Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish Dore
4th September 1945.
Jesus is curing some sick people; Manaen only is present. They are in the house in Capernaum, in the shady kitchen garden, early in the morning. Manaen is no longer wearing his precious belt or the thin plate on his forehead. His tunic is held tight by a woollen cord and his headgear by a thin strip of cloth. Jesus is bareheaded, as He always is, when at home.
After curing and comforting the sick people, Jesus goes upstairs with Manaen and they both sit on the window-sill of the window facing the mountain, because the sun is shining on the other side of the house and it is very warm, although it is no longer the height of summer.
« Vintage will be starting soon » says Manaen.
« Yes. Then it will be the feast of the Tabernacles… and it will soon be winter. When are you thinking of going away? »
« H'm… I would never leave… But I am thinking of the Baptist. Herod is weak. If one knows how to influence him to do good, if he does not become good, he remains at least… not blood-thirsty. But only few people advise him wisely. And that woman!… That woman!… But I would like to stay here until Your apostles come back. Not that I rely much on myself… but I still have some weight… although the favour I enjoyed previously has diminished much since they have realised that I now follow the way of Good. But it does not matter. I would like to have enough courage to be able to abandon everything and follow You completely, like the disciples whom You are expecting. But shall I ever succeed? We who are not of the common people find it more difficult to follow You. Why? »
« Because the tentacles of your poor wealth hold you back. »
« However, I know some people who are not exactly rich, but are teamed or about to be so, and they do not come either. »
« They also have the tentacles of poor riches holding them back. One is not rich only in money. There is the wealth of knowledge. Few can confess with Solomon: "Vanity of vanities. All is vanity", which confession is resumed and enlarged not so much materially but deeply in Qoheleth. Do you remember it? Human science is vanity because to increase human knowledge only "is anguish and affliction of the spirit and he who multiplies science multiplies such anguish". I solemnly tell you that it is so. And I also tell you that it would not be so if human science were supported and bridled by supernatural wisdom and the holy love of God. Pleasure is vanity, because it does not last, but quickly fades away after burning, leaving ashes and emptiness. Wealth stored up by means of various industries is vanity for the man who dies, as he leaves it to other people and cannot repel death by means of it. Woman is vanity, when she is considered a female and desired as such. So we conclude that the only thing which is not vanity is the holy fear of God and obedience to His commandments, that is the wisdom of man, who is not only flesh, but has a second nature: the spiritual one. Who can reason thus and is willing, is able to break off from every tentacle of poor wealth and move freely towards the Sun. »
« I want to remember those words. How much You have given me during the past days! I can now go back to that ugly Court, which seems bright only to fools, and seems powerful and free, whereas it is misery, prison and darkness, and I will be able to go back with a treasure that will enable me to live better waiting for the best. But will I ever reach that best, which is to be entirely Yours? »
« Yes, you will. »
« When? Next year? Later? Or when old age will make me wise? »
« You will reach it in a few hours by becoming spiritually mature and perfect in willing. »
Manaen looks at Him thoughtfully, inquisitively… But he does not ask any other question.
There is silence. Then Jesus says: « Have you ever approached Lazarus of Bethany? »
« No, Master. I can say no. If we met on few occasions, I cannot say it was out of friendship. You know… I was with Herod and Herod was against him… So… »
« Lazarus would now see you in God, beyond such things. You must endeavour to approach him, as a fellow-disciple. »
« I will do it, if You wish so… »
Excited voices are heard in the garden. They are anxiously asking: « The Master! The Master! Is He here? »
The harmonious voice of the landlady replies: « He is upstairs. Who are you? Sick people? »
« No. Disciples of John and we want Jesus of Nazareth. »
Jesus looks out of the window saying: « Peace be with you… Oh! It is you. Come in! »
They are the three shepherds John, Matthias and Simon. « Oh! Master! » they say looking up and showing their sorrowful faces. Not even the sight of Jesus cheers them up.
Jesus leaves the room and goes out to meet them on the terrace. Manaen follows Him. They meet where the staircase leads on to the sunny terrace.
The three men kneel down kissing the floor. Then John says on behalf of them all: « Receive us now, Lord, because we are Your inheritance » and tears stream down the faces of the disciple and his companions.
Jesus and Manaen utter one only cry: « John!? »
« He has been killed… »
The word drops like a loud dull noise, which drowns every other noise in the world. And yet it was uttered in a low voice. But it petrifies both him who speaks and those who listen. And the earth, upon hearing it and being horrified, seems to interrupt every noise, such is the period of deep silence and complete immobility in animals, in leafy branches, in the air. Doves stop cooing, blackbirds interrupt their musical songs, the choir of sparrows is struck dumb, and a chirping cicada suddenly becomes silent, as if its contrivance had broken down unexpectedly, while the wind, which was caressing the leaves of vines and trees, making them rustle like silk and causing poles to squeak, drops completely.
Jesus becomes as pale as ivory while His eyes dilate glazing over. He opens His arms saying, and His voice is deep in the effort to make it steady: « Peace to the martyr of justice and to My Precursor. » He folds His arms, collects His thoughts in prayer, communicating with the Spirit of God and of the Baptist.
