265. John the Baptist Sends His Disciples to Ask Jesus whether He Is the Messiah.
29th August 1945.
Jesus is alone with Matthew, who, having hurt his foot, has not been able to go and preach with the others. Invalids and people anxious to hear the doctrine of the Gospel have crowded the terrace and the free area of the kitchen garden, to hear Jesus and receive assistance.
Jesus ends speaking saying: « We have meditated together on Solomon's great sentence: "The greatest strength lies in the abundance of justice" and I now exhort you to have such abundance, because it is money to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Be with My peace and may God be with you. » He then turns to the poor and the sick - in many cases the same person is both - and He kindly listens to what they tell Him, He assists with money, advises with words, cures them by imposing His hands and by His words. Matthew, who is beside Him, sees to the alms in money.
Jesus is attentively listening to a poor widow who weeping informs Him of the sudden death of her husband, a carpenter, at his work bench, only a few days previously: « I ran here looking for You, and all the relatives of my dead husband accused me of being unbecoming and hard-hearted and they now curse me. But I came because I know that You can raise people from death and I also know that if I had found You, my husband would have risen again. But You were not here… He has now been buried two weeks… and I am here with five children… Our relatives hate me and do not help me. I have some olive-tree and vines. They are only a few, but they would give me bread for the winter months, if I could only keep them until harvest time. But I have no money, because my husband was ill for some time and worked very little and he ate and drank even too much to support himself. He used to say that wine did him good… but it brought about double trouble as it killed him and used up all our savings, which were already scanty because of his work. He was just finishing a cart and a chest and he had orders for two beds, some tables and shelves. But now… They are not finished and my boy is not yet eight years old. I shall lose the money… I shall have to sell the tools and the wood. I cannot sell the cart and the chest as such, although they are almost finished, and I shall have to give them as firewood. And the money will not be enough, because I, my old mother, who is also ill, and five children are seven all together… I will sell the vineyard and the olive-trees… But You know what the world is like… They fleece you when they know that you are in need. Tell me, what shall I do? I wanted to keep the bench and tools for my son, who is already capable of doing some work with wood… and I wanted to keep the land to live on and as a dowry for my daughters… »
Jesus is listening to all that when the confusion of the crowd warns Him that something is happening. He turns round and sees three men who are elbowing their way through the crowd. He turns round to the widow again to ask her: « Where do you live? »
« At Korazim, near the road to the Warm fountain. A low house between two fig trees. »
« Very well. I will come and finish the cart and the chest and you will sell them to those who ordered them. Wait for Me tomorrow at dawn. »
« What? You are going to work for me! » the woman is choking with amazement.
« I will resume My work and bring you peace. And in the meantime I will give a lesson on charity to the heartless people of Korazim. »
« Yes! They have no hearts! If only old Isaac were there! He would not have let me die of starvation. But he has gone back to Abraham… »
« Do not weep. Do not worry. Here is what you need for today, I will come tomorrow. Go in peace. »
The woman stoops to kiss His tunic and she is somewhat relieved when she goes away.
« Three times holy Master, may I greet You? » asks one of the three men who have just arrived and have stopped respectfully behind Jesus, waiting for Him to dismiss the woman, and have thus heard Jesus' promise. The man who has greeted Jesus is Manaen.
Jesus turns around and smiling says: « Peace to you, Manaen! So you have remembered Me? »
« Always, Master. And I had planned to come to see You in Lazarus' house or at the Garden of Gethsemane and stay with You. But the Baptist was captured before Passover. He was recaptured by treachery and I was afraid that Herodias might order the holy man to be killed during the absence of Herod, who had come to Jerusalem for Passover. She refused to go to Zion for the Festivity saying that she was not well. It is true, she was ill… of hatred and lust… I was at Machaerus to control the situation and check the wicked woman who is capable of killing with her own hand… And she does not do so because she is afraid of losing Herod's favour who… either because he is afraid or he is convinced, defends John, confining his action to keeping him in prison. Herodias has now escaped from the oppressing heat at Machaerus and she has gone to a castle of her own property. So I came with these friends of mine and disciples of John. He sent them that they may ask You some questions. And I joined them. »
When the crowd hear the man speak of Herod and they understand who is speaking, they press curiously round the little group of Jesus and the three men.
« What did you want to ask Me? » asks Jesus after exchanging greetings with the two austere personages.
« You had better speak, Manaen, since you know everything and you are more friendly » says one of the two.
