445. Preaching at Capernaum.
22nd June 1946.
It is the Sabbath. I think it is, because I see people gathered in the synagogue. But they may have gathered there to avoid being in the sun, or to be more tranquil in Jairus' house. And the people are pressing, paying attention, notwithstanding the heat which not even the doors and windows left open to have currents of air can alleviate. Those who have not been able to enter the synagogue, in order not to be roasted in the sun outside, have taken shelter in the shady garden behind the synagogue, Jairus' garden rich in thick pergolas and leafy fruit-trees. And Jesus is speaking near the door opening onto the garden, so that He may be heard both by these listeners and by those inside the synagogue. Jairus is beside Him, listening attentively. The apostles are in a group near the door which opens onto the garden. The women disciples, with Mary in the middle, are sitting under a pergola, which almost touches the house. Mirjiam of Jairus and Philip's two daughters are sitting at Mary's feet.
From the words I hear I gather that there has been an incident between the usual Pharisees and Jesus and that the people are upset because of that. Jesus in fact is exhorting them to be peaceful and to forgive, saying that the word of God cannot bear fruit in hearts which are upset.
"We cannot bear You to be insulted" shouts someone from the crowd. "Leave it to My Father and yours and imitate Me. Be patient, and forgive. Enemies are not convinced by returning insult for insult."
"They are not convinced either by continual meekness. You are letting them tread upon You" shouts the Iscariot.
"My apostle, do not cause scandal by setting an example of wrath and criticism."
"Your apostle, however, is right. His words are just."
"The heart which utters them is not just, neither is the heart which listens to them. He who wants to be My disciple must imitate Me. I tolerate and I forgive. I am meek, humble and peaceful. The children of wrath cannot stay with Me, because they are the children of the century and of their passions. Do you not remember the fourth Book of Kings? In a passage it says that Isaiah spoke against Sennacherib who thought he could attempt everything, and prophesied that nothing would save him from God's punishment. He compares him with an animal, through the nostrils of which a ring is put and a bit through its lips to subdue its wicked fury. You know how Sennacherib perished by the hands of his own sons. In fact cruel people perish through their own cruelty. They perish both in their bodies and in their souls. I do not love cruel people. I do not love proud people. I do not love wrathful, greedy, lustful people. I have not confirmed by word or set an example for you of such things, on the contrary I have always taught you the virtues which are the opposite of such evil passions.
How beautiful is the prayer of our king David, when, re-sanctified by sincere repentance of past sins and by years of wise behaviour, he praised the Lord, meek and resigned to the decree by which he was not allowed to be the builder of the new Temple! Let us say it together, praising the Most High Lord..." And Jesus intones the prayer of David (1 Paralipomena 29, 10-19), while those who are sitting stand up and those leaning against the wall assume an attitude of respect moving away from their support.
Then, in His habitual tone, Jesus resumes: "You must always remember that everything is in the hands of God, every enterprise, every victory. Magnificence, power, glory and victory belong to the Lord. And He grants this or that thing to man, if He deems that it is the right time to grant it for a certain good purpose. But man cannot pretend anything. God did not allow David to build the Temple, although he had been forgiven, as he was still in need of victory over himself, after his past errors: “You have shed much blood and fought too many battles; it is not for you to build a house for My Name since you have shed so much blood in My presence. But a son will be born to you and he will be a man of peace... he will therefore be named Peaceful (1)... he shall build a house for My Name”. That is what the Most High said to His servant David. I say the same to you. Are you willing, because of your wrath, not to deserve to build in your hearts the house for the Lord your God? Reject, therefore, every feeling which is not love. Have perfects hearts, as David invoked for his son, the builder of the Temple, so that, by keeping My commandments and doing everything according to what taught you, you may succeed in building within your hearts the abode of your God, while waiting to go yourselves to His eternal joyful house. Give Me a parchment, Jairus. I will explain to them what God wants."
Jairus goes where the rolls are piled and he takes one at random in the middle of the pile, and after dusting it, he hands it to Jesus, Who unrolls it and reads: "“Jeremiah, chapter 5. Rove to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look, watch, search her squares, if you can find one man who does right and tries to be faithful, and I will be merciful unto her”." (The Lord says to me: "Do not continue. I will read the whole chapter.")
Jesus, after reading it all, hands the roll back to Jairus and speaks.
