227. Marjiam Is Entrusted to Porphirea.
24th July 1945.
Jesus is on the lake of Galilee with His disciples. All the disciples are with Him, including Judas, who has quite recovered and whose countenance has become more gentle after his illness and the attention he has received. There is also Marjiam, who is rather frightened as it is his first time out on the lake. He does not want to let it be seen, but every time the boat pitches more vigorously, he clings with one arm to the neck of the sheep, which shares his fear bleating pitifully, and with the other arm he grasps whatever he can, the mast, a bench, an oar, Peter's leg, or Andrew's, or the legs of the servants who move backwards and forwards manoeuvring the boat, and he closes his eyes, fearing perhaps that his last hour has come.
Pinching the boy's cheek, Peter now and again says to him: "You are not afraid, eh? A disciple must never be afraid..." The boy shakes his head in denial, but as both the wind and the lake are rising while they approach the mouth of the river, where the Jordan flows into the lake, he closes his eyes tighter and more frequently and at last – when the boat heels over, when struck on one side by a wave – he gives a scream of terror.
Some of the apostles laugh and some tease Peter remarking that he has become the father of a bad sailor, and some make fun of Marjiam who always says that he wants to go by sea and by land preaching Jesus, and then is afraid of sailing a few cables' lengths on the lake. But Marjiam defends himself saying: "Every man is afraid of what he does not know. I of water, Judas of death..."
I thus realise that Judas must have been afraid of dying and I am surprised that he does not react to the boy's remark. On the contrary he says: "You are right. Everyone is afraid of what one does not know. But we are about to arrive at Bethsaida, which is only a short distance away. And you are sure that you will find love there. I also would like to be at a short distance from the House of the Father and be sure of finding love there!" He says so with a tired sad expression.
"Are you not trusting God?" asks Andrew who is obviously amazed.
"No, I mistrust myself. During the days of my illness, when I was surrounded by so many pure good women, I felt so backward spiritually! How much I meditated! I would say to myself: “If they still work to improve themselves and earn Heaven, what must I do?” Because they feel that they are still sinners, whereas I thought that they were already saints. And what about me?... Will I ever succeed, Master?"
"With good will, one can do everything."
"But my will is very unreliable."
"The help of God will make up for what is missing. Your present humility is a result of your illness. You can thus see that God, through a painful incident, has provided for you something that you did not have."
"That is true, Master. But those women! What perfect disciples they are! I am not speaking of Your Mother. We all know about Her. I mean the others. Oh! They have really surpassed us! I was one of their first tests for their future ministry. But, believe me, Master, You may rely entirely on them. Eliza and I were looked after by them, and she has gone back to Bethzur with a completely changed soul and mentality and I... I hope to change, too, now that they have worked on me..." Judas, who is still physically not too strong, begins to weep. Jesus, Who is sitting beside him, lays His hand on his head, nodding to the others to be silent. Peter and Andrew are busy in the last landing manoeuvres and are silent: the Zealot, Matthew, Philip and Marjiam are certainly not anxious to speak, either because they are anxiously waiting to land, or because they are wise enough not to make any remark.
The boat sails up the Jordan and shortly afterwards grounds on the gravel bed. While the servants land to fasten the boat, anchoring it to a large stone by means of a rope, and to place a board as a landing-wharf and Peter and Andrew put on their long garments, the other boat makes the same manoeuvre and the other apostles land. Also Jesus and Judas step ashore while Peter puts a little tunic on the boy and tidies him up in order to present him in a decent state to his wife. They have all now disembarked, including the sheep.
"And now let us go" says Peter. He is really excited. He takes the boy by the hand. Also Marjiam is deeply moved, and in fact he forgets the sheep and John takes care of them. In a sudden fit of fear Marjiam asks: "But will she be wanting me? And will she really love me?"
Peter reassures him, but perhaps he is affected by the same fear and he says to Jesus: "Master, will You tell Porphirea? I don't think I could explain the situation to her properly."
Jesus smiles and promises that He will see to it.
They soon arrive at the house following the river bank. Through the open door they can hear Porphirea doing her housework.
"Peace be with you!" says Jesus looking in at the kitchen door where the woman is tidying up her kitchenware.
"Master! Simon!" The woman runs and prostrates herself at the feet of Jesus and then at those of Peter. She then stands up, and while her face, which, if not beautiful, is certainly most amiable, blushes, she says: "I have been longing so much to see you! Are you all well? Come in! You must be tired..."
"No. We are coming from Nazareth, where we stayed for a few days and we stopped also at Cana. The boats were at Tiberias. You can see that we are not tired. We had a boy with us and Judas of Simon was rather weak after being ill."
"A boy? Such a young disciple?"
"An orphan we picked up on our way."
"Oh! dear! Come here, my darling, let me kiss you!"
The boy, who was timidly half hidden behind Jesus, allows the woman, who has knelt down to be his height, to embrace and kiss him, and he shows no reluctance.
"Are You going to take him with You all the time, while he is so young? He will become tired..." The woman is so pitiful. She clasps he boy in her arms and holds her cheek against his.
"Actually I was thinking of something else. I was planning to entrust him to one of the women disciples, when we go away from Galilee, from the lake area..."
"And not to me, my Lord? I never had any children of my own. But I have had many nephews and I know how to deal with children. I am the disciple who is not good at speaking, who is not so healthy as to be able to follow You, as the other women disciples do... oh! You know! I may also be cowardly, if You think so. But You know how I am tied up. Did I say “tied up”? I am tied with two ropes each pulling me in opposite directions and I have not the courage to cut off either one or the other... Let me be of some little service to You, by being the mother disciple of this boy. I will teach him what the others teach many other people... To love You..."
Jesus lays His hand on her head and smiling says: "The boy was brought here because I knew he would find a mother and a father here. Here! Let us make up the family." And Jesus puts Marjiam's hands into those of Peter, whose eyes are shining with tears, and those of Porphirea. "And bring this innocent boy up in a holy manner."
Peter, of course, already knew, and he only wipes off a tear with the back of his hand. But his wife, who was not expecting so much, is left in mute amazement for a few moments. She then kneels down again saying: "Oh! My Lord. You took away my husband and left me almost a widow. Now You are giving me a son. You are giving back all the roses to my life, not only the ones You took, but also the ones I never had. May You be blessed! This boy will be dearer to me than if he had been the fruit of my own womb. Because he comes to from You." And she kisses Jesus' tunic and the boy and takes him on her lap... She is happy...
"Let us leave her to her love effusions" says Jesus. You may remain as well, Simon. We are going to town to preach. We shall come back late this evening and ask you for food and a place to rest."
And Jesus goes out with His disciples leaving the three in peace... John says: "My Lord, Simon is happy today!"
"Do you want a child as well?"
"No. I would like a pair of wings to fly up to the gates of Heaven and learn the language of the Light, to repeat it to men" and he smiles.
They settle the sheep at the end of the orchard, near the large room where the nets are stored, they give them some leaves, grass and water of the well, and then go towards the town centre.