4th November 1951.
Peter and John are on the terrace of Simon's house, which is all lit up by the moon at her summit. They are speaking in low voices, pointing towards Lazarus' house, which is all closed and silent. They speak for a long time, walking backwards and forwards on the terrace. Then, for I wonder which reason, the discussion becomes more animated, and their voices, previously subdued, become higher in tone and very clear.
Peter, striking the parapet with his fist, exclaims: « But do you not understand that we must act so? I am speaking to you in God's name, so listen to me and do not be obstinate. It is better to act as I say. Not out of cowardice and fear, but to avoid a total destruction, which would be deleterious to the Church of Christ. They now watch every move of ours. I noticed that, and Nicodemus has confirmed that I am right. Why could we not remain at Bethany? Just for that reason. Why is it not more prudent to stay in this house, or in Nicodemus', or in Nike's, or in Anastasica's? Always for the same reason. To prevent the Church from dying, because of the death of its leaders. »
« The Master assured us many a time that not even hell will be able to exterminate it and prevail against it » John replies to him.
« That is true. And hell will not prevail, as it did not prevail against the Christ. But men will. As they prevailed against the Man-God, Who defeated Satan, but was not able to gain a victory over men. »
« Because He did not want to win. He had to redeem, and so he had to die. And of that death. But if He had wanted to defeat them! How many times He avoided the snares of all kinds they set for Him! »
« Snares will be laid also for the Church, but it will not perish completely, providing we shall have so much prudence, as to prevent the present leaders from being exterminated, before many more Priests of His, of all ranks, are created by us, His first ones, and prepared for their ministry. Do not deceive yourself, John! Pharisees, scribes, priests and members of the Sanhedrin, are doing everything to kill the shepherds, so that the flock may be dispersed. The flock which is still weak and fearful. Above all, this flock in Palestine. We must not leave it without shepherds, until many lambs, in turn, become shepherds. You have seen how many have already been killed.
Think of what a large part of the world is awaiting us! His order was clear: “Go and evangelize all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe what I ordered you.” And on the shore of the lake, for three times He ordered me to pasture His sheep and His lambs, and He prophesied that only when I am old I will be tied and led to confess the Christ with my blood and my life. And quite far from here! If I have understood one of His speeches properly, before Lazarus' death, I have to go to Rome and found there the immortal Church. And did He Himself not judge that it was right to withdraw to Ephraim, because His evangelization had not yet been accomplished? And only at the right moment He came back to Judaea to be arrested and crucified. Let us imitate Him. No one can certainly say that Lazarus, Mary and Martha were fearful people. And yet, you can see that, although with deep sorrow, they have gone away from here, to take His divine Word elsewhere, as here it would have been suffocated by the Judaeans. I, chosen by Him as His Pontiff, have decided. And with me the others, apostles and disciples, have equally decided. We will scatter. Some will go to Samaria, and some towards the great sea, and some towards Phoenicia, pushing on and on, to Syria, to the islands, to Greece, to the Roman Empire. If in these places here, darnel and Judaean poison make the fields and the vineyards of the Lord sterile, let us go elsewhere and sow other seeds in other fields and vineyards, so that there may be not only a harvest, but it may be a rich one. If in these places the hatred of the Jews poisons the waters and infects them, so that I, a fisher of souls, and my brothers cannot catch souls for the Lord, let us go to other waters. We have to be prudent and shrewd at the same time. Believe me, John. »
« You are right. But I was insisting because of Mary. I cannot, I must not leave Her. We should both suffer too much. And it would be an evil deed, on my side… » John replies to him.
