200. Aglae Meets the Master.
25th June 1945.
Jesus goes back to the Zealot's house alone. It is getting dark and the evening is quiet and serene after so much sunshine. Jesus looks in at the kitchen door, says hallo and then goes upstairs, to meditate in the upper room, which has already been prepared for supper. He does not look very happy. He often sighs and walks to and fro in the large room, looking now and again at the surrounding country, which can be seen through the many doors of this large room, shaped like a cube above the ground floor. He goes out also and walks on the terrace making a tour of the house and He stops at the rear side looking at John of Endor who is kindly drawing water from a well and handing it to busy Salome. He looks, shakes His head and sighs.
The power of His glance draws the attention of John, who looks up and asks: "Master, do You want me?"
"No, I was only looking at you."
"John is good. He helps me" says Salome.
"And God will reward him also for that help."
After these words Jesus goes back into the room and sits down. He is so engrossed in thought that He does not notice the noisy chattering of many voices and the shuffling of many feet in the entrance corridor and then two light footsteps climbing the outside staircase and approaching the large room. Only when Mary calls Him He looks up.
"Son, Susanna has arrived in Jerusalem with her family and she brought Aglae here at once. Do You wish to listen to her while we are alone?"
"Yes, Mother. At once. And do not let anyone come up until it is all over. I hope to deal with her before the others come back. But please watch that there is no indiscreet curiosity... in no one... and particularly with regard to Judas of Simon."
"I will watch carefully..."
Mary goes out and shortly afterwards comes back holding by the hand Aglae, who is no longer enveloped in her large grey mantle with her veil pulled over her face and is not wearing high heeled sandals with complicated buckles and strips, which she wore before. She is now dressed like a Jewess, with low flat very plain sandals, like Mary's, a dark blue dress on which her mantle is draped, and a white veil which she is wearing in the style of common Jewish women, that is, simply covering her head with one edge falling on her shoulders so that her face is only partially veiled. Her plain dress, identical with the one worn by most women and the fact that she was with other Galileans prevented her from being recognised.
She enters with her head lowered, blushing at every step, and I think that she would have knelt down on the threshold, if Mary had not kindly pulled her towards Jesus.
"Here, Son, is the woman who has been looking for You for such a long time. Listen to her" says Mary when She is near Jesus and then withdraws, pulling the curtains over the wide open doors and closing the one which is near the staircase.
Aglae puts down the little bag she was carrying on her shoulder, then she kneels down at Jesus' feet and bursts into tears. She prostrates herself on the floor, her head resting on her arms crossed on the floor.
"Do not weep thus. This is not the time for tears. You should have wept when you were hateful to God. Not now that you love Him and are loved by Him." But Aglae continues to weep...
"Do you not believe that it is so?"
She manages to speak through her sobs: "I love Him, it is true, as best I can... But although I know and believe that God is Bounty I cannot possibly hope to be loved by Him. I have sinned too much... Perhaps one day I will be loved... But I still have to weep so much... For the time being I am alone in my love. All alone... It is not the desperate solitude of past years. It is a solitude full of longing for God, so it is no longer hopeless... but it is so sad..."
"Aglae, how little you still know the Lord! This longing for Him is the proof that God is replying to your love, that He is your friend, Who calls you, invites you and wants you. God is incapable of remaining insensible to the desire of a creature, because He, the Lord and Creator of all creatures, excited that desire in that heart. He excited it because He loved with privileged love the soul that is now longing for Him. The desire of God always precedes the desire of the creature, because He is Most Perfect and therefore His love is by far more eager and ardent than the love of the creature."
"But how can God love my filth?"
"Do not endeavour to understand with your intelligence. He is an abyss of mercy, which human intelligence cannot understand. But what the intelligence of man cannot understand, the intelligence of love, the love of the spirit does. It understands and confidently penetrates the mystery, which is God, and the mystery of the relationship of the soul with God. Enter, I tell you. Enter, because God wants it."
"Oh! My Saviour! So I am really forgiven? I am really loved? Must I believe it?"
"Did I ever lie to you?"
"Oh! no, Lord! Everything You told me at Hebron came true. You saved me because Your Name is salvation. You looked for me, a poor lost soul. You gave me the life of this soul, which I was carrying dead within me. You told me that if I had looked for You I would find You. And it was true. You told me that You are wherever man needs a doctor and medicine. And it is true. Everything, everything You told poor Aglae, from the words on that morning in June, to the other words at the Clear Water..."
"So you must believe also these."
"Yes, I believe, I do believe! But say to me: “I forgive you!”"
"I forgive you in the name of God and of Jesus."
"Thank You... But now... What must I do? Tell me, My Saviour, what I must do to have Eternal Life. Man becomes corrupt only by looking at me... I cannot live in perpetual fear of being discovered and entrapped... During this journey I trembled every time a man looked at me... I do not want to sin any more neither do I want to cause others to sin. Tell me the road I must follow. I will follow it whatever it may be. You can see that I am strong also in privations... And even if I should die because of too many privations, I am not afraid. I will call death “my friend”, because death will rid me of the dangers of the earth, and forever. Speak, my Saviour."
"Go to a desert place."
"Where, my Lord?"
"Wherever you wish. Where your spirit will lead you."
"Will my spirit, which is just formed, be capable of so much?"
"Yes, because God is leading you."
"And who will speak to me of God again?"
"Your risen soul, for the time being..."
"Will I see You again?"
"Never again in this world. But before long I will have redeemed you completely and then I will come to your spirit to prepare you to ascend to God."
"How will my complete redemption take place if I do not see You again? How will You give it to me?"
"By dying for all sinners."
"Oh! no! You must not die!"
"To give men the Life I must give Myself to death. That is why I came as a human being. Do not weep... You will soon join Me where I shall be after My sacrifice and yours."
