513. Towards Gibeon. The Reasons for Jesus' Sorrow.
18th October 1946.
But Jesus is not allowed to be engrossed in His thoughts for a long time. John and His cousin James, then Peter and Simon Zealot approach Him drawing His attention to the view that they can see from the hilltop. And perhaps in their intent to distract Him, because He is clearly very sad, they recall episodes that took place in the district which their eyes are surveying. The trip towards Ashkelon... the house of the peasants in the Sharon plain where Jesus made the old father of Gamala and Jacob see again... the retreat of Jesus and James on Mount Carmel... Caesarea on Sea and the little girl Aurea Galla... the meeting with Syntyche... the Gentiles at Joppa... the highwaymen near Modin... the miracle of the crops in the house of Joseph of Arimathea... the poor old woman gleaner... Recollections which should cheer one up... but in which, for everybody or for Him alone, there is the remembrance of tears and sorrow. Also the apostles become aware of that and they whisper: "Truly there is sorrow in everything on the Earth. It is a place of expiation..."
But Andrew, who has joined the group with James of Zebedee, remarks quite rightly: "A just law for us sinners. But why so much grief for Him?"
A polite discussion arises and remains such also when all the others, attracted by the voices of the first ones, join the group. The only exception is Judas Iscariot who takes pains in the middle of the humble people whom he instructs imitating the Master's voice, gestures and expressions; but it is a bombastic theatrical imitation, lacking the warmth of persuasion and his listeners tell him quite openly, which makes Judas irritable and he throws back in their faces that they are dull-minded and thus they understand nothing. And he states that he is going to leave them because "it is not worth the trouble to throw the pearls of wisdom to pigs."
But he remains because the humble people are mortified and they beg him to bear with them admitting that "they are as inferior to him as an animal is to man."...
Jesus, in order to listen to what Judas is saying, does not pay attention to what the Eleven are saying around Him, and what He hears does not certainly cheer Him up... But He sighs and is silent, until Bartholomew interests Him directly by submitting to Him the different points of view concerning the reason why He, who is innocent and free from sin, must suffer.
Bartholomew says: "I maintain that it happens because man hates him who is good. I am referring to a guilty man, that is, to the majority of men. That majority realise that their guilt and vices show up even more when they are compared with those who are innocent, and out of spite they revenge themselves by making good people suffer."
"I instead maintain that You suffer because of the contrast between Your perfection and our misery. Even if no one despised You in any way, You would suffer just the same because Your perfection must be sorrowfully disgusted at the sins of men" says Judas Thaddeus.
"On the contrary, I maintain that You, as You are not exempt from humanity, suffer through the effort of having to control, by means of Your supernatural part, the rebellion of Your humanity against Your enemies" says Matthew. "And I, I am sure I must be wrong because I am silly, I say that You suffer because Your love is rejected. You do not suffer because You cannot punish as Your human side might wish, but You suffer because You cannot do good to people as You would like" says Andrew.
"Finally, I maintain that You suffer because You must suffer all sorrows, in order to redeem all sorrows, as neither of Your Natures prevails in You, but they are both blended in perfect harmony, to form the perfect Victim. So supernatural as to be able to appease the offence given to God, so human as to be able to represent Mankind and lead it back to the immaculacy of the first Adam to cancel the past and generate a new humanity. To re-create a new humanity, according to the thought of God, that is, a humanity in which there is really the image and likeness of God and the destiny of Man: the possession, the ability to aspire to the possession of God, in His Kingdom. You must suffer supernaturally, and You do suffer, for what You see being done and for what surrounds You, I could say, with perpetual offence to God. You must suffer humanly, and You do suffer, to cut off the lewdness of our flesh poisoned by Satan. With the complete suffering of the two perfect Natures You will completely cancel the Offence to God, the sin of man" says the Zealot. The others are silent. Jesus asks: "Are you not saying anything? Which according to you is the just definition?"
Some say this, some that. Only James of Alphaeus and John are silent.
"And what about you two? Do you not approve of any of them?" says Jesus teasingly.
"No. We feel there is something true, something very true in each of them. But we also feel that the utter truth is missing."
"And can you not find it?"
"Perhaps John and I have found it. But it seems almost blasphemy to us to tell You, because... We are good Israelites and we fear God so much that we can hardly mention His Name. And it seems a blasphemous thought to us that while for a man of the chosen people, for a man son of God it is almost impossible to pronounce the blessed Name and he has to create substitutes to mention the name of his God, Satan may dare to harm God. And we feel that sorrow is always active against You, because You are God and Satan hates You. He hates You more than anybody else. You find hatred, Brother, because You are God" says James.
