121. Jesus at the "Clear Water": "You shall not take My Name in vain."
1st March 1945.
All the disciples are in utter confusion. They are so restless that they look like a beehive which has been upset. They speak and cast sidelong glances outside in all directions… Jesus is not there. At last they make up their minds about what is worrying them and Peter says to John: "Go and look for the Master. He is in the wood near the river. Tell Him to come at once or to let us know what we are to do." John runs away.
The Iscariot says: "I don't understand the reason for so much excitement and unkindness. I would have gone and welcomed him with full honours… His visit is an honour for us. So…"
"I don't know. He may be different from his foster brother.. But… who lives with hyenas catches their smell and instinct. In any case, you would like to send that woman away… But mind what you do! The Master does not want, and I have to protect her. If you touch her… I am not the Master… Just for your information."
"Oh! Who is she after all?! Perhaps the beautiful Herodias?"
"Don't be facetious."
"Don't blame me. You have kept a royal watch over her, like a queen…"
"The Master said to me: “Make sure she is not disturbed and respect her.” And that is what I am doing."
"But who is she? Do you know?" asks Thomas.
"Come on, tell us… You know…" insist many of them.
"I swear that I know nothing. The Master certainly knows. But I don't."
"We must get John to ask Him. He tells him everything."
"Why? What is special about John? Is your brother a god?"
"No, Judas. He is the best of us all."
"You can save yourselves the trouble" says James of Alphaeus. "My brother saw her yesterday, when he was coming back from the river with the fish Andrew had given him, and he asked Jesus. And He replied: “She has no face. She is a soul seeking God. She is nothing else for Me and I want her to be so for every body.” And He said “I want” in such a way, that I would advise you not to insist."
"I will go to her" says Judas Iscariot.
"Just try, if you can" says Peter, flushing like a cockerel.
"Are you going to play the spy and inform Jesus?"
"I leave that profession to those of the Temple. We, people of the lake, earn our bread working, not informing. Never be afraid of an accusation from Simon of Jonas. But don't provoke me and don't take the liberty of disobeying the Master, because I am here…"
"And who are you? A poor man like me."
"Yes. Nay I am poorer, rougher, and more ignorant than you are. I know, but it does not worry me. I would worry if I were like you as far as my heart is concerned. But the Master gave me that task and I am fulfilling it."
"Like me with regard to your heart? What is there in my heart that is so disgusting? Speak, accuse me, offend me…"
"For heaven's sake, stop it" burst out the Zealot and Bartholomew. "Stop it, Judas. Respect Peter's grey hair."
"I respect everybody, but I want to know what there is in me…"
"I will serve you at once… Let me speak… There is pride, enough to fill this kitchen, there is falsehood and lust."
They all cut in and Judas is compelled to be quiet.
Simon says quietly to Peter: "Excuse me, my friend, if I say something to you. He has his faults, but you have some, too. And one is that you do not bear with young people. Why don't you take into account their age, their birth… many things? See, you are acting for Jesus' sake. But don't you realise that such arguments are tiring Him? I am not asking him (and he points at Judas) but I am begging you, a mature and honest man. He has so much trouble because of His enemies. Why should we increase His afflictions? There is so much hostility around Him. Why should we give rise to it also in His own nest?"
"It is true. Jesus is very sad and He has also lost weight" says Judas Thaddeus.
"At night I can hear Him tossing and turning in His bed, and sighing. Some nights ago I got up and I saw Him crying while praying. I asked Him: “What is the matter?” And He embraced me and said: “Be friendly to Me. How toilsome it is to be the Redeemer!”"
"I also met Him in the wood near the river after He had evidently wept" says Philip. "And at my inquisitive glance He replied: “Do you know what makes Heaven different from the earth, apart from the difference of the lack of God's visible presence? It is the lack of love amongst men. It chokes Me like a halter. I have come here to scatter seeds for the little birds and be loved by creatures that love one another.”"
Judas Iscariot (he must be somewhat deranged) throws himself on the ground and cries like a boy.
At that moment Jesus comes in with John: "What is the matter? Why cry?…"
"It's my fault, Master. I made a mistake. I reproached Judas too harshly" says Peter frankly.
"No I… I am to be blamed. I am causing You trouble I am not good I disturb, I make people cross, I disobey, I am Peter is right. But help me to be good! Because I have something here, in my heart, that makes me do things that I would not like to do. It is stronger than I am… and I cause trouble to You, Master, to Whom I would like to give only joy… Believe me! It is true…"
"Of course, Judas. I have no doubt. You have come to Me with a sincere heart, with true enthusiasm. But you are young… Nobody knows you, you do not know yourself as well as I do. Get up and come here. Later we will speak all by ourselves. In the meantime let us speak of the matter for which you all sent for Me. What harm is there if also Manaen has come? Can a relative of Herod not thirst for the true God? Are you afraid for Me? No, do not be afraid. Have faith in My word. That man has come for an honest purpose."
"Why did he not make himself known then?" ask the disciples.
"Exactly because he comes as a 'soul' and not as Herod's foster brother. He has kept silence because he thinks that the relationship with a king is nothing before the word of God… We shall respect his silence."
