110. Jesus in the House of Jacob near Lake Merom.
17th February 1945.
I would say that Palestine, besides the lake of Galilee and the Dead Sea, had another small lake or pond, in short a sheet of water, the name of which I do not know. I am not at all good at reckoning dimensions, but with my naked eye I would say that this small basin is about two miles by one and a half. Very small, as one can see. But its green shores are pretty and also its surface which is so blue and calm that it seems a huge chip of sky-blue enamel veined in its centre by a lighter and slightly more wavy stroke of the brush, perhaps because of the current of the river which flows into it in the north and flows out in the south, and which, because of the lightness of the water, which above all I do not think is deep, does not stop flowing, but like a live stream in the middle of still waters, it shows its vitality and presence by means of a different hue and light ripples of the water.
There are no sailing-boats on the little lake, but only a few rowing-boats, in which a solitary fisherman casts or hauls his fishing baskets, or ferries a traveller who wants to take a short cut. And there are endless herds of sheep, which have certainly come down from the mountain pastures in view of the oncoming autumn, and are grazing on the green and rich pastures of the shores.
At the southern end of the lake, which is oval shaped, there is a main road running from east to west, or rather from north east to south west. It is quite well kept and is very busy with wayfarers going to the villages scattered in the area. Jesus is proceeding on this road with His disciples.
It is a rather dull day and Peter remarks: "It would have been better if we had not gone to that woman. The days are getting shorter and shorter and the weather worse and worse… and Jerusalem is still so far away."
"We will arrive in time. And believe Me, Peter, we obey God more by doing a good deed than by an external ceremony. That woman is now blessing God with all her creatures, around the head of the family, who has recovered so well that he will be able to be in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles, whereas by that time he would have been sleeping under bandages and ointments in a sepulcher. Never corrupt faith with the outward appearance of acts. Never criticise. How can you be surprised at Pharisees if you, too, fall into an error of lack of compassion and you close your heart to your neighbor and say: “I serve God and that is enough”?"
"You are right, Master. I am more ignorant than a little ass."
"And I am keeping you with Me to make you wise. Do not be afraid. Chuza has offered Me the wagon almost as far as Jabbok. It is a short way from there to the ford. He insisted so much and with such valid reasons, that I had to accept it, although I deem that the King of the poor should make use of the means of the poor. But Jonah's death caused a delay and I have to modify My plans according to such unexpected events."
The disciples talk of Jonah, pitying his poor life and envying his happy death. Simon Zealot whispers:
"I was not able to make him happy and give the Master a true disciple who had matured in long martyrdom and unshakable faith… and I am sorry. The world is in such need of faithful creatures, believing in Jesus, to balance the many people who deny and will deny!"
"It does not matter, Simon" answers Jesus. "He is happier, now. And more active. And you have done more than anyone would have done for him and for Me. I thank you also on his behalf. He now knows who freed him. And he blesses you."
"Well, then, he curses Doras, too" exclaims Peter.
Jesus looks at him and says: "Do you think so? You are mistaken. Jonah was a just man. Now he is a saint. He did not hate or curse when he was alive. He does not hate or curse now. From his place of expectation, he is looking at Paradise, and as he already knows that Limbo will soon let the expectants out, he is jubilant. He does nothing else."
"And Doras… will he be struck by Your anathema?"
"In what way, Peter?"
"Well… by making him think and change… or by punishing him."
"I have entrusted him to the justice of God. I, the Love, have abandoned him."
"Good gracious! I would not like to be him."
"Neither would I!"
"No one would, because what will the justice of the Perfect Being ever be like?" say the disciples.
"It will be ecstasy for the good, it will be a thunderbolt for the satans, My friends. I solemnly tell you: to be for a whole life a slave, a leper, a beggar is regal happiness, as compared to one hour, one single hour, of divine punishment."
"It's raining, Master. What shall we do? Where shall we go?" In fact the first large drops of rain are falling and bouncing on the lake, which has become dark reflecting the sky, now overcast, and it looks as if it is going to rain more heavily.
"To some house. We will ask for shelter in the name of God."
"And let us hope that we will find someone as good as the Roman. I did not think they were like that… I had always avoided them as being impure and I see that… if I take everything into account, they are better than many of us" says Peter.
"Do you like the Romans?" asks Jesus.
"Eh!… I find that they are not worse than we are. But they are Samaritans…" Jesus smiles but does not say anything.
They meet a woman who is driving eight sheep in front of her.
"Woman, can you tell us where we can find shelter?…" asks Peter.
"I am the servant of a poor lonely man. But if you want to come… I think my master will receive you kindly."
"Let us go."
They proceed under the heavy shower, walking fast in the middle of the sheep trotting with their fat bodies to escape the downpour. They leave the main road to take a little one leading to a low house. I recognize the house of the peasant Jacob, the peasant of Matthias and Mary, the two little orphans of the August vision, I think.
"It's over there! Run ahead while I take the sheep to the fold. Beyond the wall there is a yard through which you go to the house. He will be in the kitchen. Never mind if he is not very talkative… He has a great deal of trouble."