"Yes. You find hatred because You are Love. It is not the Pharisees, or the rabbis, or this man or that one, or for this or that reason, that rise to grieve You. It is Hatred that pervades men and directs them, livid with hatred, against You, because with Your love You snatch too many preys from Hatred" says John.
"There is still one thing missing in the many definitions. Look for the reason which is the really true one. The one by which I am..." says Jesus encouraging them.
But no one finds it. They think and think. They give up saying: "We cannot find it..."
"It is so simple. It is always in front of you. It resounds in our books, in the great figures of our history... Come on, look for it! In all your definitions there is some truth, but the first reason is missing. Do not look for it in the present times, but in the most remote past, beyond the prophets, beyond the patriarchs, beyond the creation of the Universe..."
The apostles are pensive... but they do not find it.
Jesus smiles and then says: "And yet, if you remembered My words, you would find the reason. But you cannot remember everything as yet. But one day you will remember. Listen. Let us go back up the course of ages together, farther back than the limits of time. You know who spoiled the spirit of man. It was Satan, the Snake, the Antagonist, the Enemy, the Hatred. Call him what you like.
But why did he spoil man? Because he was eaten up with envy: he saw man destined to Heaven, from which he had been driven out. He wanted for man the exile that he had received. Why had he been driven out? Because he rebelled against God. You know that. But in what? In obedience. Disobedience is at the origin of sorrow. Then, is it not also necessarily logical that to restore Order, which is always a Joy, there should be a perfect obedience? It is difficult to obey, particularly in grave matters. What is difficult causes sorrow to those who accomplish it.
Consider therefore whether I, Who was asked by the Love whether I would take back Joy to the children of God, should not suffer infinitely, to obey the Thought of God. I must, therefore, suffer to win, to cancel not one or a thousand sins, but the very preeminent Sin that, in the angelical spirit of Lucifer or in that animating Adam, was and will always be, until the last man, a sin of disobedience to God. Your obedience, men, is to be limited to the little - it seems so much to you but it is so little - that God asks of you. In His justice He only asks of you what you can give. Of the will of God, you know only what you can understand. But I know all His Thought, concerning great and small events. No limit has been imposed to Me concerning knowledge and execution. The loving Sacrificer, the divine Abraham, does not spare the Victim and His Son. It is the unsatisfied and offended Love that demands reparation and offerings. And if I should live for thousands of years, it would be of no avail, if I did not consume Man to his last fibre, as nothing would have happened if ab aeterno I had not said: “Yes” to My Father, preparing to obey as God Son and as Man, Whom the Father had then found just.
Obedience is sorrow and glory. Obedience, like the spirit, never dies. I solemnly tell you that those who are truly obedient will become like gods, after a continuous struggle against themselves, the world, Satan. Obedience is light. The more one is obedient, the more one is luminous and sees. Obedience is patient, and the more one is obedient, the more one bears things and people. Obedience is humble and the more one is obedient, the more one is humble with his neighbour. Obedience is charitable because it is an act of love and the more one is obedient the more numerous and Perfect are the acts. Obedience is heroic. And the hero of the spirit is the saint, the citizen of Heaven, the deified man. If charity is the virtue in which one finds God One and Trine, obedience is the virtue in which one finds Me, your Master. Ensure that the world knows you as My disciples, through absolute obedience to everything that is holy. Call Judas. I have something to tell him as well..."
Judas arrives. Jesus points at the view which becomes narrower as they descend and He says: "A short parable for you, future masters of the spirit. The more you climb the way to perfection, which is hard and painful, the more you will see. Before we could see two plains, the Philistine and the Sharon plains, with many villages, fields and orchards, and even a remote blue expanse, that is, the great sea, and the green Carmel over there at the end. Now we can see only little. The panorama has narrowed and will narrow even more until it will disappear at the bottom of the valley. The same happens to those who descend spiritually instead of ascending. One's virtue and wisdom become more and more limited and one's judgement narrower and narrower until it vanishes completely. A master of the spirit is then dead to his mission. He can no longer discern or guide. He is a corpse and can corrupt as he is corrupt. At times it is alluring to descend, it is almost always tempting, because at the bottom there are sensual satisfactions. We also are going down to the valley to find rest and food. But if that is necessary to our bodies, it is not necessary to satisfy sensual lust and spiritual laziness by descending into the valleys of moral and spiritual sensualism. You are allowed to reach one valley only: the valley of humility. Because God Himself descends into it to abduct humble spirits and raise them to Himself. He who humbles himself will be exalted. Any other valley is lethal, because it removes one from Heaven."
"Is that why You sent for me, Master?"
"Yes, for that. You had a long conversation with those who were questioning you."
"Yes, but it is not worth it. They are more dull-minded than mules."
