599. The Agony and the Arrest at Gethsemane.
10th February 1944.
« And now come. Although this evening you are like one who is about to breathe his last, come, so that I may lead you towards My sufferings. Long is the way that we shall have to cover together, because I was not spared any sorrow: neither the pain of the flesh, nor the grief of the mind, of the heart, of the spirit. I tasted all of them, I fed on all of them, I quenched My thirst with all of them, to the extent that I died of them.
If you laid your lips on Mine, you would taste the bitterness that they still retain of so much sorrow. If you could see My Human nature in its appearance, which is now refulgent, you would see that that refulgence emanates from the countless wounds that like a garment of living purple covered My limbs, lacerated, exsanguinated, beaten, pierced for your sake. My Human nature is now refulgent. But one day it was like that of a leper, so fiercely it had been struck and humiliated. The Man-God, Who had in Himself the perfection of physical handsomeness, being the Son of God and of the immaculate Woman, to those who cast loving, curious, or scornful, or evil glances at Him, seemed a "worn", as David says, the scorn of mankind, the jest of people.
My love for My Father and for My Father's children led Me to abandon My body to those who struck Me, to offer My face to those who slapped Me and spat at Me, to those who thought they were doing a meritorious deed by tearing My hair and My beard, piercing My head with thorns, making the earth and its fruits accomplices of the tortures inflicted on their Saviour, dislocating My limbs, laying bare My bones, tearing off My garments, thus offending My purity in the most cruel manner, nailing Me to a piece of wood and lifting Me up like a slaughtered lamb on to the hooks of a butcher, and barking around Me, while I was in agony, like a pack of ravenous wolves made even wilder by the smell of blood.
I was accused, condemned, killed, betrayed, disowned, sold. I was abandoned even by God, because I was burdened with the crimes I had taken upon Myself. They made Me poorer than a beggar spoiled by highwaymen, because they did not even leave Me My tunic to cover My livid nakedness of a martyr. Even after My death I was not spared the insult of a wound and the slander of enemies. I was overwhelmed by all the dirt of your sins, I was hurled down as far as the bottom of the darkness of sorrow, deprived of the light of Heaven that might reply to My dying eyes, and of the divine voice that might answer My last invocation.
Isaiah explains the reason for so much grief: "He has really taken our evils upon Himself and ours are the sorrows He has carried".
Our sorrows! Yes, I carried them on your behalf! To relieve yours, to mitigate them, to cancel them, had you been faithful to Me. But you did not want to be so. And what did I gain by it? You "looked at Me as if I were a leper, one struck by God". Yes, the leprosy of your infinite sins was upon Me, it was on Me like a garment of penance, like a cilice; but how did you not see God shine forth, in His infinite love, from that garment worn on His holiness on your behalf?
"He was wounded through our wickedness, and pierced through our crimes" says Isaiah, who with his prophetic eyes saw that the Son of man had become one huge sore to heal those of men. If they had only bruised My body!
But what you most wounded, was My feelings and spirit. You made a laughing stock and butt of both; and you struck Me in the friendship that I had given you, through Judas; in the loyalty that I hoped to receive from you, through Peter who disowned Me; in the gratitude for My favours, through those who shouted at Me: "death to Him!", after I had cured them from so many diseases; through love, because of the torture inflicted on My Mother; through religion, calling Me a blasphemer of God, whereas out of zeal for the cause of God I had put Myself in the hands of man by becoming incarnate, suffering throughout My life and surrendering to human ferocity without uttering a word or complaining.
A glance would have been sufficient to incinerate accusers, judges and executioners. But I had come spontaneously to accomplish the sacrifice, and like a lamb, because I was the Lamb of God and I shall be so for ever, I allowed men to take Me to be stripped and killed, so that I might make a Life for you of My Flesh.
When I was lifted up, I was already consumed by sufferings with no name, with all the names. I began to die at Bethlehem, seeing the light of the Earth, so distressingly different for Me Who was the Living Being in Heaven. I continued to die in poverty, in exile, in flight, in work, in incomprehension, in fatigue, in betrayal, in torn affections, in torture, in falsehood, in blasphemy. I had come to re-unite man to God, and that is what man gave Me!
Mary, look at your Saviour. He is not dressed in white, and His hair is not fair. His eyes are not the sapphire hue that you know. His garment is stained with blood, it is worn out and covered with dirt and spittle. His face is tumefied and twisted, His eyes are veiled with blood and tears, and He looks at you through the crust formed by them and by the dust that makes His eyelids heavy. My hands - can you see them? - are one big sore and are awaiting the last Wounds.
Look at Me, little John, as your brother John looked at Me. My footprints are stained with blood. Perspiration washes away the blood that drops from the wounds made by the scourges, and that is still left after the agony in the Garden. Words come out of My parched bruised lips in the painful panting of My heart that is already dying through all kinds of torture.
From now on you will often see Me like this. I am the King of sorrows and I will come in My regal dress to speak to you of My sorrow. Although you are in agony, follow Me. As I am the Merciful One, I shall be able to put also the scented honey of more serene contemplations before your lips, poisoned by My sorrow. But you must still prefer these ones, smeared with blood, because it is through them that you have the Life, and you will be able to take the Life to other people. Kiss My bleeding hand and be vigilant when meditating on Me, the Redeemer. »
I see Jesus as He describes Himself. This evening I have really been in agony as from 1900 hours (it is 1. 15 a.m. of the 11th, by now).
Jesus says to me this morning, the 11th February, at 7.30:
« Yesterday evening I wanted to speak to you only of Myself, a prey to suffering, because I have begun the description and visions of My sorrows. Yesterday evening it was the introduction. And you were so exhausted, My friend! But before the agony comes back again, I must reproach you gently.
Yesterday morning you were selfish. You said to your spiritual Father: "Let us hope that I shall be able to hold out, because my fatigue is greater". No. His is greater, because it is hard and is not compensated by the bliss of seeing visions and of having Jesus present, as you have Him, also in His holy Human nature. Never be selfish, not even in the least things. A woman disciple, a little John, must be very humble and charitable, like her Jesus.
And now come and stay with Me. "The flowers have appeared… the pruning time has come… the voice of the little turtle-dove has been heard in the country… " And they are the flowers that have come up in the pools of Blood of your Christ. And He Who will be cut off like a pruned branch is the Redeemer. And the voice of the turtle-dove, calling the bride to a sorrowful holy wedding banquet, is Mine, for I love you.
Rise and come, as today's Mass says. Come to contemplate and suffer. It is the gift that I grant My beloved one. »
16th March 1945.
There is dead silence in the street. In so much silence there is only the noise of a little fountain, the water of which falls into a stone basin. On the eastern side, along the walls of the houses it is still dark, whereas on the other side the tops of houses are beginning to grow white in the moonlight, and where the street widens out into a little square, the milky silvery moon-beams shine on it, embellishing the stones and the earth of the street. But under the many archivolts linking one house to another, like drawbridges or buttresses supporting the old houses with very few openings on the streets, and which are now all locked and dark as if they had been abandoned, there is complete darkness and the reddish light of the torch held by Simon becomes particularly bright and even more useful.