Manaen does not dare to make a gesture. Contrary to Jesus, he blushes vehemently and has an impulsion of anger. Then he becomes stiff and his excitement is revealed by the mechanical movement of his right hand rumpling the cord of his tunic, and of the left one which unintentionally searches for his dagger… and Manaen shakes his head pitying his weak mind that does not remember that he had renounced weapons in order to be « the disciple of the Meek Master, near the Meek Messiah. »
Jesus opens His mouth and eyes again. His countenance, His eyes, His voice have resumed the divine majesty habitual to Him. Only a deep melancholy tempered with peace hovers about Him. « come and tell Me. As from today you will be Mine. » And He takes them into the room, closing the door and half-drawing the curtains, to have a subdued light and an atmosphere of concentration around the sorrow and the beauty of the Baptist's death, and to form a partition between such perfection of life and the corrupt world. « Speak » He tells them.
Manaen is still petrified. He is near the group but does not utter one word.
« It was the evening of the feast… The event was unforeseeable… Only two hours before Herod had consulted with John and had dismissed him very kindly… And shortly before the… murder, the martyrdom, the crime, the glorification, Herod had sent a servant with icy fruit and rare wines for the prisoner. John had distributed everything to us… he never changed his austerity… We were the only ones to be there, thanks to Manaen, we were in the palace as kitchen servants and stable-grooms. And that was a grace because we could always see our John… John and I were in the kitchen, while Simon supervised in the stables ensuring that the grooms looked after the mounts of guests properly… The palace was full of important people, military commanders and gentlemen from Galilee. Herodias had locked herself in her rooms after a violent quarrel in the morning with Herod… »
Manaen interferes: « But when did the hyena come? »
« Two days previously. Unexpectedly… saying to the monarch that she could not live away from him and be absent on the day of his feast. Viper and sorceress as she had always been, she had made a laughing-stock of him… But that morning, although he was already full of wine and lust, Herod refused to give the woman what she asked for with loud cries… But nobody thought it was John's life!… She remained disdainfully in her rooms. She sent back the royal dishes that Herod sent to her on precious trays. She kept only a precious one full of fruit, exchanging the gift with an amphora of drugged wine for Herod… Drugged… Ah! Her vicious intoxicated nature was sufficient to drug him for the crime! From the servants waiting at the table we learned that after the dance of the mimers, nay half way through it, Salome had rushed dancing into the banquet hall. And the mimers, in the presence of the royal girl, had withdrawn against the walls. We were told that her dance was perfect. Lewd and perfect. Worthy of the guests… Herod… Oh! perhaps a new desire of incest was fermenting in his heart!… Herod, at the end of the dance, said enthusiastically to Salome: "You have danced very well! I swear that you deserve a prize. I swear that I will give it to you. I swear that I will give anything you may ask me for. I swear it in the presence of everybody. And the word of a king is loyal also without swearing. Ask what you want". And Salome, simulating perplexity, innocence and modesty, enveloping herself in her veils with bashful gesture after so much impudicity, said: "Allow me, great king, to ponder for a moment. I will withdraw and I will come back later, because your grace has moved me"… and she left going to her mother. Selma told me that she went in laughing, saying: "Mother, you have won! Give me the tray". And Herodias with a cry of triumph ordered the slave to give the girl the tray that she had kept previously, saying: "Go, and come back with the hated head and I will clothe you with pearls and gold". And Selma was struck with horror and obeyed… Salome re-entered the hall dancing and went to prostrate herself at the king's feet saying: "Here. On this tray that you sent to my mother as a token that you love her and you love me, I want the head of John. And I will dance again, if it pleases you so much. I will dance the dance of victory. Because I have won! I have beaten you, king! I have defeated life, and I am happy!" That is what she said, and her words were repeated to us by a friendly cup-bearer. And Herod was embarrassed, being caught by two desires: to abide by his promise, to be just. But he could not be just, because he is unjust. He nodded to the headsman who was standing behind the royal seat, and he took from Salome's raised hands the tray and from the banquet hall went down to the lower rooms. John and I saw him cross the yard… and shortly afterwards we heard Simeon's cry: "Murderers!" and then we saw the headsman pass again with the head on the tray… John, Your Precursor, was dead… »
« Simeon, can you tell Me how he died? » asks Jesus after some time.
« Yes, he was praying… He had previously said to me: "The two messengers will be back before long, and those who do not believe, will believe. But remember, should I be no longer alive when they come back, I, on the point of dying, say to you: 'Jesus of Nazareth is the true Messiah' so that you may repeat it to the others". He was always thinking of You… The headsman entered. I uttered a cry. John looked up and saw him. He stood up and said: "You can take only my life. But the lasting truth is that it is not legal to do wrong". And he was about to say something to me when the headsman swung his heavy sword, while John was standing and the head fell from the bust in a stream of blood that reddened the goatskin while his thin face blanched, but his open eyes were still alive and accusing. The head rolled at my feet… I fell at the same time as his body, as I fainted with grief… After… After Herodias had disfigured it, the head was thrown to the dogs. But we picked it up at once and we tied it in a precious veil together with the trunk, and during the night we recomposed the body and carried it out of Machaerus. We embalmed it at daybreak in a nearby acacia-thicket with the help of other disciples… But it was taken from us again to be slashed… Because she cannot destroy it and cannot forgive him… And her slaves, fearing death, were more ferocious than jackals in taking the head from us. If you had been there, Manaen!… »
« Had I been there… But that head is her malediction… Nothing is taken from the glory of the Precursor, even if the body is mutilated. Is that right, Master? »
« That is true. Even if the dogs had destroyed it, his glory would not change. »
« Neither has his word changed, Master. His eyes, although disfigured, under a large wound, still say: "You are not allowed". But we have lost him! » says Matthias.
