292. The Sermon and Miracles at Bozrah.
2nd October 1945.
...And the world is so close with its waves of hatred, betrayal, sorrow, need, curiosity. And the waves come, like those of the sea in a harbour, to die here, in the yard of the inn at Bozrah, which the respectful host, whose heart is better than his face makes one suppose, has cleaned of excrement and dirt. There is a large crowd of people, both local and strangers, but of the same region. And there are people whose conversation gives me to understand that they come from very far, from the lake area or beyond the lake. I catch the names of villages, and parts of sorrowful stories in the conversation of the people awaiting Jesus. Gadara, Hippo, Gerghesa, Gamala, Aphek, Nain, Endor, Jezreel, Magdala and Korazim, are mentioned by many people together with the stories of the reasons why they have come from so far.
"When I heard that He had come through Trans-Jordan, I was discouraged. But some disciples came when I was about to go back to Jezreel and they said to us, who were waiting at Capernaum: “He is certainly beyond Gerasa by now. Waste no time, go to Bozrah or Arbela” and I came with these people..."
"I instead, saw some Pharisees pass through Gadara. They were asking where was Jesus of Nazareth, Whom they knew to be in the area. My wife is ill. I joined them. Then yesterday at Arbela I heard that He was coming to Bozrah first, so I came here."
"I have come from Gadara for this boy. He was gored by a furious cow. He has been left in that state..." and he shows his son who is utterly shrivelled and unable to move his arms.
"I could not bring mine. I come from Megiddo. What do you think? Will He cure him from here also?" moans a woman whose face is red with weeping. "No, the sick person must be present."
"No, It is enough to have faith."
"No. Unless He imposes His hands, one is not cured. His disciples also do that." "You have come a long way for nothing, woman."
The woman begins to weep saying: "Poor me! I left him when he was almost dying, hoping... He will not cure him, and I will not comfort him in his death..."
Another woman consoles her: "Don't believe that, woman. I have come to thank Him because He worked a great miracle for me, without leaving the mountain on which He was speaking."
"What was the matter with your son?"
"It was not my son. It was my husband who had become mad..." and the two women continue speaking in low voices.
"It is true. Also a mother at Arbela had her son redeemed without the Master seeing him" says a man from Arbela and he goes on speaking to some people near him...
"Make way, for pity's sake! Make way!" shout some bearers of a litter which is completely covered.
The crowds open out and the litter goes by with its sorrowful load, and stops at the end of the yard, almost behind a rick of straw. Is it a man or a woman lying on the litter? Who knows!
Two Pharisees come in: they are vainglorious and well preserved and more proud than ever. They assault the poor host as if they were mad, shouting: "You cursed liar! Why did you tell us that He was not here? Are you His accomplice? How dare you despise us, the holy ones in Israel, to favour... Whom, after all? How do you know who He is? What is He to you?"
"What is He? What you are not. But I did not lie. He came a few hours after you had left. He did not hide Himself, neither do I hide Him. But as I am the boss here, I tell you at once: “Get out of my house!” You do not insult the Nazarene here. Do you understand? And if you do not understand my words, I can speak to you in a more factual way, you jackals!"
The robust innkeeper seems so decided to come to blows that the two Pharisees change tone and become like creeping pups menaced by lash. "But we are looking for Him to revere Him! What are you thinking of? The thought that we might not see Him through your fault made us furious. We know Who He is. The holy and blessed Messiah, to Whom we are not worthy to raise our eyes. We are dust, He is the glory of Israel. Take us to Him. Our souls are yearning to hear His words."
The host imitates their voices and gestures in a wonderful way: "Oh! Of course! And how could I ever suspect it was not so, since I am so well aware of the fame of Pharisees' justice?! Of course! You have come to worship Him! You are yearning for that! I will go and tell Him! I am going... No, by Satan! You shall not follow me! Neither will you, or I will strike you so much, you poisonous mummies, that I will make one knock into the other. Stay here. You stay here, where I am putting you. And you here. And I am sorry I cannot knock you into the ground up to your necks and use you as pegs to tie the pigs to be slaughtered" and he passes from words to deeds by seizing the leaner Pharisee by his armpits, lifting him up and dropping him so violently on the ground, that if it were not very hard the poor fellow would have sunk into it up to his ankles. But the ground is hard and the Pharisee remains standing like a puppet, after being tossed about so much. Then the host gets hold of the other man, and although he is rather fat, the innkeeper raises and drops him with the same fury, and as the Pharisee reacts wriggling, he knocks him down and makes him sit: a bundle of flesh and cloth... He then goes away uttering a nasty word which is lost among the moans of the two and the laughter of many more.
