363. At the Temple. The “Our Father” and a Parable on True Sons.
1st January 1946, 6.35 a.m.
"Get up, Mary. Let us sanctify the day with a page of the Gospel. Because My Word is sanctification. See, Mary. Because to see the days of Christ on the earth is sanctification. Write, Mary. Because to write about Christ is sanctification, because to repeat what Jesus says is sanctification, because to preach Jesus is sanctification, because to teach our brothers is sanctification. A great reward will be given to you for that charity."
Jesus has left Ramah (vision of 17th December 1945) and is already in sight of Jerusalem. He is proceeding, as He did last year, singing the prescribed psalms.
Many of the people on the crowded road turn round to look at the apostolic group passing by. Some greet them reverently; some look only stealthily at them, smiling with respect, and they are mainly women; some watch them only; some smile ironically and contemptuously; lastly, some pass by haughtily and with evident ill-will. Jesus is walking tranquilly in His best clothes. Like everybody else He has changed in order to enter the holy city decently, and I would say, elegantly dressed.
Marjiam also is equal to the situation in his new garments this year and he is walking beside Jesus, singing at the top of his voice, which, in actual fact, is somewhat harsh, as it is not yet manly. But his imperfect tone is lost in the full chorus of his companions' voices and it emerges as clear as silvery trilling only in the top notes, which he still sings in a steady boy's voice. And he is happy...
During a pause in singing, while they are already in sight of the Damascus Gate − that is where they are entering to go straight to the Temple − they stop to let an impressive caravan pass, as it takes up the whole road obstructing the traffic. While wise people stop at the roadside, Marjiam asks: "My Lord, will You tell me another beautiful parable for Your son who is so far away? I would like to add it to those I have already written, because I am sure that at Bethany we shall meet his messengers and have his news. And I am dying to give him a joy, which I promised him and which both his heart and mine desire..."
"Yes, My son. I will certainly tell you one."
"One that will really comfort him, that will make him understand that he is still Your beloved..."
"I will do that. And I will rejoice, too, because it will be the truth."
"When will You tell it, Lord?"
"Very soon. We will go straight to the Temple, as is our duty, and I will speak there before they prevent Me from doing so."
"And will You speak for him?"
"Thank You, Lord! It must be so painful to be separated thus..." says Marjiam, whose dark eyes begin to shine with tears.
Jesus lays a hand on his head and He turns round to beckon to the Twelve to approach Him and set out again. The Twelve, in fact, had stopped to listen to some people, I do not know whether they believe in the Master or are anxious to know Him, and they had stopped for the same reason that had compelled Jesus and His apostles to stop on the roadside.
"We are coming, Master. We were listening to those people among whom there are some proselytes who have come from far, and they were asking us where they could meet You" says Peter moving towards Him.
"Why do they want to meet Me?"
And Peter, now beside Jesus Who has set out again, says: "They want to hear You speak and to be cured from some diseases. See that tilted cart, behind them? There are some proselytes from the Diaspora in it, who have come by sea or from distant countries, urged to make this pilgrimage by their faith in You, besides their respect for the Law. Some are from Ephesus, some from Perga, some from Iconium and there is a poor fellow from Philadelphia, whom they, being mostly rich merchants, have received in their cart out of pity, hoping thus to gain the Lord's favour."
"Marjiam, go and tell them to follow Me to the Temple. And they will have both health for their souls through My word and health to their bodies, if they can have faith."
The boy goes away quickly. But the Twelve raise a chorus of disapproval because of the "imprudence" of Jesus, Who wants to make Himself conspicuous in the Temple...
"We are going there specially to show them that I am not afraid. To prove to them that no threat can make Me infringe the precept. Have you not understood their trick yet? All their threats, all their apparently friendly advice aim only at making Me commit sin, so that they may have a real charge against Me. Do not be cowardly. Have faith. My hour has not come."
"But why do You not go and reassure Your Mother first? She is waiting for You..." says Judas Iscariot.
"No. I am going to the Temple first, which, until the moment prearranged by the Eternal Father for the new era, is the House of God. My Mother will suffer less waiting for Me than She would, knowing that I am preaching in the Temple. And I thus honour My Father and Mother, by devoting my very first hour in Jerusalem to the Former, and by granting tranquillity to the Latter. Let us go and be not afraid. Those who are afraid may to go Gethsemane and brood over their fear among the women."
The apostles, reprimanded by this last remark, no longer speak. They line up, in threes except in the front line, where Jesus is, where they are four, and when Marjiam arrives they are five, and in fact Thaddeus and the Zealot place themselves behind Jesus, leaving Him in the middle between Peter and Marjiam. At the Damascus Gate they see Manaen. "Lord, I thought it was better for me to come and remove every doubt about the situation. I can assure You that there is no danger for You, except the ill-will of the Pharisees and scribes. You can go without any fear."