« You will stay. And She will stay, because it would be absurd to tear Her away from here… »
« And Mary would never agree to it. I will join you later. When She is no longer on the Earth. »
« You will come. You are young… You have still a long time to live. »
« And Mary a very short one. »
« Why? Is She ill, suffering, weak, perhaps? »
« Oh! no! Time and sorrows have had no power over Her. She is always young, in appearance and in spirit. Serene, even more, I should say blissful. »
« Then why do you say… »
« Because I realise that Her flourishing in beauty and joy is the sign that She feels already close at hand Her reunion with Her Son. I mean a total reunion. Because the spiritual one has never ceased. I will not lift the veils on the mysteries of God. But I am sure that She sees Her Son daily, in His glorious appearance. And that is Her beatitude. I think that in contemplating Him, Her spirit is enlightened and is able to know all the future, as God knows it. Also Her own. She is still on the Earth with Her body, but I could almost say, without fear of mistaking, that Her spirit is almost always in Heaven. Such is Her union with God that I do not think that I speak a sacrilegious word saying that God is in Her, as when She carried Him in Her womb. Even more. As the Word was united to Her to become Jesus Christ, so now She is so united to the Christ as to be a second Christ, as to have taken on a new humanity, that of Jesus Himself. If what I say is heresy, may God let me know my error and forgive me for it. She lives in love. This fire of love inflames Her, nourishes Her, enlightens Her, and that fire of love will also abduct Her from us, at the destined moment, without any pain for Her, without decomposition for Her body… We alone will be grieved… I in particular… We shall no longer have our Teacher, our Guide, our Comforter… And I shall be really all alone… » And John, whose voice was already trembling striving to repress his tears, is seized with a fit of heart-rending sobbing, such as he never experienced before, not even at the foot of the Cross or in the Sepulchre.
Peter also, although more calmly, begins to weep and in a tearful voice he implores John to inform him, if he can, so that he may be present at Her passage or at least, at Her burial.
« I will do so, if I can. But I doubt it very much. Something within me tells me that as it happened to Elijah who was abducted by a celestial whirlwind on a chariot of fire, so it will happen to Her. I shall not have time to become aware of Her imminent passage that She will already be in Heaven with Her soul. »
« But Her body at least will remain here. Also the Master's remained. And He was God! »
« It was necessary for Him that it should be so. But not for Her. With His Resurrection He had to give the lie to the Judaean slanders, with His apparitions He had to convince the world, that had become doubtful, and even negatory, because of His death on the Cross. But She does not need that. If, however, I can do so, I will let you know. Goodbye, Peter, my Pontiff and my Brother in the Christ. I am going back to Her, as She is certainly waiting for me. God be with you. »
« And with you. And tell Mary to pray for me and to forgive me once again for my cowardice in the night of the Trial, a memory that I cannot cancel from my heart, and gives me no peace… » and tears stream down the cheeks of Peter, who concludes: « May She be a Mother to me. A Mother of love for Her miserable prodigal son… »
« I need not tell Her. She loves you more than a mother by blood. She loves you as the Mother of God, and with the love of the Mother of God. If She was ready to forgive Judas, whose sin was incommensurable, consider whether She has forgiven you! Peace to you, brother, I am going. »
« And I will follow you, if you allow me. I want to see Her once again. »
« Come. I know which road to take to go to Gethsemane, without being seen. »
They set out and walk quickly and in silence towards Jerusalem, but passing along the upper road, that arrives at the Mount of Olives on the side farthest from town. When they arrive it is already daybreak. They go into Gethsemane, and descend towards the little house. Mary, Who is on the terrace, sees them coming and, uttering a cry of joy, She goes down to meet them. Peter really falls at Her feet, with his face on the ground, saying to Her: « Mother, forgive me! »
« For what? Have you perhaps sinned in anything? He Who reveals everything to Me, has only revealed to Me that you are His worthy successor in the Faith. I have always found you to be a just man, even if at times impulsive. So what have I to forgive you? »
Peter weeps and is silent.
John explains: « Peter cannot set his mind at rest for having denied Jesus, in the Court of the Temple. »
« That is a thing of the past and it has been cancelled, Peter. Has Jesus perhaps reproached you? »
« Oh! no! »
« Was He less loving to you than previously? »
« No. Not really. On the contrary!… »
« And does that not tell you how He, and I with Him, have understood you and forgiven you? »
« That is true. I am always the same fool. »
« Then go and be at peace. I tell you that we shall all be together, you, I, the other apostles and deacons, all in Heaven, near the Man-God. For what is given to Me, I bless you. » and as She did with Gamaliel, Mary lays Her hands on the head of Peter and traces a sign of the cross on it. Peter bends to kiss Her feet, he then stands up, much more serene than before, and still in the company of John, he goes back to the upper gate, passes it, and goes away, while John, after closing that entrance, goes back to Mary.