287. Preaching at Gerasa.
27th September 1945.
He thought He was unknown! When He sets foot outside Alexander's building the following morning, He finds people already waiting for Him. Jesus is with the apostles only. The women and disciples are still in the house, resting. The people greet Him gathering round Him and they say that they know Him because a man He had freed from demons has spoken to them about Him. The man is not there now because he has gone on with two disciples, who passed by some days ago.
Jesus listens kindly to what they say and at the same time He walks through the town in some areas of which the noise of building yards is dreadfully loud. Masons, diggers, stone-cutters, blacksmiths, carpenters are working building, levelling, filling gaps, chiselling stones for walls, working iron for various purposes, sawing, planing, making poles out of strong trunks. Jesus passes by watching, He crosses a bridge on a babbling torrent flowing in the middle of the town, with a row of houses on each side pretending to form a riverside. He goes up to the higher part of the town, which is built on a rising ground so that the south east side is higher than the northern one, but they are both higher than the town centre, which is divided by the little stream.
The view from the point where Jesus has stopped is beautiful. The whole town is displayed before the onlooker, and behind it, on the eastern, southern, western sides there is a horse-shoe shaped chain of low green hills, whereas to the north the eye roves over a wide open plain, with a ground elevation on the horizon, so tiny that it cannot even be called a hill, but it is beautifully golden in the morning sunshine, which tinges with a yellowish hue the leaves of the vines which cover the ground, as if it intended to mitigate the melancholy of the withering leaves with the splendour of a touch of gold.
Jesus is admiring the view and the people of Gerasa are looking at Him. He wins the regard of the people by saying to them:
"This town is really beautiful. Make it beautiful also in justice and holiness. The hills, the stream, the green plain were given to you by God. Rome is now helping you to have homes and beautiful buildings. But it is up to you only to have your town called holy and just. A town is what its citizens make it. Because a town is a part of society closed within its walls, but it is the citizens that make the town. A town in itself does not commit sin. The stream, the bridge, the houses, the towers cannot sin. They are matter, not souls. But those who are within the town walls, in houses, shops, those who cross the bridge or bathe in the stream they can all sin. If a town is factious and ruthless, people say: “It is a very bad town.” But that is wrong. It is not the town, it is the citizens who are very bad. Those individuals by joining together become one complex thing, as well as one thing only, which is called “town.” Now listen. If in a town ten thousand inhabitants are good, and only one thousand are not good, can we say that that town is wicked? No, we cannot. Likewise: if in a town of ten thousand inhabitants there are many parties and each struggles to favour his own, can we say that that town is still united? No, we cannot. And do you think that that town will thrive? No, it will not.
You people of Gerasa are now all united striving to make your town great. And you will succeed because you all want the same thing and you vie with one another in achieving your purpose. But if tomorrow opposed parties should arise among you and one said: “No, it is better to expand eastwards” and another party said: “Not at all. We will build in the north where the plain is”, and a third one should say: “Neither here nor there. We all want to live close together in the centre, near the river”, what would happen? It would happen that the work you have started would stop, those who have lent capitals would withdraw them, those who intended to settle here would go to another town with more agreeable people, and what you have already done would go to rack and ruin, as it would be exposed to the inclemency of the weather, before being completed, as a result of the quarrels of citizens. Is that right or not? You say it is, and you are right. So the harmony of the citizens is required for the welfare of the town, and consequently of the citizens themselves, because the welfare of a society is the welfare of its members.
But there is not only the society of which you are thinking, the society of citizens, of fellow-countrymen, or the little dear family society. There is a vaster society, an infinite one: the society of spirits.
Each living man has a soul. The soul does not die with the body, but survives forever. The idea of God, the Creator, who gave each man his soul, was that all the souls of men should be gathered in one place only, in Heaven, forming the Kingdom of Heaven, whose monarch is God and whose blissful subjects were to be all men, after a holy life and a placid limbo of expectancy. Satan came to divide and upset, destroy and grieve God and spirits. And he set sin in the hearts of men and with sin he brought death to the body at the end of its existence, hoping to give death to spirits as well. But the death of spirits is their damnation, which is still existence, but devoid of what is true life and eternal joy, that is, devoid of the beatific vision of God and of His eternal possession in eternal light. And Mankind became divided in its desires, like a town divided by opposed parties. And it was thus brought to ruin. I said elsewhere to those who were accusing Me of expelling demons with the assistance of Beelzebub: “Every kingdom divided in itself will be brought to ruin.” In fact if Satan expelled himself, he and his gloomy kingdom would ruin.