In the red mobile light faces stand out in neat relief and each shows a different mood. The most solemn and calm is Jesus', although tiredness makes it look older, furrowing it with wrinkles that usually are not there and already show the future image of His face recomposed in death. John, who is beside Him, looks around at everything he can see with a surprised sorrowful countenance. He looks like a child who has been terrorised by a story he has heard or by a frightening promise and implores help from someone who is more experienced than he is. But who can help him? Simon, who is on Jesus' other side, looks reserved, gloomy like a man who is turning over dreadful thoughts in his mind. And he is the only one who, after Jesus, looks dignified.
The others, in two groups that continuously change in formation, are all in a ferment. And now and again the hoarse voice of Peter and the baritone one of Thomas are raised resounding strangely. They are then lowered, as if they were afraid of what they say. They are discussing what is to be done, and some suggest one thing, some another. But all proposals are dropped, because "the hour of darkness" is really about to begin, and the opinions of men are obscure and confused.
« I should have been told earlier » says Peter worriedly.
« But no one has spoken. Not even the Master… »
« Never! He would never have told you. Brother! You do not seem to know Him!… »
« I felt there was some trouble. And I said: "Let us go and die with Him". Do you remember? But, by our Most Holy God, if I had known that it was Judas of Simon… » shouts Thomas in a thunderous threatening voice.
« And what did you want to do? » asks Bartholomew.
« Me? I would do it even now, if you helped me! »
« What? Would you go and kill him? Where? »
« No. I would take the Master away. It is easier! »
« He would not come! »
« I would not ask Him whether He wants to come. I would abduct Him as one abducts a woman. »
« It would not be a wicked idea! » says Peter. And he goes back impulsively, he joins the group of Alphaeus' two sons, who with Matthew and James are whispering to one another like conspirators.
« Listen, Thomas says that we should take Jesus away. All together. We could… from Get-Samni through Bethphage to Bethany and from there… to some other place. Shall we do that? Once He is in a safe place, we will come back and wipe out Judas. »
« It is useless. The whole of Israel is a trap » says James of Alphaeus.
« And now it is about to go off. It was understandable. Too much hatred! »
« Matthew! You make me angry! You had more courage when you were a sinner! Philip, tell us what you think? »
Philip, who is coming all alone and seems to be talking to himself, looks up and stops. Peter joins him and they whisper to each other. They then arrive at the previous group and Philip says: « I would say that the Temple is the best place. »
« Are you mad? » shout the cousins, Matthew and James. « But it is in there that they want Him dead! »
« Hush! How much clamour! I know what I am saying. They will look for Him everywhere. But not there. You and John have good friends among Annas' servants. A handsome present… and it is all settled. Believe me! The best place to hide one who is wanted is the jailors' house. »
« I will not do it » says James of Zebedee. « But listen also to what the others say. John, first of all. And if they should arrest Him? I don't want anybody to say that I am the traitor… »
« I had not thought of that. So? » Peter is at a loss.
« Well, I would say that it is compassionate to do one thing. The only thing we can do. Take away His Mother… » says Judas of Alphaeus.
« Of course!… But… Who will go? What shall we tell Her? You should go, as you are a relative of Hers. »
« I am staying with Jesus. It is my right. You can go. »
« I?! I have armed myself with a sword to die like Eleazar of Saura. I will pass through legions to defend my Jesus, and I will strike without restraint. If I get killed by a more numerous force, it does not matter. I will have defended Him » proclaims Peter.
« But are you really sure that it is the Iscariot? » Philip asks Thaddeus.
« I am certain. None of us has the heart of a snake. He only… Matthew, go to Mary and tell Her… »
« I? Deceive Her? See Her beside we while She is unaware, and then?… Ah! no. I am ready to die, but not to betray that dove… »
Their voices mingle in a whisper.
« Do You hear? Master, we love You » says Simon.
« I know. I am not in need of those words to know. And if they
give peace to the Christ's heart, they wound His soul. »
« Why, my Lord? They are words of love. »
« Of an entirely human love. Truly, in these three years I have done nothing, because you are even more human than at the first hour. This evening, all the filthiest ferments are rising in you. But it is not your fault… »
« Save Yourself, Jesus! » says John moaning.
« I am saving Myself. »
« Are You? Oh! My God, thank You! » John looks like a flower that had withered through excessive heat and becomes fresh again standing straight on its stem. « I will tell the others. Where are we going? »
« I am going to My death. You to Faith. »
« But did You not say just now that you were going to save Yourself? » The beloved apostle loses heart again.
« Yes, I am in fact saving Myself. If I did not obey My Father, I would lose Myself. I obey Him. So I save Myself. But do not weep so! You are not so brave as the disciples of that Greek philosopher, of whom I spoke to you one day. They remained with their teacher, who was dying having taken a potion of hemlock, and they comforted him with their manly sorrow. You… you look like a little boy who has lost his father. »
« And is it not so? What I am losing is more than the loss of a father! I am losing You… »
« You are not losing Me, because you will continue to love Me. He is lost who is separated from us by oblivion on the Earth and from God's Judgement in the hereafter. But we shall never be separated. Neither by this one or by that one. »
But John will not listen to reason.