« Well, Master. You must be indulgent if out of excess of love these disciples look suspiciously at Him Whom they believe to be the antagonist or the supplanter of their master. Your disciples do so as well as John's. It is an understandable jealousy that proves all the love of the disciples for their masters… I am… impartial, and these who are with me can confirm it, because I know You and John and I love you both with justice, so much so that, although I love You for what You are, I preferred to sacrifice myself and stay with John, because I respect him as well for what he is, and at the present moment, because he is in greater danger than You are. Now, because of their love, which the Pharisees are instigating with their hatred, they have come to doubt that You are the Messiah. And they told John thinking that they would fill him with joy by saying: "As far as we are concerned you are the Messiah. There cannot be anyone holier than you are". But John reproached them calling them first of all blasphemers, and then, after rebuking them, he more kindly explained the various facts that prove that You are the true Messiah. Finally, when he realised that they were still not convinced, he took two of them, these ones here, and said: "Go to Him and say to Him in my name: 'Are You the One Who is to come, or shall we wait for another one?' ". He did not send the shepherd disciples, because they believe and it would have been of no avail to send them. But he chose amongst those who are doubtful to let them approach You, so that their word may dispel the doubts of their companions. I brought them here so that I could see You as well. That is all. I beg You to dispel their doubt. »
« But do not think that we are hostile to You, Master! Manaen's words might make You think so. We… We have known the Baptist for years and we have always seen him to be holy, penitent, inspired. You… we know You only through the words of other people. And You know what the words of man are worth… They build up and destroy fame and praises in the contrast between those who exalt and those who demolish, as a cloud is formed and dissolved by contrasting winds. »
« I know. I read in your souls and your eyes can read the truth in what surrounds you, just as your ears heard My conversation with the widow. That should be enough to convince you. But I say to you: look at those who are around Me. There are no rich, or jolly or scandalous people here; but only poor, sick, honest Israelites who are anxious to know the Word of God. Nothing else. This man, that one, this woman, and that little girl, that old man, were ill when they came here, and now they are sound and healthy. Ask them and they will tell you what was wrong with them, how I cured them and how they are feeling now. Do so. And in the meantime I will speak to Manaen » and Jesus is about to withdraw.
« No, Master. We do not doubt Your words. Just give us a reply to take back to John, that he may know that we came here, and on the strength of it he may convince our companions. »
« Go and report this to John: "The deaf hear; this girl was deaf and dumb. The dumb speak; and that man was dumb since his birth. The blind see". Man, come here. Tell these men what was wrong with you » says Jesus taking a miraculously cured man by the arm.
The man says: « I am a mason and a pail full of quicklime fell on my face. It burnt my eyes. I was four years in the dark. The Messiah wetted my dry eyes with His saliva and they have become fresher than when I was twenty years old. May He be blessed for it. »
Jesus resumes: « And with the blind, the deaf, the dumb who have been cured, the lame walk straight, the cripple run. Over there is that old man, a short while ago he was contracted, now he is as straight as a palm tree in the desert, and as agile as a gazelle. The most serious diseases are cured. Woman, what was the matter with you? »
« I had trouble with my breast for giving too much milk to voracious mouths. And my illness ate not only into my breast but also into my life. Look now » and opening her dress she shows her wholesome breasts and adds: « They were one big sore, as you can see from my tunic which is still soaked with pus. I am now going home to put on a clean dress and I feel strong and am happy. Whilst only yesterday I was dying and I was brought here by compassionate friends, and I was so unhappy… because of my children who were about to be left motherless. Eternal praise to the Saviour! »
« Do you hear? And you can ask the head of the synagogue of this town with regard to the resurrection of his daughter, and on your way back to Jericho, go to Naim, and ask for the young man who rose again in the presence of the whole town when they were going to put him into his grave. You will thus be able to report that dead people rise again from the dead. You will be able to find out in many places in Israel that a large number of lepers have been cured, but if you wish to go to Sicaminon you will find many among the disciples, if you look for them. Tell John, therefore, that lepers are cleansed. And tell him, as you can see, that the Gospel is announced to the poor. And blessed are those who will not be scandalised in Me. Tell John that. And tell him that I bless him with all My love. »
« Thank You, Master. Bless us as well, before our departure. »
« You cannot leave in this warm hour. Stay here, therefore, as My guests, until evening. You will live for one day the life of this Master Who is not John, but loves John because He knows who he is. Come into the house. It is cool and it will restore you. Goodbye, My listeners. Peace be with you » and after dismissing the crowd He enters the house with the three guests…
… What they have said to one another during those sweltering hours I do not know. What I now see is the preparation for the departure to Jericho of the two disciples. Manaen is apparently staying, because they have not brought his horse with the two strong donkeys to the opening in the wall of the yard. The two messengers of John, after bowing several times to the Master and Manaen, mount their donkeys and look back saluting until they disappear round a comer.
Many people of Capernaum have gathered together to see the departure because the news of the visit of John's disciples and of Jesus' reply to them had spread through the village and I think it reached nearby towns as well. I see people from Bethsaida and Korazim, who introduced themselves to John's messengers, asking after him and to be remembered to him - they are perhaps ex-disciples of the Baptist - who are now chatting together with the people of Capernaum, making their comments. Jesus is about to enter the house while speaking to Manaen who is beside Him. But people press round Him, anxious to see Herod's foster-brother and his respectful manners to Jesus, and to speak to Jesus at the same time.
There is also Jairus, the head of the synagogue. But, thanks be to God, there are no Pharisees. And it is Jairus who remarks: « John will be glad! You have sent him not only an exhaustive answer, but, by keeping them here, You have also been able to teach them and show them a miracle. »
« And it was not a little one, either! » exclaims a man.
