360. Miracle on the Jordan in Flood.
17th September 1944.
At last I can write what has kept my mental sight and hearing busy as from early dawn this morning, making me suffer from the strain in hearing the noise of worldly matters from outside and in the house, while I must see and hear the things of God, and making me impatient of everything different from what my spirit sees.
How much patience is required... not to lose my patience while waiting for the moment to say to Jesus: "Here I am! Now You can go on!" Because − I have said so many times and I will repeat it when I cannot continue or begin to write what I see, the scene stops at the very beginning or when I am interrupted, and is resumed again when I am free to follow it. I think that God wants that so that I may not omit any detail or make even a slight error, what might happen if I had to write some time after seeing.
I can assure you in all conscience that what I write, because I see or hear it, I do write it while seeing or hearing.
So here is what I have been seeing as from this morning, and my internal warner tells me that it is the beginning of a beautiful long vision.
In very stormy weather Jesus is walking along a very muddy country road. The road is a little river of yellowish sticky mud, which splashes at each step, is as slippery as soft soap, sticks to sandals, it sucks them like a sucker and at the same time it slips under them, making it thus most painful to walk.
It must have rained continuously during those days. And the sky promises more rain, covered as it is with dark low clouds blown by sirocco or north-east winds, which make the air so heavy that it tastes, in one's mouth, sickly sweet, like a sweetish coating. No relief is brought by the wind that blows bending grass and branches, then stops and everything becomes heavily immobile in the stormy sultriness. Now and again a huge cloud bursts and large warm drops, which seem to be coming from a hot shower, reach the ground forming bubbles in the mud that splashes garments and legs even more.
Although Jesus and His apostles have pulled up their tunics, bagging them at their waists with the cords used as belts, the lower part of their tunics is completely splashed with mud, which is damp at the bottom but almost dry higher up. Their mantles also, which they carry as high as possible, and have folded in two, both to keep them clean and to have double protection against the short but heavy showers, are completely soiled. On their feet and their legs, up to half their shins, they seem to be wearing thick coarse woollen stockings, it is instead mud encrusted on them.
So far the beginning. It now continues.
The disciples complain a little of the weather and of the road, and we may as well say so, of the Master's not very healthy liking for going about in such weather.
Jesus does not seem to hear. But He does. And two or three times He turns slightly round − they are walking in single file to keep to the left hand side of the road, which is a little higher than the right hand side and thus not so muddy − to look at them. But He does not say anything.
The last time it was the oldest of the disciples who said: "Oh! poor me! With all this dampness that is drying on me I am going to be tortured by pain! I am old! I am no longer thirty years old!"
And Matthew grumbles, too: "And what about me? I was not used to this...
When it rained at Capernaum, and you know very well, Peter, I did not go out. I put servants at the tax-bench and they brought me the people who had to pay. I organised a proper service for that. Of course... who would venture to go out in nasty weather? H'm! Only a melancholy fellow, but no one else. Markets and marches are done in good weather..."
"Be quiet! Because He will hear you!" says John.
"No, He will not hear us! He is thinking and when He thinks... we practically do not exist" says Thomas.
"And when He takes an idea into His head, there is no reason whatsoever that may move Him from His determination. He will do what He wants. He trusts no one but Himself and that will be His ruin. If He only consulted a little with me... I am aware of so many things!" says Judas with the self-sufficiency of a "sagacious man who is more clever than anybody else".
"What do you know?" asks Peter at once and he has become as red as a beetroot. "You know everything! What friends have you got? Are you perhaps a great man in Israel? Away you go! You are a poor man like me and the others... A little more handsome... But handsomeness of youth is a flower that lasts one day! I was handsome, too!"
A hearty laugh of John clears the atmosphere. Also the others laugh and joke at Peter's wrinkles, at his legs, which are wide apart like the legs of every sailor, at his goggle-eyes reddened by the winds of the lake.
"You may laugh, but it is so. In any case, do not interrupt me. Tell me, Judas. What friends have you got? What do you know? If you know what you want us to believe that you know, you must have friends among Jesus' enemies. And who has friends among enemies, is a traitor. Hey! boy! Be careful, if your handsomeness matters to you! Because if it is true that I am no longer handsome, it is also true that I am still strong and I would have no difficulty in giving you a thrashing" says Peter.
"What a manner of speaking! The language of a rude fisherman!" says Judas with the contempt of an offended prince.
"Yes, sir, and I am proud of it. A fisherman, but as sincere as my lake, which, if it is going to be stormy, does not say: “I'll be dead calm”, but it stirs and puts such clouds as witnesses in the vault of heaven, that if one is not a fool or drunk, one realises its meaning and acts accordingly. You... you look like this mud that seems to be hard, but look" (and with a sudden jerk of his foot he splashes the mud up to the chin of the handsome Iscariot).
