203. The "Our Father".
28th June 1945.
Jesus comes out with His apostles from a house near the walls and I think that they are still in the Bezetha district, because to go outside the walls, one must pass again by Joseph's house, near the Gate, which I hear people call Herod's Gate. The town is semi-deserted in the placid moonlit evening. I understand that they have celebrated Passover in one of Lazarus' houses, which, however, is not the one of the Last Supper. They are, in fact, poles apart. One in the north, the other in the south of Jerusalem.
On the doorstep Jesus takes leave, with His usual kindness, of John of Endor, who is to take care of the women and whom He thanks for accepting that task. He kisses Marjiam, who has also come to the door and then sets out for Herod's Gate.
"Where are we going, Lord?"
"Come with Me. I am taking you to crown Passover with a rare longed for pearl. That is why I wanted to be alone with you. My apostles! Thank you, My friends, for your great love for Me. If you could see how it comforts Me, you would be amazed. See: I proceed among continuous frictions and disappointments. Disappointments for you. You must convince yourselves that I am never disappointed, because I have not been granted the gift of ignoring... That is another reason why I advise you to agree to be guided by Me. If I allow this or that thing, do not hinder it. If I do not interfere to put an end to something, do not endeavour to do it yourselves. Each thing is to be done at the right moment. Trust Me, in everything."
They are at the north-east comer of the circuit of the walls; they turn round it and proceed along the hill of Moriah to a point where they can cross the Kidron by a little bridge.
"Are we going to Gethsemane?" asks James of Alphaeus.
"No. Farther up. To the Mount of Olives."
"Oh! It will be lovely!" says John.
"Also the boy would have liked it" whispers Peter.
"Oh! There will be many more opportunities for him to come here! He was tired. He is only a boy. I want to give you a great thing because the right moment has now come for you to have it."
They climb up among the olive-trees, leaving Gethsemane on the right, until they reach the top of the mountain, where the leaves of the olive-trees are rustling in the wind.
Jesus stops and says: "Let us stop... My dear disciples who are to continue My work in future, come near Me. Many a time you have said to Me: “Teach us to pray as You pray. Teach us, as John taught his disciples, so that we may pray with the same words as our Master.” And I always replied to you: “I will do that when I see in you the minimum sufficient preparation so that the prayer may not be a vain formula of human words, but a real conversation with the Father.” That moment has now come. You now possess what is necessary to know the words worth being said to God. And I want to teach you them this evening, in peace and in our mutual love, in the peace and love of God and with God, because as true Israelites we have fulfilled the Passover precept and we have complied with God's commandment concerning love for God and our neighbour. One of you has suffered very much during the past days. He suffered undeservedly, also because of his effort to repress his indignation roused by the undeserved deed. Yes, Simon of Jonah, come here. Not one throb of your honest heart has been concealed from Me, neither has there been any grief that I have not shared with you. Both I and your companions..."
"But You, my Lord, have been offended more than I was! And that was for me a greater pain,... no... a more sensitive... no, not that... a more... more. Well: that Judas should have loathed to be present at my feast, has hurt me as a man. But to see You grieved and offended has hurt me in a different way and I suffered twice as much... I... I do not want to boast and show off by using Your words... But I must say, and if it is due to pride in me, tell me, I must say that I suffered with my soul... and it hurts more."
"It is not pride, Simon. You suffered spiritually, because Simon of Jonah, a fisherman in Galilee, is changing into Peter of Jesus, the Master of the spirit, so that also His disciples are becoming active and wise in the spirit. It is for this progress of Yours in the life of the spirit, it is because of such progress of you all, that I want to teach you the prayer this evening. How much you have changed after the solitary retreat!"
"Everybody, Lord?" asks Bartholomew who sounds rather incredulous.
"I understand what you mean... But I am speaking to you eleven. Not to anyone else..."
"But what is the matter with Judas of Simon, Master? We do not understand him any more... He seemed so changed, but now, since we left the lake..." says Andrew desolately.
"Be quiet, brother. I have the key to the mystery! A little bit of Beelzebub has stuck to him. He went to look for it in the cave at Endor to astonish us... and he was served as he deserved! The Master said it on that day... At Gamala the demons rushed into the pigs. At Endor the demons came out of that poor wretch of John and went into him... We know that... we know... Let me tell them, Master! I have it here, in my throat, and if I do not say it, it will not come out and it will poison me..."
"Be good, Simon!"
"Yes, Master... and I would assure You that I will not be rude to him. But I say and think that since Judas is a vicious fellow – and we all know that – he is somewhat similar to a pig... and obviously demons willingly choose pigs when... changing their dwelling places. There it is: I have said it."
"Do you think it is thus?" asks James of Zebedee.
"What else can it be! There is no other reason why he should be so intractable. He is worse now than he was at the Clear Water! And there one might have thought that the place and the season made him so nervous. But now..."
"There is another reason, Simon..."
"Tell us, Master. I will be happy to change my mind about my companion."
"Judas is jealous. He is agitated because he is jealous."