Simon comes closer to Jesus and in a low voice confides to Him: « Master… Simon Peter and… I were hoping to do a good thing… But… Since You know everything, tell me: within how many hours do You think You will be arrested? »
« As soon as the moon is at the summit of her arc. »
Simon makes a gesture of grief and impatience, not to say of anger. « Then it was all useless… Master, I will now tell You. You almost reproached Simon Peter and me for leaving You so alone these last days… But we were away on Your behalf… For Your sake. Peter, frightened by Your words, came to me on Monday night while I was sleeping and he said to me: "You and I, I can trust you, must do something for Jesus. Judas also said that he wants to attend to it". Oh! why did we not understand then? Why did You not say anything to us? But, tell me, did You not tell anybody? Really? Perhaps You became aware of it only a few hours ago? »
« I have always known about it. Even before he became a disciple. And I tried in every way to send him away from Me so that his crime might not be perfect, both from the divine and human points of view. Those who want My death are the executioners of God. This disciple and friend of Mine is also the Traitor, the executioner of man. My first executioner, because he has already killed Me through the effort of having him beside Me, at the table, and having to protect him by Myself against you. »
« And does no one know? »
« John does. I told him at the end of the Supper. But what have you done? »
« And what about Lazarus? Does Lazarus really not know anything? We went to him today, because he came early in the morning, he offered his sacrifice and went back without even stopping at his mansion or going to the Praetorium. Because he always goes there, following a habit of his father. And, as You are aware, Pilate is in town these days… »
« Yes. They are all here. There is Rome: the new Zion, with Pilate. There is Israel with Caiaphas and Herod. There is the whole of Israel, because Passover has gathered the children of this people at the foot of the altar of God… Have you seen Gamaliel? »
« Yes, I have. Why are You asking me? I have to see him again tomorrow… »
« Gamaliel is at Bethphage this evening. I know. When we arrive at Gethsemane, you will go to Gamaliel and say to him: "You will shortly have the sign that you have been awaiting for twenty-one years". Nothing else. Then you will come back to your companions. »
« But how do You know? Oh! my Master, my poor Master, Who has not even the comfort of not being aware of deeds of other people! »
« You are right! The comfort of not knowing! Poor Master! Because evil deeds are more numerous than good ones. But I see also the good ones and I rejoice at them. »
« Then You know that… »
« Simon, it is the hour of My passion. To make it more complete, the Father is withdrawing His light from Me, as it gets nearer. Before long I shall have but darkness and the contemplation of what is darkness: that is, all the sins of men. You cannot, none of you can understand. Nobody, except who will be called by God for this special mission, will understand this passion in the great Passion, and as man is material even in loving and meditating, there will be who will weep and suffer because of the scourging and the torture of the Redeemer, but this spiritual torture that, believe Me you who are listening to Me, is the most atrocious one, will not be measured… So speak, Simon. Guide Me along the paths where your friendship went for My sake, because I am a poor man who is becoming blind and sees ghosts, not real things… »
John embraces Him and asks: « What? Can You no longer see Your John? »
« I can see you. But the ghosts rise from the fogs of Satan. Visions of nightmares and sorrows. This evening we are all enveloped in this hellish miasma. It is striving to create cowardice, disobedience and sorrow in Me. It will create disappointment and fear in you in other people, who are neither fearful nor criminal, it will bring about delinquency and fear. In others, who already belong to Satan, it will give rise to supernatural perversion. I am saying so because their perfection in evil will be such as to exceed human possibilities and achieve the perfection which is always in the supernatural. Speak up, Simon. »
« Yes. As from Tuesday we have done nothing but go around to find out, to prevent, to look for help. »
« And what have you been able to do? »
« Nothing. Or very little. »
« And that little will be "nothing" when fear paralyses your hearts. »
« I became irritated also with Lazarus… It is the first time that it happens to me… I was irritated because he seems to be slothful… He could take action. He is a friend of the Governor. He is always Theophilus' son! But Lazarus rejected every proposal of Mine. I left him shouting at him: "I think that you are the friend of whom the Master speaks. You fill me with horror!" and I did not want to go back to him any more… But this morning he sent for me and he said: "Can you still believe that I am the traitor?" I had already seen Gamaliel and Joseph and Chuza, Nicodemus and Manaen, and finally Your brother Joseph… and I could no longer believe that. I said to him: "Forgive me, Lazarus. But I feel that my mind is more deranged now than when I was condemned myself" And it is so, Master… I am no longer myself… But why are You smiling? »
« Because that confirms what I said just now. The fog of Satan envelops and upsets you. What did Lazarus say in reply? »
« He said: "I understand you. Come today, with Nicodemus. I must see you". And I went, while Peter went to the Galileans. Because Your brother, who is so far away, is more informed than we are. He says that he was informed by chance, speaking to an old friend of Alphaeus and Joseph, a Galilean who lives near the market. »
« Oh!… yes… A great friend of the family… »
« He is there with Simon and the women. There is also the family from Cana. »
« I have seen Simon. »
« Well, Joseph was told by this friend of his, who is also a friend of one of the Temple, who has become his relative on women's side, that they have decided to arrest You, and he said to Peter: "I have always opposed Him. But I did it out of love and while He was still Strong. But now that He has become like a child and is a prey to His enemies, I, a relative who has always loved Him, am with Him.
It's my duty by blood and by love". »
Jesus smiles, showing for a moment the serene face of joyful hours.
« And Joseph said to Peter: "The Pharisees of Galilee are wicked like all the Pharisees. But Galilee is not all Pharisees. And many Galileans are here who love Him. Let us go and tell them to gather together to defend Him. We have nothing but knives. But also clubs are weapons when they are handled properly. And if the Roman troops do not come, we will soon get the better of those cowardly cads of the Temple guards". And Peter went with him. In the meantime I went to Lazarus with Nicodemus. We had decided to convince Lazarus to come with us and to open his house to be with You. He said to us: "I must obey Jesus and remain here. To suffer twice as much… " Is it true? »
« It is true. I gave him that order. »
« But he gave me the swords. They belong to him. One for me, the other for Peter. Chuza also wanted to give me some swords. But… What is the use of two bits of steel against the whole world? Chuza cannot believe that what You say is true. He swears that he knows nothing and that at the court they think of nothing but enjoying the feast… A revelry as usual. So much so that he told Johanna to retire to one of their houses in Judaea. But Johanna wants to remain here, closed in her mansion, as if she were not there. But she will not go away. Plautina, Anne, Nike, and two Roman ladies of Claudia's household are staying with her. They weep, pray and make innocents pray. But it is no time for prayers. It is time for blood. I feel the "zealot" becoming alive in me and I am eager to kill in revenge!… »
« Simon! If I had wanted you to die as a damned soul, I would not have freed you from your desolation!… » Jesus is very severe.
« Oh! forgive me, Master… forgive me. I am like an inebriated raving man. »
« And what does Manaen say? »
« Manaen says that it cannot be true, and if it were, that he would follow You to the scaffold. »
« How you all rely on yourselves!… How much pride there is in man! And what about Nicodemus and Joseph? What do they know? »
« Nothing more than I do. Some time ago in a meeting Joseph was angry with the Sanhedrin, because he called them killers as they wanted to kill an innocent, and he said: "Everything is illegal in here. He is right when He says that there is abomination in the house of the Lord. This altar is to be destroyed because it has been profaned". They did not stone him, because he is Joseph. But since then they have kept him in the dark about everything. Only Gamaliel and Nicodemus have remained friendly with him. But the former does not speak. And the latter… Neither he nor Joseph have been summoned any more to the Sanhedrin for the really important decisions. It meets illegally here and there, at different hours, for fear of them and of Rome. Ah! I was forgetting!… The shepherds. They are with the Galileans as well. But we are few! If Lazarus had only listened to us and had come to the Praetor! But he would not listen to us… That is what we have done… Much… and nothing… and I feel so depressed that I should like to go around the country howling like a jackal, becoming brutal in an orgy, killing like a highwayman, if only to get rid of this idea that "everything is useless", as Lazarus said, as Joseph and Chuza and Manaen and Gamaliel said… » The Zealot no longer seems himself…
« What did the rabbi say? »
« He said: "I do not exactly know what Caiaphas' purpose is. But I tell you that what you say is prophesied only for the Christ. And as I do not recognise the Christ in this prophet, I see no reason to be excited. A good man, a friend of God will be killed. But of how many like him has Zion drunk the blood?!". And as we insisted on Your divine Nature, he stubbornly repeated: "When I see the sign, I will believe". And he promised to abstain from voting for Your death and, on the contrary, if possible he will try to convince the others not to condemn You. That, and nothing else. He does not believe! He will not believe! If only nothing happened till tomorrow… But You say it is not so. "Oh! what shall we do?! »
« You will go to Lazarus and you will try to take as many as possible with you. Not only the apostles. But also the disciples that you will find wandering about the roads in the country. See if you can find the shepherds and order them to do so. The house in Bethany is more than ever the home in Bethany, the house of kind hospitality. Those who do not have the courage to face the hatred of a whole population, ought to take shelter there. And wait… »
« We will not leave You. »
« Do not part… Divided, you would be nothing. United, you will still be a power. Simon, promise Me that. You are calm, loyal, you can speak to and influence even Peter. And you have a great obligation towards Me. I am reminding you of it for the first time, to make you obedient. Look, we are at the Kidron. From there you, a leper, climbed up towards Me and you departed cleansed. Give Me that, for what I gave you. Give the Man what I gave man. I am the leper now.. »
« No! Do not say that! » say the two disciples moaning.
