blind and foolish... I did not see and I did not understand. Neither then, nor in other occasions, when I had the grace of approaching Him, by that time a Man and Master, and I heard His ever more just and powerful words. I was stubbornly awaiting the human sign, the shaken stones... And I did not see that everything in Him was a sure sign! And I did not see that He was the corner Stone predicted by the Prophets, the Stone that was already shaking the world, all the Hebrew and Gentile world; the Stone that shook the stones of hearts with His Word, with His prodigies! I did not see on Him the clear sign of His Father in everything He did or said! How can He forgive so much stubborness? »
« Gamaliel, can you believe that I, Who am the Seat of Wisdom, the Full of Grace, Who, both because of the Wisdom Who took Flesh in Me, and of the Grace He gave Me, have the fullness of knowledge of supernatural matters, can give you good advice? »
« Oh! of course I believe it! Just because I believe that that is what You are, I have come to You to receive light. You, Daughter, Mother, Spouse of God, Who certainly since Your conception filled You with His sapiential lights, can but show me the way that I must take to have peace, to find the truth, to conquer the true Life. I am so aware of my errors, so crushed by my spiritual misery, that I am in need of help to dare to go to God. »
« What you consider a hindrance is instead a wing to elevate you to God. You have demolished yourself, you have humiliated yourself, you were a mighty mountain, you have made yourself a deep valley. Bear in mind that humility is like a fertilizer of the most arid soil, to prepare it to give plants and rich crops. It is a step to climb. Even more, it is a ladder to ascend to God, Who, upon seeing a humble man, calls him to Himself to exalt him, to inflame him with His Love, and enlighten him with his lights, so that he may see. That is why I say to you that you already are in the Light, on the right Way, towards the true Life of the children of God. »
« But in order to receive the Grace I must enter the Church, receive Baptism that cleanses us from sin and makes us once again the adoptive sons of God. I am not against that. On the contrary! I have destroyed the son of the Law in myself, I can no longer esteem and love the Temple. But I do not want to be nothing. So I must rebuild the new man and the new faith on the ruins of my past. But I think that apostles and disciples are mistrustful and prejudiced against me, the great stubborn rabbi... »
John interrupts him saying: « You are wrong, Gamaliel. I am the first who loves you and I should mark the day, on which I could call you a lamb of the flock of Christ, as a day of an extremely great grace. I should not be His disciple if I did not put into practice the teachings of the Christ. And He ordered us to have love and understanding for everybody, and especially for the weaker people, the sick, those who have been misled. He ordered us to follow His examples. And we saw that He was always full of love for repentant sinners, for prodigal sons returning to the Father, or for lost sheep. From the Magdalene to the Samaritan woman, from Aglae to the highwayman, how many He redeemed through mercy! He would have forgiven even Judas his supreme crime, if he had repented. He had forgiven him so many times! I alone know how much He loved him, although He was aware of every action of his. Come with me. I will make you a son of God and a brother of the Christ Saviour. »
« You are not the Pontiff. Peter is the Pontiff. And will Peter be good to me? He is, I know, quite different from you. »
« He was. But since he has realised how weak he was, to the point of being a coward and a denier of his Master, he no longer is what he was, and he has mercy on everybody. »
« Then take me to him at once. I am old and I have delayed too long. I felt that I was too unworthy, and I was afraid that all the servants of Jesus judged me in the same manner. Now that Mary's words and yours have comforted me, I want to enter the Flock of the Master at once, before my old heart, crushed by so many things, stops. Lead me there, because I dismissed the servant who brought me here, so that he might not hear anything. He will come back at the first hour. But I shall be already far away then. And in two ways. From this house and from the Temple. Forever. First I, a rebel son, will go to the house of the Father, I, a lost sheep, to the true Fold of the eternal Shepherd. Then I will go back to my far away house, to die there in peace and in the grace of God. »
With a spontaneous impulse Mary embraces him saying: « May God give you peace. Peace and eternal glory, because you have deserved them by showing your real thoughts to the mighty leaders of Israel, without fearing their reactions. May God be always with you. May God give you His blessing. »
Gamaliel searches for Her hands again. He takes them in his own and kisses them, he kneels down begging Her to lay those blessed hands on his old tired head.
Mary satisfies him. She does even more. She traces the sign of the cross on his bent head. Then, with John, She helps him to stand up, She takes him to the door and remains looking at him go away, led by John, towards the true Life: a man, humanly finished, but supernaturally recreated.