"Jealous? Of whom? He is not married, and even if he were, and went with women, I think that none of us would be rude to a fellow disciple..."
"He is jealous of Me. Just think: Judas changed after Endor and after Esdraelon. That is, when he saw that I was taking care of John and of Jabez. But now that John, above all, John, will be going away, as he will be leaving Me and staying with Isaac, you will see that Judas will become merry and good once again..."
"Well!... But You are not going to tell me that he is not possessed by a little demon. And above all... No, I will say it! And above all You will not tell me that he has improved during these last months. I was jealous as well, last year... I would not have liked anybody except the six of us, the first six, do You remember? Now, now... Let me invoke God just this once as witness to what I am going to say. Now I say that the more the disciples increase in numbers around You, the happier I am. Oh! I would like to bring all men to You and I would also like to have all the necessary means to help those who are in need, so that misery may not hinder anyone from coming to You. God sees whether I am telling the truth. But why am I thus now? Because I let You change me. He... has not changed. On the contrary... Yes, Master... A little demon has possessed him..."
"Do not say that. Do not think that. Pray that he may be cured. Jealousy is a disease..."
"Of which one can be cured, beside You, if one wants to. Ah! I will put up with him, for Your sake... But, how difficult it is!..."
"I gave you a prize for that: the boy. And now I will teach you how to pray..."
"Oh! yes, Brother. Let us speak of that... and let us remember my namesake only as one who is in need of prayer. I think he has already had his punishment. He is not with us just now!" says Judas Thaddeus.
"Listen. When you pray, pray thus: “Our Father, Who are in Heaven, may Your name be held holy, Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven, and may Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread, forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are in debt to us, and do not put us to the test, but save us from the Evil One.”"
Jesus has stood up to say the prayer and everybody has imitated Him, attentively and moved.
"Nothing else is required, My friends. Everything man needs for his spirit and his flesh and blood is contained in these words as in a golden ring. With this prayer you ask for what is useful to the former and the latter two. And if you do what you ask for, you will gain eternal life. It is so perfect a prayer that neither the storms of heresies nor the course of ages will undermine it. Christianity will be split by Satan's bite and many parts of My mystic body will be torn off and separated, forming independent cells in the vain desire to form a body as as the mystical Body of Christ will be, which is the one formed by all the faithful believers united in the apostolic Church, the only true Church, as long as the earth exists. But those separated little cells, devoid of the gifts, which I will leave to the Mother Church to nourish My children, will always be denominated Christian, because of their worship of the Christ, and in their error they will always remember that they derive from the Christ. Well, they will pray with this universal prayer as well. Remember it carefully. Meditate on it continuously. Practise it in your actions. You need nothing else to sanctify yourselves. If one were alone, in a heathen place, without churches, without books, one would already have all the knowledge to meditate on in this prayer and a church in his heart for this prayer. One would have a safe rule of sanctification.
I call Him: “Father.” Father of the Word, Father of the Incarnate. That is how I want you to call Him because you are all one with Me, if you remain in Me. Once man had to prostrate himself with his face on the ground to whisper, trembling with fear: “God!” He who does not believe in Me and in My word is still in such paralyzing fear... Watch the interior of the Temple. Not God, but the very remembrance of God is concealed from the eyes of the faithful by a treble veil. He who prays is separated by remoteness and veils, everything has been devised to say to him: “You are mud. He is Light. You are contemptible. He is Holy. You are a slave. He is King.”
But now!... Stand up! Come near Me! I am the Eternal Priest. I can take you by the hand and say: “Come.” I can grasp the veils and draw them, and thus throw open the inaccessible place closed so far. Closed? Why? Closed by Sin, yes. But even more closed by the dispirited thought of man. Why closed if God is Love, if God is father? I can, I must, I want to take you not into the dust, but into the azure; not far, but near; not as slaves, but as children on to the heart of God. Say: “Father! Father!.” And never tire repeating this word. Do you not know that every time you say it, Heaven shines because of God's joy? If you said with true love no other word but that one, you would be saying a prayer pleasing to the Lord. “Father! Father!” the little ones say to their fathers. It is the first word they say: “Mother, father.” You are the little children of God. I begot you from the old man you were and whom I destroyed by means of My love to give birth to the new man, the Christian. Call, therefore, the Most Holy Father Who is in Heaven, with the first word that little children learn.
“May Your Name be held holy.”
Oh! Name, which is holier and sweeter than any other name and which the fear of the guilty taught you to conceal under a different one. No, no longer Adonai. He is God. He is the God Who in an excess of love created Mankind. And Mankind, from now onwards, with lips cleansed by the purification that I am preparing, should call Him by His Name, awaiting to fully comprehend the true meaning of the Incomprehensible One, when the best children of Mankind, united to Him, will rise to the Kingdom that I have come to establish.
“Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Desire its coming with all your strength. If it came, it would be the joy of the earth. The Kingdom of God in hearts, in families, among citizens and nations. Suffer, work, sacrifice yourselves for this Kingdom. Let the earth be a mirror reflecting the life of Heaven in each individual. It will happen. All this will happen one day. Centuries of tears and blood, of errors, persecutions, of darkness relieved by flashes of light radiating from the mystical Light of My Church will precede the moment in which the earth will possess the Kingdom of God. Oh! My Church: although a boat, it will never be sunk, as it is also a cliff unshakeable by breakers and will hold high the Light, My Light, the Light of God. And it will then be like the intense blazing of a star which, having reached the perfection of its existence, disintegrates, an immeasurable flower of the ethereal gardens, to breathe its existence and love at the feet of its Creator, in a rutilant throb. But it will most certainly come. And then there will be the perfect, blessed eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
“And may Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
The submission of one's will to the will of another person can be accomplished only when one reaches perfect love for that creature. The submission of one's will to God's can be achieved only when one achieves possession of the theological virtues in a heroic degree. In Heaven, where everything is faultless, God's will is done. You, children of Heaven, must learn to do what is done in Heaven.
“Give us today our daily bread.”
When you are in Heaven, God alone will be your nourishment. Beatitude will be your food. But here, you still need bread and since you are the children of God, it is only fair to say: “Father, give us some bread.” Are you afraid He will not hear you? Oh! no! Just think: If one of you has a friend and, if he finds out that he has no bread to offer another friend or relative, who has arrived in the middle of the night, goes to his friend saying: “Lend me three loaves, because a guest has arrived and I have nothing to give him to eat”, can he possibly hear his friend answer him from inside the house: “Do not bother me, I have already bolted the door and my children are already sleeping beside me. I cannot get up and give you what you want”? No. If he has applied to a true friend and if he insists, he will receive what he asks for. He would receive it also if he applied to someone who was not a very good friend. He would be satisfied because of his insistence, as his friend, of whom he asked the favour, will hasten to give him what he wants, so that he may no longer be bothered.
But when you pray the Father, you do not turn to a friend of the earth, but you apply to the Perfect Friend Who is the Father of Heaven. That is why I say to you: “Ask, and it will be given to you, search, and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to You.” For the one who asks will receive, the one who searches always finds, the one who knocks will have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a roasted fish? A father who did that to his own children would be a criminal. I have already told you and I will repeat it to convince you to be good and trustful. As a sound-minded person would not give a scorpion instead of an egg, with what greater bounty will God give you what you ask for! Because He is good, whereas you are more or less wicked. Ask, therefore, the Father for your bread with humble filial love.
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are in debt to us.”
There are material debts and spiritual ones. There are also moral debts. The money or the goods that one has received as a loan and must give back, are a material debt. Esteem extorted and not given back and love wanted and not returned are a moral debt. To obey God, from Whom one would exact much giving Him very little, and to love Him are a spiritual debt. He loves us and is to be loved, as a mother, a wife, a son, from whom so much is exacted, are to be loved. A selfish man wants to receive, but does not give. But an egoist is poles apart from Heaven. We are in debt to everybody. From God to a relative, from a relative to a friend, from a friend to our neighbour, to a servant, to a slave, because they are all beings like ourselves. Woe to him who does not forgive! He will not be forgiven. God, out of justice, cannot remit the debt of a man who is in debt to Him, the Most Holy One, if man does not forgive his fellow man.
“Do not put us to the test, but save us from the Evil One.”
The man who did not feel the need to share the Passover supper with us, asked Me, less than a year ago: “What? You asked not to be tempted and to be helped against temptation?”. There were only the two of us... and I replied. Later we were four, in a lonely area, and I replied once again. But still to no avail, because when dealing with an unyielding spirit it is necessary to open a breach by demolishing the evil fortress of his stubbornness. And I will, therefore, repeat it once, ten times, one hundred times until everything is accomplished.
But since you are not hardened by strange doctrines or by even stranger passions, I beg you to pray thus. Pray with humility that God may avert temptations from you. Oh! humility! To know oneself for what one is! Without losing heart, but to know oneself! Say: “I may give in, even if I do not think I could do it, because I am but an imperfect judge of myself. Therefore, Father, if possible, deliver me from temptations by keeping me so close to You as not to allow the Evil One to harm me.” Because, remember, it is not God Who tempts you to evil things, but it is the Evil One who tempts you. Pray the Father that He may support your weakness so that it may not be led into temptation by the Evil One.
I have told you everything, My beloved ones. This is My second Passover among You. Last year we shared only our bread and the lamb. This year I give you My prayer. I will have other gifts for My future Passovers amongst you, so that, when I shall have gone where the Father wants Me, you may have a remembrance of Me, the Lamb, at every feast of the Mosaic lamb.
Get up and let us go. We shall go back to town at dawn. Nay: tomorrow, you, Simon, and you, My brother (and He points at Judas), will go to fetch the women and the boy. You, Simon of Jonah, and you all, will stay with Me until they come back. Then we shall all go to Bethany together."
And they go down to Gethsemane, where they enter the house to rest.