« It is so! Peter and My brothers will be the most depressed. My honest Peter will feel like a criminal and will have no peace. And My brothers… They will not have the courage to look at their mother and at Mine… I recommend them to you… »
« And what about me, Lord, to whom shall I belong? Are You not thinking of me? »
« O My child! You are entrusted to your love. It is so strong that it will guide you as a mother. I give you neither order nor guide. I leave you on the waters of love. They are such a calm and deep river in you, that they raise no doubt in Me about your future. Simon, have you understood? Promise Me, do promise Me! » It is painful to see Jesus so distressed… He resumes: « Before the others come! Oh! thank you! May you be blessed! »
They all gather together again in a group.
« Let us part now. I am going farther up, to pray. I want Peter, John and James with Me. You, remain here. And if you should be overwhelmed, call us. And be not afraid. Not a single hair of your heads will be hurt. Pray for Me. Lay aside hatred and fear. It will only be a moment… and then it will be full joy. Smile. That I may have your smiles in My heart. And once again, thank you for everything, My friends. Goodbye. May the Lord not abandon you… »
Jesus parts from the apostles and goes ahead, while Peter makes Simon give him the torch after the latter has lit with it some resinous dry twigs, that bum crackling on the edge of the olivegrove, spreading a smell of juniper. It grieves me to see Thaddeus cast such an intense and sorrowful glance at Jesus, that the Latter turns round to see who has been looking at Him. But Thaddeus hides behind Bartholomew biting his lips to control himself.
With His hand Jesus makes a gesture, which is of blessing and farewell at the same time, and goes on His way. The moon, now very high, with her light encircles His tall figure and seems to make it even taller, spiritualising it, making His red garment brighter and His golden hair paler. Behind Him Peter holding the torch and Zebedee's two son hasten their steps.
They go on until they reach the edge of the first escarpment of the rustic amphitheatre of the olive-grove, the entrance to which is a small irregular plain, and the tiers the several escarpments that rise up the mountain in groups of olive-trees. Jesus then says: « Stop, wait for Me here, while I pray. But do not fall asleep. I may need you. And, I ask you this out of charity, pray! Your Master is very depressed. »
He is in fact already in a state of deep depression. He already seems overburdened by a weight. Where is now the virile Jesus Who spoke to the crowds, handsome, strong, with eyes of a ruler, a calm smile, a beautiful resonant voice? He already seems breathless. He is like one who has run or has wept. His voice is tired and exhausted. Sad, sad, sad…
Peter replies on behalf of everybody: « Do not worry, Master. We will keep awake and pray. All You have to do is to call us, and we will come. »
And Jesus leaves them, while the three stoop to gather leaves and twigs and light a little fire to keep them awake, and as a remedy against the dew that is beginning to fall plentifully.
Turning His back to them He walks eastwards, so that the moons shines on His face. I see that a deep sorrow dilates His eyes even more, perhaps it is the dark rings of tiredness that enlarge them, or it is the shadow of the eyebrows. I do not know. I know that His eyes are more open and deeper set. He climbs with His head lowered, only now and again He raises it with a sigh, as if He had difficulty in doing so and were panting, and then He casts His eyes, that are so sad, around the peaceful olive-grove. He climbs up a few metres, He then goes round an escarpment that thus remains between Him and the three apostles left farther down.
The escarpment, a few centimetres high at the beginning, rises continuously and is soon more than two metres high, so that it protects Jesus completely from being noticed by more or less discreet or friendly eyes. Jesus goes on as far as a huge rock, that at a certain point blocks the path and has probably been put there to support the slope, that on one side descends more steeply and bare as far as a desolate heap of ruins preceding the walls beyond which is Jerusalem, and on the other rises with more escarpments and olive-trees. An olive-tree, all knots and twisted, dangles right above the huge rock. It looks like a bizarre question mark, placed there by nature to ask some questions. The leafy branches on the top of it answer the questions of the trunk, at times saying yes by bending towards the ground, at times no, swinging from left to right, in a light breeze, which blows through the branches, and at times carries the smell of the earth, at times the bitterish scent of olivetrees, at times the mixed perfume of roses and lilies of the valley, that one wonders where it comes from. Beyond the little path and beneath it, there are more olive-trees and one of them, just under the rock, that has survived although split by lightning, or cleft by some other agent unknown to me, of the original trunk has made two trunks that have come up like the two strokes of a huge blockletter V, with the foliage of one appearing on one side of the rock and that of the other on the other side, as if they wished to see or veil it at the same time, or form a peaceful silvery grey base for the rock.
Jesus stops there. He does not look at the town that is visible down there, all white in the moonlight. On the contrary, He turns His back to it and prays with His arms stretched out crosswise, His face towards the sky. I cannot see His face because it is in the shade, as the moon is almost perpendicular over His head, that is true, but there is also the thick foliage of the olive-tree between Him and the moon, that with difficulty filters through the eaves wit tiny rings and needles of light in perpetual movement. A long fervent prayer. Now and again He sighs and utters a word more clearly. It is neither a psalm nor the Our Father. It is a prayer rising from His love and His need. A true conversation with His Father. I understand it through the few words I grasp: « You know… I am Your Son… Everything, but help Me… The hour has come… I no longer belong to the Earth. Stop all need of help for Your Word… Make the Man satisfy You as the Redeemer, as the Word was obedient to You… As You wish… I ask You to have mercy on them… Will I save them? That is what I ask of You. This I want: that they be saved from the world, from the flesh, from the demon… May I make further requests? It is a fair question, Father. Not for Myself. For man, who was created by You, and who wanted to soil also his soul. I will throw that dirt into My sorrow and into My Blood, so that the incorruptible essence of the spirit, which is pleasing to You, may be reinstated… And it is everywhere. He is the king this evening. In the royal palace and in houses. Among soldiers and in the Temple… The town is full of it, and it will be hell tomorrow… »
Jesus turns round, He leans with His back against the rock and folds His arms. He looks at Jerusalem. Jesus' face becomes sadder and sadder. He whispers: « She looks like snow… and she is all sin. And how many I cured in her! How much I spoke!… Where are those who seemed loyal to Me? »
Jesus lowers His head and looks fixedly at the ground covered with short grass shining with dew. But although His head is lowered, I understand that He is weeping, because some tears shine when falling from His face on the ground. He then raises His head, He unfolds His arms, He joins them holding them above His head, shaking them while they are so united.