"I knew, Manaen. But I am grateful to you. Come to the Temple with Me. If it is no burden to you..."
"Burden? I would defy the whole world on Your behalf! I Would do anything!"
The Iscariot mumbles something.
Manaen turns round resentfully. He says in a firm voice: "No, man, those are not just “words”. I ask the Master to prove my sincerity."
"There is no need, Manaen. Let us go."
They proceed among the obstructing crowds and when they arrive at the house of some friends, they get rid of their sacks, which James, John and Andrew leave on behalf of everybody in a long dark hall, and then join their companions. They enter the enclosure of the Temple passing through the Antonia. The Roman soldiers are watching, but they do not move. They talk in low voices among themselves. Jesus looks to see whether there is anyone He knows. But He does not see Quintillian or Alexander, the soldier.
They are now in the Temple, in the not very sacred swarm of the first yards, where are merchants and money-changers. Jesus looks and quivers with indignation. He turns pale and walks so stately that He seems to be taller in stature.
The Iscariot tempts Him: "Why do You not repeat the holy gesture? See? They have forgotten... and there is desecration once again in the House of God. Do You not grieve at that? Are You not rising against them?" Judas' dark handsome face, which is ironical and false notwithstanding every effort he makes to avoid it appearing so, is even vulpine, as he says those words, bending a little, as if he were paying respectful homage, looking Him up and down.
"It is not the hour. But all that will be purified. And forever!..." says Jesus resolutely.
Judas smiles a little and comments: "The “forever” of men!! It's very precarious, Master! You can see!..."
Jesus does not reply to him, intent as He is on greeting from afar Joseph of Arimathea, who is passing by enveloped in pompous robes, followed by other people.
They say the ritual prayers and then go back to the Court of the Gentiles, under the porches of which many people have gathered.
The proselytes, previously met in the street, have followed Jesus all the time. They have taken the sick people with them and have now laid them in the shade of the porches, near Jesus. Their women, who have been waiting for them here, now come slowly close. They are all veiled. But one is already sat, probably because she is ill, and her companions take her near the other sick people. More people crowd round Jesus. I can see that there is astonishment and confusion among the groups of rabbis and priests because of the open arrival and preaching of Jesus.
"Peace be with you, with each of you listening to Me! Holy Passover brings the faithful children back to the House of the Father. This blessed Passover of ours is like a mother who is thoughtful of the welfare of her children and calls them at the top of her voice, that they may come from everywhere leaving all matters pending for a greater matter. The only great and important one: to honour the Lord and Father. From that we understand that we are brothers, and the command and care to love our neighbour as ourselves derive also from that, through kind witness. Have we never met before? Did we not know each other? We did not. But if we are here, because we are the children of One Father Who wants us in His House for the Passover Banquet, then, we feel, if not with our material senses, but certainly with our superior part, that we are all equal, all brothers, who have come from One only, and thus we love one another, as if we had been brought up together. And our union of love is an anticipation of the other more perfect one that we will enjoy in the Kingdom of Heaven, under the eyes of God, all embraced by His Love. I, Son of God and of Man, with you men, sons of God. I, the First-born, with you, brothers beloved beyond all human measure, to the extent that I became the Lamb for the sins of men.
But while we are enjoying our brotherly union in the House of the Father, let us think of our brothers who are far away, but still our brothers: in the Lord or through their origin. Let them be in our hearts. Let us take our absent brothers in our hearts to the holy altar. Let us pray for them, gathering their remote voices in our spirits, together with their yearning to be here. And as we collect the conscious longing of remote Israelites, let us collect also the yearning of souls belonging to men, who are not aware of having a soul and of being the children of One Father only. All the souls in the world cry to the Most High from the prisons of their bodies. In dark prisons they moan towards the Light. Let us have mercy on them, since we are in the light of the true Faith.
Let us pray: Our Father, Who are in Heaven, may Your Name be held holy by all mankind! To know it is to set out towards holiness. Let Gentiles and heathens become aware of Your existence, o Holy Father, and let them come to You, Father, like the three wise men in days gone by but not inert, because nothing pertaining to the coming of the Redemption of the world is inert, let them come to You guided by the Star of Jacob, by the Morning Star, by the King and Redeemer of the stock of David, by Your Anointed Son, Who has already been offered and consecrated to be the Victim for the sins of the world.