« And we are now Your disciples, because that is what he said, and he told us that You already know. »
« Yes, you have been Mine for months. How did you come? »
« On foot; by stages. It was a long painful journey, in the heat of sands and of the sun, made even more painful by grief. We have been walking for almost twenty days… »
« You will rest now. »
Manaen asks: « Was Herod not surprised at my absence? »
« Yes, at first he was annoyed, then he became furious. But when his rage calmed down, he said: "One judge less". That is what our friend, the cup-bearer, told us. »
Jesus says: « One judge less! He has God as a judge and that is enough. Let us go to where we sleep. You are tired and covered with dust. You will find the garments and sandals of your companions. Take them, refresh yourselves. What belongs to one, belongs to everybody. Matthias, since you are tall, you can take one of My tunics. We will provide later. My apostles will be coming before night, because this is the Sabbath eve. Isaac will be coming next week with the disciples, and later Benjamin and Daniel will come; Elias, Joseph and Levi will be here after the Tabernacles. It is time for others to join the Twelve. Go and rest now. »
Manaen takes them in and then comes back. Jesus remains with Manaen. He sits down pensively, and is clearly sad, with His head reclined on a hand, His elbow resting on His knee as a support. Manaen is sitting near the table and does not move. He is sullen. His face is a storm.
After a long time, Jesus raises His head, looks at him and asks: « And what are you going to do now? »
« I do not know yet… There is no purpose in staying any longer at Machaerus. But I would like to remain at the court to find out… to protect You according to what I learn. »
« You had better follow Me without any delay. But I will not force you. You will come, when the old Manaen has been destroyed bit by bit. »
« I would also like to take that head away from that woman. She is not worthy to have it… »
Jesus has a pale hint of a smile and says frankly: « And you are not yet dead to human wealth. But you are dear to Me just the same. I know that I shall not lose you even if I have to wait. I know how to wait… »
« Master, I would like to give You my generosity to comfort You… Because You are suffering. I can see it. »
« It is true. I am suffering. Very much! »
« Only because of John? I do not think so. You know that he is in peace. »
« I know that he is in peace and I perceive him close to Me. »
« Well, then? »
« Then!… Manaen, what does dawn precede? »
« The day, Master. Why do You ask me? »
« Because the death of John precedes the day when I will be the Redeemer. And the human part in Me trembles at the idea… Manaen, I am going up the mountain. You stay here to receive whoever should come and to assist those who have already come. Stay until I come back. Then… you will do whatever you wish,
And Jesus leaves the room. He goes slowly down the steps, crosses the kitchen garden and at the back of it He takes a little path along ruffled gardens, olive-groves, orchards of apple and figtrees and vineyards and He climbs the slope of a little hill where He disappears from my sight.
5th September 1945.
Jesus goes back to the house at dead of night. He enters the kitchen garden silently. He looks for a moment into the dark kitchen. He looks into the two rooms where are the mats and beds. They are empty also. Only the changed clothes, piled on the floor, tell that the apostles have come back. The house is so silent that it seems unhabited.
Jesus, making less noise than a shadow, goes up the little steps, immaculate white in the whiteness of the full moon, and arrives on the terrace. He walks along it. He seems a ghost moving about silently, a bright ghost. In the white incandescence of the moon, He looks thinner and taller. He lifts with one hand the curtain at the door of the upper room. It had been left down since John's disciples had entered with Jesus. Inside there are the apostles, sitting here and there, in groups or alone, with John's disciples and Manaen; there is also Marjiam sleeping with his head on Peter's knees. The moon illuminates the room entering with its phosphorescent rays through the wide open windows. No one is speaking. And no one is sleeping, with the exception of the boy, who is sitting on a mat on the floor.
Jesus enters quietly and Thomas is the first to see Him. « Oh! Master! » he exclaims starting.
