403. Little Michael and Preaching near Emmaus on the Plain.
28th March 1946.
Near the gate of Emmaus there is a house of peasants. It is silent, because they are all in the fields, working. The sheaves of the previous day are already piled up on the threshing-floor. And hay is heaped in rustic hay-lofts. A warm smell comes from the hay and the sheaves in the scorching midday sun. With the exception of the cooing of doves and the chirping of gossipy quarrelsome sparrows, no other noise can be heard. Both fly unrelentingly from the roof or the nearby trees to the piles of sheaves and hay and first among those who will enjoy those products, they peck the stiff ears, they deal one another blows with their wings, they struggle to snatch more seed or to steal the most tender blades of hay, like greedy unscrupulous warriors. They are the only thieves in Israel, where I noticed there is the greatest respect for other people's property. Houses may be left open and threshing-floors and vineyards unguarded! Apart from true robbers, the highwaymen who attack people in the gorges of mountains, there are no petty thieves, not even greedy people who would steal fruit or a little pigeon belonging to other people. Everybody goes his own way and also when they walk through their neighbour's property, they seem to have no eyes or hands. It is true that hospitality is so widely practised, that there is no need to steal in order to get something to eat. Only with regard to Jesus, and because hatred is so bitter as to compel people to neglect the age-old habit of being hospitable to pilgrims, only with regard to Him it happens that houses deny hospitality and food. But, generally speaking, they feel pity for other people, and the lower classes in particular do so.
Thus, after knocking at a door and not getting any answer, the apostles without any fear have taken shelter in a shed, where there are agricultural tools and empty pitchers and, as if everything belonged to them, they have taken some hay to sit on, some buckets to draw water from the well and pitchers to drink, and thus moisten the stale bread and cold lamb, which they eat almost in silence, as they are so sleepy and stupefied by the sun. And with the same freedom with which they used hay and pitchers, they lie down on the sweet-smelling hay and there is soon a snoring chorus varied in tone and duration.
Jesus also is tired. More than tired, He is sad. He looks for some time at the sleeping apostles. He is praying and thinking... He is thinking while His eyes follow mechanically the quarrelling sparrows and doves and the swallows darting over the sunny threshing-floor. The screams of those swift masters of flight seem to be resolute positive answers to the grievous questions that Jesus is asking Himself. Then He lies on the hay, too, and His sweet sad sapphire eyes are soon covered by His eyelids. And His face becomes motionless in sleep, and perhaps because He has fallen asleep with a heavy heart, His countenance is very much as tired and grievous as it will be at His death...
The peasants who own the house have come back: men, women and children. And the disciples seen previously are with them. They see Jesus and His apostles sleeping on the hay and their voices fade into whispers not to awake them. Some mothers smack their children who will not keep quiet, or they threaten to do so.
A little fellow, with the steps of a little dove and a finger in his mouth, approaches Jesus and watches Him - "He is the nicest" he says - while He sleeps with His head resting on His folded arm as on a pillow. And all the rest, barefooted, on the tips of their toes, end up by imitating him, Matthias and John being the first, and they are deeply moved seeing Him sleep on the hay and Matthias remarks: "As in His first sleep... He is now... our Master, but less happy than then... He misses His Mother also..."
"Yes, He does. Only persecution is always close to Him. But we will always love Him, we have always loved Him as we did then..." replies John.
"Even more, Matthias. Much more. Then we loved Him only out of faith and because it is pleasant to love a baby. But now we love Him also because we know Him..."
"He has been hated since He was a baby, John. Remember what they did in order to strike Him!..." and Matthias goes pale remembering.
"That is true... But blessed be that sorrow! We lost everything but Him. And that is what matters. What use would it have been to us if we still had relatives, our homes and our little properties, if He were dead?"
"That's true. You are right, Matthias. And of what avail will it be to us to have the whole world, when He will no longer be in the world?"
"Don't tell me... Then we shall really be forlorn... You may all go. We are staying here near the Master" says John dismissing the peasants.