"Peter! Your manners are disgusting! The Master's words on charity have a lovely effect on you!"
"The same applies to you with regard to His words on humility and sincerity. Come on. Spit it out! What do you know? Is it true that you know or do you give yourself airs to make people believe that you have powerful friends? You are a poor worm!"
"I know what I know, and I am not going to tell you to start a brawl, which you, being a Galilean, would like. I would repeat that if the Master were less obstinate, it would be much better. And He ought to be less violent. People get tired of being offended."
"Violent? If He were, He should throw you into the river, at once. He should make you fly over those trees. You would thus wash off the mud that soils your profile. I wish it would help to wash your heart, which, if I am not mistaken, is more crusty than my muddy legs." As Peter, in fact, is hairy and short, his legs are very muddy. Both his and Matthew's legs seem to be made of clay up to their knees.
"Will you stop it!" says Matthew.
John, who has noticed that Jesus has slackened His pace, suspects that He may have heard, and quickening his pace, he overtakes two or three companions, he reaches Jesus and walking beside Him, he calls Him: "Master!" very gently, as usual, and with a loving glance, looking up at Him, as he is shorter and also because he is in the middle of the road, beyond the little rising of the ground on which they are all walking.
"Oh! John! You have reached Me!" says Jesus smiling at him.
John, studying His face with love and anxiety to find out whether He has heard, replies: "Yes, my dear Master. Do You want me?"
"I always want you. I would like all of you, with hearts like yours! But if you continue to walk where you are, you will get drenched."
"It does not matter, Master! Nothing matters, as long as I am near You!"
"Do you always want to be with Me? Do you not think that I am imprudent and I may cause trouble to you as well? Do you not feel offended because I do not listen to your advice?"
"Oh! Master! So You have heard!" John is dismayed.
"I heard everything. From the very first words. But do not be upset about that. None of you is perfect. I knew since I chose you. And I do not expect any of you to become perfect rapidly. You will all have to change from wild to domestic beings by means of two grafts..."
"Which ones, Master?"
"One is blood, the other is fire. Afterwards you will be the heroes of Heaven and will convert the whole world, beginning from yourselves."
"Yes, John. Blood: Mine..."
"No, Jesus!" John interrupts Him with a deep groan.
"Be calm, My friend. Do not interrupt Me. Be the first to listen to this truth, because you deserve it. The Blood is Mine. You already know. That is why I came. I am the Redeemer... Think of the prophets. They did not leave out one iota in describing My mission. I will be the Man described by Isaiah. And the Blood, which I will shed, will fecundate you. But I will not confine Myself to that. You are so imperfect and weak, dull and timorous, that I, sitting gloriously beside the Father, will send you the Fire, the Strength that proceeds from My being through generation by the Father and that binds the Father and the Son in an indissoluble ring, making Three of One: the Thought, the Blood, the Love. When the Spirit of God, nay, the Spirit of the Spirit of God, the Perfection of Divine Perfections, will come to you, you will no longer be as you are. But you will be new, powerful, holy... But for one of you Blood and Fire will be of no avail. Because Blood will have for him the power of damnation and he will forever know another fire, in which he will burn belching blood and swallowing blood, because he will see blood wherever he lays his material or spiritual eyes, having betrayed the Blood of a God."
"Oh! Master! Who is it?"
"You will know one day. For the time being, forget about it. And for the sake of charity do not even endeavour to inquire into it. Investigation presupposes suspicion. You must not suspect Your brothers, because suspicion is already lack of charity."
"I will be satisfied if You assure me that neither James nor I will betray You."
"Oh! Not you! Nor James. You are My comfort, My good John!" and Jesus lays an arm on his shoulders, draws him to Himself and they walk thus together.
They are silent for some time. The others also are quiet. Only the shuffling of their feet in the mire can be heard. They then hear another noise. It is a rustling gurgling noise, I would say the deep snoring of a person affected by catarrh. It is a monotonous grumbling interrupted now and again by light crashes.
"Can you hear that?" says Jesus. "The river is close at hand."
"But we will not arrive at the ford before night. It will soon be dark."
"We will sleep in a hut somewhere. And we will cross the river tomorrow. I would have liked to arrive there earlier, because the flood is increasing hourly. Listen! The reeds on the banks are breaking under the pressure of the swollen water."
"They kept You so long in those villages of the Decapolis! We said to the sick people: “The next time!” but..."
"Who is ill, Wants to be cured, John. And he who pities them, cures them at once, John. It does not matter. We will cross over just the same. I want to do the other side before going back to Jerusalem for Pentecost."
They become silent once again. It gets dark very quickly, as is usual on wet days. It becomes more and more difficult to walk in the deepening twilight. The trees along the road also increase the darkness with their foliage.