The woman goes toward a small hut on the right hand side. Jesus turns to the left with His disciples. There is the threshing-floor with the well and the stone oven at the farther end and the apple-tree on one side and there is the wide open door of the kitchen where a wood fire is lit and a man is repairing a broken rural implement
"Peace to this house. I ask you to give shelter for tonight to Me and My companions" says Jesus on the threshold of the door.
The man looks up. "Come in" he says, "and may God give back to You the peace You are offering. But… peace here! For some time peace has been Jacob's enemy. Come in. Come in!… Come in all. A fire is the only thing I can give you in plenty… because… Oh! but… But You, now that You have taken off Your hood (Jesus had covered His head with the edge of His mantle, holding it tight under His chin with His hand) and I can see You properly… You are, yes, You are the Galilean Rabbi, the one who is called Messiah and works miracles… Is it You? In the name of God tell me."
"I am Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. Do you know Me?"
"I heard You speak last month in the house of Judas and Anna… I was with the vintagers because… I am poor… A chain of misfortunes: hail, grubs, diseased plants and herds… What I had was sufficient for me, as I am alone, with only one maid servant. But now I have run into debt because I am persecuted by bad luck… To avoid selling all my sheep, I worked in the houses of other people… After all… my fields!… They looked as if a battle had been fought on them, they were so burnt, and the vines and the olive-trees so fruitless. Since my wife died, and that was six years ago, Mammon seems to be amusing himself here. See? I am working at this plough. But the wood is all broken. What shall I do? I am not a carpenter and I go on tying it up. But it is no use. And I must watch also farthings now… I will sell another sheep to have the tools repaired. The roof leaks… but the field matters to me more than the house. What a pity! The sheep are all pregnant… and I was hoping to replenish my herd… Who knows!"
"I see that I have come to bother you, when you already have so many worries."
"You a bother? No. I heard You speak and… I still have in my heart what You said. It is true that I have worked honestly, and yet… But I think that I was not yet good enough. I think that perhaps it was my wife who was good, as she felt pity for everybody, my poor Leah, who died too early, too early for her husband… I think that the wealth of those days came from Heaven because of her. And I want to become better, because of what You say and to imitate my wife. And I am not asking for much… only to remain in this house, where she died, where I was born… and to have a piece of bread for myself and the woman who works as my maid and as a shepherdess and helps as well as she can. I have no male servants. I had two and they were enough, as I also worked in the fields and in the olive-grove… But I have bread only for myself, and not much either…"
"Do not deprive yourself of it, to give it to us…"
"No, Master. If I had only one morsel, I would give it to You. It is an honor for me to have You… I would never have hoped for so much. But I am telling You my troubles because You are good and You understand."
"Yes, I understand. Give Me that hammer. You do not do it that way. You will break the wood. Give Me also that spike, but make it red-hot first. It will be easier to make a hole in the wood and we will put the peg in without any trouble. Let Me do it. I was a carpenter…"
"You want to work for me? No!"
"Let Me do it. You are giving Me hospitality and I want to help you. Men must love one another, each giving what one can."
"You give peace, wisdom and You work miracles. You are already giving a great deal, a great deal indeed!"
"I give also My work. Come, do as I tell you…" And Jesus, Who is wearing only His tunic, works quickly and skilfully at the split beam, He drills holes, fastens and bolts it and tests it until He feels that it is firm. "It will still work for a long time. Till next year. And then you will get a new one."
"I think so, too. That ploughshare has been in Your hands and it will bless my land."
"Not because of that, Jacob, it will bless it."
"Why then, my Lord?"
"Because you are merciful. You do not foster ill-feelings of selfishness and envy, but you accept My doctrine and you practise it. Blessed be the merciful. They will receive mercy."
"In what way am I being merciful to You, my Lord? I have practically no place or food for Your needs. All I have is my good will and never before have I regretted being poor, as I do now, because I cannot honor You and Your friends."
"Your good will is enough for Me. I solemnly tell you that also a cup of water given in My name is a great thing in the eyes of God. I was a tired wayfarer caught in a storm, and you have given Me hospitality. Mealtime comes and you say to Me: “I offer You what I have.” Night falls, and you offer Me a friendly roof. What more do you want to do? Be confident, Jacob. The Son of man does not look at the pomp of reception or of food, but He looks at the feelings of one's heart. The Son of God says to the Father: “Father, bless My benefactors and all those who in My name are merciful to their brothers.” That is what I am saying for you."
The servant, who has spoken to her master while Jesus was working at the plough comes back with some bread, some fresh milk, a few withered apples and a tray of olives.
"That is all I have" apologises the man.
"Oh! In your food I see a food that you cannot see! And I feed on it because it has a celestial flavour."
"Do You, the Son of God, perhaps feed on some food which angels bring to You? Perhaps You live on the bread of the spirit."
"Yes, the spirit has a greater value than the body, and not only in Me. I do not feed on angelical bread, but on the love of the Father and of men. That is what I find also at your table and I bless the Father Who led Me to you with love, and I bless you because you receive Me with love and give Me love. That is My food as well as doing the will of the Father."
"Then bless and offer the food to God in my stead. Today You are the head of my family and You will always be my Master and Friend."
Jesus takes the bread and offers it holding it up on the palms of His hands, saying a psalm, I think. He then sits down, breaks it and hands it out…
It all ends thus.