"We are sorry that we never thought of giving them the key. They could have come in and have been more comfortable..." says the oldest man of the household.
"We will tell Him... But He will be happy also because of your love. Go now..."
The peasants go home and the smoke rising from the chimney tells everybody that they are preparing food. But they do so gracefully, checking the children, making little noise... and likewise, they noiselessly take the food to the disciples and whisper: "We have kept theirs aside... for when they awake."
Then silence envelops the house once again. Perhaps the reapers, who have worked since dawn, are lying on their beds to rest during these hours when it would be impossible to remain in the fields in the scorching sun. The disciples also are dozing... And doves and sparrows are also resting... Only the swallows keep darting indefatigably, and their swift flights write azure words in the sky and shadowy words on the white threshing-floor...
The little fellow seen a short time ago, who is now beautiful in his very short shirt, the only garment he has on in this torrid hour, puts his little dark head out of the kitchen door, watches closely, and comes forward cautiously with his tender little feet aching on the hot ground. His loose little shirt almost slips off his plump shoulders. He reaches the disciples and tries to step over them to go and look at Jesus once again. But his little legs are too short to get over the sturdy bodies of adults, and he stumbles falling on Matthias who awakes and sees the little face of the mortified child, ready to cry. He smiles and understanding the reason for the little fellow's manoeuvre, he says: "Come here, I will put you between Jesus and myself. But you must be silent and still. Let Him sleep, because He is tired."
And the child sits down happily, adoring Jesus' beautiful face. He looks at Him, studies Him, and is dying to caress Him and touch His golden hair. But Matthias is vigilant smiling and does not allow him. The child then asks in a low voice: "Does He always sleep like that?"
"Always like that" replies Matthias.
"Is He tired? Why?"
"Because He walks and talks so much."
"Why does He talk and walk?"
"To teach children to be good and to love the Lord to go to Heaven with Him."
"Up there? How does one do that? It's far..."
"Your soul, do you know what a soul is?"
"It is the nicest thing we have, and..."
"More than our eyes? My mummy says that my eyes are two stars. Stars are beautiful, you know?!"
The disciple smiles and replies: "It is more beautiful than the little stars of your eyes, because a good soul is more beautiful than the sun."
"Oh! Where is it? Where have I got it?"
"Here. In your little heart. And it hears and sees everything and it never dies. And when one is never bad and dies as a just person, one's soul flies up there, with the Lord."
"With Him?" and the child points at Jesus.
"But has He got a soul?"
"He has soul and divinity. Because that Man you are looking at is God."
"How do you know? Who told you?"
"The angels did."
The boy, who was sitting leaning on Matthias, cannot take in the news quietly, and he jumps to his feet asking: "Have you seen the angels?" and he looks at Matthias opening his big eyes wide. The news is so astonishing that he forgets Jesus for a moment and thus he does not see that He has half-opened His eyes, awakened by the boy's exclamation. Jesus closes His eyes once again smiling and turns His head round to the other side.
"Be quiet! See? You are waking Him up... I will send you away."
"I'll be good. But what are the angels like? When did you see them?" His voice is a whisper again.
And Matthias patiently tells the boy, who is sat again in an ecstasy on his chest, what happened on Christmas Night. And he patiently replies to all the boy's questions: "Why was He born in a stable? Had He no home? Was He so poor that He could not find a house? Has He got a house now? Has He no Mother? Where is His Mother? Why does She leave Him all alone, since She knows that they wanted to kill Him? Does She not love Him?..." A hail of questions and one of answers. And the last one - to which Matthias, replies: "His holy Mother loves Her Divine Son very much, but She makes a sacrifice of Her sorrow for letting Him go about, so that men may be saved. And to console Herself She considers that there are still good men capable of loving Him" - brings about this reply: "Does She not know that there are good children who love Him? Where is She? Tell me, because I will go and say to Her: “Do not weep. I will give all my love to Your Son.” What do you think? Will She be pleased?"
"So much, my child" says Matthias kissing him.
"And will He be glad?"
"Yes, very much. You will tell Him when He awakes."