« I deliberately brought my little daughter here today, that they might see her. She has never been so well and it is a great joy for her to come to the Master. And did you hear her reply? "I do not remember what death is. But I remember that an angel called me and he took me through a brighter and brighter light at the end of which there was Jesus. And I do not see him now as I saw Him then with my soul that was coming back to me. You and I now see the Man. But my soul saw the God Who is closed in the Man". And how good she has become since then! She was good. But now she is a real angel. Ah! they can say what they like, but as far as I am concerned, no one is holy but You! »
« But John is holy, too » says a man of Bethsaida.
« Yes. But he is too severe. »
« Not more with others than he is with himself. »
« But he does not work miracles and they say that he fasts to be like a magician. »
« And yet he is a saint » and the petty quarrel spreads among the crowd.
Jesus raises His hand stretching it out in His usual gesture asking for silence and attention when He wants to speak. The crowd become silent at once.
Jesus says: « John is holy and great. Do not consider his way of behaving or the lack of miracles. I solemnly tell you: "He is a great one in the Kingdom of God". He will appear there in all his grandeur.
Many complain that he was and still is so severe as to appear rude. I tell you solemnly that he has worked like a giant to prepare the ways of the Lord. And he who works like that has no time for softness. Did he not repeat, when he was along the Jordan, the words of Isaiah, by which he and the Messiah are prophesied: "Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley" in order to prepare the ways to the Lord and King? He really did more than the whole of Israel to prepare My way! And he who has to lay mountains low and fill in valleys and straighten roads and make ridges become plains can but work rudely, because he was the Precursor and he preceded Me by only a few months and everything was to be done before the Sun was high on the day of Redemption. And this is the time, the Sun is rising to shine on Zion and thence on the whole world. John has prepared the way as he had to do.
What did you go to see in the wilderness? A reed swaying in every direction in the breeze? But what did go to see? A man clad in fine soft clothes? But those live in the palaces of kings, wearing fine clothes and respected by many servants and courtiers, and they are courtiers themselves of a poor man. There is one here. Ask him whether he is not disgusted with the life at Court and whether he admires the solitary rugged rock that is struck in vain by thunderbolts and scourged by hailstones, and against which silly winds struggle endeavouring to demolish it, while it stands firm, thrusting its whole being towards the sky, with its top proclaiming the joy of altitude, straight as it is and sharp like a rising flame. That is John. That is how Manaen sees him, because he has understood the truth of life and death and he can see grandeur where it really is, even if it be hidden under a wild appearance.
And what did you see in John when you went to see him? A prophet? A saint? I will tell you: He is more than a prophet. He is more than many saints, because he is the one of whom it is written: "Look, I- am going to send my angel to prepare Your way before You". Angel. Consider this. You know that the angels are pure spirits created by God to His spiritual likeness and placed as a link between man, the perfection of the visible and material creation, and God, the Perfection of Heaven and Earth, Creator of the spiritual Kingdom and of the animal kingdom. Even in the holiest man there is always flesh and blood forming an abyss between him and God. And the abyss subsides under the weight of sin that weighs down also what is spiritual in man. So God created the angels, creatures reaching the summit of the creation scale, just as minerals lie at its base, minerals being the dust forming the earth and inorganic materials in general. They are clear mirrors of the Thought of God, willing flames operating out of love, ready to understand, quick in acting, free in willing as we are, but their entirely holy will ignores the rebellion and incentive of sin. That is what the angels adoring God are, His messengers to men, our protectors, who grant us the Light that shines on them and the Fire that they gather worshipping.
John is called "angel" by the prophetic word. And I say to you: "Of all the children born of women, a greater one than John the Baptist has never been seen". Yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven will be greater than John-man. Because one of the Kingdom of Heaven is a son of God and not of woman. Endeavour therefore to become citizens of the Kingdom. What are you asking one another? »
« We were saying: "But will John be in the Kingdom? And how will he be there?" »
« He is already in the Kingdom in his spirit and he will be there after his death as one of the most splendid suns of the eternal Jerusalem. And that because of the Grace that is in him without any flaw and through his own will. Because he was and is violent also against himself for a holy purpose. From the Baptist onwards the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are capable of conquering it through strength opposed to Evil, and the violent will conquer it. Because now it is known what is to be done and everything has been given for such conquest. It is no longer the time when the Law and the Prophets only spoke. They spoke down to the time of John. Now the Word of God speaks and He does not hide an iota of what is to be known for this conquest. Thus, if you believe in Me you must see him as the Elijah who is to come. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen. What description can I find for this generation? It is like children shouting to their companions as they sit in the market place: "We have played the pipes for you and you would not dance, we sang dirges and you would not weep". For John came and he neither ate nor drank and this generation says: "He can do that because the demon assists him". The Son of man came, eating and drinking and they say: "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners". Thus her children do justice to Wisdom! I tell you solemnly that only children are capable of discerning the truth, because there is no malice in them. »
« You are right, Master » says the head of the synagogue. « That is why my daughter, who is still without malice, can see You as we are not able to see You. And yet this town and the neighbouring ones are overflowing with Your power, wisdom and kindness, and, I must admit it, they are making progress only in wickedness towards You. They will not mend their ways. And the good You do them ferments into hatred against You. »
« What are you saying, Jairus? You are calumniating us. We are here because we are faithful to the Christ » says one from Bethsaida.