"And I wanted to leave a thought where everything has vanished. That you may nourish your spirit."
Judas looks at Him with a perplexed countenance. He does not know whether he is being rewarded or reproached. The others, who are unaware of Judas' conversation with the followers, do not realise that Jesus is reproaching Judas for his pride.
And Judas wisely prefers to change the subject and he asks: "Master, what do You think? Those Romans, and the man from Petra, will they ever be able to accept Your Doctrine, since they have had such a limited contact with You? And that Alexander? He has gone away... We shall never see him again. And these people, too. One might say that they instinctively search for the truth, but they are up to their necks in heathenism. Will they ever succeed in doing anything good?"
"You mean in finding the Truth?"
"Why should they not succeed?"
"Because they are sinners."
"Are they the only sinners? Are there none among us?"
"There are many, I agree. That is exactly why I say that if we, who have been nourished for ages with wisdom and truth, are sinners and we are not successful in becoming just and followers of the Truth that You represent, how will they be able to do it, sated with filth as they are?"
"Every man can succeed in reaching and possessing the Truth, that is, God, wherever he may start from to reach it. When there is no mental pride and fleshly perversion, but sincere research for the Truth and Light, purity of intent and yearning for God, a creature is surely on the way to God."
"Mental pride... fleshly perversion... Master... then..."
"Continue with your thought, which is a good one."
Judas hesitates, then he says: "Then they cannot reach God because they are perverted."
"That is not what you wanted to say, Judas. Why have you gagged your thought and your conscience? Oh! how difficult it is for man to rise to God! And the main obstacle is in man himself, as he will not admit and meditate on himself and his faults. Really even Satan is very often slandered, by ascribing every cause of spiritual ruin to him. And God is even more calumniated, as all events are ascribed to Him. God does not infringe man's freedom. Satan cannot prevail over a will firm in Good. I solemnly tell you that seventy times out of one hundred man sins of his own will. And - one does not consider it but it is so - and he does not rise from sin because he avoids examining his own conscience, and even if his conscience, with unexpected motion reacts in him and shouts the truth on which he did not want to meditate, man stifles that cry, he destroys the figure which appears severe and sorrowful to his intellect, he twists with an effort his thought influenced by the accusing voice, and he refuses to say, for instance: “Then we, I, cannot reach the Truth because our minds are proud and our flesh corrupt”. Yes, truly, we do not proceed towards the ways of God because among us there is pride of minds and corruption of the flesh. A pride which really vies with the satanic one, so much so that God's actions are judged and hampered, when they are contrary to the interests of men and parties. And because of that sin many Israelites will be damned for ever."
"But we are not all like that."
"No. There are still good spirits, in every class of people. They are more numerous among the humble people than among the learned and rich. But they exist. But how many are they? How many with regard to this Palestinian people, whom I have been evangelizing and assisting for almost three years, and for whom I am wasting away? There are more stars shining in a cloudy night than spirits in Israel willing to come to My Kingdom."
"And the Gentiles, those Gentiles, will they come?"
"Not all of them, but many. Not even all My disciples will persevere until the end. But do not let us worry about the fruit that fall from the tree because they are rotten! Let us try, as much as possible, through kindness and firmness, through reproaches and forgiveness, through patience and love, to prevent them from becoming rotten. Then, when they say “no” to God and to their brothers who want to save them, and they throw themselves into the arms of Death, of Satan, dying unrepentant, let us lower our heads and offer God our sorrow for not making Him happy with that soul by saving it. Every master meets with such defeats. And they are useful, too. They humble the pride of the master of souls and test his constancy in his ministry. A defeat must not weary the will of the teacher of spirits. On the contrary it must spur him to do more and better in future."
"Why did You tell the decurion that You will see him on a mountain? How do You know?"
Jesus looks at Judas: a long strange look in which sadness mingles with a smile, and He says: "Because he is one of the people who will be present at My assumption and he will tell the great doctor of Israel a severe word of truth. And from that moment he will begin his safe journey towards the Light. But here we are at Gibeon. Let Peter go with other seven to announce Me. I will speak at once in order to dismiss those who have followed Me from the nearby villages. The others will stay with Me until after the Sabbath. You, Judas, stay with Matthew, Simon and Bartholomew."
(I did not recognise in the decurion any of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion. But I must say that, engaged as I was in watching my Jesus, I did not pay much attention to them. As far as I was concerned, it was a group of soldiers on duty. Nothing else. Further, when I could have watched them more carefully, because "everything was accomplished", there was such a faint light that only well-known faces could be recognised. But taking into account Jesus' words, I think that it was the soldier who said some words to Gamaliel, words that I do not remember and that I cannot check, because I am all alone in the house and I cannot get anybody to give me the notebook of the Passion.)