54. Jesus Meets Judas Iscariot and Thomas and Cures Simon the Zealot.
26th October 1944.
Jesus is together with His six disciples. Neither the other day nor today have I seen Judas Thaddeus, who said he wanted to come to Jerusalem with Jesus.
It must still be Passover time, because there is always a lot of people in town. It is evening and many people are hurrying home. Jesus also goes towards the house where He is a guest. It is not the house of the last Supper, which is in town, although not far from its walls. This house, instead, is a real country house, amongst thick olive-trees.
From the rustic open space in front of the house, one can see the olive-trees down the terraces of the hill, right down to a little torrent, with very little water, which flows away along the valley formed by two hills: on the top of one there is the Temple, on the other hill there are only olive-trees. Jesus is at the first slopes of the latter hill, which rises smoothly, completely covered with peaceful trees.
"John, there are two men awaiting your friend" says an elderly man, who must be the farmer or the owner of the olive-grove. I would say that John knows him.
"Where are they? Who are they?"
"I don't know. One is certainly a Judaean. The other… I don't know. I didn't ask him."
"Where are they?"
"In the kitchen, waiting, and… and… yes… there is another man who is all covered with sores. I made him stay over there, because I am afraid he may be a leper. He says he wants to see the Prophet Who spoke in the Temple."
Jesus, Who up to this moment has been silent, says: "Let us go to him first. Tell the others to come if they so wish. I will speak to them there, in the olive-grove." And He makes for the place indicated by the man.
"And what about us? What shall we do?" asks Peter.
"Come, if you want."
A man, muffled up, is leaning against the rustic wall supporting a terrace, the nearest to the boundary of the property. He must have climbed up there along a path coasting the torrent. When he sees Jesus approaching him, he shouts: "Go back. Back! Have mercy on me!" And he uncovers his trunk dropping his tunic to the ground. If his face is covered with scabs his trunk is one big sore. Some of the sores have already become deep wounds, some are like burns, some are whitish and glossy, as if there was a thin white pane of glass on them.
"Are you a leper? What do you want of Me?"
"Don't curse me! Don't stone me. I have been told that the other evening You revealed Yourself as the Voice of God and the Bearer of Grace. I was also told that You gave assurance that by raising Your Sign, You will cure all diseases. Please raise it on me. I have come from the sepulchers… over there… I crept like a snake amongst the bushes near the torrent to arrive here without being seen. I waited until evening before leaving because at dusk it is more difficult to see who I am. I dared… I found this man, the man of the house, he is good. He did not kill me. He only said: “Wait over there, near the little wall.” Have mercy on me" and as Jesus is going near him, all by Himself, because the six disciples and the landlord, as well as the two strangers, are far away and are evidently disgusted, he adds: "Don't come nearer. Don't! I am infected!" But Jesus proceeds. He looks at him so mercifully, that the man starts crying and kneels down almost touching the ground with his face, moaning: "Your Sign! Your Sign!"
"It will be raised when it is time. But now I say to you: Stand up. Be healed. I want it. And be the sign in this town that must recognize Me. Rise, I say. And do not sin, out of gratitude to God!" The man rises slowly. He seems to emerge from the long flowery grass as from a shroud… and is healed. He looks at himself in the last dim light of the day. He is healed. He shouts: "I am clean! Oh! What shall I do for You now?"
"You must comply with the Law. Go to the priest. Be good in future. Go." The man is on the point of throwing himself at Jesus' feet, but he remembers he is still impure, according to the Law, and he restrains himself. But he kisses his own hand, and throws a kiss to Jesus and weeps. He weeps out of joy.
The others are dumbfounded. Jesus turns away from the healed man and rouses them smiling. "My friends, it was only a leprosy of the flesh. But you will see leprosy fall from hearts. Is it you that wanted Me?" He asks the two strangers. "Here I am. Who are you?"
"We heard You the other evening… in the Temple. We looked for You in town.
A man, who said he is a relative of Yours, told us You stay here."
"Why are you looking for Me?"
"To follow You, if You will allow us, because You have words of truth."
"Follow Me? But do you know where I am going?"
"No, Master, but certainly to glory."
"Yes. But not to a glory of this world . I am going to a glory which is in Heaven and is conquered by virtue and sacrifice. Why do you want to follow Me?" He asks them again.
"To take part in Your glory."
"According to Heaven?"
"Yes, according to Heaven."
"Not everybody is able to arrive there. Because Mammon lays more snares for those yearning for Heaven than for the others. And only he who has strong will power can resist. Why follow Me, if to follow Me implies a continuous struggle against the enemy, which is in us, against the hostile world, and against the Enemy who is Satan?"
"Because that is the desire of our souls, which have been conquered by You. You are holy and powerful. We want to be Your friends."
"Friends!!!" Jesus is silent and sighs. Then He stares at the one who has spoken all the time and who has now removed the mantle-hood from his head, and is bareheaded. He is Judas of Kerioth. "Who are you? You speak better than a man of the people."
"I am Judas, the son of Simon. I come from Kerioth. But I am of the Temple. I am waiting for and dreaming of the King of the Jews. I heard You speak like a king. I saw Your kingly gestures. Take me with You."
"Take you? Now? At once? No."
"Why not, Master?"
"Because it is better to examine ourselves carefully before venturing on very steep roads."
"Do You not believe I am sincere?"
"You have said it. I believe in your impulsiveness. But I do not believe in your perseverance. Think about it, Judas. I am going away now and I will be back for Pentecost. If you are in the Temple, you will see Me. Examine yourself. And who are you?".
"I am another one who saw You. I would like to be with You. But now I am frightened."