« Yes. We are. But how many are we? Less than one hundred out of three towns that ought to be at Jesus' feet. Of those who are absent, I am talking of the men, half are hostile, a quarter are indifferent, I will grant that the rest cannot come. Is that not a sin in the eyes of God? And will such hatred and obstinacy in evil not be punished? Speak, Master, because You know, and if You are silent it is out of kindness, not because You do not know. You are patient, and that is mistaken for ignorance and weakness. Speak, therefore and may Your words stir at least those who are indifferent, as the wicked will not repent, but they become more and more wicked. »
« Yes, it is a sin. And it will be punished. Because the gift of God must never be despised or used to do wrong. Woe betide you, Korazim, woe betide you, Bethsaida, who misuse the gifts of God. If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, their inhabitants would have done penance and come to Me a long time ago wearing sackcloths and sprinkled with ashes. I therefore say that Tyre and Sidon will be dealt with more mercifully than you will on Doomsday. And you, Capernaum, do you think that You will be exalted to Heaven only because you gave Me hospitality? You will descend to hell. Because if the miracles I gave you had been worked in Sodom, it would still be flourishing, as it would have believed in Me and turned. Therefore greater mercifulness will be shown to Sodom on the Day of Judgement, because they did not know the Saviour and His word, and thus their sin is not so grave, than will be shown to you as you knew the Messiah and heard His word but you did not mend your ways. But, since God is just, those of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Korazim who believed and are becoming holy obeying My word, will be treated with great mercifulness. Because it is not fair for the just to be involved in the ruin of sinners. With regard to your daughter, Jairus, and yours, Simon, and your boy Zacharias, and your grandchildren, Benjamin, I tell you that they already see God, because they are without malice. And you can see how their faith is pure and active, joined to celestial wisdom and charitable yearning, which adults do not possess. »
And Jesus, looking at the sky, which is becoming dark at dusk, exclaims: « I thank You, Father of Heaven and Earth, because You have concealed these things from wise and learned people and You have disclosed them to the humble. Because that is what pleases You. Everything has been trusted to Me by My Father, and nobody knows Him but the Son and those to whom the Son has revealed it. And I have revealed it to the little ones, to the humble, the pure, because God gives Himself to them, and the truth descends like seed on free soil and the Father pours His light on it that it may take root and grow. Truly, the Father prepares these souls of children by age or children by will, that they may know the truth and I may rejoice in their faith. »
266. Jesus Works as a Carpenter at Korazim.
31st August 1945.
Jesus is working diligently in a carpenter's workshop. He is finishing a wheel. A delicate sad child helps Him handing this or that tool to Him. Manaen, although an idle witness, admires Him sitting on a bench near a wall.
Jesus has taken off His beautiful linen tunic and has put on a dark one, which is obviously not His own as it reaches only half way down His shins. It is an overall, clean although patched, which probably belonged to the deceased carpenter.
Jesus encourages the boy with smiles and kind words, teaching him what he must do to prepare the glue properly and polish the sides of the chest.
« It did not take You long to finish it, Master » says Manaen standing up and running a finger on the mouldings of the finished chest that the boy is polishing with a fluid.
« It was almost finished!… »
« I wish I had this work of Yours. But the buyer has already come and he seems to have acquired some rights… You have disappointed him. He was hoping to be able to take everything to make up for the little money he had lent. Now he has to take his articles and nothing else. If he were one who believed in You… they would be of infinite value to him. But did You hear?… »
« Leave him. On the other hand there is some wood here, and the woman will be happy to make use of it and have some profit. Give an order for a chest and I will make it for you… »
« Really, Master? Do you intend to go on working? »
« Until there is no more wood left. I am a conscientious worker » He says smiling more frankly.
« A chest made by You! Oh! What a relic! But what shall I put in it? »
« Anything you like, Manaen. It will only be a chest. »
« But made by You! »
« So? The Father also made man, He made all men. And what did man put in himself, what do men put in themselves? » Jesus speaks while working, moving about looking for the necessary tools, tightening vices, drilling, planing, turning, according to what is needed.