He then sets out. He goes back towards the three apostles, who are sitting round the little fire of twigs. And He finds them half asleep. Peter is leaning with his back against a tree trunk, and, with his arms crossed on his chest, he nods in the first drowsiness of a profound sleep. James is sitting, with his brother, on a large root that emerges from the ground and on which they have spread their mantles in order not to feel its ruggedness so much, but although they are not so comfortable as Peter, they are also dozing. James has rested his head on the shoulder of John, who has inclined his on the head of his brother, as if doziness had immobilised them in that posture.
« Are you sleeping? Have you not been able to keep awake for one hour only? And I need your comfort and your prayers so much! »
The three wake up with a start and are utterly confused. They rub their eyes. They murmur an excuse, blaming their poor digestion as the cause of their drowsiness: « It's the wine… the food… But it will soon be over. It was only a moment. We did not feel like speaking, and that made us fall asleep. But we will now pray in loud voices and it will not happen again. »
« Yes. Pray and be on the alert. For your own sake as well. »
« Yes, Master. We will obey You. »
Jesus goes away again. The moon, now shining on His face so brightly in her silvery light, that it makes His red garment seem paler and paler, as if she were spreading it with a veil of white shiny dust, shows me His depressed, sorrowful, aged face. His eyes are still dilated, but they seem clouded. His mouth is twisted with tiredness.
He goes back to His rock more slowly and stooping more. He kneels resting His arms on the rock, which is not smooth, but at half its height it has a kind of protrusion, as if it had been placed there deliberately, and a little plant has grown on it. I think it is a plant of those little flowers, like lilies, that I have seen also in Italy, with small pulpy leaves, round but with indented edges and tiny little flowers on very thin stems. They look like small snowflakes spraying the grey rock and the little dark green leaves. Jesus lays His hands near them, and the little flowers tickle His cheek, because He rests His head on His joined hands and prays. Shortly afterwards He feels the coolness of the little corollas and raises His head. He looks at them. He caresses them. He speaks to them: « You are here as well!… You comfort Me! These little flowers were also in My Mother's little grotto… and She loved them because She used to say: "When I was a little girl, My father used to say: 'You are a little lily like these and you are completely full of heavenly dew"'… My Mother! Oh! My Mother! » He bursts into tears. His head on His joined hands, a little reclined on His heels, I see and hear Him weep, while His hands squeeze His fingers tormenting them. I hear Him say: « Also at Bethlehem… and I brought them to You, Mother. But these ones, who will bring them to You now?… »
He then resumes praying and meditating. His meditation must be really sad, full of anguish rather than sadness, because, to divert His attention, He stands up, He goes backwards and forwards, whispering words that I do not grasp, raising His face, then lowering it, gesticulating, rubbing His eyes and His cheeks with mechanical agitated movements of His hands, running His fingers through His hair, as is typical of one who is in great anguish. To mention it is nothing. To describe it is impossible. To see it is to share His anguish. He makes gestures towards Jerusalem. Then He begins to raise His arms again towards the sky, as if He wanted to invoke help.
He takes off His mantle, as if He were warm. He looks at it… But what does He see? His eyes see nothing but His torture, and everything serves to increase that torture. Even the mantle woven by His Mother. He kisses it and says: « Forgive Me, Mother! Forgive Me! » He seems to be asking it of the cloth spun and woven by motherly love… He puts it on again. He is a prey to torment. He wants to pray to get out of His state. But recollections, concern, doubts, regrets come back to Him with His prayer… It is an avalanche Of names… towns… people… events… I cannot follow Him because He is fast and desultory. It is His evangelic life that passes in front of Him… and brings Judas, the traitor, back to Him.
His anguish is such that, in order to overcome it, He shouts the names of Peter and John. And He says: « They will come now. They are really loyal! » But "they" do not come. He calls them again. He seems to be terrorised, as if He saw I wonder what.
He runs fast towards the place where Peter and the two brothers are. And He finds them comfortably fast asleep round a few embers, which are now dying out and show only some red zigzags among the grey ashes. « Peter! I have called you three times! What are you doing? Are you still sleeping? Do you not realise how much I am suffering? Pray. That the flesh may not win, that it may not overwhelm you. None of you. If the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. Help Me… »
The three wake up more slowly, but at last they are successful, and with dull eyes they apologise. They get up, sitting up at first and then standing.
« Just fancy! » murmurs Peter. « It had never happened to us! It must have been that wine. It was strong. And also this cold air. We covered ourselves not to feel it (in fact they had covered also their heads with their mantles), we did not see the fire any more, we were no longer cold, and so we fell asleep. Did You say that You called us? And yet I did not seem to be so fast asleep… Come on, John, let us get some twigs, let us get a move on. We shall soon be wide-awake. Do not worry, Master, because now!… We will stand up… » and he throws a handful of dry leaves on the embers, and he blows until the flame revives, and he tends the fire with the shrubs brought by John, while James brings a big branch of juniper, or of a similar plant, that he cut off a bush not far away, and he adds it to the rest.
The fire blazes gaily, lighting up the poor face of Jesus. A face that is really so sad that one cannot look at it without weeping. All the brightness of that face is cancelled by a deadly tiredness. He says: « I feel an anguish that is killing Me! Oh! yes! My soul is sad even unto death. My friends!… My friends! » But even if He did not say so, His aspect would make one understand that He is really like a man about to breathe his last, and in the most distressing and desolate abandonment. Every word sounds like a sob…
But the three are too heavy with sleep. They almost seem to be drunk, so much they stagger about with their eyes half closed… Jesus looks at them… He does not humiliate them by reproaching them. He shakes His head, sighs and goes away to the place where He was previously.
