372. Preparation Day. At the Temple.
31st January 1946.
Jesus enters the Temple. And from His very first steps in it one easily understands the evil disposition of minds towards the Nazarene. They leer at Him and give orders to the Temple guards to watch "the disturber", and they give them in public, so that everybody may hear and see; they shout coarse scornful words at those who are with Him and deliberately push the apostles...
In short their hatred is such that the manners of the wonderful Pharisees, scribes and doctors are coarse beyond comprehension and they do not realise, blinded as they are with malice, that their behaviour disgraces them also as human beings. Jesus passes by calmly as if their attitude did not concern Him! And whenever He sees any important person who either by sacred rank or power belongs to the "ruling" class of the Jewish world, He is the first to greet him. And if that person does not greet in return, Jesus does not change His attitude. When He looks away from such proud people and He sees one or more of the many humble people around Him, His face brightens with a very gentle smile. And there are many of the beggars and sick people whom He gathered together yesterday and who, through their unexpected good luck, are now in a position to celebrate Passover as perhaps they had not done for years, and who have spontaneously formed groups and are now going to buy the lambs to be sacrificed, and the poor wretches look so happy as they are now just like everybody else, both with regard to their clothes and their means. And He stops and kindly listens to them, to their resolutions, to their amazing stories, to their blessings... Old people, children, widows, people sick yesterday: now cured; miserable, ragged, starving, forlorn yesterday: today clad and happy to be like all other men in the days of the great Feast of the Unleavened Bread!
Jesus is greeted, accompanied and followed by a variety of voices, from the silvery ones of children to the trembling voices of old people and between those two extremes there are the timid voices of women. Kisses rain upon His garments and His hands. And Jesus smiles and blesses whilst His enemies, who are as livid with anger as He is bright with peace, chafe with powerless rage. I hear scraps of conversation...
"You are right! But if we lifted a finger, they (and a Pharisee points at the people pressing round Jesus) would tear us to pieces."...
"Just imagine! He gathered us together, He fed us, He gave us clothes and cured us, and many have found work and help through His rich disciples. But in actual fact, everything came from Him, may God always save Him!" says a man, who probably yesterday was ill and a beggar.
... "No wonder! That is how the rebel bribes people, and stirs them against us" says a scribe threateningly, speaking to a colleague.
"One of His disciples took my name and she told me to go to her after Passover, because she will take me to her property at Bether. Do you realise what that means? She will be taking me and my children. So I will be working. It is a pleasure to work when one is protected and safe. And my Levi will not break his back working in the fields. The lady who is taking us on will employ him in the rose-gardens... It will be a pastime, I say! Ah! May the Eternal Father grant glory and welfare to His Messiah!" says the widow from the plain of Sharron to a well to do Israelite woman, who was questioning her.
"Oh! and could I not help?... Are you all settled, you who were gathered together yesterday?" asks the wealthy Israelite.
"No, we are not, woman. There are still some widows with children and some men."
"I would like to ask Him whether He will allow me to help Him."
"I dare not."
"Go, Levi and tell Him that a woman wishes to speak to Him..."
The boy runs away and informs Jesus.
In the meantime a Sadducee ill-treats an old man who is lecturing in the middle of a crowd from beyond the Jordan and is singing the praises of the Master of Galilee.
The old man defends himself saying: "Am I doing anything wrong? Did you want to be praised? All you had to do was do what He does. But you, may God forgive you, you despise poverty and old age, instead of loving them, because you are a false Israelite, as you do not respect Deuteronomy by having mercy on the poor."
"Do you hear that? That is the result of the doctrine of the instigator! He teaches common people to offend the saints of Israel."
A priest of the Temple replies to him: "But it is our fault, if that happens! We do nothing but utter threats, without carrying them out!"
... Jesus in the meantime says to the woman of Israel: "If you really want to be a mother to orphans and a sister to widows, go to Chuza's palace at the Sixtus. Tell Johanna that I have sent you. And may the ground be as fruitful to you as Eden, because of your pity. And may your heart be more fruitful in a deeper and deeper love for your neighbour."
At the same time He sees the guards drag the old man who had spoken previously. He shouts:"What are you doing to the old man? And what has he done?"
"He insulted the officials who were reprimanding him."
"That is not true. A Sadducee maltreated me because I was speaking of You to those pilgrims. And as he lifted his hand against me, because I am old and poor, I told him that he is a false Israelite who tramples on the words of Deuteronomy."
"Set the old man free. He is with Me. He spoke the truth. Not sincerity: the Truth. If God speaks through the lips of children, He speaks also through the lips of old people. It is written: “Do not despise a man in his old age, because those who have grown old belong to us.” It is also written: “Do not ignore the talk of the wise, be conversant with their proverbs, since from these you will learn wisdom and the theory of intelligence”, and also: “Do not be talkative where there are old men.” Let Israel remember that, that part of Israel which says that it is perfect, otherwise the Most High will give the lie to it. Father, come here beside Me."
The old man approaches Jesus, while the Sadducees, impressed by the reproach, go away angrily. "I am a Jewess of the Diaspora, o expected King. Could I serve you like that woman whom You sent to Johanna?" says a woman, who is very much like that one, named Nicky, who wiped Jesus' face on Golgotha and received the Towel. But Jewesses are very much alike and after many months after that vision, I might be wrong.
