409. The Miraculous Gleaning in the Plain.
27th September 1944.
Jesus is passing with His apostles through a country completely golden with crops. Although early morning it is very warm. The reapers are mowing along furrows thick with ears, making empty spaces among the golden grain. The sickles shine for a moment in the sun, they disappear among the tall ears, they reappear for a moment on the other side and the sheaf bends and lies down on the earth warmed by the sun, as if it were tired of standing up for so many months. Some women follow the reapers, tying the sheaves. The whole country is busy at this work. The harvest has been very good and the reapers are overjoyed.
Many men, when they are near the road along which the apostolic group passes, stop working for a moment leaning on their scythes and wiping their perspiration and they look... The women binding the sheaves do the same. In their light clothes, their heads covered with a white cloth, they look like flowers emerging from the earth deprived of the corn: poppies, cornflowers, daisies. The men, in short grey or yellowish tunics, are not so showy. The only light article they wear is a piece of cloth tied to their heads with a cord and hanging over their necks and cheeks. Their tanned faces, framed by the white cloth, seem ever darker.
When Jesus sees that they are looking at Him, He passes greeting: "The peace and blessing of God be with you" and the others reply: "May the blessing of God come back to You" or more simply: "Also with You."
Some who are more talkative, interest Jesus in the harvest saying: "It is very good this year. Look at these well-shaped ears and see how thick they are in the furrows. It is hard work to cut them. But it's bread!..."
"Be grateful to the Lord. And you know that one must show one's gratitude not by words, but by deeds. Be merciful in your harvest, thinking of the Most High Who mercifully granted dew and sunshine to your fields, so that you might have a plentiful crop. Remember the precept of Deuteronomy. When harvesting the wealth given to you by God, think of those who have none, and leave them some of yours. It is a holy prevarication as it is charity for your neighbour and God sees it. It is better to be willing to give than greedy in gathering. God blesses generous people. There is more happiness in giving than in receiving, because it compels God, Who is just, to give a more abundant reward to him who was compassionate." Jesus passes repeating His advice of love.
The sun becomes warmer. The reapers stop working and those who are near their houses go back to them, those who are far from them gather in the shade of trees and they rest, eat and doze there.
Jesus also takes shelter in a thicket in the middle of the country and sitting on the grass, after praying and offering their frugal food, consisting of bread, cheese and olives, He hands out the portions and eats talking to His apostles. There is shade, coolness and perfect silence. The silence of sunny hours in summer. A silence inviting one to sleep. Most of them, in fact, are dozing after eating. Jesus is not dozing. He is resting leaning with His back against a tree, and He takes an interest in insects working on flowers.
At a certain moment He beckons to John, Judas Iscariot and to one of the older apostles, whom He calls Bartholomew, and when they are close to Him, He says: "Just watch the work this little insect is doing. Look. I have been watching it for some time. It wants to take from this chalice, which is so tiny, the honey that fills the bottom part of it, and as it cannot get into it, look: it stretches out first one little leg and then the other one, it dips them into the honey and then feeds on it. It has almost emptied it. See what a wonderful thing is God's Providence! Not ignoring that without certain organs the olive-green insect, created to fly over green meadows, would not be able to nourish itself, Providence gifted it with tiny hairs along its legs. Can you see them? Can you, Bartholomew? No? Look. I will now catch it and show it to you against the light", and He delicately takes the scarab, which looks like burnished gold, and lays it upside-down on the back of His hand.
The scarab pretends to be dead and the three examine its tiny legs. Then the insect begins to kick its legs about, in order to run away. It does not succeed, of course, but Jesus helps it and stands it on its legs. The little creature walks on the palm of Jesus' hand, as far as His finger-tips, it dangles and opens its wings. But it is distrustful. "It does not know that I want nothing but the welfare of every being. It has only its little instinct, which is perfect if compared with its nature, and sufficient to all its needs. But it is so inferior to human thought. An insect, therefore, is not responsible if it does anything wrong. Man is, because he has within himself a superior light of intelligence, which will be greater the more he is indoctrinated in the things of God. And consequently he is responsible for his actions."
"So, Master, since we are taught by You, have we a heavy responsibility?" asks Bartholomew.
"Yes, very heavy. And it will be even heavier in future when the Sacrifice is accomplished, and Redemption has come together with Grace, which is strength and light. And after it, One will come Who will make you understand willpower even better. And he who does not want that, will be held responsible."
"Very few only, then, will be saved!"
"Because man is so weak!"