All the others rouse themselves. Peter in his excitement, is on the point of jumping to his feet, but he remembers the child and he stands up gently, laying Marjiam's dark-haired head on his seat, and thus is the last to arrive at Jesus, while the Master, with the tired voice of one who has suffered very much, is replying to John, James and Andrew, who are expressing their sorrow to Him: « I understand. But only he who does not believe can feel desolate because of death. Not we, who know and believe. John is no longer separated from us. He was before. Nay, he separated us. Either with Me, or with him. No longer so. Where he is, I am. He is near Me. »
Peter pushes his grey-haired head among the younger ones and Jesus sees him: « You have been weeping, too, Simon of Jonah? » And Peter with a voice hoarser than usual: « Yes, Lord. Because I was a disciple of John, as well. And then… Last Sabbath eve I was complaining that the presence of Pharisees was going to embitter our Sabbath! This is really a bitter Sabbath! I brought the boy, to have a more enjoyable Sabbath… Instead… »
« Do not lose heart, Simon of Jonah. John is not lost. I am repeating that to you, too. And in exchange we have three perfected disciples. Where is the boy? »
« Over there, Master. He is sleeping… »
« Let him sleep » says Jesus stopping over the dark little head which is sleeping peacefully. And He asks again: « Have you had your supper? »
« No, Master. We were waiting for You and we were worried, because of Your delay, as we did not know where to look for You… and we seemed to have lost You as well. »
« We have still plenty time to be together. Well, prepare the supper, because afterwards we shall go to another place. I need to be alone among friends, and if we are here tomorrow, we shall always be surrounded by people. »
« And I swear to You that I would not put up with them, particularly with those snakes of Pharisaic souls. And it would be most unfortunate if a smile escaped them concerning us in the synagogue! »
« Be good, Simon!… I have thought of that as well. That is why I came back to take you with Me. »
The excitement on their faces can be better seen in the light of the little lamps that have been lit at the two ends of the table. Only Jesus is majestically solemn and Marjiam smiles in his sleep.
« The boy has already had his meal » explains Peter.
« It is better to let him sleep, then » says Jesus.
And in the middle of His disciples He offers and hands out the frugal food, which is taken without appetite. And the supper is soon over.
« Tell Me now what you have done… » says Jesus encouragingly.
« I went with Philip into the country at Bethsaida and we evangelized and cured a sick boy » says Peter.
« In actual fact it was Simon who cured him » says Philip, who does not wish to ascribe to himself a glory not belonging to him.
« Oh! Lord! I do not know how I did it. I prayed hard, with all my heart, because I felt sorry for the little sick boy. I then anointed him with oil, I rubbed him with my coarse hands… and he was cured. When I saw him colour up and open his eyes, that is, when I saw him revive, I was almost afraid. »
Jesus lays a hand on his head without speaking.
« John amazed people by expelling a demon. But I had to speak » says Thomas.
« Your brother Judas also did it » states Matthew.
« Andrew, too » says James of Alphaeus.
« Simon the Zealot, instead, cured a leper. Oh! he was not afraid of touching him! And he said to me: "Be not afraid. By the will of God, no physical disease will affect us" » says Bartholomew.
« You are right, Simon. And what about you two? » Jesus asks James of Zebedee and the Iscariot, who are a little farther away, the former talking to the three disciples of John, the latter being all alone and sulky.
« Oh! I did nothing » says James. « But Judas worked three wonderful miracles: a blind man, a paralytic, a possessed man. He looked like a lunatic to me. But that is what people said… »
« And you are pulling a long face, when God has assisted you so much? » exclaims Peter.
« I can be humble as well » replies the Iscariot.
« And we were the guests of a Pharisee. I was rather embarrassed. But Judas knows how to deal with them and he really appeased the Pharisee. On the first day he was stand-offish, but later… Is that right, Judas? »
Judas nods without speaking.
« Very well. And you will do better and better. We shall be all together next week. In the meantime… Simon, go and prepare the boats. You, too, James. »
« For everybody, Master? They will not contain us. »
« Can you not get another one? »
« Yes, if I ask my brother-in-law. I will go. »
« Go. And come back as soon as you are ready. And do not tell them too much. »
The four fishermen leave. The others go downstairs to get their sacks and mantles. Manaen stays with Jesus. The boy continues to sleep.
« Master, are You going far? »
« I do not know yet… They are tired and depressed. I am, too. I am thinking of going to Tarichea, into the country, to be alone in peace… »
« I have my horse, Master. But, if You will allow me, I will come following the lake. Will You be there for long? »
« Perhaps the whole week, but not longer. »
« In that case, I will come. Master, bless me in this first departure. And relieve my heart of a burden. »
« Which, Manaen? »
« I feel remorse for leaving John. Perhaps if I had been there… »
« No. It was his hour. And he was certainly pleased to see you come to Me. Do not let that upset you. Nay, endeavour to get rid quickly and properly of the only burden you have: the gusto of being man. Become spiritual, Manaen. You can. You are capable of being so. Goodbye, Manaen. My peace be with you. We shall soon meet in Judaea. »
Manaen kneels down and Jesus blesses him. He then raises him and kisses him.
The others come back in and exchange greetings, both the apostles and John's disciples. The fishermen are the last to come. « We are ready, Master. We can go. »
« Good. Say goodbye to Manaen Who is staying here until tomorrow evening. Assemble the foodstuffs, take some water and let us go. Make as little noise as possible. »
Peter stoops to awake Marjiam.
« No, leave him. He might cry. I will pick him up » says Jesus and He gently lifts the boy who whimpers a little, but instinctively makes himself comfortable in Jesus' arms.