He goes through a corridor into a small yard, he climbs a little staircase, reaches a porched gallery and enters a large room in which Jesus and His group are about to finish their meal with the merchant.
"Two of the four Pharisees have come. You had better see what You must do. For the time being I have seen to them. They wanted to come with me. But I did not want them. They are now down in the yard with many sick people and many others."
"I will come at once. Thank you, Phara, You may go."
They all get up. Jesus orders His disciples and the women to stay where they are, with the exception of His Mother, Mary Clopas, Susanna and Salome. But seeing the sad countenance of those who have been excluded, He says: "Go up to the terrace. You will hear Me just the same."
He goes out with the apostles and the four women. He goes back the same way as the host came and enters the large yard. The crowds crane their necks to see, and those who are sly climb up on to straw stacks, on carts standing on one side, or on the edge of reservoirs...
The two Pharisees go and meet Him ceremoniously. Jesus greets them with His usual salutation as if they were His most faithful friends. But He does not stop to reply to their unctuous questions: "Are you so few? And without disciples? So they have left You?"
Jesus continuing to walk replies gravely: "No one left Me. You have come from Arbela where you met those who precede Me, and in Judaea you met Judas of Simon, Thomas, Nathanael and Philip."
The stout Pharisee no longer dare follow Him and he stops all of a sudden blushing. The other, who is more barefaced, insists: "That is true. But as we knew that You were with faithful disciples and with some women, we were surprised at seeing You with so few people. We wanted to see Your new conquests and congratulate You" and he gives a false smile.
"My new conquests? There they are!" and Jesus makes a wide semicircular gesture, pointing at the crowds, which are mainly from the region beyond the Jordan, that is from this region where Bozrah is. And without giving the Pharisee time to retort, He begins to speak.
"Those who previously did not inquire about Me, have been looking for Me. And those who previously did not look for Me have found Me. And I said: “Here I am” to a nation which did not invoke My Name. Glory be to the Lord Who speaks the truth through the lips of the prophets! Looking at this crowd which has gathered round Me I really rejoice in the Lord because I see that the promises, which the Eternal Father made to Me when He sent Me to the world, have been fulfilled. Those promises which I Myself, with the Father and the Paraclete, put in the thoughts, on the lips and in the hearts of the prophets, the promises of which I was aware before becoming Flesh and which encouraged Me to be made flesh. And they encourage Me. Yes, they encourage Me against hatred, malice, mistrust and falsehood. Those who previously did not inquire about Me, have been looking for Me. And those who did not look for Me, have found Me. How come, if I was instead rejected by those to whom I had stretched out My hands saying: “Here I am”? And yet they knew Me, whereas these people here did not know Me. So?
Here is the key to the mystery. It is not a fault to ignore, but it is a fault to deny. And too many of those who know Me and to whom I stretched My hands, have denied Me as if I were illegitimate or a thief, a corrupting demon, because their pride has extinguished their faith and they have gone astray along bad, twisted sinful ways, leaving the way which My voice points out to them. Sin is in the heart, on the table, in the beds, in the hearts, in the minds of this people which rejects Me and which, seeing its own filth reflected everywhere, sees it on Me also, and its bitterness piles it up more and more, and it says to Me: “Go away, because You are unclean.”
So what will He say, Who is coming with His robe dyed red, handsome in His garment, and is walking in the power of His strength? Will He accomplish already what Isaiah says, and will He not be quiet, but will He pour on their laps what they deserve? No, He will not. First He has to tread the winepress alone, abandoned by everybody, to make the wine of Redemption. The wine that exhilarates the just and makes them blessed, the wine that exhilarates the guilty of the great sin, to crush their sacrilegious power into crumbs. Yes, My wine, which is maturing hour by hour in the sun of Eternal Love, will be the ruin and salvation of many, as it is stated in a prophecy not yet written, but deposited in the unsplit rock from which the Vine giving the Wine of eternal Life sprang up. Do you understand? No, you doctors of Israel do not understand. But it does not matter whether you understand. The darkness of which Isaiah speaks is descending upon you: “They have eyes and do not see. They have ears and do not hear.” You shield the Light with your hatred, so that one can say that the Light was repelled by darkness and the world refused to know it.