"But if he fortifies his weakness by trusting Me, he becomes strong. Do you think that I am not aware of your struggles? See? Satan is like that spider that is laying its snare from that tiny branch to this stem. It is so thin and treacherous! Look how that cobweb shines. It looks like the silver of impalpable filigree. It will be invisible at night and at dawn, tomorrow, it will shine with gems, and imprudent flies, which roam at night looking for unclean food, will fall into it, as well as light butterflies, which are attracted by what shines..."
The apostles have approached the Master and are listening to the lesson taken from the vegetable and animal kingdoms.
"... Well, My love does, with regard to Satan, what My hand is doing now. It destroys the cobweb. Look how the spider runs away and hides. It is afraid of what is stronger. Satan also is afraid of what is stronger. And what is stronger is Love."
"Would it not be better to destroy the spider?" asks Peter, who is very practical in his conclusions.
"It would be better. But the spider is doing its duty. It is true that it kills the poor little butterflies, which are so beautiful, but it exterminates a large number of filthy flies, which carry diseases and infection from sick to healthy people, from corpses to living persons."
"But in our case what does the spider do?"
"What does it do, Simon? (Simon also is an elderly man and is the one who was complaining of rheumatism). It does what your good will does. It destroys tepidity, apathy, vain conceit. It compels you to be vigilant. What makes you worthy of prize? Struggle and victory. Can you win if you do not fight? The presence of Satan compels continuous vigilance. Love, then, Who loves you, makes his presence not necessarily harmful. If you keep close to Love, Satan will tempt but he will be rendered unable to cause real damage."
"Always. In great and little things. For instance, a little thing: he in vain advises you to take care of your health. A treacherous piece of advice to try to take you away from Me. But Love holds you tightly, Simon, and your pains become of no importance even in your eyes."
"Oh! Lord! You know?..."
"Yes, I do. But do not lose heart. Cheer up! Love, Who is the first to smile at your human nature trembling because of its rheumatism, will give you so much courage..." Jesus laughs at His embarrassed apostle and clasps him in His arms to comfort him. Even when laughing He is full of dignity. The others also laugh. "Who is coming to help that poor old woman?" says Jesus pointing at a little old woman who, defying the great heat, is gleaning in the fields already reaped. "I" reply John, Thomas and James.
But Peter takes John by the sleeve and pulling him a little aside, says to him: "Ask the Master what is making Him so happy. I asked Him but all He said to me was: “My happiness is in seeing that a soul is looking for the Light.” But if you ask Him... He tells you everything."
John is in a state of uncertainty, drawn one way by reservedness and another by desire to know and to please Peter. He slowly joins Jesus Who is already gleaning in the field. The old woman, seeing so many young people, makes a desolate gesture and busies herself endeavouring to work faster.
"Woman! Woman!" cries Jesus. "I will glean for you. Do not stand in the sun, mother. I am coming."
The little old woman, dumbfounded at so much kindness, stares at Him, she then obeys and stooping and trembling a little all over her lean body she moves towards the thin strip of shade along the edge of the field. Jesus moves about quickly gathering ears. John follows Him close at hand. Thomas and James are a little farther away.
"Master" says John panting. "How come You find so many ears? In the adjoining furrow I find so few!"
Jesus smiles but does not speak. I could not swear to it, but I think that ears, which have been cut but not picked up, spring up wherever Jesus' divine eyes rest. He gathers them and smiles. He has a big bunch of ears in His arms. "Take Mine, John. So you will have many as well and the little mother will be happy."
"But, Master... You are working a miracle? It is not possible for You to find so many!"
"Hush! It's for the little mother... thinking of your mother and Mine. Look, what a little old soul she is!... Good God, Who feeds new-born little birds, wants to fill the tiny granary of this grandmother. She will have bread for the months she has still left. She will not see the next harvest. But I do not want her to starve during her last winter. You will now hear her exclamations, John, be ready to have your ears rent, as I will be ready to be washed by her tears and kisses..."
"How cheerful You have been for some days, Jesus! Why?"
"Do you want to know or has someone sent you?"
John, already flushed with fatigue, becomes crimson.
Jesus understands: "Tell him who sent you that there is a brother of Mine who is ill and wants to be cured. His good will to recover fills Me with joy."
"Who is it, Master?"
"A brother of yours, one whom Jesus loves, a sinner."
"So, not one of us?"
"John, do you think that there is no sin among you? Do you think that I rejoice only because of you?"
"No, Master. I know that we are sinners, too, and that You want to save all men."
"So? I said to you: “Do not be inquisitive” when there was evil to be discovered. I say the same now that good is dawning... Peace to you, mother! Here are the ears we have picked. My companions will come with theirs."
"May God bless You, son. How did You find so many? It's true that I cannot see very well. But these are really two big sheaves... very big..." The old woman feels them, her trembling hand caresses them, she wants to lift them... But she cannot.
