399. Jesus at Bether with Peter and Bartholomew.
13th March 1946.
Jesus is walking through the rose thickets where the gatherers are busy. He has thus the opportunity of speaking to this person and that one, and also to the widow, whom Johanna charitably employed as a servant at Passover, after the poor people's banquet. Her children are also there and they now look better. Thriving and serene they are working happily, each according to his own ability, while the younger ones, who cannot yet tell one rose from another or choose them according to their shades and freshness, are playing with other little children in the quietest places and their chattering mingles with the chirruping of nestlings greeting from tree branches the return of their parents with beakfuls of food.
Jesus turns His steps towards these little ones, bending over them, caressing them, settling little quarrels and lifting up those who have fallen and are whimpering, as they have dirtied themselves with earth or have scratched their hands or faces on the ground. And tears, quarrels, jealousies subside at once under the caresses and the words spoken by the Innocent One to innocents, and the cause of the quarrel or of the fall, that is a golden scarab, a coloured or shiny little stone, a flower... becomes an offer made to Jesus, Who has hands and belt full of them and Who, without being noticed, puts scarabs and ladybirds on the leaves of plants releasing them.
How many times I have now noticed Jesus' perfect tact towards little ones, in order not to mortify and disappoint them! With fascinating art He knows how to improve them and He makes Himself loved with what is apparently a mere trifle, but is instead the perfection of love adapted to the smallness of children... and to me.
Oh! He has always treated me as a "baby" to improve my misery, to make Himself loved! Afterwards, when I loved Him with my whole self, He treated me with a heavy hand, as an adult, turning a deaf ear to my entreaties: "Can You not see that I am a good-for-nothing?" He smiled and compelled me to perform the work of adults... Oh! only when poor Mary is thoroughly distressed, He becomes once again the Jesus of children for my poor soul, which is so incapable, and He is pleased with... my scarabs, little stones... flowers... with what I can give Him... and He makes me understand that He finds that they are lovely... and that He loves me because I am "a nonentity that relies on and is lost in The Infinite."
My dear Jesus! Loved, madly loved! Loved with my whole self! Yes, I can declare it! On the eve of my forty-ninth birthday, on the eve of men's judgement on my work as mouthpiece, if I examine myself carefully, if I diligently search my spirit and my whole self to decipher the true words that are in me, I can now say that I love God, I realise that I love my God with my whole self. It took me forty-eight years to get to this total love, so total as not to have one thought of personal fear in the prevision of a condemnation, as I only worried about the repercussions such conviction might have in the souls that were led to God by me, and are convinced that they were redeemed by Jesus living in me, and would break off from the Church, the link joining mankind to God. Some people may say: "Are you not ashamed of having taken such a long time?" No, not in the least. I was so weak, such a mere nothing, that it took me all that time. In any case I am convinced that it took me exactly the time that Jesus wanted. Not one minute more, not one less; because I can say this: since I began to understand what is God, I have never refused God anything. Since the time, when I a four-year-old girl − felt Him to be so omnipresent that I believed Him to be even in the wood of the back of the chair on which I sat and I apologised to Him for turning my back on Him and leaning on Him; since the time when − still a four year-old girl − even in my sleep I pondered how our sins had wounded and killed Him, and I would stand up on my bed, in my long night-gown, and without looking at any holy picture, but addressing my beloved Jesus killed on our behalf, I would implore Him: "Not I! Not I! Let me die but don't tell me that I wounded You!" And my heart rose...
You are aware, o my Love, of my fervent emotions. You are acquainted with every one of them... You know that a simple hint of a proposal of Yours was accepted at once by Your Mary. Even if You proposed that I should give You the love of a sweetheart nay just then, at Christmas in 1921, my love for You was confirmed − or the love of relatives, or my life, health, wealth... and that I should become more and more a "nonentity" in social life, a piece of wreckage looked upon with pity or derision by the world, one that cannot take a glass of water by herself if she is thirsty and there is no one who hands it to her, one nailed like You, yes like You, and as I have so eagerly wished to be, and as I would like to become immediately once again, if You should cure me.
Everything! The nonentity has given everything, her whole being as a creature... Well, even now, yes even now, when I may be judged badly and interdicted and I may be struck, what shall I say to You? "Remain with me, You and Your Grace. All the rest is nothing. I only beg You not to deprive me of Your love and not to allow those, whom I brought to You, to fall back into darkness."
But where have I gone, o my Sun, while You are walking around the rose thickets? Where my heart, that has made an effort of love for You, leads me. And it throbs and inflames the blood in my veins. And people will say: "She has a temperature and is suffering from palpitations." No. The fact is that this morning You are rushing into me with the strength of a divine hurricane of love, and I... and I vanish in You as You pervade me, and I no longer think straight as a human creature, but I experience what it must be to live as seraphim... and I am inflamed and delirious and I love You, I love You, I love You. Have pity, in Your love! Have pity, if You want me to live on and serve You, o most divine eternal Love, o most sweet Love, o Love of Heaven and of Creation, God, God, God... No! Do not have pity! Even more love! Even more! To the extent of death on the stake of love! Let us melt into each other! Let us love each other! That we may be in the Father, as You said praying for us: "Let those who love Me be where We are. One thing only." One thing only! That is one of the words of the Gospel that have always made me sink into an abyss of loving adoration. What You asked for us, o my Divine Master and Redeemer! What You asked, o my Divine Master, mad in love! That we may be one only with You, with the Father, with the Holy Spirit, because who is in One is in the Three, o inseparable and yet free Trinity of the God One and Trine! Blessed! Blessed! Blessed with each throb and breathing of mine!...
