128. Jesus at the "Clear Water": "You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbour's Wife."
12th March 1945.
Jesus passes through the middle of a very large crowd and they call Him from all directions. Some show their wounds, some mention their misfortunes, some simply say: "Have mercy on me", some show Him their little children and ask Him to bless them. The clear calm day has brought a great many people. When Jesus is almost in His place, a plaintive cry is heard from the little path that leads to the river: "Son of David, have mercy on an unhappy man!"
Jesus looks in that direction and so do the crowd and His disciples. But a boxthicket conceals the pleading man.
"Who are you? Come out."
"I cannot. I am not clean. I must go to the priest to be expelled from the world. I have sinned and leprosy has infected my body. I hope in You."
"A leper! A leper! Anathema! Let us stone him!" shout the crowd in a turmoil. Jesus with a gesture commands silence and calm. "He is not more unclean than anyone in sin. In the eyes of God an unrepentant sinner is more unclean than a repentant leper. If you are capable of believing, come with Me."
The disciples and some curious people follow Jesus. The others crane their necks and remain where they are.
Jesus goes beyond the house and the little path, towards the box-thicket. He then stops and commands: "Show yourself."
A young man, a little older than a teenager, appears. His face, which is still handsome and fresh looking, is lightly veiled by a very thin moustache and beard. His eyes are red with weeping.
He is hailed by a group of women all covered in veils, who were previously weeping in the yard of the house when Jesus passed by and are now crying even louder owing to the threats of the crowd. "Oh son!" shouts a woman collapsing on to the arms of another woman, probably a relative or a friend, I am not sure. Jesus proceeds alone towards the unhappy fellow. "You are very young. How did you become a leper?"
The young man lowers his eyes, blushes, mumbles but ventures no more. Jesus repeats His question. The young man says something more clearly, but only a few words are caught: "… my father… I went… we sinned… not only I…"
"Your mother is over there, hoping and weeping. God in Heavens knows. I am here and I know. But I need your humiliation, so that I may have mercy on you. Speak up."
"Speak, son. Have mercy on the womb that carried you" wails the mother who has dragged herself to where Jesus is standing and now, on her knees, is subconsciously holding the hem of Jesus' tunic in one hand, while she is stretching the other one towards her son, shedding scalding tears.
Jesus lays His hand on her head. "Speak up" He says once again.
"I am her first born and I help my father in his trade. He sent me to Jericho many times to see his customers and… and one… had a beautiful young wife… I liked her. I went farther than I should have done… She liked me… We pined for each other… and we sinned during the absence of her husband… I do not know what happened, because she was healthy. Yes. Not only I was healthy and wanted her… she was healthy, too, and she wanted me. I don't know whether… she wanted other men, beside me, and got infected… She soon withered and now she is already amongst the tombs, buried alive… And I… and I… Mother! You have seen it. It is a little spot, but they say that it is leprosy and I will die of it. When?… No life… no home no mother! Oh! mother! I can see you but I cannot kiss you! Today they are coming to rip my clothes and expel me from home… from the village… I am worse than dead. And I will not even have my mother to mourn over my corpse…"
The young man is weeping. His mother looks like a tree violently shaken by the wind, she is sobbing so convulsively. People comment with contrasting feelings. Jesus is sad. He says: "And when you were committing sin, did you not think of your mother? Were you so insane as not to remember that you had a mother on the earth and a God in Heaven? And if no leprosy had appeared on you, would you ever have realised that you had offended God and your neighbour? What have you done with your soul? And with your youth?"
"I was tempted…"
"Are you a little baby that you do not know that that fruit was cursed? You deserve to die without mercy."
"Oh! Mercy! Only You can…"
"Not I. God. And if you swear now that you will not sin again."
"I swear it. Save me, Lord. Within a few hours I will be condemned. Mother!… Help me with your tears… Oh! Mother!"
The woman has no voice left. She grasps Jesus' legs and looks up with eyes dilated with pain. Her face has the tragic expression of a person who is drowning and knows that he is holding on to the last support that may save him. Jesus looks at her. He smiles pitifully: "Get up, mother. Your son is cured. But for your sake, not for his."
The woman cannot yet believe it. She feels that he cannot have been cured, being so far away, and shakes her head in denial, sobbing continuously.
"Man: remove your tunic from your chest. That is where you had the spot. So that your mother may be comforted."
The young man lowers his tunic and appears nude in the eyes of everybody. His skin is the smooth clean skin of a strong young man.
"Look, mother" says Jesus, and He bends to raise the woman. His gesture serves also to hold her back, whilst her motherly love and the sight of the miracle would urge her towards her son, without waiting until he is purified. As she realises that it is impossible for her to go where her motherly loves urges her, she relaxes on Jesus' chest and kisses Him in a true joyful rapture. She weeps, smiles, kisses, blesses… and Jesus caresses her compassionately. He then says to the young man: "Go to the priest. And remember that God cured you for your mother's sake and that you may be just in future. Go."