"Oh! yes!... But when will He awake?" The boy is anxious...
Jesus can resist no longer. He turns round, with His eyes wide open and a bright smile, and He says: "You have already told Me, because I have heard everything. Come here, child."
Oh! the boy does not need to be told twice and he throws himself on Jesus, caressing and kissing Him, touching His forehead, His golden eyebrows and eyelids with his little finger, looking at himself in His blue eyes, rubbing himself against His soft beard and silky hair, repeating at each discovery: "How lovely You are! Lovely! Lovely!" Jesus and Matthias smile.
Then as the others wake up, because the boy is not so careful now about making too much noise, the disciples and apostles smile seeing such an accurate examination by the little man in the bud, half naked, plump, who moves blissfully up and down Jesus' body, scanning it from head to foot and ends up by saying: "Turn round!" and he explains why: "to see Your wings" and when he is disappointed he asks: "Why have You not got them.?"
"I am not an angel, My child."
"But You are God! How can You be God if You are not full of wings? How will You be able to go up to Heaven?"
"I am God. Just because I am God I do not need wings. I do what I want and I can do everything."
"Well, then, make my eyes like Yours. They are beautiful."
"No. I gave you the ones you have and I like them as they are. Ask Me, instead, to make your soul just, so that you can love Me more and more."
"You gave me that as well, so You must like it as it is" replies the little one with childish logic.
"Yes, I like it very much now because it is innocent. But while your eyes will always be the hue of ripe olives, your soul may change from white to black, if you are bad."
"No, not bad. I love You and I want to do what the angels said when You were born: “Peace to God in Heaven and glory to men of good will”" says the boy mistaking, which makes the adults guffaw, and the little fellow mortified becomes dumb.
But Jesus comforts him while correcting him: "God is always Peace, My child. He is the Peace. But the angels were giving Him glory because the Saviour was born and they were giving men the first rule to obtain the peace, which was to derive from My birth: “to have good will”. The one you want."
"Yes, give me it. Put it here where that man said that I have my soul" and with his forefingers he beats his little chest several times.
"Yes, My little friend. What is your name?"
"The name of the powerful Archangel. Well, I give good will to you, Michael. And may you be a confessor of the true God, saying to persecutors what your angelic patron said: “Who is like God?” May you be blessed now and always" and He imposes His hands on him.
But the little one is not convinced. He says: "No, kiss me here. On my soul. And Your blessing will go into it and will remain closed in it" and he uncovers his chest to be kissed without anything being interposed between his body and Jesus' divine lips.
All those who are present smile and are moved at the same time. And quite rightly! The wonderful faith of the innocent child, who has gone to Jesus, some may say by instinct, but I say: urged by his soul, is really touching, and Jesus points it out saying: "Eh! if everybody had the heart of a child!..."
Hours have gone by in the meanwhile. The house becomes busy again. The voices of women, children and men can be heard. And a mother calls: "Michael! Michael! Where are you?" and she appears at the door and with fear in her eyes she looks at the low well with a dreadful thought in her heart.
"Be not afraid, woman. Your son is with Me."
"Oh! I was afraid... He likes to play with water so much..."
"And in fact he came to the Living Water that descends from Heaven to give Life to men."
"He has troubled You... But he slipped away so silently that I did not hear him..." says the woman apologising.
"Oh! no! He has not disturbed Me. He comforted Me! Children never grieve Jesus."
Men and other women approach Jesus. The head of the family says: "Come in and take some food. And forgive us if we did not make You the master of our house the first moment we saw You..."
"I have nothing to forgive you. I have been very comfortable here. I feel honoured by your respect. We had food, and your well is cool and your hay soft. More than what is necessary for the Son of Man. I am not a Syrian satrap."
And Jesus followed by His apostles enters the wide kitchen to take some food while the men prepare the threshing-floor to make room for those who are already coming from all around to hear the Master, and others are busy preparing food and drinks and skinning a little lamb to be given to the evangelizers as provisions for their journey. Some women bring eggs and butter, which brings a protest from Peter who says rightly that butter cannot be carried in their haversacks as it would melt immediately in the heat. But jugs can be useful... And the women fill one with butter, which they cover and lower into the well to keep as cool as possible.