He prays once again standing, with His arms stretched out crosswise. Then on His knees, as before, His face bent on the little flowers. He is pensive. Silent… Then He begins to moan and sob loudly, almost prostrated, so much has He relaxed on His heels. He calls His Father, more and more anxiously…
« Oh! » He says. « This cup is too bitter! I cannot! I cannot! It is above My power. I have been able to bear everything! But not this… Father, take it away from Your Son! Have mercy on Me!… What have I done to deserve it? » He then collects Himself and says: « But, Father, do not listen to My voice, if what I ask is against Your will. Do not remember that I am Your Son, but only Your servant. Let Your will be done, not Mine. »
He remains thus for some time. Then He utters a stifled cry and raises His face, looking very upset. Only for a moment, then He drops on the ground, with His face really on the earth, and remains thus. A worn-out man overburdened by all the sins of the world, struck by all the Justice of the Father, oppressed by the darkness, the ashes, the bitterness, by that tremendous, terrible, most dreadful thing that is the abandonment by God, while Satan torments us… It is the asphyxia of the soul, it is to be buried alive in this prison that is the world, when we can no longer feel any tie between us and God, it is to be chained, gagged, stoned by our very prayers, which fall back on us bristling with sharp points and spread with fire, it is to butt against a closed Heaven, which neither the voice nor the appearance of our anguish can penetrate, it is to be the "orphans of God", it is madness, agony, the doubt of having been deceived so far, it is the persuasion of being rejected by God, of being damned. It is hell!…
Oh! I know! and I cannot, I really cannot bear the sight of the cruel suffering of my Christ, knowing that it is a million times more dreadful than the pain that consumed me last year and that still upsets me, when I think of it…
Jesus moans, having the death-rattle in His throat and sobbing like one in agony: « Nothing!… Nothing!… Away!… The will of My Father! His will! Only His will!… Your will, Father. Yours, not Mine… In vain. I have but one Lord: the Most Holy God. One Law: obedience. One love: redemption… No. I no longer have a Mother. I have no life any more. I have no divinity any longer. I no longer have a mission. In vain you tempt Me, devil, through My Mother, My life, My divinity and My mission. Mankind is My Mother and I love it to the extent of dying for it. I am giving My life back to Him Who gave Me it and Who is now asking Me for it, the Supreme Master of all living beings. I assert My Divinity, as it is capable of this expiation. I am fulfilling My mission through My death. I have nothing else, except to do the will of the Lord My God. Be off, Satan! I said so the first and the second time. I repeat it for the third time: "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by. But let Your will be done, not Mine". Be off, Satan. I belong to God. »
Then He speaks no more except to say, panting: « God! God! God! », He calls Him at each heart-beat, and at each beat blood seems to flow out of Him. The cloth on His shoulders gets soaked through in it and becomes dark, notwithstanding that the clear moonlight illuminates it completely.
A brighter light appears above His head, hanging about a metre above Him, it is so bright that even the Prostrate Master can see it filter through His wavy hair, already weighed down by blood, and notwithstanding the veil of blood covering His eyes. He raises His head… The moon shines on His poor face, and more brightly shines the angelic light, which is like the white-blue diamond of the star Venus. And all the dreadful agony appears in the blood transuding from His pores. His eyelashes, hair, moustaches, beard are sprinkled and covered with blood. Blood trickles from His temples, blood spouts from the veins of His neck, His hands drip blood, and when He stretches His hands towards the angelic light and His wide sleeves slide back towards His elbows, Christ's forearms can be seen sweating blood. Only His tears draw two neat lines in the red mask of His face.
He takes off His mantle again and wipes His hands, face, neck and forearms. But His sweat continues. He presses the cloth against His face several times, holding it pressed with His hands, and every time He changes its position, clear impressions appear on the dark-red cloth, and as they are damp, they seem to be black. The grass on the ground is red with blood.
Jesus seems on the point of fainting. He unties the neck of His tunic, as if He felt that He was suffocating. He takes His hand to His heart and then to His head and He waves it in front of His face, as if He wanted to fan Himself, with His mouth half open. He drags Himself towards the rock, but closer to the edge of the escarpment, and He leans with His back against it, His arms hanging along His body, as if He were already dead, His head bent on His chest. He moves no more.
The angelic light slowly fades away. Later it seems-to vanish in the clear moonlight. Jesus reopens His eyes. He raises His head with difficulty. He looks around. He is alone. But He is less anguished. He stretches out one hand. He draws to Himself the mantle that He had left on the grass and wipes His face, hands, neck, beard and hair again. He takes a large leaf, which had grown on the edge of the escarpment, and is all wet with dew, and He continues to clean Himself with it, wetting His face and hands and then drying Himself again. And He does the same several times with other leaves, until He wipes out the traces of His dreadful sweat. Only His tunic is stained, particularly on the shoulders and at the folds of the elbows, at the neck, waist and knees. He looks at it and shakes His head. He looks also at His mantle. But He sees that it is too stained. He folds it and lays it on the rock, where it forms a cradle near the little flowers.
With difficulty, owing to weakness, He turns round and kneels down. He prays resting His head on His mantle, on which He had already laid His hands. Then leaning on the rock He stands up, and still staggering a little, He goes to the disciples. His face is very pale. But it is no longer upset. It is a face full of divine beauty, although it is deadly pale and much sadder than usually.
The three are sleeping soundly, all enveloped in their mantles, lying down near the fire, which is out. They can be heard to breathe deeply as they begin to snore loudly.
Jesus calls them in vain. He has to bend and shake Peter vigorously.
« What is it? Who is arresting me? » the apostle asks as he emerges from his dark green mantle looking bewildered and frightened.
« Nobody. It is I calling you. »
« Is it morning? »
« No. It is almost the end of the second watch. »
Peter is completely benumbed.
Jesus shakes John, who utters a cry of terror when he sees the face of a ghost - it is as white as marble - bending over him. « Oh!… You looked like dead to me! » He shakes James, who, thinking that his brother is calling him, says: « Have they arrested the Master? »
« Not yet, James » replies Jesus. « But get up, now, and let us go. He who is going to betray Me is close at hand. »
The three, still drowsy, get up. They look around… Olive-trees, the moon, nightingales, a light breeze, peace… Nothing else. But they follow Jesus without speaking.
Judas' Betrayal and the Arrest of Jesus Fresco at Church at Assisi
Also the other eight are more or less asleep around a fire that has gone out. « Get up! » orders Jesus in a thunderous voice. « As Satan is arriving, show him, who never sleeps, and his children, that the children of God are not asleep! »
« Yes, Master. »
« Where is he, Master? »
« Jesus, I… »
« But what happened? »
And amid muddled questions and answers they put on their mantles again…
Just in time to appear in order to the guards headed by Judas, as they burst into the little square lighting it up sinisterly with many torches. It is a horde of bandits disguised as soldiers, who look like jail-birds and grin like devils. There is also an odd champion of the Temple.
All the apostles jump to one corner. Peter in front, the others behind him in a group. Jesus remains where He was.
Judas approaches Jesus, enduring the glance of His eyes, which have become the flashing eyes of His best days. And he does not lower his face either. On the contrary, he approaches the Master with the smile of a hyena and kisses His right cheek.
« My friend, what have you come for? Are you betraying Me with a kiss? »
Judas bends his head for a moment, then raises it… insensible to reproach as to every invitation to repent.