The young man goes away after blessing the Saviour and, at a distance he is followed by his mother and the other women who were with her. The crowds sing hosannas.
Jesus goes back to His place.
"Also that young man had forgotten that there is a God Who commands honest morals. He had forgotten that it is forbidden to make for oneself gods which are not God. He had forgotten to keep the Sabbath as I taught you. He had forgotten a loving respect for his mother. He had forgotten that it is forbidden to fornicate, to steal, to be false, to covet his neighbour's wife, to kill himself and his soul, to commit adultery. He had forgotten everything. You have seen how he was stricken.
“You shall not covet your neighbour's wife” is linked to “You shall not commit adultery.” Lust always precedes deeds. Man is too weak to be able to crave for something without consuming his desire. And, what is exceedingly sad, man is not capable of behaving in the same way with regard to his honest desires. In evil man wishes and then fulfills his wish. In good he wishes and then stops, if he does not retreat.
Since sinful desires are widely spread like couch grass which spreads by itself, I will repeat to you all, what I said to him: are you little babies who do not know that that temptation is poisonous and is to be avoided? “I was tempted.” The old excuse! But since it is also an old example, man ought to remember its consequences and thus say: “No.” Our history does not lack examples of chaste people who persevered as such notwithstanding all the allurements of sex and the threats of violent people. Is temptation evil? It is not. It is the work of the Evil One. But who overcomes it, turns it into glory.
A husband who makes love with other women, is a murderer of his wife, of his children and! of himself. Who enters his neighbour's abode to commit adultery is a thief, and one of the most cowardly. Like a cuckoo, he enjoys somebody else's nest, without any expense. Who deceives the good faith of a friend, is a forger, because he simulates a friendship which in fact he does not have. Who behaves thus, dishonours himself and his parents. Thus, can God be with him? I worked the miracle for that poor mother. But I feel such disgust for lewdness, that it upsets Me. You shouted out of fear and horror for leprosy. My soul shouted out of disgust for lewdness. I am surrounded by all possible miseries and I am the Saviour of them all. But I prefer to touch a corpse, a just man whose putrified flesh has been honest and who is in peace with his soul, rather than go near anyone who smells of lust. I am the Saviour, but I am the Innocent One. That should be remembered by all those who come here or speak of Me, imputing to My person their own passions.
I realise that you would like something else from Me. But I cannot. The ruin of a youth, hardly formed and already demolished by lewdness, has upset Me more than if I had touched Death. Let us go to the sick people. Since I cannot be the Word, owing to the nausea that chokes Me, I shall be the Health of those who hope in Me. Peace be with you."
Jesus, in fact, is very pale, as if He were suffering. He smiles again only when He bends over sick children or the invalids lying in their stretchers. Then He is Himself once again. Particularly when He puts His finger into the mouth of a little dumb boy, about ten years old, and makes him say: "Jesus" and then "Mummy".
People walk away very slowly.
Jesus stays and walks in the sunshine, which floods the yard, until the Iscariot goes up to Him and says: "Master, my mind is not at rest…"
"Because of those people in Jerusalem… I know them. Let me go there for a few days. I am not asking You to send me there by myself. On the contrary, please do not allow that. Send Simon and John with me. They were so good to me in our first journey in Judaea. One dampens my zeal, the other purifies my very thoughts. You cannot believe what John means to me! He is dew on my ardour and oil on my agitated water… Believe me."
"I know. You must not be surprised, therefore, if I am so fond of him. He is My peace. But you, too, if you are always good, will be My consolation. If you make use of the gifts of God, of which you have many, in doing good, as you have been doing for some days, you will become a true apostle."
"And will You love me as You love John?"
"I love you just the same, Judas. Only I will love you without any anxiety or sorrow."
"Oh! Master, how good You are!"
"You may go to Jerusalem. But it will be to no avail. But I do not want to disappoint your desire to help Me. I will tell Simon and John at once. Let us go. You see how your Jesus suffers for certain sins? I am like one who has lifted a weight which was too heavy. Never give Me such pain. Never again…"
"No, Master, I love You. You know… But I am weak…"
They go into the house and it all ends.
And it is better so, because I feel ill: morally. And you know the reason. Physically – either because it is Passion time, or because I have written too much, I do not know exactly why – in this terrible period I often have a temperature and I suffer from pains in my lungs, spine and abdomen. I think that Compito(l) is still affecting me. I am suffering the consequences of all the dampness and lack of sunshine in that dear village.
(1) Compito is the village to which the author was evacuated during the war.