316. Jesus' Sorrow, Prayer and Penance.
2nd November 1945.
Jesus is once again at the foot of the massive height on which Jiphthahel is built. But He is not on the main road (let us call it so) or mule-track, along which the cart came. He is instead on a little footpath fit for ibexes, so steep it is, strewn with large stone splinters and deep crevices, and seems to be stuck on to the mountain side; I would say that it is engraved on the vertical face of the mountain, which looks as if it were scratched by a huge claw. At its edge there is a precipice, a sheer deep drop, at the bottom of which an angry torrent foams along. To slip there means to fall hopelessly, bouncing from one bush to another of bramble or other wild plants, which have grown between the crevices of the rocks, I do not know how, as they have not come up vertically, as is normal with plants, but obliquely and even horizontally, compelled by their ubication. To slip there means to be torn to pieces by the thorns of such plants, or to have one's back broken by the impact on rigid tree trunks protruding over the abyss. To slip there means to be lacerated by the sharp-edged stones sticking out from the face of the precipice. To slip there means to drop bleeding and in pieces into the foamy water of the angry torrent and be drowned, and lie submerged on a bed of pointed rocks and be lashed by the impetuous water. And yet Jesus is walking along that path, that scratch in the rock, which is even more dangerous because of the dampness that rises steaming from the torrent, or drops from the overhanging surface and from the plants growing on that vertical face, which I would say is lightly concave.
He proceeds slowly, cautiously, watching each step on the sharp stones, some of which are wobbly, at times He is compelled to squeeze against the mountain side when the path narrows; and to pass over some particularly dangerous spots, He has to get hold of branches hanging from the rocks. He goes round the western side thus and reaches the southern one, where the mountain, after a perpendicular drop from the summit, becomes more concave than elsewhere, allowing the path thus to widen a little, but reducing its height, so that Jesus now and again must lower His head to avoid knocking it against the rocks.
Perhaps He intends to stop there, where the path ends abruptly, because of a landslide. But when He sees that under the cliff there is a cave, a fissure in the mountain rather than a cave, He lets Himself down among the fallen stones. He goes in. There is a cleft at first, then a large grotto inside, as if the mountain had been hollowed out a long time ago by man, for some unknown reason. One can clearly see that the natural curves of the rock have been enlarged by man, who, on the side opposite the entrance, opened a narrow corridor, at the end of which there is a streak of light, and remote forests can be seen, which proves that the corridor cuts through the mountain spur from the southern side to the eastern one.
Jesus slips into the narrow semidark tunnel and goes along it until He reaches its opening, which is above the road on which He came with the apostles and the cart to go up to Jiphthahel. The mountains surrounding the lake of Galilee are in front of Him, beyond the valley, and to the north-east the great Hermon shines in its snowy mantle. Rough steps have been dug on the mountain side, which is not so steep here, neither upwards nor downwards and the steps lead to the mule-track, which is in the valley, and also to the mountain top where is Jiphthahel.
Jesus is satisfied with His exploration. He goes back into the large cave and looks for a sheltered place where He heaps up dry leaves that the wind has blown inside. A very poor pallet, a thin layer of dry leaves laid between His body and the bare icy soil...
He drops on it and remains inert, lying with His hands under His head, staring at the rocky vault, absorbed, I would say bewildered, like one who bears a strain or is struck by sorrow greater than one's strength.
Then tears, without sobs, begin to drop slowly from His eyes and stream down both sides of His face, disappearing in His hair, near His ears, and ending among the dry leaves... He weeps thus, for a long time, without speaking or moving... He then sits up, and with His head between His raised knees, embraced by His clasped hands, He calls His far away Mother, with all His soul: "Mother! Mother! Mother of Mine! My eternal sweetness! Oh! Mother, I wish You were near Me! Why do I not always have You, the only comfort of God?"
Only the hollow cave replies to His words and His sobs with the whisper of a faint echo, and it seems to be weeping and sobbing itself through its edges and rocks and the few and still small stalactites hanging in a corner, the one which is probably most exposed to the internal activity of water.
Jesus continues weeping, although more calmly, as if the simple invocation of His Mother consoled Him and His weeping slowly changes into a monologue. "They have gone... Why? Whose fault is it? Why did I have to grieve them thus? And grieve Myself, since the world fills each day of Mine with affliction?... Judas!"...
I wonder where Jesus' thought wanders when He lifts His head from His knees and looks in front of Himself with wide open eyes and the tense face of a person engrossed in the vision of future spiritual events or in deep meditation. He no longer weeps. But he is evidently suffering. He then seems to be replying to an invisible interlocutor. And He stands up to do so.