They put the lamps out. They go out closing the door. They go downstairs and on the threshold they say goodbye once again to Manaen, and then, in single file, along the moonlit street they go to the lake: a huge silvery mirror under the moon at its zenith. The three little lamps on the prows, which are already in the water, look like three red drops on the quiet mirror. They go on board, settling themselves in the boats, the fishermen being the last to embark. Peter and a servant are in the boat where Jesus is, John and Andrew in the second, James and a servant in the third one.
« Where are we going, Master? » asks Peter.
« To Tarichea. Where we landed after the miracle of the Gadarenes. It will not be boggy now. And it will be quiet. »
Peter sets sail and the other two boats sail in his wake. Nobody speaks. Only when they are in the open lake and Capernaum disappears in the moonlight and things present a uniform appearance in its silvery dust, Peter says, as if he were speaking to the tiller: « And I am glad. They will be looking for us, my dear, and thanks to you they will not find us. »
« To whom are you speaking, Simon? » asks Bartholomew.
« To my boat. Don't you know that she is like a bride for a fisherman? How much I have talked to her! More than to Porphirea. Master!… Is the boy well covered? It's damp on the lake at night… »
« Yes, he is. Listen. Simon. Come here. I want to speak to you. »
Peter entrusts the tiller to the ship-boy and comes to Jesus.
« I said Tarichea. But it will be quite all right to be there after the Sabbath to say goodbye once again to Manaen. Could you not find a place nearby where we may stay in peace? »
« Oh! Master! In peace for us or also for the boats? For the boats we must go to Tarichea or to some harbour on the other shore. But if You are referring to us, it is enough to go into the woods beyond the Jordan, where only wild animals will find You… and perhaps an odd fisherman who is watching nets. We can leave the boats at Tarichea. We shall be there at dawn and we will go away quickly beyond the ford. It is easy to wade it at this time of the year. »
« Very well. We will do that… »
« The world is disgusting You as well, eh? You prefer fish and mosquitoes, eh? You are right. »
« It does not disgust Me. One must not be disgusted. But I do not want you to stir up a scandal and I wish to find comfort in you on the Sabbath. »
« My Master!… » Peter kisses Jesus' forehead and goes away wiping a large tear that insisted in dropping out and streaming down to his beard. He goes back to his rudder heading south resolutely, while the moonlight fades as the planet sets behind a hill, concealing its huge face from the sight of men, but still making the sky white with its light and the lake silvery on the eastern coast. The rest is dark-indigo hardly distinguishable in the light of the prow lamp.
6th September 1945.
When Jesus sets foot on the right bank of the Jordan, a good mile, probably more, from the little peninsula of Tarichea, where there is nothing but beautiful green country, because the ground, which is now dry, but moist in its depths, keeps also the weakest plants alive, He finds a large crowd waiting for Him.
His cousins come to meet Him with Simon Zealot: « Master, the boats have given us away… Perhaps Manaen also was a hint… »
« Master » says Manaen apologetically « I left at night so that no one could see me and I have not spoken to anyone. Believe me. Many of them asked me where You were. And my reply to everybody was: "He left". But I think the trouble was brought about by a fisherman who said that he had given You his boat… »
« That fool of my brother-in-law! » thunders Peter. « And I told him to keep his mouth shut! And I also said to him that we were going to Bethsaida! And I told him that if he said one word I would tear his beard off! And I will do it! I will, indeed. And what are we going to do now? That's the end of our peace, solitude and rest! »
« Be good, Simon, be good. We have already had our peaceful days. In any case I have attained part of what I intended: teach you, comfort and calm you to prevent offences and contrasts between you and the Pharisees of Capernaum. Now let us go to these people who are waiting for us, and reward their faith and love. Is their love not a relief, too? Hatred grieves us. But there is love here, so it is joy. »
Peter calms down like a wind that drops suddenly. And Jesus goes towards the crowd of sick people, who are waiting for Him so anxiously, that their desire seems engraved on their faces, and He heals them, one after the other, kindly, patiently. He goes also to a scribe who shows his little sick son to Him.