« We have put sins in ourselves. That's true. »
« See! And you may rest assured that man created by God is worth much more than a chest made by Me. Never mix up objects and actions. Of My chest just make a relic for your soul. »
« That is? »
« Give your spirit the teaching you get from what I do. »
« Your charity, humility, activity, then… These virtues, is that right? »
« Yes. And do likewise yourself in future. »
« Yes, Master. But will You make me a chest? »
« Yes, I will. But since you still consider it a relic, I will make you pay for it as such. Thus they will be able to say that at least once I have been greedy for money… But you know for whom the money is… For these little orphans… »
« Ask me whatever You want. I will give it to You. At least it will justify my idling while You, the Son of God, are working. »
« Agreed: "With sweat on your brow, you shall eat your bread". »
« But that was said for the guilty man. Not for You! »
« Oh! One day I shall be the Guilty One and I shall have on Me all
the sins of the world. I will take them away with Me, on My first departure. »
« And do You think that the world will not sin any more? »
« It should not. But it will always sin. That is why the burden I shall have on Me will be such as to break My heart. Because I will have to bear the sins committed from the time of Adam down to that hour, and those from that hour until the end of the world. I will expiate everything on behalf of man. »
« And yet man will not understand You and will not love You… Do You think that Korazim will turn to You because of this holy silent lesson You are giving by this work You are doing to help a family? »
« No, they will not. They will say: "He preferred to work to kill the time and keep the money for Himself ". I had no more money. I had given it all. I always give everything I have, to the last little coin, and I have worked to give the money away. »
« And what about food for Yourself and Matthew? »
« God would have provided it. »
« But You gave us to eat. »
« Of course. »
« How did You do that? »
« Ask the landlord. »
« I will, as soon as we go back to Capernaum. »
Jesus smiles mildly into His fair beard.
In the silence that follows one can hear only the squeaking of the vice tightened on two pieces of a wheel.
Then Manaen asks: « What are You thinking of doing before the Sabbath? »
« I will go to Capernaum and wait for the apostles. We decided to meet every Sabbath eve and spend the Sabbath all together. Then I will give them instructions, and if Matthew is well there will be six couples going out to evangelize. If not… Do you wish to go with them? »
« I would rather stay with You, Master… But may I give You a piece of advice? »
« Tell Me. I will accept it if it is just. »
« Never be all by Yourself. You have many enemies, Master. »
« I know. But do you think that the apostles would be of much help, in case of danger? »
« They love You, I think. »
« Of course. But that would not help. If My enemies are thinking of capturing Me, they would come with greater forces than the apostles'. »
« It does not matter. Do not be alone. »
« In two weeks' time many disciples will join Me. I am going to prepare them to send them to evangelize as well. I will no longer be alone. Do not worry. »
While they are talking thus, many curious people of Korazim come to eye them and then go away without speaking.
« They are astonished seeing You work. »
« Yes. But they are not so humble as to say: "That is how He teaches us". The best ones I had here are with the disciples, with the exception of an old man who died. It does not matter. A lesson is always a lesson. »
« What will the apostles say when they know you have been working? »
« They are eleven, because Matthew has already said what he thinks. There will be eleven different opinions. And most of them will oppose Me. But it will help Me to teach them. »
« Will You let me attend the lesson? »
« If you wish to stay… »
« But I am a disciple, they are apostles. »
« What is good for apostles will be good also for a disciple. »
« They may resent being reminded what justice is, in my presence. »
« It will do their humility good. Stay, Manaen. I keep you willingly with Me. »
« And I remain willing with You. »
The woman shows herself and says: « Your meal is ready, Master. But You are working too much… »
« I am earning My bread, woman. And… Here is another customer. He wants a chest as well. And he will pay a good price for it. The place where you keep the wood will be empty » says Jesus taking off the worn out apron He had on, and going out of the room to wash Himself in a basin the woman brought Him into the kitchen garden.
And with one of the uncertain smiles that reappear after a long period of deep sorrow, she says: « The place for the wood empty, the house full of Your presence and my heart in peace. I am no longer afraid of tomorrow, Master. And You… be not afraid that we may ever forget You. »
They enter the kitchen and it all ends.
267. Jesus Speaks of Love.
1st September 1945.
Jesus with Manaen beside Him comes out of the widow's house saying: « Peace to you and to your family. We will meet again after the Sabbath. Goodbye, little Joseph. You can play and rest tomorrow, and then you will help Me again. Why are you weeping? »
« I am afraid that You will not come back again… »
« I always speak the truth. But are you so sorry that I am going away? »
The boy nods assent.
Jesus caresses him saying: « A day will soon pass. You will be with your mother and brothers tomorrow. And I will be with My apostles and I will be speaking to them. During the past days I spoke to you to teach you how to work, I am now going to them to teach them how to preach and to be good. You would not enjoy yourself with Me, the only boy among so many men. »
« Oh! I would enjoy myself because I would be with You. »
« I see, woman! Your son is like many, and they are the best. He does not want to leave Me. Can you trust him with Me until the day after tomorrow? »
« Oh! Lord! I would give You them all! They are as safe with You as they would be in Heaven… And this boy, who used to stay with his father more than the rest of them, has suffered too much. He was with his father at the moment… See?… He does nothing but weep and pine. Don't weep, son. Ask the Lord if what I say is true. Master, to comfort him I always say to him that his father is not lost, but has only gone far away from us temporarily. »
« Which is the truth. It is exactly as your mother says, little Joseph. »
« But I'll not be able to find him again until I die. And I am only a boy. If I am to become as old as Isaac, how long will I have to wait? »
« Poor boy! But time flies. »
« No, Lord. My father has been dead three weeks, and it seems such a long time to me… I cannot go on without him… » and he weeps silently but most pitifully.
