"It is said: "You shall have no gods in My presence. You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven or on the earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a strong and jealous God and I punish the father's faults in the sons, the grandsons, and the great-grandsons of those who hate Me, but I show kindness down to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments". Jesus' voice resounds in the large room crowded with people; it is in fact raining and they have all taken shelter in it. In the first row there are four invalids, that is, a blind man led by a woman, a child covered with sores, a woman yellow with jaundice or malaria, and a man who has been carried there on a stretcher.
Jesus is speaking leaning against the empty manger. John and the two cousins, Matthew and Philip are near Him, while Judas, Peter, Bartholomew, James and Andrew are at the entrance door letting in those who arrive late. Thomas and Simon are moving amongst the people telling children to be quiet, collecting alms and listening to requests.
"You shall have no gods in My presence".
"You have heard how God is omnipresent with His eyes and His voice. Truly, we are always in His presence. Whether we are locked in a room or are amongst the crowds in the Temple, we are in His presence. If we are concealed benefactors hiding our faces also from the people we help, or murderers who attack and kill wayfarers in a lonely gorge, we are always in His presence. A king in the middle of his court, a soldier on the battlefield, a Levite inside the Temple, a wise man bent over his books, a peasant in the furrows, a merchant at his desk, a mother watching over a cradle, a bride in her nuptial room, a virgin in the secrecy of her father's dwelling, a child studying at school, an old man lying down to die, they are all in His presence. They are all in His presence and also the actions of men are in His presence. All the actions of men! A dreadful word! And a comforting one! Dreadful if the actions are sinful, comforting if they are holy. To know that God sees us, prevents us from doing evil and encourages us to do good. God sees that I am doing the right thing. I know that He does not forget what He sees. I believe that He rewards good deeds. I am therefore certain that I shall be rewarded and I rest on that certainty. It will give me a happy life and a placid death, because both in life and in death my soul will be comforted by the bright light of God's friendship. That is the reasoning of a person who does good. But why do evil-doers not consider that idolatry is one of the forbidden things? Why do they not say: "God sees that whilst I simulate a holy cult, I worship a false god or false gods, to whom I have erected an altar unknown to men but known to God"?
"Which gods, you may object, if even in the Temple there is no image of God? Which are the faces of these gods, if it was impossible for us to give a face to the true God? Yes, it is impossible to elaborate a face, because the Perfect and Most Pure One cannot be worthily represented by man. Only the spirit can catch a glimpse of the incorporeal and sublime beauty and can hear His voice and appreciate the caresses which He bestows upon a holy person worthy of such divine contact. But the sight, the hearing, the hand of man cannot see or hear, and therefore they cannot repeat with sound on a lyre, with a mallet and a chisel on marble, what the Lord is. Oh! endless happiness when you, souls of just people, will see God! The first glance will be the dawn of the blessedness which will be your companion for centuries without end. And yet what we cannot do for the true God, man does for false gods. And one erects an altar to woman; another to gold; another to power; another to science; another to military triumphs; one worships a mighty man, equal to himself by nature, but greater in arrogance or luck; another worships himself and says: "There is no one like me". Such are the gods of those who are the people of God."
"Do not be astonished at the heathens who worship animals, reptiles and stars. How many reptiles, how many animals, how many dead stars you worship in your hearts! Lips utter lies to flatter, to possess, to corrupt. Are those not the prayers of secret idolaters? Hearts brood over thoughts of vengeance, of illicit trades, of prostitution. Are those not the cults devoted to the impure gods of lust, greed, wickedness?
It is said: "You shall adore nothing but your true, one, eternal God". It is said: "I am a strong jealous God".
"Strong: no other strength is greater than His. Man is free to act, Satan is free to tempt. But when God says: "Enough" man can no longer do wrong, Satan can no longer tempt. The latter is driven back to his hell, the former is checked in his misuse of evil doing, to which there is a limit, beyond which God does not allow anyone to go."