And it is the scribe who says to Him: « See? You are running away. But it is useless. Hatred and love are shrewd in finding. In this case, love has found You, as it is written in the Song of Songs. You are like the Beloved of the Songs. And they come to You as the maid of Shulam goes to her bridegroom, facing patrol guards and Amminadib's quadrigae. »
« Why do you say that? »
« Because it is true. It is dangerous to come because You are hated. Do You not know that Rome is watching for You and the Temple hates You? »
« Why are you tempting Me, man? Your words are insidious, to take My answers back to Rome and to the Temple. I did not cure your son by deceit… »
The scribe, who has been reproached so gently, lowers his head confusedly and confesses: « I see that You can really read the hearts of men. Forgive me. I now see that You are truly holy. Forgive me, Yes, it is true, I came and the yeast that others put into my heart was fermenting within me… »
« And it had found in you the necessary heat to ferment. »
« Yes, it is true… But now I am going away without any such yeast. That is, with a new leaven. »
« I know. I bear no grudge. Many are at fault through their own will, many through the will of other people. God, Who is just will judge them with different measures. Scribe, be just and do not corrupt in future as you were corrupted. When the pressure of the world will be urging you, look at the living grace, which is your son, who was rescued from death, and be grateful to God. »
« To You. »
« To God. All glory and praise to Him. I am His Messiah and I am the first to praise and glorify Him. And the first to obey Him. Because man does not degrade himself by honouring and serving God in truth, but he lowers himself by serving sin. »
« You are right. Do You always speak thus? To everybody? »
« Yes, to everybody. If I spoke to Annas, or to Gamaliel, or to a begging leper on a country path, the words would be the same because one is the Truth. »
« Speak, then, because everybody here is begging for a word or a grace of Yours. »
« I will. So that nobody may say that I am biased against those who are honest in their convictions. »
« Those I had are now dead. But it is true. I was honest in mine. I believed that I was serving God by fighting You. »
« You are sincere. And that is why you deserve to understand God, Who is never falsehood. But your convictions are not yet dead. I am telling you. They are like burned couch-grass. They seem to be dead superficially and have in fact received a hard blow that has exhausted them. But the roots are alive and the soil nourishes them. And the dew invites them to strike new rhizomes, which will emit fresh shoots. You must watch that that does not happen, otherwise you will be invaded once again by couch-grass. Israel is a die-hard! »
« So Israel must die? Is it a wicked plant? »
« It must die to rise again. »
« A spiritual reincarnation? »
« A spiritual evolution. There is no reincarnation of any kind. »
« Some believe in it. »
« They are wrong. »
« Hellenism has spread such beliefs also among us. And learned people feed on them and are proud of them as if they were a most noble nourishment. »
« An absurd contradiction in those who cry anathema when one of the minor sixhundred and thirteen precepts is neglected. »
« It is true. But that is how things are. People like to imitate even what they hate. »
« Well, imitate Me, seeing that you hate Me. And it would be better for you. »
The scribe cannot help laughing at Jesus' witty remark. The people are listening open-mouthed and those who are farther away ask those who are near Jesus and the scribe to repeat their words.
« But, in confidence, what do You think of reincarnation? »
« That it is an error. I told you. »
« There are some who maintain that the living originate from the dead and the dead from the living, because what exists cannot be destroyed. »
« In fact, what is eternal cannot be destroyed. But tell Me. According to you, has the Creator limitations to Himself? »
« No, Master. To think that would be an abatement. »
« You are right. Can, then, one think that He allows a spirit to reincarnate because no more than so many spirits can exist? »
« One should not think so. Yet there are some who believe it. »
« And what is worse, Israel believes it. The thought of the immortality of the spirit, which is already a great one, even if it is joined to the error of a wrong evaluation by a pagan as to how such immortality takes place, ought to be perfect in an Israelite. Instead it becomes a small, low, guilty thought in those who believe in it in the terms of the heathen thesis. It is not the glory of a thought, which proves itself worthy of admiration by coming close to the Truth by itself and which therefore testifies to the composite nature of man, as it is in heathens, because of their intuition of an eternal life of the mysterious thing that is called soul and distinguishes us from brutes. But it is a, degradation of the thought, which being acquainted with Divine Wisdom and the True God, becomes materialistic even in so highly a spiritual thing. A spirit transmigrates only from the Creator to the being and from the being to the Creator, to Whom it presents itself after this life to receive a sentence of life or of death. That is the truth. And it remains for ever where it is sent. »
« Do You not admit Purgatory? »
« Yes, I do. Why do you ask Me? »
« Because You say: "It remains where it is sent". Purgatory is temporary. »
« That is why in My thought I assimilate it to eternal Life. Purgatory is already "life". Stunned, tied, but always vital. After the temporary stay in Purgatory, the spirit reaches perfect Life, without any limitation or ties. Two things will remain: Heaven the Abyss. Paradise - Hell. Two categories: the blessed - the damned. But from those three kingdoms that now exist, no spirit will ever come to clothe itself with flesh. And that until the final resurrection, which will end for ever the incarnation of spirits in flesh, of the immortal in the mortal. »
« Not of the eternal? »
« God is Eternal. Eternity is to have no beginning and no end. And that is God. Immortality is to continue to live since when life began. And that is the spirit of man. That is the difference. »
« You say: "Eternal Life". »
« Yes. From the moment man is created to live, because of his spirit, through Grace and his own will, he can reach eternal Life. Not eternity. Life implies a beginning. We do not say "the Life of God", because God had no beginning. »
« And what about Yourself? »
« I will live because I am also flesh and to My divine spirit I joined the soul of the Christ in the flesh of man. »
« God is called the "Living God". »
« In fact He does not know death. He is Life. The endless Life. Not Life of God. Just Life. Only that. They are nuances, o scribe. But Wisdom and Truth clothe themselves in nuances. »
« Do You speak thus to Gentiles? »
« No. They would not understand. I show them the Sun. But as I would show it to a boy, so far blind and silly, who had miraculously recovered sight and intelligence. Thus: like a star. Without going into the details of its composition. But you people of Israel are neither blind nor fools. For ages the finger of God has opened your eyes and cleared your minds… »
« That is true, Master. And yet we are blind and foolish. »
« You have made yourselves such. And you do not want the miracle of Him Who loves you. »
« Master… »
« It is the truth, scribe. »
The man lowers his head and is silent. Jesus leaves him and passes by and while doing so He caresses Marjiam and the scribe's little boy, who are playing with many-coloured pebbles. Rather than preach He talks to this or that group. But He is continuously preaching as He resolves doubts, clarifies ideas, He sums up or expands on things already said or concepts only partly remembered by someone. And the hours go by thus…
7th September 1945.