« See? He is always like that. Particularly when he is not busy with something that interests him. The Sabbath is a torture. I am afraid he will die… »
« No. I have another boy who is orphan of father and mother. He was emaciated and sad. Now, staying with a good woman at Bethsaida and being sure that he is not separated from his parents, he has flourished again both in his body and soul. The same will happen to your son, both because of what I will tell him, and because time is a great healer, and also because he will calm down, too, when he sees that you are no longer worried about your daily bread. Goodbye, woman. The sun is setting and I must go. Come, Joseph. Say goodbye to your mother, your little brothers and then run to pick up with Me. »
And Jesus goes away.
« And what will You tell the apostles now? »
« That I have an old disciple and a new one. »
They walk through Korazim that is becoming animated with people.
A group of men stops Jesus: « Are You going away? Are You not staying for the Sabbath? »
« No. I am going to Capernaum. »
« You have not spoken one word during the whole week. Are we not worthy of Your word? »
« Have I not given you for six days the best word? »
« When? To whom? »
« To everybody. From the carpenter's bench. For days I have been preaching that our neighbour is to be loved and helped in every possible way, particularly when our neighbour is weak, as in the case of widows and orphans. Goodbye, people of Korazim. Ponder on this lesson of Mine on the Sabbath. » And Jesus sets out again, leaving the citizens perplexed. But the boy, who has reached Jesus running, rouses the curiosity of the people who stop the Master again asking: « Are You taking away the widow's son? Why? »
« To teach him to believe that God is a Father and that in God he will find his lost father. And also that there might be one here who believes, in the place of old Isaac. »
« There are three men from Korazim with Your disciples. »
« With My disciples. Not here. This one will be here. Goodbye. » And with the child between Him and Manaen He walks fast through the country towards Capernaum, talking to Manaen.
They reach Capernaum after the apostles had arrived. They are sitting on the terrace in the shade of the pergola, round Matthew, whose wound is not yet healed, informing him of their feats. They turn round at the light shuffling of sandals on the little staircase and they see Jesus' fair head emerge more and more from the little wall of the terrace. They rush towards Him, Who is smiling… and they are dumbfounded seeing a poor boy behind Jesus. Manaen climbs the steps in his pompous pure white linen tunic, which is made even more beautiful by a precious belt, by the bright-red dyed linen tunic, which is so shiny as to seem silk, hanging from his shoulders like a train, and by his byssus head-dress fastened by a thin gold diadem, an engraved thin plate, which divides his wide forehead in two halves and gives him almost the air of an Egyptian king. His presence prevents an avalanche of questions which, however, are clearly expressed by the apostles' eyes. After greeting one another, while sitting near Jesus, the apostles ask: « And who is this one? » pointing at the boy. « This is My last conquest. Little Joseph, a carpenter like the great Joseph, who was My father. And thus most dear to Me, as I am to him. Is that right, little boy? Come here that I may introduce you to these friends of Mine of whom you have heard Me speak so much. This is Simon Peter: the kindest man to Children there is. And this is John: a big boy who will speak to you of God also when playing. And this is James his brother, serious and good like an elder brother. And this is Andrew, Simon's brother: you will get along well at once with him, because he is as meek as a lamb. And this is Simon the Zealot: he loves fatherless children so much that I think he would go round the whole world looking for them, if he were not with Me. Then here is Judas of Simon and with him there is Philip of Bethsaida and Nathanael. See how they look at you? They have children as well and they love children. And there are My brothers James and Judas. They love everything I love and so they will love you. Now let us go to Matthew, who is suffering agonies with his foot, and yet he is not angry with the boy who playing recklessly hit him with a sharp flint-stone. Is that right, Matthew? »
« Oh! no, Master. Is he the widow's son? »
« Yes, he is. He is very clever, but he has become very sad. »
« Oh! poor boy! I will get you to call little James and you will play with him » and Matthew caresses him drawing him close to himself with one hand.
Jesus ends the introductions with Thomas, who, practical as he is, completes it by offering the boy a bunch of grapes he has picked off the pergola.
« Now you are friends » concludes Jesus, sitting down again while the child eats his grapes replying to Matthew who keeps him close to himself.
« But where have You been all alone for a whole week? »
« At Korazim, Simon of Jonah. »
« I know. But what did You do? Did You go to Isaac? »
« Isaac the Elder is dead. »
« So? »
« Did Matthew not tell you? »
« No. He only said that You were at Korazim since the day after our departure. »
« Matthew is more clever than you are. He can keep quiet, but you cannot check your curiosity. »
« Not only mine. Everybody's. »
« Well: I went to Korazim to preach factual charity. »
« Factual charity? What do You mean? » ask many.
« There is a widow at Korazim with five children and an old sick woman. Her husband died suddenly at his work bench, leaving behind him misery and unfinished jobs. Korazim did not find a tiny bit of pity for this unhappy family. I went to finish the work and… »
There is pandemonium. Some ask questions, some protest, some reproach Matthew for allowing it, some admire and some criticise. Unfortunately the majority protest or criticise.