Jesus thanks them and would like to limit the offerings. Impossible! He wastes His breath. More presents arrive from everywhere and everyone apologises for giving so little...
Peter whispers: "It is well seen that the shepherds have been here. Reclaimed ground... good ground."
The threshing-floor is crowded with undaunted people although the day is still warm and the last rays of the sun shine on the floor.
Jesus begins to speak: "Peace be with you! I will not repeat what you already know, as I see that the doctrine of the Master of Israel is already known here, through the work of My good disciples. I leave to them the glory and the task of teaching you and of doing so more and more in order to make you perfectly certain that I am the One Promised by God, and that My Word is from God."
"And Your miracles are from God, may You be blessed!" shouts a woman from the middle of the crowd, and many turn round to look in her direction. The woman lifts up in her arms a ruddy smiling boy and shouts: "Master, this is little John whom You cured at the Clear Water. The little boy with fractured legs whom no doctor could cure and I brought to You with faith and You cured him and You held him in Your lap."
"I remember, woman. Your faith deserved the miracle."
"My faith has increased, Master. All my relatives believe in You. Go, son, and thank the Saviour. Let him go to Him..." begs the woman.
And the crowds part to let him through and he runs towards Jesus, his arms outstretched to embrace Him. And they embrace each other in the middle of the hosannas and comments of the townsfolk and of foreigners, because the country people are already aware of the fact and are not surprised.
Jesus resumes speaking holding the boy by the hand.
"And thus a grateful mother has confirmed My Nature and the power of faith in the heart of God, Who never disappoints the trustful just requests of His children.
I ask you to remember Judas Maccabee when he appeared on this plain to study the formidable encampment of Gorgias, which was five thousand foot and one thousand cavalry strong, all trained to battle, well protected by armour and weapons and war towers. Judas was watching with his three thousand men who had neither shields nor swords, and he could perceive fear insinuate itself into the hearts of his soldiers. He then spoke, strong of the right that was approved of by God, because it aimed not at abuse of power, but at defence of their invaded and desecrated Fatherland. And he said: “Do not be afraid of their numbers, and do not flinch at their attack. Remember how our ancestors were delivered at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh was pursuing them in force.” And after reviving their faith in the power of God, Who is always on the side of just people, he taught them how to obtain assistance. He said: “Now let us raise our voices to Heaven, and the Lord will have mercy on us, and remembering His covenant with our ancestors, He will destroy this army confronting us today, and all the nations will know for certain that there is a Saviour Who delivers Israel.”
Now, I will show you two capital points to have God with you, to assist you in just undertakings. The first: to have Him as your ally, you must have the upright souls of our ancestors. Remember the holiness and prompt obedience of the patriarchs to the Lord, whether the request was of little or great importance. Remember with what loyalty they remained faithful to the Lord. We complain bitterly in Israel that the Lord is no longer as benign to us as He was in the past. But has Israel the spirit of her ancestors? Who broke and repeatedly breaks off the alliance with the Father?
The second capital thing to have God with you: humility. Judas Maccabee was a great Israelite, he was a valiant soldier. But he does not say: “I will destroy that army today and the nations will know that I am the saviour of Israel.” No. He says: “And the Lord will destroy that army confronting us, because we are not able to do that, weak as we are.” Because God is a Father and He takes care of His little ones and to prevent them from perishing, He sends His powerful formations to fight the enemies of His children with superhuman weapons. When God is with us, who can defeat us? Always bear that in mind, now and even more in future, when they will endeavour to beat you, and not in matters of relative importance, such as a national battle, but in things of wider interest both in time and consequences, concerning your souls. Do not be overcome by dismay or pride. They are both harmful. God will be with you if you are persecuted because of My Name and He will give you strength in persecutions. God will be with you if you are humble, if you admit that by yourselves you can do nothing, whereas you can do everything if you are united to the Father.