"But if, instead, he has been sent by him?…"
"By whom? By Herod? No. Do not be afraid."
"Who sends him then? How does he know about You?"
"Through my cousin John. Do you think that when in jail he did not speak of Me? Through Chuza… through the voice of the crowds… through the very hatred of the Pharisees… Also the leaves of trees and the air speak of Me, now. A stone has been thrown into the still water and a stick has struck the bronze. The waves are spreading out wider and wider conveying the revelation to far away waters and the sound entrusts it to space… The earth has learned to say: “Jesus” and will never stop mentioning it. Go and be kind to him as you are to anybody else. Go. I am staying here with Judas."
The disciples go out.
Jesus looks at Judas who is still weeping and asks him: "Well? Have you nothing to tell Me? I know everything about you. But I want to hear it from you. Why are you weeping? And above all, why this derangement whereby you are always so dissatisfied?"
"Yes, Master! You have said it. I am jealous by nature. You certainly know. And I suffer seeing… seeing so many things. It makes me restless and… unfair. And I become bad whereas I would not like to…"
"Do not start weeping again! Of what are you jealous? Get accustomed to speaking with your true soul. You speak a lot, even too much. But how? With your instinct and your mind. You follow a difficult and twisted route to say what you want to say: I am talking of you, of your ego, because with regard to what you have to say of other people or to other people, you show no restraint or limitation. Neither do you show restraint or limitation to your flesh. It is your mad horse. You are like a charioteer to whom the race manager has given two mad horses. One is your sensuality, the other… shall I tell you what the other one is? Shall I? It is the error that you do not want to tame. You are a capable but reckless charioteer, you rely on your capability and you think it is enough. You want to be first… you do not want to waste time in changing at least one horse. On the contrary you spur them and flog them. You want to be “the winner”. You are anxious to be applauded… Do you not realise that victory is certain when it is conquered by constant, patient and prudent work? Speak to your soul. I want your confession to originate from there. Or have I to tell you what there is within you?"
"I find that You are not fair or constant either, and I suffer because of that."
"Why do you accuse Me? In what have I failed in your eyes?"
"When I wanted to take You to my friends, You refused saying: “I prefer to be with humble people.” Then Simon and Lazarus told You that it was better to seek the protection of some mighty person and You agreed. You are partial to Peter, Simon, John… You…"
"Nothing else, Jesus."
"Nonsense!… Bubbles on the foam of the waves. I feel sorry for you, because you are a poor wretch torturing yourself, whilst you could be rejoicing. Can you say that this place is luxurious? Can you deny that there was an urgent reason that compelled Me to accept it? If Zion were not such a harsh stepmother to its prophets, would I be here, hiding like one who is afraid of human justice and takes shelter in a sanctuary?"
"Well, then? Can you say that I did not entrust you with missions as I did with the others? Can you say that I have been severe with you when you were wrong? You have not been sincere… The vineyards!… Oh! Your vineyards! What were the names of those vineyards? You were not sympathetic to those who were suffering or were redeeming themselves. You were not even respectful to Me. And the others noticed it… And yet only one voice always defended you: Mine. The others would be entitled to be jealous, because if there was one who was protected, that one was you."
Judas weeps downhearted and moved.
"I am going. This is the hour when I belong to everybody. You stay here and meditate."
"Forgive me, Master. I will have no peace until You have forgiven me. Don't be sad because of me. I am a bad boy… I love and I torture… With my mother… and with You. And I would do the same with my wife if I should get married… It would be better if I died!…"
"It would be better if you mended your ways. But you are forgiven. Goodbye."
Jesus goes out and closes the door.
Peter is outside: "Come, Master. It is already late. And there is a lot of people. It will soon be dark. And you have not had any food… That boy is the cause of everything."
"That “boy” needs you all so that he will no longer be the cause of all these things. Try and remember that, Peter. If he were your son, would you pity him? …"
"H'm! I might and I might not. I would pity him… but… although he is a grown up man, I would teach him something, as if he were a naughty boy. If he were my son, he would not be like that…"
"That is enough."
"Yes, it's enough, my Lord. There is Manaen. The one whose mantle is so dark red that it seems black. He gave me this for the poor and he asked me if he can stay and sleep here.”
"What did you tell him?"
"The truth: “We have only beds for ourselves. Go to the village.”"
Jesus does not say anything. But he leaves Peter in the lurch and goes towards John, to whom He says something. He then goes to His place and starts speaking.
"Peace be to you all and may light and holiness come to you with peace. It is said: “You shall not take My Name in vain.”
When does one take it in vain? Only when one curses it? No. Also when one utters it without making oneself worthy of God. Can a son say: “I love and honour my father” if he does the very opposite to what his father wants from him? One does not love his father by saying: “father, father”. One does not love God, by saying: “God, God”.
In Israel where, as I explained to you the day before yesterday, there are so many idols in the secrecy of hearts, there is also a hypocritical praise to God, to which the deeds of the praisers do not correspond. There is also a trend in Israel: they find so many sins in exterior things and do not want to find them where they really are, in interior things. In Israel there is also a silly pride, an antihuman and anti-spiritual habit: the Name of our God uttered by pagan lips is considered swearing and the Gentiles are forbidden to go near the true God, because that is considered a sacrilege.