But exult, you who were in the dark and believed in the Light which was announced to you, and you desired it, sought it and found it. Exult, o faithful people who have come to Salvation crossing mountains, valleys and lakes without considering the burden of the long journey. The same applies to the other spiritual journey which will take you, o people of Bozrah, from the darkness of ignorance to the light of Wisdom.
Exult, o people of Hauran! Exult in the joy of knowledge. Truly it refers also to you and to your neighbouring peoples, when the Prophet sings that your camels and dromedaries will crowd the streets of Naphtali and Zebulun to worship the true God, and to be His servants in the holy mild law, which does not impose anything in order to give divine paternity and eternal happiness but compliance with the ten commandments of the Lord: to love the true God with one's whole being, to love one's neighbour as oneself, to keep the Sabbath without desecrating it, to honour one's parents, not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to bear false witness, not to covet the wife or property of other people. Oh! you are blessed. if coming from farther away you will go beyond those who belonged to the house of the Lord and went out of it, urged by the ten commandments of Satan: dislike of God, love of oneself, corruption of cult, harshness towards parents, murderous desire, attempt to steal other people's holiness, fornication with Satan, false witness, envy of the nature and mission of the Word, and the horrible sin which ferments and matures in the depth of hearts, of too many hearts.
Exult, you who are thirsty! Exult, you who are hungry! Exult, you who are afflicted! Were you rejected? Were you proscribed? Were you despised? Were you strangers? Come! Exult! It is no longer so. I give you homes, wealth, paternity and fatherland. I give you Heaven. Follow Me, because I am the Saviour! Follow Me, because I am the Redeemer! Follow Me, because I am the Life! Follow Me, because I am He to Whom the Father refuses no grace! Exult in My love! Exult! And that you may realise that I love you, you who have sought Me in your sorrows, you who have believed in Me even before knowing Me, that this may be a day of true exultation, I pray thus: “Father, Holy Father! On all the wounds, diseases, sores of bodies, on the grief, tortures, remorse of hearts, on all the faithful who are springing up, on those who are vacillating, on those who are strengthening, let health, grace, peace descend! Peace in My Name! Grace in Your Name! Health through Our reciprocal love! Bless them, o Most Holy Father! Gather and form one fold with these lost children of Yours and Mine! Let them be where I will be, one with You, Holy Father, with You, with Me and with the Most Divine Spirit.”"
Jesus, with His arms stretched out crosswise, His palms upwards towards the sky, His face raised, His voice blaring like a silver tuba, is overwhelming in His speech... He remains thus, silent, for some moments. Then His sapphire eyes stop looking at the sky to look at the large yard crowded with people who are sighing deeply moved or are quivering with hope; He joins His hands moving them forward and with a smile which transfigures Him, He utters a final cry: "Exult, you who believe and hope! People of sufferers, rise and love the Lord your God!"
The healing of the diseased is simultaneous and general. Trilling voices and roaring shouts praise the Saviour. A woman squeezes through the crowd, from the far end of the yard, dragging the sheet that had covered her and collapses at the feet of the Lord. This time the terrified crowds utter a different shout: "Mary, the leprous wife of Joachim!" and they run in all directions. "Be not afraid! She is cured. Contact with her can do you no harm" says Jesus reassuring them. And He says to the prostrated female: "Stand up, woman. You have been rewarded for your great hope and you are forgiven for neglecting prudence towards your brothers. Go back home after the salutary ablutions." The woman, who is young and quite beautiful, stands up weeping. Jesus shows her to the crowds who have come back and admire the miracle shouting out of astonishment.
"Her husband, who adored her, had built a shelter for her at the end of his fields and went to its border every evening and gave her some food weeping..."
"She became infected through her pity, taking care of a beggar who did not say that he was a leper."
"But how did Mary, the good woman, come here?"
"On that litter. How did we not notice Joachim's two servants?"
"They ran the risk of being stoned for that."
"Their mistress! They love her, she is so kind that they love her more than themselves..."