Jesus lets the storm calm down just as it started and as a reply He says: « I am going back the day after tomorrow. And I will do so until I finish. And I hope that you at least will understand. Korazim is a closed fruit-stone without its germ. You at least ought to be stones with germs.
Boy, give Me the walnut that Simon gave you and listen to Me as well.
See this nut? I am taking this one because I have no other fruitshells available, but to understand the parable, think, for instance, of the seeds of pines or palms, the hardest ones, or the stones of olives… They are very hard containers, completely closed, without cracks, of solid wood. They look like magic coffers, which can be opened only by means of violence. And yet if one of them is thrown on to the ground by chance and a passer-by buries it in the earth treading on it, what happens? The coffer opens and takes root and comes into leaf. How does that happen by itself? We have to strike it hard with a hammer to open it, instead without any blow it opens by itself. Is the seed a magic one? No. It contains a pulp. Oh! a feeble thing compared to the hard shell. And yet it nourishes an even smaller thing: the germ. And that is the lever that forces, opens it and produces a plant with roots and leaves. As an experiment, bury some fruit-stones and wait. You will see that some strike root, others do not. Pull out the ones that did not sprout. Open them with a hammer and you will see that they are empty seeds. So it is not the dampness of the ground or its heat that makes the stone open. But it is its pulp, or rather, the soul of the pulp: the germ, which swelling, acts as a lever and opens it.
That is the parable. Now let us apply it to ourselves.
What did I do that should not have been done? Have we understood one another so little that we have not understood that hypocrisy is a sin and that words are just like wind if they are not corroborated by action? What have I always told you? "Love one another. Love is the precept and the secret of glory". And I, Who preach, should I be without charity? Should I thus set the example of an untruthful master? No, never!
My dear friends! Our body is like a hard stone, in which pulp is enclosed: our soul, and in it there is the germ that I laid. It is made of many elements, the main one being charity. It acts as a lever to open the stone and free the spirit from the constrictions of matter and reunite it to God, Who is Charity.
Charity does not consist only in giving alms or comforting by means of words. Charity is accomplished through charity alone. Do not think that this is a pun. I had no money and words were not sufficient for this case. There were seven people on the threshold of starvation and anguish. Despair was already putting forth its black claws to grasp and strangle. The world was withdrawing harshly and selfishly before this misfortune. The world was proving that it had not understood the words of the Master. The Master evangelized through deeds. I was capable and free to do it. And it was My duty, on behalf of the whole world, to love those poor wretches whom the world did not love. That is what I did.
Can you still criticise Me? Or should I criticise you, in the presence of a disciple who did not hesitate to come among sawdust and shavings in order not to leave the Master and who, I am sure, became more convinced of Me seeing Me bent over a piece of wood, than he would have been persuaded if he had seen Me on a throne, and in the presence of a boy, who perceived Me to be what I am, notwithstanding his ignorance, the misfortune that blunts his mind and the fact that he was in no way acquainted with the Messiah as He really is. Are you not saying anything? Do not feel humiliated only while I raise My voice to correct wrong ideas. I do it out of love. But strive to have within you the germ that sanctifies and opens the stone. Or you will always be useless beings. You must be prepared to do what I have done.
No work must be burdensome to you for the sake of your neighbour, or to take a soul to God. Work, whatever it may be, is never humiliating. Whereas base action, falseness, untrue denunciations, harshness, abuse of power, usury, slander, lust are humiliating. They do humiliate Man. And yet they are done unashamedly by those also who say they are perfect and who were certainly scandalised seeing Me work with saw and hammer. Oh! A hammer! The worthless hammer, if used to drive nails into wood to make a piece of furniture that will earn food for orphans, how noble it becomes! The hammer, although ignoble, if it is in My hands for a holy purpose will not longer appear as such and how it will be craved for by all those who gladly shout that they are scandalised because of it!
Oh! man: you ought to be light and truth, how dark and false you are! But you, at least, endeavour to understand what Goodness is! What Charity is. What Obedience is. I solemnly tell you that great is the number of Pharisees. And they are even present among those who surround Me. »
« No, Master. Don't say that! We… it is because we love You that we do not want certain things!… »
« It is because you have not yet understood anything. I have spoken to you of Faith and Hope and I did not think that any new word was required to speak to you of Charity, because so much emanates from Me that you should be saturated with it. But I see that you know it only by name, without being aware of its nature and form. Just as you know the moon.
Do you remember when I told you that Hope is like the cross-bar of the kind yoke supporting Faith and Charity, and it is the scaffold of mankind and the throne of salvation? You do? But you have not understood My words in their true meaning. And why did you not ask for a clarification? I will give it to you. It is a yoke because it compels man to lower his silly pride under the weight of eternal truths. And it is the scaffold of such pride. The man who hopes in God his Lord unavoidably mortifies his pride that would like him to be proclaimed his "god" and acknowledges that he is nothing and God is everything, that he can do nothing and God can do everything, that he-man is transient dust and God is eternity elevating to a higher degree and rewarding man with eternity. Man nails himself to his holy cross to reach Life. The flames of Faith and Charity nail him to his cross, but Hope, which is between the former and the latter, elevate towards Heaven. But, remember the lesson: if charity is lacking, the throne is without light and the body, unnailed on one side, hangs towards mud and no longer sees Heaven. It thus cancels the wholesome effects of Hope and ends up by making sterile also Faith, because when one is detached from two of the three theological virtues, one falls into languor and deadly chill.