I have come, for the love that God has for mankind created by Him, to remind people that one Kingdom only is holy: the Kingdom of Heaven. And I have come to preach it, so that the better people may go towards it. Oh! I would like everybody, even the worst ones, to come to it, becoming converted, freeing themselves from the demon who keeps them enslaved, either openly, through corporal and spiritual possession, or secretly through a mere spiritual one. That is why I move about curing sick people, expelling demons from possessed people, converting sinners, forgiving in the name of the Lord, preaching the Kingdom, working miracles to convince you of My power and prove that God is with Me. Because no one can work a miracle unless God is his friend. So if I expel demons with the power of God, and I cure sick people, I cleanse lepers, convert sinners, announce and preach the Kingdom and I call people to it in the name of God, and God's compliance with Me is clear and indisputable, so that only disloyal enemies may assert the contrary, it is a sign that the Kingdom of God is among you and must be established because the hour of its foundation has come.
How is the Kingdom of God established in the world and in hearts? By going back to the Mosaic Law or by becoming acquainted with it if one is ignorant of it and, above all, by abiding by it absolutely, in every event and moment of our life. Which is that Law? Something so severe as to be impracticable? No. It is a set of ten holy easy precepts, which even a really morally good man feels he must respect, even if he lives in the most impervious forest of mysterious Africa.
It says: “I am the Lord Your God, you shall have no gods except Me.
You shall not utter the name of God in vain.
You shall keep the Sabbath according to the commandment of God and to the needs of the human body.
Honour your father and mother so that you may have a long life and be blessed both on the earth and in Heaven.
You shall not kill.
You shall not steal.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
You shall not covet your neighbour's wife.
You shall not covet your neighbour's goods.”
Which good natured soul, contemplating what is around him, even if he is a savage, will not say: “All this was not formed by itself. Therefore there must be One, more powerful than nature and than man himself, who made this”? And he worships the Powerful One Whose Most Holy Name he may or may not know, but he feels He must exist. And he has such reverence before Him, that when he utters the name which he has given Him or has been taught to utter to name Him, he trembles with respect and he feels that he prays when uttering it reverently. In fact it is a prayer to utter the Name of God with the intention of worshipping Him or making Him known to those who do not know Him.
Likewise, out of moral prudence alone every man feels that he must grant some rest to his limbs, so that they may resist as long as his life lasts. By deeper reason, a man who knows the God of Israel, the Creator and Lord of the Universe, feels that he must consecrate his bodily rest to the Lord, so that he may not be like a beast of burden which rests, when tired, on litter crushing fodder with its strong teeth.
Blood also calls for love for those from whom we originate, as we can see in that colt that is now running braying towards its mother which is coming from the market. It was playing in the herd, it saw its mother, it remembers it was fed by her and licked with loving care, defended and warmed by its mother, and see? It rubs her neck with its tender nostrils and jumps joyfully rubbing its young crupper against the sides that carried it. It is a duty and a pleasure to love one's parents. And there is no animal which does not love the mother which gave birth to it. What? Will man be more vile than worms living in mud? A morally good man does not kill. He has a strong dislike of violence. He feels that it is not lawful to take anybody's life, and that God only, Who gave it, has the right to take it. He abhors homicide.
Likewise, he who is morally sound does not take advantage of other people's property. He prefers to eat plain bread with a clear conscience near a silvery fountain, rather than have a rich roast which is the fruit of a theft. He prefers to sleep on the ground with his head on a stone and friendly stars above him, pouring peace and comfort on his honest conscience, rather than toss about in a stolen bed.