That was the situation so far. But it is no longer so…
The God of Israel is the same God Who created all men. Why prevent creatures from feeling the attraction of their Creator? Do you think that heathens do not feel something in the bottom of their hearts, something unsatisfied, that shouts, stirs, seeks? Whom? What? The unknown God. And do you think that if a pagan moves towards the altar of the unknown God, to the incorporeal altar which is the soul in which there is always the remembrance of its Creator, the soul which expects to be possessed by the glory of God, like the Tabernacle erected by Moses according to the order given to him, the soul that weeps until such possession does not take place, do you think that God will reject the pagan's offer as one rejects a profanation? And do you consider a sin the action caused by the honest desire of a soul that aroused by celestial summons says: “I am coming” to God Who says to it: “Come”, whilst you consider holiness the corrupted cult of an Israelite who offers to the Temple what is left over from his pleasures, and goes into the presence of God and mentions the name of the Most Pure One, with body and soul polluted by countless foul sins?
No. I solemnly tell you that the perfect sacrilege is committed by the Israelite who with his impure soul takes the Name of the Lord in vain. His Name is taken in vain, when you are aware, and you are not fools, that you pronounce it in vain because of the state of your souls. Oh! I see the indignant face of God which disgusted turns elsewhere when a hypocrite calls Him or an unrepentant soul mentions Him! And I am terrified although I do not deserve the divine wrath. I read in many of your hearts this thought: “Well, with the exception of children, no one can mention God's name, because in all men there is impurity and sin.” No. Do not say that. That Name is to be invoked by sinners. It is to be invoked by those who feel they are choked by Satan and want to free themselves from sin and from the Seducer.
It is said in Genesis that the Serpent tempted Eve when the Lord was not walking in Eden. If God had been in Eden, Satan could not have been there. If Eve had invoked God, Satan would have fled. Always have that thought in your hearts. And call the Lord with sincerity. That Name is salvation. Many of you wish to descend into the river to be purified. Purify your hearts, unceasingly, writing upon them, by means of love, the word: God. No false prayers. No habitual practices. But say that Name: God, with your hearts, your thoughts, your deeds, with your whole selves. Repeat it that you may not be alone. Repeat it to be supported. Repeat it to be forgiven.
Understand the meaning of the word of the God of Sinai: the name of God is taken “in vain” when saying “God” does not imply a change for the better. Then it is a sin. It is not taken “in vain”, when, like the beating of your hearts, every minute of your day, every honest deed, need, temptation, sorrow bring to your lips the filial word of love: “Come, my God!” Then, truly, you do not sin mentioning the holy Name of God.
Go. Peace be with you."
There are no sick people. Jesus remains under the shed, where the shades of evening are falling, leaning against the wall, with folded arms. He is watching those who are going away riding their little donkeys, or are hurrying towards the river to be purified or are going to their villages across the fields.
The man wearing the very dark red mantle seems uncertain as to what to do. Jesus is watching him. The man eventually moves and goes towards his horse; he has, in fact, a beautiful white horse adorned with a red caparison dangling under the studded saddle.
"Man, wait for Me" says Jesus and He goes towards him. "It is getting dark. Have you a place where to sleep? Have you come from far? Are you alone?"
The man replies: "From very far… and I will go… I don't know…To the village, if I find… if not… to Jericho. I left my escort there, as I did not trust them."
"No. I offer you My bed. It is already made. Have you any food?,"
"No, I have none. I was expecting to find a more hospitable place…"
"It lacks nothing."
"Nothing. Not even hatred for Herod. Do You know who I am?"
"There is only one name for those who look for Me: brothers in the Name of God. Come. We will share our bread. You can put Your horse in that large room. I will sleep there and I will watch it for You…"
"No. I will never allow that. I will sleep there. I accept Your bread but nothing more. I will not put my unclean body where You rest Your holy one."
"Do you think that I am holy?"
"I know You are holy. John, Chuza… Your deeds… Your words… The royal palace is resounding with them like a shell murmuring the noise of the sea. I used to go to John… then I lost him. But he had said to me: “One Who is greater than I am will take you and raise you.” It could be but You. I came when I found out where You were."
They are by themselves under the shed. The disciples are speaking in low voices near the kitchen and are casting sidelong glances at them.
The Zealot, who was the baptizer today, comes back from the river with the people who have been baptised last. Jesus blesses them and then says to Simon: "This man is the pilgrim who is seeking shelter in the name of God. And in the name of God we greet him as a friend."
Simon bows and the man does likewise. They go into the large room and Manaen ties his horse to the manger. John, beckoned by Jesus, rushes in with some grass and a pail of water. Also Peter comes in with a small oil lamp, because it is already dark.
"This will do very nicely. May God reward you" says the gentleman and then between Jesus and Simon he enters the kitchen where a bundle of brushwood, which has just been lit, gives light.
It all ends.