Jesus makes a gesture and they all become silent: "You can see that love and goodness bring miracles and joy. So, be good. Go, woman. No one will do you any harm. Peace be with you and with your household."
The woman, followed by the servants who have burnt the litter in the middle of the yard, goes out and many people follow her.
Jesus dismisses the crowd after listening to some people and He retires to the house followed by those who were with Him.
"What words, Master!"
"How transfigured You were!"
"What a voice!"
"And what miracles!"
"Did you see the Pharisees flee?"
"They went away like two creeping lizards immediately after the first words."
"The people of Bozrah and of all the villages here have a wonderful recollection of You..."
"Mother, what do You say?"
"I bless You, Son, on their behalf and Mine."
"Well, Your blessing will follow Me until we meet again."
"Why do You say that, Lord? Are the women leaving us?"
"Yes, Simon, Tomorrow at daybreak Alexander is leaving for Aera. We will go with him as far as the road to Arbela and we will then leave him. And with regret, believe Me, Alexander, because you have been a kind guide for the Pilgrim. I will always remember you, Alexander."
The old man is moved. He is standing with his arms folded on his chest, in the deep eastern salutation, bending a little in front of Jesus. But when he hears His words, he says: "Above all, remember me when You are in Your Kingdom."
"Do you wish that, Misace?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"I also wish something of you."
"Which, Lord? If I can I will give it to You, even if it were the most precious thing I possess."
"It is the most precious. I want your soul. Come to Me. I told you, at the beginning of our journey, that I hoped to give you a gift at the end of it. My gift is Faith. Do you believe in Me, Misace?"
"I do believe, Lord."
"Then sanctify your soul so that faith may not be for you not only an inert but also a harmful gift."
"My soul is old. But I will endeavour to make it new. Lord, I am an old sinner. Absolve me and bless me, because as from this moment I am beginning a new life. I will take Your blessing with me as the best escort in my journey towards Your Kingdom... Shall we ever meet again, Lord?"
"Not on this earth. But you will hear of Me and you will believe even more because I will not leave you without evangelization. Goodbye, Misace. We shall not have much time tomorrow to say goodbye to each other. Let us do so now, before taking our food together for the last time." He embraces and kisses him. The apostles and disciples also do so. The women greet him all together. But Misace kneels down almost in front of Mary saying: "May Your light of a pure morning star shine in my mind until my death."
"Until Life, Alexander. Love My Son and you will love Me, and I will love you."
Simon Peter asks: "But shall we be going from Arbela to Aera? I am afraid we may be caught in bad weather. There is so much fog... We have had it for three days at dawn and sunset..."
"That is because we have been coming down here. Do you not think that we have come down a good deal? It is so. Tomorrow you will be climbing towards the mountains of the Decapolis and there will be no more fog there" explains Misace.
"Come down? When? It was a flat road..."
"Yes, but in continuous descent. Oh! so slowly that one does not notice it. But in many miles..."
"How long shall we be staying at Arbela?"
"You, James and Judas, not even one hour" replies Jesus resolutely.
"James and Judas... I... not even one hour? And where am I going if I am not staying with you all?"
"You are going away. As far as the land in the guardianship of Chuza. You will take My Mother and the women there, with the others. They will then proceed by themselves with Johanna's servants and you will come back and join Me at Aera."
"Oh! Lord! You are angry with me and You are punishing me... How much You grieve me, Lord!"
"Simon, he feels that he is punished who knows that he is guilty. Being guilty must grieve you, not the punishment in itself. But I do not think that it is a punishment to accompany My Mother and the women disciples on their way back home."
"But would it not be better if You came with us? Never mind Aera and these places and come with us."
"I promised to go and I will go."
"Then I will come, too."
"You will obey without complaining, as My brothers do."
"And if You meet some Pharisees?"
"You are certainly not the most suitable to convert them. It is just because I will meet some that I want you, James and Judas to go away with the women and with John of Endor and Marjiam before Arbela."
"Ah!... I see! All right."
Jesus turns round to the women and blesses them one by one, giving each of them suitable advice.
The Magdalene on bending to kiss the feet of her Saviour asks: "Shall I see You again before I go back to Bethany?"
"Most certainly, Mary. In the month of Ethanim I will be on the lake."