"I am a man, Father. I am the Man. The virtue of friendship, which was wounded and torn from Me, is writhing and moaning sorrowfully... I know that I must suffer everything. I know as God and as God I want it for the good of the world. As man also I know, because My divine spirit informs My humanity. And also as man I want it, for the good of the world. But how grievous it is, o Father! This hour is much more sorrowful than the one I lived with Your spirit and Mine in the desert... And much stronger is the present temptation not to love and not to bear at My side the slimy tortuous being, whose name is Judas, the cause of the deep sorrow with which I am sated and which tortures the souls to whom I had given peace. Father, I perceive it. You are becoming more and more severe as I approach the end of My expiation on behalf of Mankind. Your kindness is moving farther and farther away from Me, and Your countenance appears more and more severe to My spirit, which is rejected more and more into the depth, where Mankind, struck by Your punishment, has been moaning for millennia. It was pleasant to suffer, pleasant was the way at the beginning of My life, it was pleasant also when from the son of a carpenter I became the Master of the world, tearing Myself away from a Mother to give You, Father, to man who had fallen. It was still pleasant to Me, as compared with the present hour, to struggle with the Enemy, in the Temptation in the desert. I faced him with the boldness of a hero with intact strength... Oh! Father!... My strength is now encumbered by the indifference of too many people and the knowledge of too many things... I knew that Satan would go, when the temptation was over, and he did go, and the angels came to comfort Your Son for being a man, subject to the temptation of the Demon. But the temptation will not cease now, after this hour, in which the Friend suffers because of the friends sent away, and because of the perjured friend who injures Him both when he is near and far away. It will not cease. Your angels will not come to comfort Me in this hour and after it. But the world will come, with all its hatred, its mockery and incomprehension. And the traitor who sold himself to Satan will come and he, the perjurer, will be more and more tortuous and slimy. Father!!..." It is really a cry of anguish, of fear and of invocation and Jesus is agitated and reminds me of the hour at Gethsemane.
"Father! I know. I can see... While I suffer here and will suffer, and I offer My suffering to You for his conversion and for those who have been torn away from My arms and who are going towards their destiny with broken hearts, he is selling himself to become greater than I am: the Son of Man! I am, am I not, the Son of Man? Yes, but I am not the only one. Children were born of mankind, of prolific Eve, and if I am Abel, the Innocent One, Cain is not missing among the children of Mankind. And if I am the First-Born, because I am what the children of man should have been, without stain in Your eyes, he, who was born in sin, is the first of what men have become after eating the poisoned fruit. And now, not satisfied with having in himself the disgusting blasphemous incentives of falsehood, anti-charity, of thirst for blood, of greed for money, of pride and lust, he is raving to be the man who becomes a demon, whilst he is a man who could become an angel... “And Lucifer wanted to be like God and was therefore driven out of Paradise and changed into a demon and he dwelt in Hell.” But Father! Oh! Father! I love him... I still love him. He is a man... He is one of those for whom I left You... Save him, because of My humiliation... grant Me to redeem him, Most High Lord! I offer this penance more for him than for anybody else! Oh! I am aware of the incongruity of what I am asking, because I know everything!... But, Father, do not consider Me Your Word for a moment. Look only at the Humanity of the Just One... and let Me be for a moment only the “Man” in Your grace, the Man who is not aware of the future, who can deceive himself... the Man who not being aware of ineluctable fate can pray with absolute hope, to wring a miracle out of You. A miracle! A miracle of Jesus of Nazareth, for Jesus of Mary of Nazareth, Our eternal Beloved One! A miracle that violates what has been set down and cancels it! The salvation of Judas! He has lived beside Me, he has drunk in My words, has shared food with Me, has slept on My chest... No, do not let him be My satan!... I am not asking You not to be betrayed... That must happen, and will happen... so that all falsehood may be cancelled by My sorrow of being betrayed, as all avarice may be expiated by My grief for being sold, as amends may be made for all blasphemy through My torment at being cursed, and faith may be given to those who are and will be without faith, through My torture at not being believed, and all the sins of flesh may be cleansed by My being scourged... But I beg You: not him, not Judas, My friend, My apostle! I would like no one to be a traitor... No one... Not even the remotest inhabitant of the hyperborean ice fields or of the torrid zone... I would like You alone to be the Sacrificer... as You already have been in the past when You set fire to the holocausts by means of Your flames... But since I am to die by the hand of man, and since the traitor friend will be a more brutal executioner than the real executioner, the putrid traitor who will have in himself the stench of Satan, and is already inhaling it to be like Me in power... that is what he thinks in his pride and lust... since I am to die by the hand of man, Father, do not let him whom I called friend and I loved as such, be My Traitor. Increase My torment, Father, but give Me Judas' soul... I am putting this prayer on the altar of My victim Person... Accept it, Father!...
Heaven is closed and silent!... Is this therefore the horror that I shall have with Me until My Death? Heaven is silent and closed!... Is this therefore the silence and the prison in which I shall breathe My last? Heaven is closed and silent!... Is this therefore the supreme torture of the Martyr?... Father, may Your will be done, not Mine... But because of My suffering, oh! grant Me at least this: give peace and illusion to Judas' other martyr, to John of Endor, Father... He is really better than many. He has already gone a long way, such as few are or will be able to go. Redemption has already been completed for him. Give him, therefore, Your total complete peace, so that I may have him in My Glory, when everything will be completed also for Me in Your honour and obedience... Father!..."
Jesus has slowly fallen on His knees and is now weeping with His face on the ground, and while He prays the light of the short winter day fades precociously in the dark cavern, and the roar of the torrent seems to grow louder as the shade in the valley becomes darker...