Jesus, after the first words uttered with the majesty of a Master, speaks in the sorrowful tone of one who resigns oneself to a misfortune.
The guards, shouting, come forward with ropes and clubs and try to get hold not only of Christ, but also of the apostles, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, of course.
« Who are you looking for? » asks Jesus calmly and solemnly.
« Jesus the Nazarene. »
« I am He. » His voice is thunderous. Before the murderous world and the innocent one, before nature and the stars, Jesus bears this clear, loyal, certain witness to Himself, I should say that He is happy to be able to bear it.
But, if He had thrown a thunderbolt, He could not have done more. They all fall to the ground like mown sheaves of corn. No one remains standing except Judas, Jesus and the apostles, who take fresh heart again at the sight of the overthrown soldiers, so much so that they approach Jesus, threatening Judas so explicitly that the latter makes a leap just in time to avoid a masterly stroke of Simon's sword. In vain pursued by the stones and sticks thrown at him by the apostles not armed with swords, he escapes beyond the Kidron and disappears in a dark lane.
« Stand up. Who are you looking for? I ask you once again. »
« Jesus the Nazarene. »
« I have told you that I am He » says Jesus kindly. Yes, kindly. « So, let these others go. I will come. Put away swords and clubs. I am not a brigand. I have always been among you. Why did you not arrest Me then? But this is Satan's hour and yours… »
But, while He is speaking, Peter approaches the man who is holding out the ropes to tie Jesus and gives a clumsy blow with his sword. If he had struck him with the point, he would have slaughtered him like a ram. Whereas all he does is to cut off part of his ear that remains hanging down shedding much blood. The man shouts that he is dead. There is chaos because some want to come forward, while some are afraid seeing swords and daggers shine. « Put those weapons away. I order you to do that. If I wanted, I could have the angels of My Father to defend Me. And you, be cured. In your soul first of all, if you can. » And before stretching out His hands to be roped, He touches the ear and cures it.
The apostles shout very unbecomingly Yes. I am sorry having to say so, but it is the truth. Some say one thing, some another. Some shout: « You have betrayed us! », and some: « He is mad! », and some say: « And who can believe You? » And those who do not shout run away And Jesus is left all alone He and the guards And His way begins.
15th February 1944.
« You contemplated the sufferings of My spiritual agony on Thursday evening. You saw your Jesus collapse like a man struck mortally, who feels his life flee through the wounds bleeding him, or like a person overwhelmed by a psychic trauma exceeding his strength. You saw the growing phases of the trauma culminate in the shedding of blood brought about by the circulatory unbalance that had been provoked by the effort of controlling Myself and withstanding the burden that had fallen upon Me.
I was, I am, the Son of the Most High God. But I was also the Son of man. I want this double nature of Mine, equally complete and perfect, to emanate very clearly from these pages.
My word, which has accents that only a God can have, bears witness to My Divinity. My necessities and passions, and the sufferings that I show you and I suffered in My flesh of a true Man, and that I propose to you as an example for your humanity, as I teach your spirits with My doctrine of true God, bear witness to My Humanity.
Both My most holy Divinity and My most perfect Humanity, in the course of ages, through the breaking up action of "your" imperfect humanity, have resulted disparaged and distorted in their explanation. You have made My Humanity appear unreal, inhumane, as you have made My divine figure look small, denying so many parts of it, because it was not convenient for you to recognise them or that you could no longer recognise with your spirits impaired by the tabes of vice and atheism, of humanism, of rationalism.
I am coming, in this tragic hour, a prodrome of universal misfortunes, to call My double figure of God and of Man back to your minds, so that you may know it for what it is, you may recognise it after so much obscurantism, with which you have concealed it from your spirits, and you may love it and go back to it and save yourselves by means of It. It is the figure of your Saviour and he, who knows it and loves it, will be saved.
In these past days I have made you acquainted with My physical sufferings. They tortured My Humanity. I have made you acquainted with My moral sufferings, as connected, interlaced, blended with My Mother's, as are the inextricable lianas of the equatorial forests, which cannot be parted in order to cut only one, but it is necessary to break them with a single stroke of a hatchet to force one's way through, killing them all together; just like the veins of a body, one alone of which cannot be deprived of blood, because only one liquid fills them all; better still, as it is not possible to prevent the creature that is forming in its mother's womb from dying, if its mother dies, because it is the life, the warmth, the nourishment, the blood of the mother that, with a rhythm responding to the movement of the mother's heart, penetrates through the internal membranes, as far as the baby-to-be, making it a complete living being.
She, oh! She, My pure Mother, bore Me not only for the nine months during which every woman bears the fruit of man, but for all Her life. Our hearts were united by spiritual fibres and they always beat together, and no motherly tear ever fell without leaving a trace of its salt on My heart, and there has never been any internal moaning of Mine that did not resound in Her, awakening Her grief.
You feel sorry for the mother of a son destined to death by an incurable disease, for the mother of a man condemned to death by the rigour of human justice. But think of My Mother Who, from the moment She conceived Me, trembled considering that I was the Condemned One, think of this Mother Who, when She gave Me Her first kiss on the delicate rosy flesh of Her new-born baby, felt the future wounds of Her Child, think of this Mother Who would have given Her life ten, a hundred, a thousand times to prevent Me from becoming a Man and arriving at the moment of the Sacrifice, think of this Mother Who was aware of and had to desire that dreadful hour to accept the will of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord, out of kindness towards Mankind. No, there has been no agony that lasted longer and ended in a greater grief than My Mother's.
And there has been no greater and more complete sorrow than Mine. I was One with the Father. He had loved Me from eternity as God alone can love. He had taken delight in Me and had found His divine joy in Me. And I had loved Him as a God alone can love, and in My union with Him I had found My divine joy. The ineffable relationship that ab aeterno ties the Father to the Son cannot be explained to you even by My Word, because while it is perfect, your intelligence is not, and you cannot understand and know what God is until you are with Him in Heaven. Well, like water that rises and presses against a dam, I felt the rigour of the Father grow hourly towards Me.
As evidence against brute-men, who did not want to understand who I was, during the time of My public life, He had opened Heaven three times at the Jordan, at the Tabor and in Jerusalem on the eve of My Passion. But He had done that for men, not to give relief to Me. I was already the Expiator.
Many times, Mary, God makes men become acquainted with one of His servants, so that through him they may be roused and dragged to Him, but that happens also through the suffering of that servant. It is he who, by eating the bitter bread of God's rigour, pays personally for the comfort and salvation of his brothers. Is it not so? The victims of expiation know the rigour of God. Then comes the glory. But after Justice has been appeased. It is not the same as happens with My Love, that kisses His victims. I am Jesus, I am the Redeemer, He Who has suffered and knows, by personal experience, how painful it is to be looked at by God with severity and be abandoned by Him, and I am never severe, and I never abandon anyone. I consume just the same, but through the fire of love.