But let us go back to the vision since... I now see Peter coming forward with so rapid a step that his garments flutter like a sail swollen by the wind. He is followed by Bartholomew who is proceeding more calmly. Peter arrives unexpectedly behind Jesus, Who is bent fondling some sucklings, the children of the gatherers, lying on folding seats in the shade of trees. "Master!"
"Simon! How come you are here? And you, too, Bartholomew? You were to leave tomorrow evening, after the sunset of the Sabbath..."
"Master, do not reproach us... Listen to us first."
"I will listen to you. And I do not reproach you because I believe that you must have a grave reason for disobeying. But reassure Me that none of you is ill or hurt."
"No, no, Lord. No harm befell us" Bartholomew hastens to add.
But Peter, always sincere and impulsive, states: "H'm! As far as I am concerned, it would have been better if each of us had broken legs, or even if our heads were injured, rather than..."
"But what happened?"
"Master, we thought that it was better to come to put an end to... "
Bartholomew is saying, when Peter interrupts him: "Hurry up in telling Him!"
And he concludes: "Judas has become a demon since You left. We could no longer speak or reason. He has quarrelled with everybody... And he has scandalised all the servants of Eliza and other people as well..."
"Perhaps he has become jealous because You took Simon with You..." says Bartholomew apologetically, when he sees that Jesus' countenance has become very severe.
"Nonsense! What jealousy?! Stop excusing him!... Or I will start quarrelling with you to give vent to my feelings, since I did not brawl with him... Because, Master, I succeeded in being quiet! Just imagine! Quiet! To obey You and for Your sake... What an effort! Well. When Judas went away slamming the door, we consulted with one another... and we thought it was better to leave in order to put an end to the scandal in Bethzur and... to avoid boxing his ears... And Bartholomew and I left at once. I asked the others to let me go at once, before he came back... because... because I felt that I could not control myself any longer... Well. I have told You. You can now reproach me if You think that I made a mistake."
"You have done the right thing. You have all done the right thing."
"Also Judas? Oh! no, my Lord! Don't say that! He made a deplorable spectacle of himself!"
"No. He did not do the right thing. But it is not for you to judge him."
"No, Lord..." His "no" is uttered with great difficulty.
There is a moment's silence. Then Peter asks: "But will You at least tell me why Judas has become thus all of a sudden? He seemed to have become so good! Everything was so pleasant! I said prayers and made sacrifices that it might last... Because I cannot see You depressed. And You are distressed when we misbehave... And since the feast of the Dedication I know that even the sacrifice of a spoonful of honey is of great value... A disciple, the youngest disciple, a poor boy, had to teach this truth to me, Your stupid apostle. But I did not neglect it. Because I saw its fruit. Because I also, although a blockhead, have understood something through the light of Wisdom that bent benignly over me, touching me, a coarse fisherman, a sinner. I have understood that we must love You not only with words, but by saving souls with our sacrifice, in order to give You joy, and not see You as You are now, as You were at Shebat. You are so pale and sad, my Master and Lord, Whom we are not worthy to have, Whom we do not understand, as we are worms near You, the Son of God, we are mud near You, the Star, we are darkness, You are Light. But it was of no avail! It is true! My poor offerings... so poor... so badly made... What purpose could they serve? It was pride on my part to believe that they might serve... Forgive me. But I gave You what I had. I offered myself to give You what I have. And I thought that I was justified, because I love You, my God, with all myself, with all my heart, and with all my soul, with all my strength, as it is written. And now I understand also this and I also say what John, our angel, always says, and I beg You (and he kneels at Jesus' feet) to increase Your love in Your poor Simon, so that my love may increase for You, my God." And Peter prostrates himself to kiss Jesus' feet, and remains thus.
Bartholomew, who has been listening admiring and assenting, imitates him.
"Stand up, My friends. My love grows deeper and deeper in you and will grow more and more. And may you be blessed because of your hearts. When are the others coming?"
"Very well. Also Johanna, Eliza and Chuza will come back before sunset. We shall spend the Sabbath here, and then we shall leave."
"Yes, my Lord. But why did Johanna send for You so urgently? Could she not have waited? It had been arranged for us to come here! Through her imprudence she has caused all this trouble!..."
"Do not reproach her, Simon of Jonah. She acted out of prudence and love. She sent for Me because there were souls to be confirmed in their good will."
"Ah! In that case I will say no more... But, my Lord, why has Judas changed so much?"
"Forget about it! Enjoy this Eden, so full of flowers and peace. Enjoy your Lord. Leave and forget about humanity in all its worse forms, in its attacks against the soul of your poor companion. Remember only to pray for him... very hard.
Come. Let us go to those little ones who are looking at us full of amazement. I was speaking to them of God, a little while ago, from soul to soul, with love, and I was talking to the bigger ones through the beautiful things of God..." And He embraces the waists of His two apostles and turns His steps towards a group of children waiting for Him.