"My children. You have heard which dreadful punishments are laid aside for Jerusalem, for Israel, for not being just. But do not rejoice at that. She is our Fatherland. Do not rejoice thinking: “Perhaps we shall no longer be here”. She is always full of your brothers. Do not say: “Serves her right, because she is cruel with the Lord”. The misfortunes of the Fatherland, the sorrows of fellow citizens must always grieve those who are just. Do not measure as other people do, but as God measures, that is, mercifully. What are you, therefore, to do with respect to this Fatherland and these fellow-countrymen, whether by Fatherland and fellow-countrymen you mean the great Fatherland and its inhabitants, the whole of Palestine, or this little one, that is, Capernaum, your hometown, whether you mean all the Hebrews, or these few, who are hostile to Me, in this little town of Galilee? You must accomplish deeds of love. Endeavour to save Fatherland and fellow-countrymen. How? Perhaps through violence? With scorn? No. By love, by patient love to convert them to God. You have just heard. “If I find one ,man who does right, I will pardon him”. Strive, therefore, so that hearts may come to justice and become just. In actual fact in their injustice they say of Me: “It is not Him”., and they thus believe that by persecuting Me, no harm will befall them. They really say: “Such things will never happen. The prophets spoke at random”. And they will try to make you speak as they do. You who are present here, are faithful. But where is Capernaum? Is this all Capernaum? Where are those whom the other times I saw crowd around Me? So the yeast, which fermented the last time I was here, has ruined many hearts? Where is Alphaeus? Where is Joshua with his three sons? Where is Haggai of Malachi? Where are Joseph and Naomi? Where is Levi, Abel, Saul, Zacharias? Have they forgotten the undeniable help they received, because false words overwhelmed it? But can words destroy facts? You can see!
This is only a small place. In this place, where is the largest number of people assisted, envious malice has been able to devastate faith in Me. I see gathered here only those who are perfect in faith. And could you expect remote events, remote words to keep all Israel faithful to God? That should be the case, because faith must be such also without the support of facts. But it is not so. And the greater is science, the smaller is faith, because learned people think that they are exempted from simple sound faith, which believes through the strength of love and not by means of the assistance of science. It is love which you must hand down to posterity and inflame. And to do that you must be inflamed. You must be convinced, heroically convinced, in order to convince. In place of ill manners, in reply to insults, you must have humility and love. And with them you must go and remind of the words of the Lord those who no longer remember them: “We must fear the Lord Who gives us the rain of the early and later season”."
"They would not understand us! On the contrary they would offend us saying that we are sacrilegious, teaching without the right to do it. You know who are the scribes and Pharisees!..."
"Yes. I know. But even if I had not known, I would know now. But it does not matter what they are. It matters what we are. If they and priests clap their hands to false prophets who prophesy what gives them some profit, forgetting that hands should be clapped only to the good deeds which the Decalogue commands, that is no reason why my faithful believers should imitate them or feel discouraged and just stand looking, as if they had been defeated. You must work as hard as Evil works..."
"We are not Evil" shouts from the threshold, on the street, the husky voice of Eli the Pharisee, who tries to enter shouting all the time: "We are not the Evil ones, instigator."
"Man, you are the disturber, go away!" says at once a centurion who must have been there watching, as his intervention is so fast. "You, a pagan, you dare impose on me..."
"I, a Roman, do. Go out! The Rabbi is not disturbing you, but you are disturbing Him. You cannot..."
"We are the Rabbis, not the Galilean carpenter" cries the old man, who resembles more a barrow woman than a master.
"One more, one less... You have hundreds of them, and they are all wicked teachers. Here is the only virtuous one. I order you to go out"
"Virtuous, eh?! Virtuous the man who pays Rome for His safety! Sacrilegious! Unclean!"
The centurion utters a cry and the heavy steps of soldiers mingle with Eli's shrill insults. "Take that man and throw him out!" orders the centurion.
"Me? Pagan hands touching me? The feet of pagans in one of our synagogues! Anathema! Help! They are polluting me!..."
"I beg you, soldiers. Let him go! Do not come in. Please respect this place and his old age" says Jesus from His place.
"As You wish, Rabbi."
"Ha! Ha! Intriguer! But the Sanhedrin will be informed. I have the proof! Now I believe the words which were related to us. I have the proof. Anathema on You!"
"And my sword on you if you say another word. Rome defends what is right. She does not intrigue, you old hyena, with anybody. The Sanhedrin will be informed of your lies. The Proconsul will have my report. I am going to write it at once. Go home and remain there at the disposal of Rome" and the centurion makes a perfect right-about turn and goes away followed by four soldiers, leaving Eli astounded and trembling cravenly...
