510. Among the Ruins of a Destroyed Village.
12th October 1946.
I do not know in which place is Jesus. He is certainly in the mountains, in a place deserted after it was destroyed either by a cataclysm or by active war. And I would say that the latter is the more likely cause, because the ruins of the houses show signs of fire in the ceilings protected from rain and still visible through the tangle of bramble, ivy and other creepers and parasitic plants, which have grown everywhere. The broad hairy leaves of a plant, whose name I do not know, although I have seen it also in Italy, cover a large ruin which looks like a steep hill. Farther back a wall, standing upright and lonely to contemplate the rest of the collapsed house, is invaded by caper bushes and pellitory, and a clematis, whose branches undulate in the wind like loose hair, hangs from a fretted parapet of what once was a terrace. Another house, the central part of which has collapsed, whilst the outer walls are still erect, looks like a huge flower vase, which in place of stems contains trees which have grown spontaneously in the hollow where rooms previously were. Another house, part of which is still erect, with the remains of the walls rising in steps, looks like an altar prepared for some rite and completely adorned in green. On the very top of the ruins, a poplar, as slender and straight as a blade, seems to be asking the sky the reason for such a disaster. And between house and house, rubble and rubble, obstinate fruit-trees, now degenerate and wild, overwhelmed by other vegetation or overwhelming it, grown from fallen fruit, twisted, straight, creeping, coming out from holds in walls, from a dried well, give the impression of a bewitched forest. And birds and pigeons coming out of crevices among the ruins, fly avidly towards neighbouring fields once cultivated, where now there are tangles of hard vetch, dried up by the sun, and from their open pods seeds drop to the ground to spring up again at springtime, and tangles of darnel and tares. With fierce blows of their wings the pigeons drive away the smaller birds searching for millet-seed or grains of hemp, which have come up from who knows what remote seed, lasting for years and years in waste land through spontaneous sowing. And the birds, particularly the quarrelsome sparrows, avenge themselves, by tearing off the thin ears of the scrubby millet and taking them away, to their nests, flying with difficulty, all twisted because of the weight and the encumbrance of the millet-cob.
Jesus is not only with His apostles, there is also a large group of disciples, amongst whom Cleopas and Hermas of Emmaus, the sons of the old chief of the synagogue Cleopas, and Stephen. There are also some men and women, as if they had come from some village to invite Jesus to go to their town, or if they were following Him after He had been with them. And Jesus, crossing the ruined site, often makes a pause to look around, and He stops at the highest spot that commands a view over entanglements of rubble and vegetation, where life is represented only by the pigeons which once were certainly mild and tame, whereas now they are wild and fierce. He contemplates the place with His arms folded across His breast, His head lowered, and the more He looks around the paler and sadder He becomes.
"Why are You stopping here, Master? One can clearly see that this place distresses You. Do not stop to contemplate it. I am sorry I made You come this way, but it is such a good short cut" says Cleopas of Emmaus.
"Oh! I am not looking at what you see!"
"At what, then, Lord? Perhaps You see the past event once again? It was certainly a dreadful one. That is the system of Rome..." says the other man from Emmaus.
"And that should make one think. See. There was a town here, it was not a large one, but it was beautiful. It consisted more of luxury houses than of humble ones. And these places, which are now wild forests, belonged to rich people. And these fields, now sterile and covered with bramble, darnel and nettles were also the property of rich people... They were then rich orchards and fields full of crops. And the houses were beautiful, with gardens full of flowers, and wells, and fountains where pigeons bathed and children played. All the inhabitants of this place were happy, but happiness did not make them just. They forgot the Lord and His words... And this is the result! No more houses, no flowers, no fountains, no crops, no fruits. Only the pigeons are left, and they are no longer as happy as they used to be, and in place of the golden corn and the cumon of which they were so greedy, they now fight to have a little coarse vetch or bitter darnel. And they feast when they find an ear of barley which has come up among the thorns!...
And, as I look, I do not even see the pigeons any more... But faces and faces... Many of which are not yet born... and I see ruins and ruins, bramble and wild grapes and vetch cover the land of our Fatherland... And all that happens because we did not want to accept the Lord. I can hear exhausted children weep, as they are more unhappy than these birds, for which God still provides the minimum assistance to survive, whereas these babies will be destitute of all help, struck by the general punishment, languishing on the dry breasts of their mothers, who will be dying of starvation and sorrow and indefinable fear. And I can hear mothers wailing over their children who died of starvation on their breasts, and the cries of wives deprived of their husbands, and the laments of virgins captured for the pleasure of winners, and the lamentations of men destined to imprisonment after experiencing all dishonour in war and of old men who lived so long as to see the prophecy of Daniel accomplished.
And I hear the untiring voice of Isaiah in the breath of this wind among the ruins, in the wailing of the pigeons among the rubble: “With uncouth words, in a foreign language the Lord will speak to this people to whom He said: 'Here is my rest. Let the weary rest; this is my relief'”. But they would not listen. No, they would not listen, and the Lord cannot find rest among His people. The tired One, Who became tired travelling all over its countryside to teach, cure, convert and comfort, does not find rest but persecution, He does not find relief, but snares and treason. The Son is one with the Father. And if the Truth taught you that also a cup of water given to a man will be rewarded, because each act of mercy done to a brother is done to God Himself, what will the punishment be for those who refuse the Son of man even a stone of the road upon which He may rest His head, and the mountain spring which gushes through the bounty of the Creator, and the fruit forgotten on a branch because it was diseased or unripe, and the ear contended with pigeons, and have already prepared the noose to throttle the air in His throat and thus take His life?
Oh! miserable Israel, who have lost justice and the mercy of God!
Here, here is once again the voice of Isaiah in the evening breeze, more dreadful than the cry of the bird of death, almost as dreadful as the voice that resounded in the Earthly Garden to condemn the two culprits, and - oh! what a terrible thing! - the voice of the Prophet is not joined to the promise of forgiveness as it was then! No, there is no forgiveness for the mockers of God, for those who say: “We have formed an alliance with Death, we have made an agreement with Hell. When the destructive whip goes by, it will not catch us, for we have set our hopes on Falsehood, and we are protected by it, for it is powerful”. And here is Isaiah, who repeats what he heard from the Lord: “I will lay a precious select cornerstone as the foundation of Zion... And I will make justice the measure and integrity the plumb-line, and hail will sweep away the hope in Falsehood, and floods will overwhelm the shelter, your covenant with Death will be broken and your pact with Hell will be annulled. When the destructive whip goes by it will crush you, each time it goes by it will seize you, and punishments only will make you understand the lesson”.
Miserable Israel! Israel will be like these fields, where only arid vetch and bitter darnel persist and where there is no more corn, and the Land that did not want the Lord will have no bread for her children, and the children who refused to receive the tired One, will wander about, beaten, wild, like galley slaves, the slaves of those whom they considered inferior beings. God will really thrash the proud people under the weight of His justice, and will strangle it with the scutch of His judgement...
That is what I see in these ruins. Ruins! Ruins! To the north, to the south, to the east, to the west, and above all in the centre, in the heart, where the guilty town will be changed into a putrid pit..."
And tears run slowly down the pale face of Jesus, Who raises His mantle to veil it, leaving uncovered only His eyes, dilated by the painful vision.
And He sets out again, while those who are with Him hardly whisper, terrified as they are.