Let Your Kingdom come to every place on the earth where You are known and loved, and where You are not yet known. And above all let it come to the three times sinners, who know You but do not love You in Your works and manifestations of Light, and endeavour to reject and suffocate the Light that came to the world, because they are souls of darkness, who prefer the works of darkness and they do not know that to suffocate the Light of the world is to offend You, because You are the Most Holy Light and the Father of all lights, beginning from the One that became Flesh and Word to bring Your Light to all men of good will.
May Your Will, Most Holy Father, be done by every heart in the world, that is, may every heart be saved, and let none be left without the fruit of the Sacrifice of the Great Victim, because that is Your Will: that man be saved and may enjoy You, Holy Father, after the forgiveness which is about to be granted. Give us Your help, o Lord, all Your help. And give it to those who are awaiting it, to those who do not know that they are awaiting it, give it to sinners with repentance that saves, give it to heathens with the force of your rousing call, give it to unhappy people, to prisoners, to exiles, to those whose bodies or spirits are diseased, give it to everybody, as You are Everything, and the time of Mercy has come.
Forgive, o Good Father, the sins of Your children. Forgive the sins of Your people, which are the gravest, the sins of those who want to persist in error, whilst Your predilection love gave Light just to this people. And forgive those who are brutalised by corrupt paganism that teaches vice, and are drowned in the idolatry of such dull mephitic heathenism, whereas there are valuable souls among them, whom You love having created them. We forgive, I am the first to forgive, so that You may forgive, and we implore Your protection over the weakness of men, that You may free Your creatures from the Principle of Evil, from whom all crimes, idolatries, sins, temptations and errors come. Free them, O Lord, from the dreadful Prince, so that they may come to Your eternal Light."
The crowd have followed this solemn prayer with great attention. Famous rabbis have also approached the group and among them there is Gamaliel, holding his bearded chin thoughtfully... A group of women has also come close to them, they are wearing mantles with a kind of hood that covers their faces. And the rabbis have moved away haughtily... Many faithful disciples have hastened there having heard that the Master had arrived; among them there are Hermas, Stephen, John the priest, then Nicodemus and Joseph, the inseparable two, and many friends of theirs, whom I think I have seen previously.
In the pause after the prayer of the Lord, Who becomes engrossed in thought, looking gravely austere, Joseph of Arimathea is heard saying: "Well, Gamaliel? Do you still not think that this is the word of the Lord?"
"Joseph, I was told: “These stones will shake at the sound of My words”" replies Gamaliel.
Stephen cries rashly: "Work the miracle, o Lord! Give the order, and they will tumble down! It would be a great gift, if the building collapsed and the walls of Your Faith rose in their hearts! Do that for my master!"
"Blasphemer!" shout an angry group of rabbis with some of their pupils.
"No" shouts in turn Gamaliel. "My disciple has spoken an inspired word. But we cannot accept it because the Angel of God has not yet cleansed us of our past with the live coal taken from the Altar of God... And perhaps, even if the cry of His voice" and he points at Jesus "should unhinge these doors, we would not yet believe..." He lifts the hem of his wide snow-white mantle and pulls it over his head, almost covering his face, and goes away.
Jesus watches him go... He then resumes speaking and replies to some people who are grumbling among themselves and seem scandalised and to make their scandal more obvious, they heap insults on Judas of Kerioth, who puts up with them without reacting, but shrugs his shoulders with dissatisfied countenance. Jesus says:
"I solemnly tell you that those who seem to be illegitimate are instead true sons, and those who are true sons become illegitimate. Listen to this parable. Once there was a man who had to absent himself from home for a long time because of some business engagements, when his sons were still very young. From the place where he was, he used to write letters to the older sons to keep them in due respect for their father, who was far away, and to remind them of his teaching. The last son, who was born after the father had left, was still at nurse with a woman who lived far from there, in the country of the man's wife, who was not of his race. The wife died when the son was still a baby and away from home. His brothers said: “Let us leave him where he is, with our mother's relatives. Perhaps our father will forget about him and we will gain by it, as there will be one less to divide the property with, when our father dies.” And they did so. The child was thus brought up by his mother's relatives, he was unaware of his father's teaching, he did not even know that he had a father and brothers and, what is worse, he bitterly considered: “They have all disowned me as if I were illegitimate”, and he even thought that he was, as he was so deeply hurt at being rejected by his father.