Jesus looks at her. He sees a woman about forty years old, well dressed, of frank manner. He asks her: "You are a widow, are you not?"
"Yes, I am. And I have no children. I came back recently and I bought some land at Jericho, to be close to the Holy City. But now I see that You are greater than it is. And I will follow You. And I beg You to accept me as Your servant. I heard of You from Your disciples, but You exceed what they told me."
"All right. But what do you want exactly?"
"To help You with the poor people and make people love You and know You, as best I can. I know many people in the colonies of the Diaspora, as I used to follow my husband in his business. I have means, but I need little for myself. So I can do quite a lot. And I am anxious to do much for Your sake and to pray for the soul of him who married me twenty years ago and who was my loving companion until he breathed his last. He told me when he was dying. He seemed to prophesy: “When I am dead, deliver this flesh of mine, which loved you, to the tomb and go back to our country. You will find the Promised One. Oh! You will see Him! Look for Him and follow Him. He is the Redeemer and the Reviver and He will open the door of Life to me. Be kind and help me to be ready when He will open Heaven to those who have no debts with Justice and be good in order to deserve to meet Him soon. Swear that you will do so and that you will turn the unfruitful tears of widowhood into active strength. Follow the example of Judith, my darling, and all the nations will know your name.” My poor husband! I ask You only to take cognizance of me..."
"I will know you as a good disciple. You may go to Johanna as well and may God be with you."
... As busy as bees Jesus' enemies attack Him once again while He is making His way to the enclosure of the Temple, after He has sacrificed His lamb and has waited for those of the disciples to be sacrificed, in order to have enough for everybody.
"When are You going to stop posing as a king? You are not a king! And You are not a prophet! How long do You intend to trespass on our kindness, You sinner, rebel and cause of evil to Israel? How many times have we to tell You that You have no right to act as a Rabbi in here?"
"I came to sacrifice a lamb. You cannot forbid that. In any case I would remind you of Adonijah and Solomon."
"What have they got to do with it? What do You mean? Are You Adonijah?"
"No. Adonijah made himself king by fraud, but Wisdom was watching and advising, and Solomon only became king. I am not Adonijah. I am Solomon."
"And who is Adonijah?"
"All of you."
"We? How can You say that?"
"With truth and justice."
"We comply with the Law, with every point of it, we believe in the prophets and..."
"No. You do not believe in the prophets. They mention Me, but you do not believe in Me. You do not comply with the Law. It prescribes just deeds, which you do not do. Even the offerings, which you come here to make, are not honest. It is written: “The sacrifice of an offering unjustly acquired is a mockery.” It is written: “The Most High takes no pleasure in offerings from wicked people, He pays no attention to their offerings, multiplying sacrifices will not gain His pardon for sin.” It is written: “Offering sacrifice from the property of the poor is as bad as slaughtering a son before his father's very eyes.” That is what is written, Johanan! It is written: “A meagre diet is the very life of the poor, he who withholds it is a man of blood.” That is what is written, Ishmael! It is written: “A man murders his neighbour if he robs him of his livelihood.” That is what is written, o Doras son of Doras. It is written: “He who sheds blood and he who withholds an employee's wages are brothers.” That is what is written, o Johanan, Ishmael, Hananiah, Doras, Jonathan. And remember that it is also written: “Whoever turns a deaf ear to the cries of the poor, will cry too, but he will not be listened to.” And you, Eleazar ben Annas, remember and remind your father that it is written: “Let My priests be holy, they must not allow themselves to be contaminated for any reason whatsoever.” And you, Cornelius, had better know that it is written: “Anyone who curses father and mother, must die”, and death is given not only by the executioner. A more severe death awaits those who sin against their parents: the eternal dreadful death. And you, Tolme', remember that it is written: “He who practises magic, will be exterminated by Me.” And you, Sadoc, golden scribe, remember that between an adulterer and his procurer of adultery there is no difference in the eyes of God and that it is written that he who swears falsehood will be devoured by everlasting flames. And tell him, who has forgotten it, that he who marries a virgin and when he is satiated with her, he rejects her with false accusations, is to be condemned. Oh! not in this world. In future life, because of his deceit, his perjury, the damage caused to his wife and his adultery. What? Are you all running away? Before the Defenceless One Who is speaking words that are not His own, but belong to those whom you declare to be the saints of Israel, thus you cannot say that the Defenceless One is a blasphemer, because if you did, you would call blasphemers the Books of Wisdom and those of Moses, which were dictated by God? Are you fleeing from the Defenceless One? Are perhaps My words stones? Or are they rousing your consciences by striking the hard bronze of your hardened hearts, and your consciences feel that it is their duty to become purified, not only in your bodies, in this Preparation Day, so that you may consume the holy lamb without any sin of impurity? Oh! if it is so, praised be the Lord! Because, since you wish to be praised as wise men, remember that it is true wisdom to know oneself, to confess one's errors, to repent and thus celebrate the rites with “true” devotion. That is, with the cult and rite of your souls, and not with an external cult... They have gone! Let us go as well to give peace to those who are waiting for us..."