417. In a Little Village of the Decapolis. Parable of the Sculptor.
2nd October 1944..
This is what I see. A little river in a village consisting of few modest houses. It must be the one from which Jesus came when, in a boat, He crossed the Jordan in flood, because I see the boatman and his relatives come to meet Jesus, Who had sent the Iscariot and Thomas ahead, to prepare the way for Him.
The boatman, when he sees Jesus coming from afar, quickens his step and when he is before Him, he bows most reverently saying: "You are welcomed, Master, by our sick people. They are waiting for You. I told them much about You. The entire village greets You through my lips saying: “Blessed be the Messiah of the Most High God!”"
"Peace to you and to this village. I am here for you. You will not be disappointed in your hopes. Those who believe will find Heaven merciful. Let us go." And Jesus proceeds towards the centre of the village, walking beside the boatman. Men, women and children appear at the doors and then follow the little procession, as it advances. At every step the people grow in numbers as many more join those already there. Some greet, some bless, some invoke.
"Master" shouts a mother "my son is ill. Come, Blessed One!"
And Jesus deviates towards a poor house, He lays one hand on the shoulder of the mother in tears and asks: "Where is your son?"
"Here, Master, come."
The mother, Jesus, the boatman, Peter, John, Thaddeus and some local people go in. The others crowd at the door and look in craning their necks to see.
In a corner of the poor dark kitchen there is a little bed near the glimmering fireplace. On the bed there is the little corpse of a child about seven years old. I say a little corpse because he is so emaciated, yellowish, motionless. One is aware only of the heavy panting of the little chest, affected, I would say, by tubercolosis.
"Look, Master. I have spent all my resources to save at least this one. I am a widow, the other two sons died at the same age as this one is at present. I took him as far as Caesarea on the Sea to have him visited by a Roman doctor. But all he could say to me was: “Resign yourself. Caries is corroding him”. Look…"
And the mother uncovers the poor little thing, pushing the blankets back. Where there are no bandages, there are little bones protruding from a parched yellowish skin. But only a tiny part of the body is uncovered. The rest is covered with bandages and linens and when the mother removes them, they show the characteristic dripping holes of osseus caries. A pitiful sight. The sick boy is so prostrate that he makes no gesture. He does not even seem to be involved. He just opens his hollow dull eyes, he casts an indifferent, I would say annoyed, glance at the people and then closes them again.
Jesus caresses him. He lays His long hand on the little abandoned head, and the child opens his eyes again, looking with more interest at the unknown man, who is touching him with so much tenderness and is smiling with so much sympathy. "Do you want to be cured?" Jesus says to him in a low voice, bending over his wan face. He had previously covered the little body saying to the mother, who wanted to put some more bandages: "It is not necessary, woman. Leave him thus."
The little patient nods without speaking.
"For my mother" he says in a very faint voice. His mother weeps more grievously.
"Will you always be good if you are cured? A good son? A good citizen? A good believer?" He asks the questions separating them clearly, to give the child time to answer each one. "Will you always remember what you are now promising?"
The feeble, yet so deep in desire, "yes", is uttered repeatedly, like a succession of sighs from his soul.
"Give me your hand, My little one." The little patient wants to give his healthy one, the left one. But Jesus says: "Give Me the other one. I will not hurt you."
"Lord" says the mother "it's one big sore. Let me bandage it. For You..."
"It does not matter, woman. I am disgusted only at the impurities of hearts. Give Me your hand and say with Me: “I want to be always good as a son, as a man, as a believer in the true God”."
The boy repeats stressing his voice. Oh! His whole soul is in his voice, and his hope as well... and certainly also his mother's.
A solemn silence has fallen in the room and in the street. Jesus, Who is holding the boy's right hand with His left one, lifts His right one, with the gesture as when He announces a truth, or when He imposes His will on diseases and elements, and standing solemnly upright, He says in a powerful voice: "And I want you to be cured. Rise, child, and praise the Lord" and He releases the little hand which is now completely healed, thin, but without the least excoriation, and He says to the mother: "Uncover your child."
The woman, who looks as if she were between a death sentence and one of mercy, removes the blankets hesitantly... and she utters a cry and throws herself on the very lean but wholesome body, kissing and embracing it... mad with joy. So much so that she does not see Jesus going away from the bed towards the door.