"Jealous. Of what? Of which jealousy? Of the petty jealousy of petty men? No. The holy jealousy of God for His children. The just, loving jealousy. He created you. He loves you. He wants you. He knows what is harmful to you. He is aware of what is capable of separating you from Him. And He is jealous of what interposes between the Father and His children and diverts them from the only love which is health and peace: God. Understand that jealousy which is not mean, is not cruel, is not restrictive of freedom. It is infinite love, infinite goodness, unlimited freedom, which gives Itself to the limited creature, to draw it to Itself and in Itself for ever, and associate it to Its infinity. A good father does not want to enjoy his wealth by himself. But he wants his children to enjoy it with him. After all he accumulated his riches more for his children than for himself. God acts likewise but He conveys to His love and desire the perfection which is in all His actions."
"Do not disappoint the Lord. He promises the guilty fathers and the children of the guilty children punishment. And God always keeps His promises. But do not be disheartened, o children of man and of God. Listen to the other promise and rejoice: "I show kindness down to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments". Down to the thousandth generation of good people. And to the thousandth fault of the poor children of man, who fall not out of wickedness but because of their thoughtlessness and Satan's snares. And His kindness is even greater. I tell you that He stretches His arms out towards you, if with penitent hearts and faces washed by tears you say: "Father, I have sinned. I know. I humble myself and I confess my sin to You. Forgive me. Your forgiveness will be my strength to start ‘living again' the true life".
"Do not be afraid. Before you committed sins out of weakness, He knew that you would sin. His Heart is closed only if you persist in your sin and want to sin, thus making of a certain sin or of many sins your gods of horror. Demolish every idol, make room for the True God. He will descend in His glory to consecrate your hearts, when He sees that He is the only one in you."
"Give God's dwelling back to Him. His abode is not in the temples built with stones, but in the hearts of men. Wash its threshold, clear its interior from all useless or sinful decorations. Only God. He only. He is everything! In no way is inferior to Paradise the heart of a man in which God dwells, the heart of a man who sings his love to the divine Guest."
"Of every heart make a Heaven. Start your cohabitation with the Most High. In your eternal future it will improve in power and joy. But even here it will exceed the trembling amazement of Abraham, Jacob and Moses. Because it will no longer be the dazzling, frightening meeting with the Mighty One, but the permanent life with Father and Friend Who descends to say: "It is a joy for Me to be amongst men. You make Me happy. Thank you, son."
The crowd, over a hundred people, break the spell after some time. Some become aware that they are weeping, some that they are smiling at the same hope of joy. At last the crowd seem to awake, they seem to whisper, to sigh vigorously, and finally utter a cry as of liberation: "May You be blessed! You are opening for us the way of peace!"
Jesus smiling replies: ‘‘Peace is with you, if from now on you follow good."
He then goes towards the invalids. He touches with His hand the child, the blind man, the woman who is completely yellow, He bends over the paralytic and says: ‘‘I want it."
The man looks at Him and then shouts: "There is warmth in my dead limbs!" and he stands up, as he is, until they pull a blanket from his little bed over him, and the mother lifts her child, who is no longer covered with sores, and the blind man winks at the first contact with light, and women shout: "Dina is no longer as yellow as buttercups."
The place is in utter confusion. Some people shout, some bless, some push to see, some try to go out and tell the village. Jesus is assailed from all directions.
Peter sees that they are almost crushing Him and he shouts: "Boys! They are suffocating the Master! Come and let us make room" and with great efforts the twelve disciples elbow their way through the crowd, kicking also a few shins, and they free the Master and take Him out. "I will see to this tomorrow" he says. "You will stay at the door and the others at the other end of the room. Have they hurt You?"
They seemed to have gone mad. What manners!
"Leave them. They were happy... and so was I. Go to those who want to be baptised. I am going to the house. Judas, you and Simon will give alms to the poor. Give them everything. We have much more than is fair for the apostles of the Lord. Peter, go. Do not be afraid of doing too much. I will justify you with the Father, because I am ordering you to do it. Goodbye, friends."
And Jesus, tired and wet with perspiration, goes into the house, while each of the disciples does his duty among the pilgrims.
Written by Maria Valtorta
From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, volume 1, chapter 120.