Jesus resumes speaking as if nothing had interrupted Him: "You must work as hard as Evil works, to build within you and around you the house of the Lord, as I was saying at the beginning. You must act with great holiness so that God may descend again into hearts and on our dear Fatherland, which is already punished so severely and does not know which clouds of misfortune are piling up for her in the north, in the strong country which already rules over us and will rule more and more, because the deeds of citizens are such as to disgust the Most Kind Lord and to arouse the strong ruler. And with the indignation of God and of the ruler, do you expect perhaps to have peace and welfare? Be good, children of God. Strive to have not one, but hundreds of good people in Israel, to ward off the dreadful punishments of Heaven. I told you at the beginning that where there is no peace, there can be no word of God, which heard peacefully may yield fruit in hearts. And you know that this meeting has been neither tranquil nor fruitful. There is too much agitation in hearts... Go. We will still have some hours to be together. And pray, as I do, that those who upset us, may mend their ways... Let us go, Mother" and squeezing through the crowd, He goes out into the street.
Eli is still there and, as white as death, he throws himself at Jesus' feet. "Have pity! You saved my grandson once. Save me, that I may have time to mend my ways. I have sinned! I confess it. But You are good. Rome... Oh! what will Rome do to me?"
"She will remove the summer dust from you with a good thrashing" shouts one, and the people laugh while Eli utters a painful groan as if he already felt the scourge, and he moans: "I am old... aching all over... Alas!"
"The cure will do you good, you old jackal!"
"You will be restored to youth and will be able to dance..."
"Silence!" Jesus orders the scoffers. And He says to the Pharisee: "Stand up. Be dignified. You know that I do not conspire with Rome. So, what do you want Me to do for you?"
"That is true. Yes. It is true. You do not conspire. Nay, You disdain the Romans, You hate them, You c..."
"Nothing of the kind. Do not lie praising Me, as you lied previously accusing Me. And you had better know that it would be no praise to Me to say that I hate this one or that one, or I curse this or that one. I am the Saviour of every soul, and there are no races or faces in My eyes, but souls only."
"That is true! Very true! But You are just and Rome knows and that is why she defends You. You keep the crowds calm, You teach them to respect the laws and..."
"Is that perhaps a fault in your eyes?"
"Oh! no! It is justice! You know how to do what we should all do, because You are just, because..."
The crowds sneer and murmur. Several epithets, such as "Liar! Coward! This very morning he spoke differently!" and so forth can be heard, although spoken in a low key.
"Well? What shall I do?"
"Go! Go to the centurion. Quick! Before the messenger leaves. See? They are getting the horses ready! Oh! Have mercy!"
Jesus looks at him: small, trembling, wan with fear, miserable... and examines him... compassionately. Only four eyes look at him pitifully: those of Jesus and of His Mother. All other eyes are either ironical, or severe, or upset... Even the eyes of John and Andrew are stern with disdainful severity.
"I have pity. But I will not go to the centurion..."
"He is Your friend..."
"He is grateful to You, I mean... because You cured his servant."
"I cured also your grandson. And you are not grateful to Me, although you are an Israelite like Me. Beneficent help creates no obligation."
"Yes, it does. Woe to those who are not thankful to..." Eli realises that he is condemning himself and becomes quiet, stammering. The crowds sneer at him.
"Quick, Rabbi. Great Rabbi! Holy Rabbi! He is giving orders, see?! They are on the point of leaving! You want me to be laughed at! You want me dead!"
"No. I am not going to remind him of a favour. Go and say to him: “The Master tells you to be merciful”. Go!"
Eli runs away and Jesus sets out in the opposite direction towards His house.
The centurion must have agreed, because I see the soldiers, who had got into the saddles, dismount and hand back a wax tablet to the centurion and then take the horses away.
"What a pity! It would have served him right!" exclaims Peter, and Matthew replies to him: "Yes. The Master should have let him be punished! A blow for each insult to us. Hateful old man!"
"And so he is ready to start all over again!" exclaims Thomas.
Jesus turns round severely: "Have I followers, or have I demons? Go away, you with merciless hearts! Your presence is unpleasant to Me."
The three remain where they are, petrified by the reproach. "Son! You are already so grieved! And I am in such great pain! Do not add this one... Look at them!..." implores Mary.
And Jesus turns round to look at the three. Three desolate faces, with eyes full of hope and of sorrow. "Come!" orders Jesus.
Oh! Swallows are not as swift as the three.
"And let it be the last time that I hear you speak such words. You, Matthew, have no right to speak thus. You, Thomas, are not yet dead, to judge who is imperfect, thinking that you are saved. And you, Simon of Jonah, behaved like a rock carried with great difficulty to a mountain top and then rolled down to the valley. Understand Me for what I mean... And now listen. It is useless to speak here in the synagogue, or in town. I will speak from the boats on the lake, now here, now there. Prepare the boats, as many as are needed and we will go out in the placid evenings or at the cool dawns..."
(1) Peace is shalom; "Solomon" is derived from it.