The place is still the same. But the sun no longer shines from the east filtering through the undergrowth along the Jordan in this wild place where the water of the lake flows into the river bed. It shines, equally obliquely, from the west, while setting in a glorious red sky, streaked by its last rays. Under the thick foliage the light is quite moderate, tending to the peaceful evening hues. The birds, exhilarated by the sunshine they enjoyed all day and by the plentiful food they picked in the neighbouring country, are making an uproar of trills and songs on tree-tops. Evening is approaching with the final pomp of the day.
The apostles point it out to Jesus, Who always teaches according to the subjects presented to Him. « Master, evening is approaching. This is a desert place, far from houses and villages, it is shady and damp. In a short while it will not be possible to see or walk here. The moon rises late. Dismiss the people so that they may go to Tarichea or other villages along the Jordan to buy food and find lodgings. »
« They need not go. Give them something to eat. They can sleep here as they did when waiting for Me. »
« Master, You know that there are only five loaves left and two fish. »
« Bring them to Me. »
« Andrew, go and look for the boy. He is looking after the bag. A little while ago he was with the scribe's son and two more boys, intent on making garlands of flowers and playing at kings. »
Andrew goes away at once. John and Philip also look for Marjiam among the crowds, who continuously change place. They find him almost simultaneously, with the bag of victuals across his back, a large shoot of clematis around his head and a belt of clematis, from which an offshoot hangs, as a sword, the top being the hilt, the long stem its blade. There are seven boys with him, all wearing the same decorations, paying court to the scribe's son, a very thin child, with the grave countenance of one who has suffered very much, who is adorned with flowers more than the
others and plays the king.
« Come, Marjiam. The Master wants you! »
Marjiam leaves his friends and runs away without taking off his… floral insignia. But the other boys follow him and Jesus is soon surrounded by a circle of children wreathed with flowers. He caresses them while Philip takes a parcel out of the bag containing some loaves, which are wrapped together with two big fish: two kilograms of fish, or little more. They would not suffice for the seventeen people, nay eighteen, including Manaen, of Jesus' group. They take the food to the Master.
« Very well. Now bring Me some baskets. Seventeen, as many as you are. Marjiam will hand the food to the children… » Jesus stares at the scribe who has always been near Him and asks: « Will you give food to the hungry people, too? »
« I would like to. But I have none myself. »
« Give Mine. I will let you have it. »
« But… are You going to satisfy five thousand men, besides women and children, with those two fish and the five loaves? » « Undoubtedly. Do not be incredulous. Those who believe will see the miracle being accomplished. »
« Oh! In that case I want to hand out the food, too! »
« Then, get someone to give you a basket as well. »
The apostles come back with baskets and hand-baskets, some of which are low and wide, others are deep and narrow. The scribe comes back with a rather small one. Obviously his faith or his incredulity made him pick that one as the largest required.
« Good. Leave everything here. Now get the crowds to sit in an orderly way, in rows, as far as possible. »
And while they do that Jesus raises the loaves with the fish on top of them, offers them, prays and blesses them. The scribe does not take his eyes off Him for a moment. Jesus breaks the five loaves into eighteen parts; He makes also eighteen parts of the two fish, and puts a bit of fish: a tiny bit indeed, into each basket. He then breaks each of the eighteen bits of bread into morsels: each bit into many morsels. Relatively many; about twenty, not more. He then puts each bit which He has broken into morsels, into a basket, with the bit of fish.
« Now take them and hand the food out to satiety. Go. Marjiam, hand the food out to your companions. »
« Ah! How heavy it is! » says Marjiam lifting his basket. He goes at once towards his little friends, walking like one who carries a heavy weight.
The apostles, disciples, Manaen, the scribe watch him go incredulously… They then pick up their baskets and shaking their heads they say to one another: « The boy is joking! They are the same weight as before. » And the scribe looks inside his basket,
puts his hand into it searching for the bottom, because it is getting dark in the thicket where Jesus is, whereas farther away, in the glade, it is clear. However, notwithstanding their remarks, they go towards the people and begin to hand the food out. And they distribute… Now and again they look back at Jesus thoroughly astonished, as they move farther and farther away, and the Master leaning against a tree with folded arms, smiles subtly at their astonishment.
The distribution takes a long time and is plentiful… the only one who show no surprise is Marjiam, who smiles and is happy to be able to fill the laps of so many poor children with bread and fish. He is also the first to go back to Jesus saying: « I have dealt out so much, so much!… because I know what it is to be hungry… » and he raises his little face, which is no longer emaciated, but, remembering, it blanches with wide open eyes… But Jesus caresses him and a bright smile appears on his face, while he leans trustfully against Jesus, His Master and Protector.