Judas does not show off adorning himself with the title of Saviour of Israel. But he gives that title to the Eternal Father. In fact men busy themselves in vain, if God does not assist their efforts. Whereas he wins without bustling about, who trusts in the Lord, Who knows when it is right to reward people with victories, and when it is just to punish with defeats. Foolish is the man who wants to judge God, advising or criticising Him. Can you imagine an ant, which watching the work of a marble-cutter, should say: “You are no good at doing that. I could do better and quicker than you”? He who wants to teach God, cuts the same poor figure. And to his ridiculous figure he adds ingratitude and arrogance, forgetting what he is: a creature, and what God is: the Creator. Now if God created such a perfect creature, who may think that he can advise God Himself, what will the perfection of the Author of all creatures be like? That simple thought should be enough to abase pride, destroying that wicked satanic plant, the parasite which creeps into man's intellect and destroys it, and supplants, suffocates and kills every good tree, every virtue which makes man great on the Earth, really great, not because of great wealth or coronets, but because of justice and supernatural wisdom, and makes him happy in Heaven forever and ever.
And let us consider another good piece of advice given to us by the great Judas Maccabee and by the events of that day in this plain. When they joined battle, Judas' troops, with whom God was, defeated and routed their enemies, pursuing some as far as Gezer, Azotus, Idumaea and Jamnia, as history tells us, and killing some by the sword, leaving over three thousand men dead in the fields. But Judas said to his warriors excited with the victory: “Never mind the booty, for we have another battle ahead of us. Gorgias and his forces are in the mountains not far from us. We must go on fighting against our enemies and defeat them completely and then we can collect the booty at leisure.” And they did so. And they won a great victory and they carried off rich booty, and they returned chanting praises to God because “He is good, and His mercy is everlasting.”
Man also, every man, is like the fields around the holy city of the Judaeans. He is surrounded by external and internal enemies, who are all cruel and anxious to join battle with the holy city of each man: that is, with his soul, and to do so all of a sudden, to take it by surprise by means of numberless tricks and destroy it. Passions, which Satan cultivates and instigates, and which man does not watch with all his will to check, as they are dangerous if one does not bridle them, whereas they are harmless if one keeps a check on them as on a robber enchained, and the world that from outside conspires with passions through the allurements of the flesh, of wealth, of pride, are very much like the powerful armies of Gorgias, armoured, equipped with war towers, skilled bowmen, fast cavalrymen, always ready to attack under Evil's orders. But what can Evil do if God is with the man who wants to be just? Man may suffer and be wounded, but his freedom and life will be saved and he will enjoy victory after the good battle. But that does not happen once only, but it happens again and again as long as life lasts, or until man divests himself of his humanity and becomes spirit more than body, a spirit so united to God that arrows, bites, the fire of war can no longer injure him severely, and they fall after striking him superficially, as a drop of water falls on a hard brilliant jasper.
Do not stop to plunder, do not divert your attention, until you are on the threshold of life, not of this life on the Earth, but of the true Life in Heaven. Then, having won, you can carry off your booty and go in, and move forward, gloriously, before the King of kings and say: “I have won. Here is my booty. I collected it with Your help and my good will and I bless You, Lord, because You are good and Your mercy is everlasting.”
This applies to everybody in general. But for you who believe in Me there is another battle lying in wait. Nay, several battles. The battle against doubt. The battle against the words you will be told. And the battle against persecutions. I am about to be raised to the place, for which I came from Heaven. That place will frighten you, and will seem to disprove My words. No. Look at the event with spiritual eyes. And you will see that what happens is the confirmation of what I really am. Not the poor king of a poor kingdom. But the King foretold by the prophets, to the foot of Whose only immortal throne, all the nations of the Earth will come, as rivers flow to the ocean, and will say: “We worship You, King of kings and eternal Judge, because through Your holy Sacrifice You have redeemed the world.”