"Let us cross to the other side of the road. We are now very close to the ford. We will look for a hut."
They cross over and are followed by the others. They cross a little muddy ditch, with more mud than water, which flows gurgling towards the river. They almost grope their way among the trees, making for the river, the noise of which is becoming louder and louder.
A first moonbeam pierces the clouds, it penetrates between two clouds and descends making the miry water of the Jordan shine, in a spot where the river is swollen and very wide. (If my reckoning is correct, the river is about fifty/sixty metres wide. I am a silly goose with regard to measurements, but I think that my house could have gone into that river-bed nine or ten times and it was about five and a half metres wide). It is no longer the beautiful calm blue Jordan, the quiet low water of which leaves uncovered the fine sand on the banks, where the reef thickets begin to grow and rustle continuously. The water has now submersed everything and the first reef-thickets have been bent and broken and thus are not visible, with the exception of an odd leaf that undulates on the surface of the water and seems to be waving goodbye or imploring help. The water has already reached the foot of the first large trees. I do not know what trees they are. They are tall and leafy, as compact as a wall and dark in the dark night. Some willows dip the top of their withered foliage into the yellowish water.
"It is not possible to wade here" says Peter. "Not here. But it is possible over there. See? They are still wading" says Andrew.
In fact two quadrupeds are cautiously crossing the river. The water reaches up to the stomachs of the animals.
"If they can pass, so can boats."
"However, it is better to cross over at once, even if it is dark. The clouds have thinned out and it is moonlight. Do not let us miss this opportunity. Let us look for a boat..." And Peter utters three times a long moaning cry: "Hey!"
There is no reply.
"Let us go down, right down to the ford. Melkiah and his sons must be there. This is his best season. He will take us across."
They walk as fast as they can on the little path along the river, which almost laps on it.
"But is that not a woman?" says Jesus looking at the two people who have already crossed the river on horseback and are now standing on the path.
"A woman?" Peter and the others cannot see or tell whether the person in dark clothes, who has dismounted and is now waiting, is a man or a woman.
"Yes. It is a woman. It's... Mary. Look now that she in the moonbeam."
"You are lucky that you can see. Blessed be your eyes!"
"It is Mary. What will she be wanting?" and Jesus shouts: "Mary!"
"Rabboni! Is it You? Praised be God that I have found You!" and Mary runs as fast as a gazelle towards Jesus. I do not know how she does not stumble on the uneven road. She drops her heavy mantle and is now coming forward with her veil and light mantle held tight against her dark dress.
When she reaches Jesus she drops at His feet without worrying about the mud. She is panting, but happy. She repeats: "Glory be to God Who made me find You!"
"Why, Mary? What is happening? Were you not at Bethany?"
"I was at Bethany with Your Mother and the women, as You told us... But I came to meet You... Lazarus was not able to come, because he is suffering too much... So I came with a servant..."
"You are about, all alone, with a boy and in this weather?"
"Oh! Rabboni! You are not going to tell me that You think that I was afraid. I was not afraid to do so much evil... I am not afraid now to do something good."
"So? Why did you come?"
"To tell You not to cross over... They are waiting for You on the other side to injure You... I found out... I was told by one of the Herodians who once... who once loved me... Whether he told me out of love, still, or out of hatred, I do not know... I know that the other day he saw me through the gate and he said to me: “You silly Mary, are you waiting for your Master? You are doing the right thing, because it will be the last time, in fact as soon as He crosses the river and comes into Judaea, He will be captured. Look at Him carefully and then run away because it is not wise to be near Him, now... Then... You can imagine how anxiously... I inquired... You know... I know many people... and even if they say that I am mad or possessed... they still speak to me... And I found out that it is true. Then I took two horses and I came, without saying anything to Your Mother, not to worry Her... Go back at once, Master. If they find out that You are here, beyond the Jordan, they will come here. Herod also is looking for You... and You are too close to Machaerus now. Go away, for pity's sake, Master!..."
"Do not weep, Mary..."
"I am afraid, Master!"
"What! You afraid? No, you have been so brave as to cross the river in flood by night!..."
"But that is a river, whereas those are men and they are Your enemies and they hate You... I am afraid of their hatred for You... Because I love You, Master."
"Do not be afraid. They will not get Me as yet. It is not My hour. Even if they placed many formations of soldiers along all the roads, they would not capture Me. It is not My hour. But I will do as you wish. I will go back..."
Judas grumbles something between his teeth and Jesus replies: "Yes, Judas. Exactly as you say. But just in the first part of your sentence. I am listening to her, of course I am. But not because she is a woman, as you are insinuating, but because she is the one who has made most progress in love. Mary, go home, while you can. I will go back and cross over... wherever I can, and I will go to Galilee. Come with My Mother and the other women to Cana, to Susanna's house. I will tell you there what there is to be done. Go in peace and may you be blessed. God is with you."