And if he is morally sound, he is not eager for more women, which are not his, and he will not cowardly disgrace the nuptial bed of his neighbour. And he will consider his friend's wife as a sister and will not cast lustful glances at her, as no one does at a sister.
A man with a righteous soul, even if only naturally righteous, with no other knowledge of Good but what comes to him from his honest conscience, will never take the liberty of giving false witness, as he would consider that the same as homicide and theft, which it is. But his lips are as honest as his heart, and his glances are honest, so he does not desire his neighbour's wife. He does not crave for anything, as he knows that that is the first incentive to sin. And he is not envious. Because he is good. A good man is never envious. He is happy in his lot.
Do you think that this law is so exacting as to be impracticable? Do not wrong yourselves! I am sure that you will not do that. And if you do not, you will establish the Kingdom of God within yourselves and in your town. And you will be happily joined one day to those whom you loved and who like you have gained the eternal Kingdom in the everlasting joy of Heaven.
But we have within us passions, which are like citizens closed within the circle of town walls. It is necessary for all the passions of men to want the same thing: that is, holiness, Otherwise some will tend to Heaven in vain, if others leave the doors unguarded and let the seducer enter or counteract the actions of part of the spiritual citizens through disputes or laziness, making the interior part of the town perish and abandoning it to nettles, poison, couchgrass, snakes, scorpions, mice and jackals, and owls, that is, to wicked passions and to Satan's angels. You must be unceasingly vigilant, like sentries placed at the walls, to prevent the Evil one from entering where we want to build the Kingdom of God.
I solemnly tell you that as long as the strong man watches in arms the hall of his house, he is sure of everything which is in it. But if one stronger than he is comes, or if he leaves the door unguarded, then the stronger man will defeat him and disarm him, and when he is deprived of the weapons on which he relied, he loses heart and surrenders and the stronger man makes him a prisoner and takes his spoils. But if man lives in God, through loyalty to the Law and justice practised holily, God is with him, I am with him, and no harm can befall him. Union with God is the weapon which no strong man can overcome. Union with Me is certainty of victory and of abundance of eternal virtues through which he will be given an eternal seat in the Kingdom of God. But he who turns his back on Me or becomes My enemy, rejects thereby the weapons and certainty of My Word. He who rejects the Word, rejects God. He who rejects God invokes Satan. He who invokes Satan destroys what he had to conquer the Kingdom.
Therefore, he who is not with Me is against Me. And he who does not cultivate what I have sown, will reap what the Enemy has sown. He who does not harvest with Me, dissipates and will be poor and nude when he comes to the Supreme Judge, Who will send him to the master to whom he sold himself by preferring Beelzebub to Christ.
Citizens of Gerasa: build the Kingdom of God within yourselves and in your town."
The trilling voice of a woman is clearly heard like the song of a skylark above the whispering of the admiring crowd, and it sings a new beatitude, that is the glory of Mary: "Blessed be the womb that bore You and the breast that suckled You."
Jesus turns towards the woman who extolled His Mother admiring Her Son. He smiles, because He is pleased with the praise for His Mother. But He then says: "More blessed are those who listen to the word of God and practise it. Do that, woman."
He then blesses the crowds and goes towards the country, followed by the apostles who ask Him: "Why did You say that?"
"Because I tell you solemnly that in Heaven they do not use the same measure as is used on the earth. And My Mother will be blessed not so much because of Her immaculate soul as for listening to the word of God and practising it through obedience. It was a prodigy of the Creator “that Mary's soul was immaculate.” And He is to be praised for that. But the “let what you have said be done to Me” is a prodigy of My Mother. Her merit therefore is great. So great that the Saviour of the world came only because of Her capability of listening to God, speaking through Gabriel's lips, and because of Her will to practise the word of God, without weighing the difficulties and the immediate and future sorrows connected with Her assent. You can thus see that She is My blessed Mother not only because She bore and suckled Me, but because She listened to the word of God and practised it through obedience. But let us go home now. My Mother knew that I was going to be out for a short while and She may be worried because of My delay. We are in a half-pagan country. But in actual fact it is better than others. But let us go. And let us go round the walls to avoid the crowds which would keep Me back. Come down quick behind this thicket..."