The apostles and disciples come back slowly, dumbfounded with amazement. Last is the scribe who says nothing. But he makes a gesture that is more than a sermon. He kneels down and kisses the hem of Jesus' tunic.
« Take your share and give Me some. Let us eat the food of God. »
They eat, in fact, bread and fish, each according to his need…
In the meantime the people, who are now sated, exchange their impressions. Also those around Jesus make their comments watching Marjiam who finishes his food and plays with other children.
« Master » asks the scribe, « why did the boy feel the weight at once, and we did not? I searched also inside. There were still the few morsels of bread and the only bit of fish. I began to feel the weight when I moved towards the crowd. But if it had weighed for what I gave out, it would have taken a pair of mules to carry it, not a basket, but a wagon packed with food. At the beginning I was dealing it out sparingly… but later I gave and gave… and as I did not want to be unfair, I went back to the first ones and gave them more, because I had given them little at first. And yet it was enough. »
« I also felt the basket was getting heavy when I set out, and I gave plenty at once because I realised that You had worked a miracle » says John.
« I, instead, stopped, I sat down and poured everything on my lap to see… And I saw loaves and loaves. I then went on » says Manaen.
« I even counted them, because I did not want to cut a bad figure. There were fifty small loaves. So I said: I will give them to fifty people and then I will go back ». And I counted. But when I got to fifty, the weight was still the same. I looked inside. They were so
many. I went on and I handed out hundreds of them. They never diminished says Bartholomew.
« I, I must admit it, I did not believe, and I took the morsels of bread and the bit of fish in my hand and I looked at them saying: "What's the use of them? Jesus must have been joking!… " and I looked at them over and over again, hiding behind a tree, hoping and despairing to see them grow. But they were always the same. I was about to come back, when Matthew passed by saying: "Have you noticed how beautiful they are?". "What?" I asked him. "The loaves and fish!… "Are you mad? I can only see morsels of bread". "Go and hand them out with faith, and you will see". I threw back into the basket the few morsels and I went reluctantly… And then… Forgive me, Jesus, because I am a sinner! » says Thomas.
« No. You are a worldly spirit. You reason according to the world. »
« I as well, Lord. So much so that I was thinking of giving a coin with the bread and I said to myself: "They will eat somewhere else" » says the Iscariot. « I was hoping to help You cut a finer figure. So what am I? Like Thomas or more? »
« You are much more "worldly" than Thomas. »
« And yet I was thinking of giving alms to be "heavenly"! It was my own personal money… »
« Alms to yourself, to your pride. And alms to God. But the Latter does not need them and it is a sin to give alms to your pride, not a merit. »
Judas lowers his head and becomes silent.
« I, instead, thought that I had to crumble the morsel of fish and the morsel of bread, so that they would suffice. I did not doubt they would be sufficient, both with regard to numbers and nourishment. A drop of water given by You can be more nourishing than a banquet » says Simon Zealot.
« And what did you think? » Peter asks Jesus' cousins.
« We remembered Cana… and did not doubt » replies Judas gravely.
« And you, James, My dear brother, were you only thinking of that? »
« No, I thought it was a sacrament, as You told me… Is it so or am I wrong? »
Jesus smiles: « It is and it is not. Your thought of a remote figure is to be added to the truth concerning the power of nourishment in a drop of water, mentioned by Simon. But it is not yet a sacrament. »
The scribe is holding a crumb in his hand.
« What are you going to do with it? »
« A… souvenir. »
« I will keep one too. I will put it round Marjiam's neck in a little bag » says Peter.
« And I will take it to our mother » says John.
« And what about us? We have eaten it all… » say the others sorrowfully.
« Stand up. Go round again with the baskets and collect the scraps remaining, select the poorest people and bring them here with the baskets. And then, you, My disciples, will go to the boats and set sail going to the plain of Gennesaret. I will dismiss the crowds after assisting the poorer people and I will join you later. »
The apostles obey… and they come back with twelve baskets full of remnants of food and followed by about thirty beggars or very poor people.
« Very well. You may go now. »
The apostles and John's disciples say goodbye to Manaen and go away leaving Jesus rather reluctantly. But they obey. Manaen stays with Jesus until the crowd, in the last light of the day, set out towards villages or look for a place where to sleep among the tall dry bog grass. He then takes leave of the Master. The scribe has gone before him, in fact he was one of the first, as he left with his son following the apostles.
When they have all gone or fallen asleep, Jesus stands up, blesses the sleepers, and walking with slow steps He goes towards the lake, to the little peninsula of Tarichea, a few yards above the lake, like an indented hill protruding on it. And when He reaches the foot of it, without entering the town, but going round it, He climbs the hill, and stops on a crest, praying in front of the blue lake and in the peace of the serene moonlit night.
Jesus says: « You will put here the vision dated March 4th 1944: Jesus walks on the water. »
Written by Maria Valtorta. From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, Volume #2, Chapters 269-272, pp. 729-747.
Copyright 1987 by Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, srl, Isola del Liri, Italy. All rights reserved in all countries.