The more the hour of expiation approached, the more I felt the Father move away. The more I was separated from the Father, the less My Humanity felt it was supported by the Divinity of God. And because of that I suffered in every possible way. The separation from God brings fear, attachment to life, languor, tiredness, boredom. The deeper it is, the stronger are its consequences. When it is total, it leads to despair. And the more he who, by God's decree, experiences it, without having deserved it, the more he suffers, because the living spirit feels the excision from God, as live flesh feels the excision of a limb. It is a sorrowful prostrating stupor that one, who has not experienced it, cannot understand.
I experienced it. I had to know everything in order to be able to plead with the Father for everything in your favour. Even for your despair. Oh, I experienced what it means to say: "I am alone. Everybody has betrayed and abandoned Me. Even the Father, even God no longer assists Me". And that is why I work mysterious wonders of grace in poor hearts overwhelmed by despair, and I ask My beloved ones to drink the cup of so bitter an experience, so that they, those who are shipwrecked in the sea of despair, may not decline to accept the cross that I offer as anchor and salvation, but they may grasp at it and I may take them to the blessed shore where only peace reigns.
On Thursday evening, I alone know whether I needed My Father! I was a spirit already in agony because of the effort of having to overcome the two greatest sorrows of a man: to say goodbye to a beloved mother, to have an unfaithful friend close by. They were two sores that scorched My heart: the former with Her tears, the latter with his hatred.
I had to share My bread with My Cain. I had to speak to him in a friendly manner in order not to denounce him to the others, as I was afraid they might react violently, and in order to avoid a crime, which in any case would have been useless, as everything was already written in the great book of life: both My holy Death and Judas' suicide. Any other death was useless and disapproved of by God. No other blood but Mine was to be shed, and was not shed. The halter strangled that life, shutting up his impure blood, which had been sold to Satan, in the filthy sack of the traitor's body, blood that was not to be mixed, falling on the Earth, with the most pure blood of the Innocent.
Those two sores would have been sufficient to make Me suffer agony in My Ego. But I was the Expiator, the Victim, the Lamb. A lamb, before being sacrificed, experiences the red-hot brand, it suffers blows, it endures being shorn and sold to a butcher. And finally it feels the cold of the knife that cuts its throat, bleeds it and kills it. First it must leave everything: the pasture where it was brought up, its mother at whose breast it was nourished and warmed, the companions with which it lived. Everything. I, the Lamb of God, experienced everything.
That is why Satan came, when the Father was retiring in Heaven. He had already come at the beginning of My mission, to tempt Me in order to divert Me from it. He was now coming back again. It was his hour. The hour of the satanic sabbath.
Crowds and crowds of devils were on the Earth that night, to accomplish the seduction of hearts and make them willing to request the killing of the Christ the following day. Each member of the Sanhedrin had his own, Herod had his, so had Pilate, and every single Judaean who would invoke My Blood upon himself. Also beside the apostles there were their tempters, who made them drowsy while I was languishing, and who prepared them to be cowardly. Take notice of the power of purity. John, the pure disciple, was the first among all of them to free himself from the demoniac claws, and he came at once near his Jesus and understood His unexpressed desire, and brought Mary to Me.
But Judas had Lucifer, and I had Lucifer. Judas in his heart, I beside Me. We were the two main characters of the tragedy, and Satan was attending personally to both of us. After leading Judas to the point from which he could not withdraw, he turned towards Me.
With perfect artifice he showed Me the torments of the flesh with unsurpassable realism. Also in the desert he had started from the flesh. I defeated him by praying. The spirit dominated the fear of the flesh.
He then showed Me the uselessness of My death, and the usefulness of living for My own sake, without worrying Myself about ungrateful men, leading a rich happy life full of love. Living for My Mother, ensuring that She did not suffer. Living so that by means of a long apostolate I could take back to God many men, who, if I had died, would forget Me, whereas, if I had been their Master not for three years, but for many many years, would end up by becoming one with My doctrine. His angels would help Me to seduce men. Could I not see that the angels of God were not intervening to assist Me? Later, God would forgive Me seeing the crowds of believers that I would lead back to Him. Also in the desert he had tried to convince Me to tempt God through imprudence. I defeated him by praying. The spirit dominated moral temptation.
He showed Me My abandonment by God. He, the Father, no longer loved Me. I was laden with the sins of the world. I disgusted Him. He was absent and was leaving Me to Myself. He was surrendering Me to the mockery of a cruel crowd. And He would not even grant Me His divine comfort. I was alone, all alone. In that hour there was but Satan near the Christ. God and men were absent, because they did not love Me. They hated Me or were uninterested. I prayed to cover the satanic words with My prayers. But My prayer no longer ascended to God. It fell back on Me, like stones of lapidation and crushed Me under its rubble. My prayer, that had always been for Me like a caress given to the Father, a voice that ascended and was answered by a fatherly caress and word, was now dead, heavy, uttered in vain to a closed Heaven.
I then tasted the bitterness of the bottom of the cup. The flavour of despair. It was what Satan wanted: to lead Me to despair, to make Me a slave of his. I overcame despair and I overcame it only with My power, because I wanted to defeat it. Only with My strength of a Man. I was nothing but the Man. And I was nothing but a man no longer helped by God. When God helps you, it is easy to lift even the world and hold it up like a child's toy. But when God does not help us any more, even the weight of a flower is a burden to us.
I defeated despair and Satan, its creator, in order to serve God and you, by giving you the Life. But I became acquainted with Death. Not with the physical death of crucifixion - that was not so dreadful - but with the total conscious Death of the fighter who falls after triumphing, with a broken heart and blood pouring out of him in the trauma of an effort exceeding all endurance. And I sweated blood. I sweated blood to be faithful to God's will.
That is why the angel of My sorrow showed Me the hopes of all those who have been saved through My sacrifice, as a medicine for My dying.
Your names! Each name was a drop of medicine instilled into My veins to invigorate them and make them function, each of them was for Me life coming back, light coming back, strength coming back. During the cruel tortures, to avoid shouting My grief of Man, and in order not to despair of God and say that He was too severe and unjust to His Victim, I repeated your names to Myself, I saw you. Since then I blessed you. Since then I have carried you in My heart. And when the time came for you to be on the Earth, I leaned out of Heaven to accompany your coming, rejoicing at the thought that a fresh flower of love was born in the world and would have lived for Me.
Oh! My blessed ones! The comfort of the dying Christ! My Mother, the Disciple, the pious Women were present at My death, and you were there as well. My dying eyes saw, with the tormented face of My Mother, also your loving ones, and they closed thus, happy to be closed because they had saved you, who deserve the Sacrifice of a God. »
Written by Maria Valtorta. From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, Volume 5, Chapter 599.
Copyright 1990 by Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, srl, Isola del Liri, Italy. All rights reserved in all countries.