Do not reject God even in the least things. And to refuse to assist one's neighbour through heathen pride is to reject God.
My Doctrine is a yoke that bends guilty mankind; it is a mallet that breaks the hard bark to free its spirit. It is a yoke and a hammer indeed. And yet he who accepts it does not feel the tiredness that all other doctrines and all other human things give. And he who allows himself to be struck by it does not feel the pain of being crushed in his human ego, but feels a sensation of liberation.
Why do you endeavour to get rid of it to replace it with what is lead and pain? You all have your sorrows and your difficulties. All mankind has sorrows and difficulties, which at times are beyond human strength. From children like this one, who is already carrying on his little shoulders a heavy weight, which bends him and prevents his lips from smiling childishly and removes all thoughtlessness from his mind, which, from a human point of view, has never been childish, to the old man who is declining towards his sepulchre with all the disappointments, troubles, burdens and wounds of his long life. But in My Doctrine and in My Faith there is the relief from all such overwhelming burdens. That is why it is called the "Gospel". And he who accepts it and obeys will be blessed on the earth also because he will have God to comfort him and Virtues to make his way easy and bright, as if they were good sisters who, holding him by the hand with lit lamps, illuminate his way and his life and sing the eternal promises of God to him, until, yielding in peace his tired body to the earth, he awakes in Paradise.
Why, men, do you wish to be fatigued, desolate, tired, disgusted, desperate, when you can be relieved and consoled? Why do you wish, too, My apostles, to feel the fatigue, the difficulty, the severity of your mission, whereas with the reliance of a child you could have cheerful zeal, bright aptitude to accomplish it and realise and perceive that it is severe only for the unrepentant who do not know God, whilst for its believers it is like a mother who supports her child on his way, pointing out to his uncertain steps stones and thorns, nests of snakes and ditches, that he may identify them and thus avoid danger?
You are now desolate. Your desolation had a really miserable beginning! You are desolate first of all because of My humility, as if it were a crime against Myself. And you are now distressed because you have understood that you have grieved Me and that you are still so far from perfection. But only in a few this latter desolation is devoid of pride: of the pride hurt by the ascertainment that you are still nothing, whilst out of pride you would like to be perfect. Be only humbly willing to accept a reproach and to confess that you are wrong, promising in your hearts that you want perfection for a superhuman purpose. And then come to Me. I correct you, but I understand and I am indulgent.
Come to Me, you apostles, and come to Me, you all men, who suffer through material, moral, spiritual sorrows. These last one are caused by the fact that you cannot sanctify yourselves as you would like for the love of God, with promptitude and without returning to Evil. The way of sanctification is long and mysterious, and sometimes it is covered unknown to the walker, who proceeds through darkness, with the taste of poison in his mouth and thinks that he is not proceeding and is not drinking a celestial liquid, and does not realise that such spiritual blindness is an element of perfection.
Blessed, three times blessed are those who continue to proceed without enjoyment of light and kindness and that do not surrender because they see or hear nothing, and they do not stop saying: "I will not proceed until God grants me some delight". I tell you: the darkest road will suddenly become the best-lighted one, opening on to celestial landscapes. And the poison after removing all relish for human things will change into heavenly sweetness for those brave believers, who quite astonished will exclaim: "Why all this? Why so much kindness and joy to me?". Because they have persevered and God will let them enjoy on the earth what Heaven is.
But, in the meantime, come to Me you all who are fatigued and tired, you, apostles, and with you all the men who seek God, who weep because of the sorrows of the world, who have become exhausted in their loneliness, and I will restore you. Take My yoke upon you. It is not heavy. It is a support. Embrace My Doctrine as you would embrace a beloved bride. Imitate your Master Who does not confine Himself to bless it, but does what it teaches. Learn from Me Who am meek and humble-hearted… You will find rest for your souls, because meekness and humility grant the kingdom both on the earth and in Heaven. I have already told you that the true triumphers among men are those who conquer them by love, and love is always meek and humble. I would never ask you to do things that are beyond your strength, because I love you and I want you with Me in My Kingdom. Take therefore My insignia and My uniform and strive to be like Me and as My Doctrine teaches. Do not be afraid because My yoke is sweet and its weight is light, whereas the glory that you will enjoy if you are faithful to Me is infinitely powerful. Infinite and eternal…
I will leave you for some time. I am going to the lake with the boy. He will find some friends… Later we shall eat our bread together. Come, Joseph. I will introduce you to the little ones who love Me. »
Written by Maria Valtorta. From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, Volume 1, Chapter 265.
Copyright 1986 by Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, srl, Isola del Liri, Italy. All rights reseved in all countries.