"No. Presumption ruins people. Fear may be an impediment, but it is a help when it originates from humility. Do not be afraid. Think about it, too, and when I come back…"
"Master, You are so holy! I am afraid of not being worthy. Nothing else. Because I do not doubt my love…"
"What is your name?"
"Thomas, of Didymus."
"I will remember your name. Go in peace."
Jesus dismisses them and He goes into the hospitable house for supper. The six disciples who are with Him want to know many things. "Why, Master, why did You treat them differently? Because there was a difference. Both of them had the same impulsiveness…" asks John.
"My friend, also the same impulsiveness may have a different taste and bring about a different effect. They both certainly had the same impulsiveness. But they were not the same in their purposes. And the one who appears less perfect is, in fact, more perfect, because he has no incentive to human glory. He loves Me because he loves Me."
"And so do I."
"And I, too.", "And I.", "And I.", "And I.", "And I."
"I know. I know you for what you are."
"Are we therefore perfect?"
"Oh! No! But, like Thomas, you will become perfect if you persevere in your desire to love. Perfect?! Oh! My friends! And who is perfect but God?"
"I solemnly tell you that I am not perfect by Myself, if you think I am prophet. No man is perfect. But I am perfect because He Who is speaking to you is the Word of the Father: part of God. His thought that becomes Word. I have Perfection in Myself. And you must believe Me to be such if you believe that I am the Word of the Father. And yet, see, My friends, I want to be called the Son of man because I lower Myself taking upon Myself all the miseries of man, to bear them as My first scaffold, and cancel them, after bearing them, without suffering from them Myself. What a burden, My friends! But I bear it with joy. It is a joy for Me to bear it, because, since I am the Son of mankind, I will make mankind once again the child of God. As it was on the first day."
Jesus is speaking very gently, sitting at the poor table, gesticulating calmly with His hands on the table, His head slightly inclined to one side, His face lit up from below by a small oil lamp on the table. He smiles gently, He Who formerly was so majestic a Master in His bearing, is now so friendly in His gestures. His disciples are listening to Him carefully.
"Master… why did Your cousin not come, although he knows where You live?"
"My Peter!… You will be one of My stones, the first one. But not all the stones can be easily used. Have you seen the marble blocks in the Praetorium building? With hard labor they have been torn away from the bosom of the mountain side, and are now part of the Praetorium. Look instead at those stones down there shining in the moonlight, in the water of the Kidron. They arrived in the riverbed by themselves, and if anyone wants to take them, they do not put up any resistance. My cousin is like the first stones I am speaking of… The bosom of the mountain side: his family, they contend for him with Me."
"But I want to be exactly like the stones in the torrent. I am quite prepared to leave everything for You: home, wife, fishing, brothers. Everything, Rabboni, for You."
"I know, Peter. That is why I love you. Also Judas will come."
"Who? Judas of Kerioth? I don't care for him. He is a dandy young man, but… I prefer… I prefer myself…" They all laugh at Peter's witty remark. "There is nothing to laugh at. I mean that I prefer a sincere Galilean, a rough fisherman, but without any fraud to… to townsfolk who… I don't know… here: the Master knows what I mean."
"Yes, I know. But do not judge. We need one another in this world, the good are mixed with the wicked, just like flowers in a field. Hemlock grows beside the salutary mallow."
"I would like to ask one thing…"
"John told me about the miracle You worked at Cana… We were hoping so much that You would work one at Capernaum… and You said that You would not work any miracles before fulfilling the Law. Why Cana then? And why here and not in Your own fatherland?"
"To obey the Law is to be united to God and that increases our capabilities. A miracle is the proof of the union with God, as well as of God's benevolent and assenting presence. That is why I wanted to perform My duty as an Israelite, before starting the series of miracles."
"But You were not bound to fulfill the Law."
"Why? As the Son of God, I was not. But as a son of the Law, yes, I was. For the time being, Israel knows Me only as such… and, even later, almost everyone in Israel will know Me as such, nay, even less. But I do not want to scandalize Israel and therefore I obey the Law."
"You are holy."
"Holiness does not bar obedience. Nay it makes obedience perfect. Besides everything else, there is a good example to be given. What would you say of a father, of an elder brother, of a teacher, of a priest who did not give good examples?"
"And what about Cana?"
"Cana was to make My Mother happy. Cana is the advance due to My Mother. She anticipates Grace. Here I honor the Holy City, making her, in public, the starting point of My power as Messiah. But there, at Cana, I paid honor to the Holy Mother of God, Full of Grace. The world received Me through Her. It is only fair that My first miracle in the world should be for Her."
There is a knocking at the door. It is Thomas once again. He goes in and throws himself at Jesus' feet.
"Master… I cannot wait until You come back. Let me come with You. I am full of faults, but I have my love, my only real great treasure. It is Yours, it's for You. Let me come, Master…"
Jesus lays His hand on Thomas' head. "You may stay, Didymus. Follow Me. Blessed are those who are sincere and persistent in their will. You are all blessed. You are more than relatives to Me, because you are My children and My brothers, not according to the blood, that dies, but according to the will of God and to your spiritual wishes. Now I tell you that I have no closer relative than those who do the will of My Father, and you do it, because you want what is good."
The vision ends thus. It is 4 o'clock p.m. and the shadows of torpor are already falling upon me: a torpidity which I perceive will be violent, a logical consequence of yesterday's painful hour… But I was very ill also on October the 24th. So much so, that when the vision was over – I wrote it suffering from a headache quite as bad as meningitis – I did not have enough strength to add that at last I saw Jesus dressed as He appears to me when the vision is entirely for me: wearing a soft tunic of white wool just verging to ivory and a mantle of the same hue. The garments He was wearing the first time He revealed Himself as Messiah in Jerusalem.