Jesus lays His hand on her head, blessing her. Mary takes Jesus' hands, kisses them, stands up and then goes back. Jesus watches her go away. He sees her pick her heavy mantle and put it on; she then reaches her horse, mounts it and goes to the ford and crosses over.
"And now let us go" He says. "I wanted to let you rest, but I cannot. I have your safety at heart, although Judas thinks otherwise. And believe Me, if you should fall into the hands of My enemies, that would do your health more harm than water and mud..."
They all lower their heads as they understand the implied reproach given in reply to their previous conversation.
They walk all night in changeable weather, in fitful showers. At a lurid dawn they find themselves near a very poor village, the muddy houses of which are lying close to the river. The river is a little narrower than at the ford. Some boats have been beached as far as the houses to protect them from the flood.
Peter utters his cry: "Hey!"
A vigorous elderly man comes out of a hovel. "What do you want?"
"Boats to cross over."
"Impossible The flood is too dangerous... The current..."
"Hey you! Are you telling me? I am a fisherman from Galilee."
"The sea is one thing... but this is a river... I do not want to lose my boat. In any case... I have but one and you are many."
"You liar! Are you telling me that you have one boat only?"
"May I go blind, if I am lying, I..."
"Watch that you may really go blind. This is the Rabbi from Galilee Who gives sight to blind people and Who can satisfy you by making you go blind..."
"Oh! Mercy! The Rabbi! Forgive me, Rabboni!"
"Yes, I do. But you should never tell lies. God loves sincere people. Why say that you have but one boat when the whole village can give you the lie? To lie and to be found out is too severe a humiliation for man! Will you give Me your boats?"
"All of them, Master."
"How many do we need, Peter?"
"In normal conditions two would be enough. But with the river in flood it is more difficult to manoeuvre them and we need three."
"Take them, fisherman. But how will I get them back?"
"Come in one of them. Have you no sons?"
"I have one son, two sons-in-law and some grandchildren."
"Two in each boat are enough to bring them back."
"Let us go."
The man calls the others and with the help of Peter, Andrew James and John they push the boats into the water. The current is strong and threatens to drag them away. The ropes holding them to the closest tree-trunks are as taut as bows and creak under the stress. Peter looks. He looks at the boats, at the river and shakes his head, he ruffles his grey hair with one hand and casts an inquisitive glance at Jesus.
"Are you afraid, Peter?"
"Be not afraid. Have faith. And you, too, man. He who carries God and His messengers must not be afraid. Let us get into the boats. I will go into the first one."
The owner of the boats makes a gesture of resignation. He must be thinking that his relatives' last hour or his has come. He must at least be afraid of losing his boats or ending no one knows where.
Jesus is already in the boat. He is standing in the bow. All the others embark, some in the same boat, some in the other two. Only an old man remains on the embankment, a servant perhaps, watching the ropes.
"Are we all on board?"
"Yes, we are."
"Are the oars ready?"
"Let go, you, on the bank."
The old man untwists the ropes off the wooden pin which held them in a knot on a tree-trunk. As soon as the boats are free, they list for a moment southwards towards the centre of the current.
But the power of miracle shines on Jesus' face. What He says to the river I do not know. I know that the current almost stops. The Jordan flows slowly as when it is not in spate. The boats cut across the water without any difficulty, nay, they are so fast that their owner is amazed.
They are now on the other side. They disembark with ease and the current does not threaten to drag the boats away even when the oars are still.
"Master, I see that You are really powerful" says the owner of the boats. "Bless Your servant and remember me, a sinner."
"Ehi! That was no trifle! You stopped the current of the Jordan in flood!..."
"Joshua had already worked that miracle, and it was even greater, because the water of the river disappeared to let the Ark pass..."
"And You, man, have carried across the true Ark of God" says, Judas with self-sufficiency.
"Most High God! Yes, I do believe it! You are the true Messiah! The Son of the Most High God. Oh! I will tell the towns and villages along the river what You did and what I saw! Come back, Master! There are many sick people in my poor village. Come and cure them!"
"I will come. In the meantime preach in My Name faith and holiness to be acceptable to God. Goodbye, man. Go in peace. And be not afraid about your return."
"I am not afraid. If I were afraid I would ask You to have mercy on my life. But I believe in You and in your goodness and I am going away without asking for anything. Goodbye."
He gets into his boat, he stands off and departs. He is sure of himself and soon reaches the other bank.
Jesus, Who has remained still until He sees him on the other bank, makes a gesture of blessing. He then withdraws towards the road.
The river resumes its vorticose flowing... And it all ends thus.