Resist doubt. I do not lie. I am He of Whom the prophets speak. Like John's mother a little while ago, raise the remembrance of what I have done for you, and say: “These deeds come from God. He left them with us in memory, as confirmation and assistance to believe, and believe in this very hour.” Fight and you will win against doubt that chokes the breath of souls. Fight against the words that you will be told. Remember the prophets and My works. And reply to hostile words with the prophets and the miracles, which you have seen Me work. Be not afraid. And do not be ungrateful out of fear, being silent about what I have done for you. Fight against persecutions. But do not fight by persecuting your persecutors, but by making a heroic confession to those who, with threats of death, will try to convince you to deny Me. Always fight against all your enemies. Against your humanity, your fears, unworthy compromises, utilitarian alliances, pressure, threats, torture, death.
Death! I am not a leader who says to his people: “Suffer for Me, while I have a good time.” No. I am the first to suffer to set the example for you. I am not the commander of armies who says to his soldiers: “Fight to defend Me. Die to save My life.” No. I am the first to fight. I will be the first to die, to teach you how to die. As I have always done what I told people to do, and preaching poverty, continence, moderation, justice, forgiveness, I have remained poor, chaste, moderate, just, and I have forgiven and will forgive; as I have done all that, I will do the last thing. I will teach you how to redeem. I will teach you not by words, but by deeds. I will teach you to obey, by obeying the hardest obedience: the obedience of My death.
I will teach you to forgive, forgiving in My last torture, as on the straw of My cradle I forgave Mankind for tearing Me from Heaven. I will forgive as I have always forgiven. Everybody. Everybody as far as I am concerned. I will forgive My little enemies, the inert, indifferent, changeable, and My big enemies, who not only grieve Me by being apathetic to My power and desire to save them, but they deeply distress and will distress Me by being deicides. But I will forgive. And as I will not be able to absolve unrepentant deicides, I will still pray, in My final distress, the Father for them... that He may forgive them... as they are intoxicated with a satanic liqueur... I will forgive... And I ask you to forgive in My name. And love. Love as I love, as I love you and will love you forever. Goodbye. It is growing dark. Let us pray together, and then you may all go back to your homes with the words of the Lord in your hearts, and may they become well-shaped ears of corn for your future hunger, when you will be wishing to hear again your Friend, the Master, your Saviour, and only by elevating your souls to Heaven you will be able to find Him Who loved you more than Himself.
Our Father Who are in Heaven..." and Jesus, with outstretched arms, like a majestic white cross against the dark wall of the northern facade, says the Our Father slowly.
He then blesses with the Mosaic blessing. He kisses the children and blesses them once again. He takes leave and goes northwards, going round the townwalls of Emmaus, without entering the town. The violet hues of twilight slowly absorb the gentle vision of Jesus, Who proceeds more and more towards His destiny.
In the half-dark yard there is the silence of sorrowful peace... Almost of expectation. Then the weeping of little Michael, like the plaintive bleating of a little lamb which is all alone, breaks the spell and tears well up in many eyes while many lips repeat the innocent words of the little boy: "Oh! Why has He gone away? Come back! Come back!... Lord, make Him come back!" And when Jesus disappears completely, there is the desolate ascertainment of reality: "Jesus is no longer here!" In vain his mother tries to comfort little Michael, who is weeping as if he had lost more than his mother, and from her arms he cannot take his eyes off the spot where Jesus disappeared and with his arms outstretched he calls: "Jesus! Jesus!"
... Jesus waits to be at a little distance, then He says: "We shall go to Joppa. The disciples have worked hard there and the people are awaiting the word of the Lord."
There is not much enthusiasm for the proposed further prolongation of the road, but Simon Zealot points out that it is a quick journey and on a good road from Joppa to the estates of Nicodemus and Joseph, and John is happy to be going towards the sea. And the others, convinced by such considerations, end up by going more willingly along the road that takes to the sea.
Jesus says: "You will put here the vision of September 20th 1944: “Jesus and the Gentiles in a seaside-town”, which you will entitle: “At Joppa Jesus speaks to Judas of Kerioth and to some Gentiles”, because the episode took place there after a day of miracles and preaching."