"We will help you. Where is your house?"
"That one" and she points at a little house beyond the fields.
"You are alone, are you not?"
"Yes, how do You know? And who are You?"
"I am one who has a mother."
"Is this your brother?"
"He is My friend."
From behind Jesus' back, His friend makes wide gestures to the old woman. But with her veiled eyes she cannot see them. In any case, she is too intent on watching Jesus. Her old mother's heart is deeply moved.
"You are in a sweat, son. Come here in the shade of this tree. Sit down. Look how You are streaming with perspiration! Dry Yourself with my veil. It's worn but clean. Here, take it, son."
"Thank you, mother."
"Blessed be Your mother, the mother of so good a son. Tell me Your name and Hers. That I may mention them to God to bless You."
"Mary and Jesus."
"Mary and Jesus... Mary and Jesus... Wait. Once I shed bitter tears... The son of my son was killed for defending his baby boy and my son died of grief... and at that time they said that the innocent was killed because they were looking for one whose name was Jesus... Now I am on the threshold of death and that Name is coming back to me..."
"You wept then, mother, because of that Name. May that Name now bless you..."
"You are that Jesus... say so to a poor woman who is about to die and who has lived without cursing because she was told that her grief served to save the Messiah for Israel."
John doubles his gestures. Jesus is silent.
"Oh! tell me! Is it You? You... blessing me at the end of my life? In the name of God, speak."
"It is I."
"Ah!" the old woman prostrates herself on the ground. "My Saviour! I have lived in expectation and I no longer hoped to see You. Shall I see Your triumph?"
"No, mother. Like Moses, you will die without knowing that day. But I will give you the peace of God in advance. I am Peace. I am the Way. I am Life. You, a mother and the grandmother of just children, will see Me in another eternal triumph and I will open the gates to you, to your son, to the son of your son and to his baby boy. That baby who died for Me is sacred to the Lord! Do not weep, mother!..."
"And I have touched You! And You gathered ears for me! Oh! How did I deserve such honour?!"
"Through your holy resignation. Come, mother, to your house. And may this wheat nourish your soul more than your body. I am the true Bread that descended from Heaven to satisfy the hunger of every heart. You (Thomas and James have joined them with their sheaf)... take these sheaves and let us go." And the three apostles laden with the sheaves walk away, followed by Jesus and the grandmother who weeps and whispers prayers. They arrive at the little house: two small rooms, a tiny kitchen, a fig-tree and a small vineyard. Tidiness and poverty.
"Is this your home?"
"Yes, it is. Bless it, Lord!"
"Call me: son. And pray that My Mother may find solace in Her grief, since you know what the grief of a mother means. Goodbye, mother. I bless you in the name of the true God."
And Jesus raises His hand and blesses the small house. He then bends and embraces the little old woman, He presses her to His heart and kisses her head covered with thin white hair. And she weeps rubbing her lips against Jesus' hands with veneration and love... and crushes me with grief. Because I think of my mother who was afraid of You, Jesus, when she saw You... Why be afraid of You, Jesus?
"Why? There are many whys in your heart after this dictation. But I will begin from the last one. [ ... ]
The other query you have in your heart is always whether I knew that Judas would not be saved notwithstanding that effort to save him. I knew. Why then was I happy? Because also the simple desire that was present, a flower in the barren land of Judas' heart, made the Father look benignly at My disciple whom I loved and whom I could not save. The eye of God on a heart! What would I like except that the Father should look at all of you with love? And I had to be happy to give the poor wretch also that means to revive. The incentive of My joy seeing him come back to Me.
One day, after My Death, John became acquainted with this truth and he told Peter, James, Andrew and the others, because I had ordered My best-loved Apostle, who was acquainted with the all the secrets of My heart, to do so. He was informed and he told them, so that everyone should have a rule in guiding disciples and believers later.
The soul that after falling comes to the minister of God and confesses its error, the friend, the son, the husband or the brother, who after erring, comes saying: “Keep me with you. I do not want to make mistakes any more so that I may not grieve God and you”, are not to be deprived, among other things, of the satisfaction of seeing our happiness in realising that they are anxious to make us happy. Infinite tact is required in curing hearts. I, the Wisdom, had such tact to teach everybody the art of redeeming and of helping those who are redeeming themselves, although I knew that in the case of Judas it was useless.
And now I say to you what I said to Simon of Cana: “Cheer up”, and I clasp you in My arms to make you feel that there is someone who loves you. My hands give punishments, but they give caresses as well, and My lips speak severe words and also words of satisfaction and the latter are more numerous and uttered with so much more joy.
Go in peace, Mary. You have not grieved your Jesus, and may that be your comfort."