"My Lord! Will I die for You, too?"
"Yes, but in a different way. Your flesh will die hour by hour and because your will wants that. It has been dying for almost one year. When it is completely dead, I will call you."
"Will I have the strength to destroy my guilty flesh?"
"In your solitude where Satan will attack you with livid violence the more you become worthy of Heaven, you will find an apostle of Mine, once a sinner and later redeemed."
"Not the blessed apostle who spoke to me of You? He could not have been a sinner because he is too honest."
"Not that one. Another one. He will reach you at the right moment. He will tell you what you cannot know just now. Go in peace. The blessing of God be with you."
Aglae, who has been kneeling all the time, bends to kiss the feet of the Lord. She dares no more. She then picks up her sack and turns it upside down. Some plain dresses, a little tinkling purse and an amphora of fine pink alabaster fall out of it.
Aglae puts the dresses into the sack, picks up the purse and says: "This is for the poor. It is what is left of my jewels. I kept only some coins for my journey... because, even if You had not told me, I intended going to a remote place. And this is for You. It is not so sweet as the perfume of Your holiness. But it is the best the earth can give. And I used it for the worst... Here. May God grant me to smell at least like this, in Your presence, in Heaven" and she removes the precious cap of the amphora and pours its contents on to the floor.
Waves of a strong scent of roses rise from the floor bricks, which become impregnated with the precious essence. Aglae puts away the empty amphora saying: "In remembrance of this hour" and she bends again to kiss Jesus' feet. She then stands up, withdraws backwards, goes out, closes the door...
I hear her steps receding towards the staircase, her voice exchanging a few words with Mary, then the noise of her sandals going down the steps and then nothing else. There is nothing left of Aglae except the little purse at Jesus' feet and the very strong scent in all the room.
Jesus gets up... he picks up the purse, puts it in His bosom, goes towards an opening looking on to the road and smiles seeing the woman going away, all alone, in her Jewish mantle, towards Bethlehem. He makes a gesture of blessing and goes towards the terrace and calls: "Mother."
Mary goes upstairs quickly: "You made her happy, My Son. She has gone, with strength and peace."
"Yes, Mother. When Andrew comes in, send him to Me before anybody else."
Some time goes by, then I hear the voices of the apostles, who have come back... Andrew goes upstairs: "Master, do You want me?"
"Yes, come here. No one will know, but it is only fair that I should tell you. Andrew, thank you in the name of God and of a soul."
"Thanks? For what?"
"Can you not smell this perfume? It is a souvenir of the Veiled woman. She came. She is saved."
Andrew turns as red as a cherry, he falls on his knees, and cannot find words... At last he says: "Now I am happy. Blessed be the Lord!"
"Yes, get up. Do not tell the others that she came."
"I will be quiet, my Lord."
"You may go. Listen: has Judas of Simon come yet?"
"Yes, he wanted to come with us, telling us... a lot of lies. Why does he do that, Lord?"
"Because he is a spoiled boy. Tell Me the truth: have you quarrelled?"
"No. My brother is too happy with his boy to be anxious to quarrel, and the others, You know... are more prudent. It is true, we are all disgusted, in our hearts. But after supper he is going away... Other friends... he says. Oh! and he despises prostitutes!..."
"Be good, Andrew. You must be happy, too, this evening..."
"Yes, Master. I also have a sweet, although invisible, paternity. I am going."
After some time the apostles come upstairs in a group with the boy and John of Endor. The women follow them with dishes and lamps. The last to come are Lazarus and Simon. As soon as they enter the room, they exclaim: "Ah! it was coming from here!!!" and they smell the air saturated with the scent of roses, although the doors are wide open.
"But who scented this room thus? Perhaps Martha?" many of them ask.
"My sister has not left the house, today, after our meal" replies Lazarus.
"Who then? An Assyrian Satrap?" asks Peter facetiously.
"The love of a redeemed woman" Jesus says gravely.
"She might have spared this useless exhibition of redemption and given the poor what she spent. There are so many of them, and they know that we always give. I have not even a small coin left" says the Iscariot angrily. "And we have to buy a lamb, rent a room for the Supper and..."
"But I offered you everything..." says Lazarus.
"That is not fair. The rite loses its beauty. The Law says: “You shall take a lamb for you and your household.” It does not say: “You shall accept a lamb.”"
Bartholomew turns round all of a sudden, he opens his mouth, but closes it at once. Peter turns crimson in the effort to keep quiet. But the Zealot, who is in his own house, feels he can speak and says: "Those are rabbinical quibbles... May I ask you to forget about them and have, instead, respect for my friend Lazarus."
"Well done, Simon." Peter will burst if he does not speak. "Very good! I think also that we are forgetting too much that only the Master is entitled to teach..." Peter has to make an heroic effort to say: "we are forgetting" instead of saying: "Judas is forgetting."
"It is true... but... I am nervous... I am sorry, Master."
"Yes. And I also will reply to you. Gratitude is a great virtue. I am grateful to Lazarus. As that redeemed woman was grateful to Me. I pour on Lazarus the perfume of My blessing, also on behalf of those, among My apostles, who are not capable of doing so, I, the head of you all. The woman poured at My feet the perfume of her joy for being saved. She acknowledged the King, she came to the King, before many others upon whom the King bestowed much more love than upon her. Let her do as she wishes without criticising her. She will not be able to be present at My acclamation, or at My unction. Her cross is already upon her shoulders. Peter, you asked whether an Assyrian Satrap had come here. I solemnly tell you that not even the incense of the Magi, so pure and precious, was sweeter or more precious than this. Its essence was mixed with tears and that is why it is so intense: humility supports love and makes it perfect. Let us sit down to our meal, My friends..."
And with the offering of the food, the vision ends.