It so happened that when he grew up and found a situation because, embittered as he was by the above considerations, he had conceived a strong aversion also for the family of his mother, whom he deemed guilty of adultery − he went to the town where his father was. And without knowing who he was, he approached him and had the opportunity to hear him speak. His father was a wise man. As he did not receive any satisfaction from his remote sons − who by now behaved as it pleased them and were on conventional terms with their remote father, purely to remind him that they were “his” sons and therefore he should bear that in mind in his will − the old man devoted himself to giving good advice to the young people he approached in the land where he was. The young son was attracted by such righteousness, which was so fatherly for many young men and he not only approached him but he availed himself of every word of the old man, thus soothing his embittered spirit. The man was taken ill and had to decide to go back to his fatherland. And the young man said to him: “Sir, you are the only person who has spoken to me with justice, elevating my spirit. Allow me to follow you as your servant. I do not want to relapse into my previous evil state.” “Come with me. You will take the place of a son, of whom I have never been able to get news.” And they went back to the paternal house together.
Neither the father, nor the brothers, nor the young man himself realised that the Lord had once again gathered together those of the same blood under one roof. But the father had to shed many tears because of the sons known to him, because he found that they had forgotten his teaching, had become greedy and hard-hearted, without faith in God, but with many idolatries in their hearts: pride, avarice and lust were their gods and they would not listen to anything which was not human profit. The stranger, instead, approached the Lord more and more, and he became just, kind, loving and obedient. His brothers hated him, because their father loved him, although he was a stranger. But he forgave them and loved them, because he had understood that peace is to be found in love.
One day the father, who was disgusted with the behaviour of his sons, said: “You have taken no interest in your mother's relatives, and not even in your brother. You remind me of the behaviour of Jacob's sons towards their brother Joseph. I want to go to that country to find out about him. I may find him and be comforted by him.” And he took leave both of the sons known to him and of the young stranger, whom he gave a sum of money that he might go back to the place from which he had come and start a little business there.
When he arrived in the country of his dead wife, her relatives told him that the forsaken son had changed his original name Moses into Manasseh, because by his birth he had really made his father forget that he was a just man, as he had abandoned his child.
“Do not do me wrong! I was told that all traces of the boy had been lost, and I did not even hope to find any of you. But tell me. What is he like? Has he grown into a strong man? Is he like his mother who died in giving birth to him? Is he kind? Does he love me?”
“He is strong, indeed, and he is as handsome as his mother was beautiful, but his eyes are dark. And on his side he has the same birthmark as his mother. And he has a slight lisp, like you. He was grown up when he left here, exacerbated by his fate, as he doubted his mother's modesty and he bore you ill-will. He would have been kind if he had had no ill-will in his soul. He went across mountains and rivers as far as Trapetius to... “
“Did you say Trapetius? In Synopy? Tell me! I was there and I met a young man with a slight lisp, he was alone and sad, and he was so kind although he appeared to be rather harsh. Was it him? Tell me!”
“Perhaps it was. Look for him. On his right hand side he has a dark birthmark in relief, as your wife had.”
The man departed at once, hoping to find the stranger in his house. But he had left to go back to the colony of Synopy. And the man followed him... He found him. He made him go to his house to examine his side. He identified him. He fell on his knees praising God Who had restored his son to him, a son who was much better than the others who were becoming more and more brutish, whereas this one had become more and more holy during the months which had intervened. And he said to his good son: “You will have the share of your brothers because, without being loved by anyone, you have become more just than they are.”
Was it not fair? It was. I solemnly tell you that those are true sons of God who, although rejected by the world, despised, hated, insulted, forsaken as if they were illegitimate children, considered a disgrace and calamity, know how to surpass the sons who grew up at home but rebelled against its laws. The fact that one comes from Israel does not entitle one to enter Heaven, neither is that destiny guaranteed by the fact that one is a Pharisee, a scribe or a doctor. It is necessary to have good will and follow the Doctrine of love generously, becoming new in it and children of God in spirit and truth through it. You, who are listening to Me, must bear in mind that many who feel safe in Israel will be supplanted by those whom they consider publicans, prostitutes, Gentiles, pagans and galley-slaves. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who can put new vigour and faith into their lives by accepting Truth and Love."
Jesus turns round and goes towards the group of sick proselytes. "Can you believe what I said?" He asks in a loud voice.
"Yes, Lord!" they reply in chorus.
"Do you want to accept Truth and Love?"
"If I gave you nothing but that, would you be satisfied?"
"Lord, You know what we need most. Give us Your peace and eternal Life above all."
"Stand up and go and praise the Lord! You are all cured in the holy Name of God."
And He quickly turns His steps towards the nearest gate, mingling in the crowds who have filled up Jerusalem, before the excitement and amazement in the Court of Pagans becomes a delirious search for Him.
The bewildered apostles lose sight of Him. Only Marjiam, who never let go the hem of His mantle, is running happily beside Him and says: "Thank You so much, Master! Thanks, on behalf of John! I wrote everything while You were speaking. I have only to add the miracle. Oh! It's wonderful! Just for him! It will make him so happy!..."