But the boy sees and says: "Bless me, Lord, and allow me to bless You. Mother... are you not thanking?"
"Oh! forgive me..." The woman, with the child in her arms, throws herself at Jesus' feet.
"I understand, woman. Go in peace and be happy. Goodbye, boy, Be good. Goodbye, everybody." And He goes out.
Many women lift up their children so that Jesus' blessing may preserve them from evil in future. Little ones creep through adults to be caressed. And Jesus blesses, caresses, listens, He stops to cure also three people with diseased eyes and a man trembling as if he were affected by St. Vitus' dance. He is now in the centre of the village.
"There is a relative of mine here, deaf and-dumb from birth. He is quick-witted, but he cannot do anything. Cure him, Jesus" says the boatman.
"Take Me to him."
They enter a small kitchen garden at the end of which there is a young man, about thirty years old, who is drawing water from a well and pouring it on vegetables. As he is deaf and with his back turned, he does not notice what is happening and he calmly goes on with his work, notwithstanding that the shouts of the crowd are so loud as to frighten the doves on the roofs.
The boatman goes towards him, takes him by the arm and leads him to Jesus. Jesus stands in front of the unhappy fellow, very close to him, body against body, so that with His tongue He touches the tongue of the dumb man, who is standing with his mouth open, and with His middle-fingers in the ears of the deaf-mute, He prays for a moment with His eyes raised to the sky. He then says: "Be opened!" and removing His fingers He steps aside.
"Who are You Who have loosened my tongue and ears?" shouts the man cured miraculously.
Jesus makes a gesture and tries to proceed going out from the rear of the house. But both the cured man and the boatman hold Him back, one saying: "He is Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah" and the other exclaiming: "Oh! stay, that I may worship You!"
"Worship the Most High God and be always faithful to Him. Go. Do not waste time in useless words, and do not turn the miracle into a human pastime. Make use of your tongue to do good, and listen to the voices of the Creator Spirit Who loves and blesses you, with your heart, rather than with ears ."
Of course, it is quite useless to tell a man, who is so happy, not to talk of his happiness! The cured man makes up for so many years of mutism and deafness, by speaking to all the people present.
The boatman insists on Jesus entering his house to rest and take some refreshments. He feels that he is the maker of all the respect surrounding Jesus and is proud of it. He wants his right to be acknowledged.
"But I am the notable elder of the village" says an old imposing man.
"But if I had not been there with my boats, you would not have seen Jesus" replies the boatman.
And Peter, who is always frank and impulsive, says: "Actually... if I had not told you a little thing, you... the boats..."
Jesus interferes providentially, making everybody happy. "Let us go near the river. While waiting for our food there - and let it be frugal and sparing, because food is to serve the body and not be the aim of the body - I will evangelize. Anyone wishing to hear Me or ask Me questions, may come with Me."
I can say that the entire village follows Him.
Jesus gets into a boat beached on the gravel bed and from that improvised pulpit He speaks to His listeners, who are sat in front of Him, in a semicircle, on the bank and among the trees.
He takes as a starting point the question asked by a man: "Master, our Law seems to point out as struck by God those who were born wretched, in fact He forbids them to serve at the altar. How can they be guilty? Would it not be fair to consider guilty their parents who give birth to wretched sons? Mothers in particular? And how are we to behave with those born unfortunate?"
"Listen. A great perfect sculptor one day carved a statue and he made such a perfect job, that he was pleased and he said: “I want the Earth to be full of such marvels”. But by himself he could not cope with such a task. He therefore called other people to help him and said to them: “On this model make for me one thousand, ten thousand statues equally perfect. I will then give them the final touch, instilling expression into their features”. But his assistants were not capable of so much, because besides being much inferior to their master in skill, they had become somewhat intoxicated eating of a fruit, the juice of which brings about delirium and dullness. The sculptor then gave them some moulds and said: “Mould the material in them; it will be a perfect work and I will complete it, enlivening it with a final touch”. And the assistants set down to work.
But the sculptor had a great enemy. A personal enemy and the enemy of his assistants, and he tried with every means to make the sculptor cut a poor figure and rouse disagreement between him and his assistants. Thus he attacked their work with his cunning, altering the material to be poured into the moulds, or reducing the fire, or praising the assistants exaggeratedly. It thus happened that the ruler of the world, in an effort to prevent as far as possible the work from going out in imperfect copies, imposed heavy sanctions on those models issued in an imperfect state. And one of the sanctions was that such models could not be displayed in the House of God, where everything must be, or ought to be perfect. I say: ought to be, because it is not so. Even if appearances are good, facts are not so. Those present in the House of God seem faultless, but the eye of God discovers the gravest faults in them. The faults which are in their hearts.
Oh! the heart! It is with the heart that one serves God; indeed: it is with the heart. It is not necessary, neither is it enough to have clear eyes and perfect hearing, harmonic voice, beautiful limbs, to sing the praises pleasing to God. It is not essential or sufficient to have beautiful clean and scented garments. The spirit is to be pure and perfect, harmonic and well shaped in sight, hearing, voice, in spiritual forms, and these are to be adorned with purity; that is the beautiful clean dress scented with charity: that is the oil saturated with essence that God likes .
And what kind of charity would be the attitude of a man, who being happy and seeing an unhappy fellow, should despise him and hate him? On the contrary, double and treble charity is to be given to those who, although not guilty, were born poor wretches. Wretchedness is a pain that gives merit to those who bear it and to those who, united with the victims, suffer seeing them bear it out of love of relationship, and perhaps they strike their chests thinking: “I am the cause of such pain through my vices”. And it must never become the cause of spiritual fault in those who see it. It becomes a fault if it becomes anti-charity. So I say to you: “Never be without charity towards your neighbour. Was he born a poor wretch? Love him because he endures a great pain. Did he become unhappy through his own fault? Love him because his fault has already become a punishment. Is he the parent of a wretch born such or who became such? Love him because there is no deeper sorrow than the grief of a parent struck in his child . Is it a mother who has given birth to a monster? Love her because she is literally crushed by such grief, which she considers the most inhuman . It is inhuman”.
But even deeper is the grief of a woman who is the mother of a son, who is a monster in his soul, as she realises that she has given birth to a demon dangerous for the Earth, for the Fatherland, for the Family, for friends . Oh! the poor mother of a cruel, vile son, of a murderer, of a traitor, of a thief, of a corrupt man, dare not even raise her forehead! Well. I say to you: Love those mothers also, the most unhappy ones . Those who in history will be known as the mothers of murderers, of traitors.
Everywhere the Earth has heard the weeping of mothers whose hearts were broken because of the cruel death of their sons. From Eve onwards how many mothers have felt their bowels being lacerated more painfully than in labour, nay, they felt their bowels and their hearts being tom off by a cruel hand, in the presence of their sons murdered, tortured, martyred by men, and they howled their pangs, throwing themselves with the frenzy of convulsive sorrowful love on the corpses which could not hear them any longer, neither could they be warmed by their warmth, nor could they say with a look, a gesture, since they could not do so with their lips: “Mother I can hear you”.
And yet I tell you that the Earth has not yet heard the cry and has not collected the tears of the most holy Mother and of the most unhappy one among all those who will be remembered forever by man: the Mother of the Killed Redeemer and the mother of the man who will be His traitor. Those two mothers, martyrs in different ways, will be heard mourning miles apart, and the innocent and holy Mother, the most innocent, the Innocent Mother of the Innocent, will be the one Who will say to Her far away sister, the martyr of a son more cruel than anything on the Earth: “Sister, I love you”.
Love to be worthy of that Woman Who will love everybody and on behalf of everybody. It is love that will save the Earth."
And Jesus comes down from His rustic pulpit and bends to caress a little boy rolling on the grass of the gravel bed half-naked in his little shirt. After so many sublime words from a Master, it is pleasant to see Him thus, taking interest in a child, like a common man, and then breaking the bread, offering it round and handing it to those close to Him, sitting and eating like every man, while He certainly already hears in His heart the cry of His Mother and sees Judas beside Him.
Such control over His feelings impresses me, who am so impulsive, more than many other things. It is a continual lesson to me. Those present, instead, seem to be really fascinated. They are pensive and silent while eating and they look with veneration at the kind Master of love.