368. The Thursday before Passover. Instructions to the Apostles.
25th January 1946.
On their way back to Johanna's house, while they are spread out among the people crowding the streets and separating from one another the many disciples who are following Jesus, Peter, who is with the Master and the two sons of Alphaeus, asks: "Lord, now that we can speak a little to each other, will You tell me something, about which I have been thinking since last night?"
"Of course, Simon. Tell Me, and I will answer you."
"Since last night I have been thinking of the great grace that You grant John at Antigonea. You know, it's really a great grace! Something unique. Granted to him only! And yet Syntyche also deserves as much... And there are many good people... who would deserve to see You... but they only see You when they are close to You. For instance, what a comfort it would have been to us, when You sent us out into the world! And there have been times when a word of Yours would have cleared up doubtful points for us... But You never appear to us... Why this difference?"
"In conclusion, My dear Simon, are you perhaps a little jealous?..."
"No! But... Well, I would like to know three things: why is it granted to John of Endor; whether it is granted to him only; and whether one day it should happen to us as well, for instance to me, to see You miraculously and be informed by You how I should behave."
"And this is My reply. The grace is granted to John because he is a most willing spirit, but he, because of his past adventures, has some weaknesses, which are more physical than anything else, and might spoil the edifice of his elevation to God, which he built. See, My dear friend? Our past, which has been upon us for a long time like a deeply rooted crust, not only cuts indelible signs, but leaves also everlasting inclinations in every man. Look, for instance, at that little house built at the foot of the mountain. The water, which runs down the mountain side when it rains, has slowly penetrated into it. At present there is warm sunshine, which will last for months. But the mould that has penetrated the mortar will always be present like blotches of leprosy. The house has been abandoned because it has been declared infected. In more severe days the house would have been demolished completely, according to the Law. Why did such a disaster happen to the poor house? Because its owners did not have little ditches dug around it to prevent water from stagnating at its foundations and to keep away from the side facing the mountain the water descending from it. The house is now not only ugly looking, but it is also undermined by dampness. If a man with good will saw to those expedients and then cleaned it, scraping the walls and replacing the infected bricks with new ones, it could be used once again. But it would always be affected by such weaknesses, that in the event of an earthquake it would be the first to collapse. John was penetrated for years by the poisonous evil of the world. Through his will power he had it cut off from his soul, when it became alive again. But there are weaknesses still left, hidden in his flesh, in his inferior part... His spirit is strong, but his body is weak and the flesh causes storms when its incentives link up with elements of the world, capable of shaking one's ego. John!... How many particles of his past have been removed by what happened! I help his resistance, his purification, his victory over his resurgent past. I give solace to his too bitter suffering, as best I can. Because he deserves it. Because it is just to help a holy will when all the wickedness of the world attacks it. Are you convinced?"
"Yes, Master, I am... And do You appear to him only?"
Jesus smiles looking at Peter who is gazing at Him from below like a child watching the face of his father. He replies: "Not to him only. To others also, who are far away, building up their holiness, laboriously and all alone."
"Who are they?"
"There is no need to know that."
James of Alphaeus asks: "And what about us, for instance, when we shall be alone and, who knows, how we shall be tortured by the world?... Will You not help us with Your presence?"
"You will have the Paraclete with His light."
"All right... But I... I do not know Him... and... I think that I will never succeed in understanding Him. You instead... I will say: “Oh! Here is the Master” and I will ask You what I must do, knowing for sure that it is You..." says Peter. And he concludes: "The Paraclete! Too high for a poor fisherman! I wonder how difficult His language is and how light He is: a passing whiff... Who will perceive it? I need a violent shaking, a shout, so that, blockheaded as I am, I may awake and understand. But if You appear to me, I will see You, so!... Promise me, nay, promise us, promise that You will appear to us, too. But as You are! In flesh and blood. So that one may see You well and hear You better."
"And if I came to reproach you?"
"It does not matter! At least − you two agree, don't you? − we shall at least know what is to be done!"
Alphaeus' two sons nod assent.
"Well, I do promise you. However, believe Me, the Paraclete will make Himself understood by your souls. But I will come and say to you: “James, do this and that. Simon Peter, it is not right for you to do that. Judas, fortify yourself to be ready for this or that.”"
"Oh! very good. I feel better now. And come often, mind You! Because I shall be like a poor lost child, who does nothing but weep and... do the wrong thing..." And Peter almost begins to weep now...
Judas Thaddeus asks: "Could You not do so for everybody, even now? I mean: for those who are doubtful, guilty, abjurers. Perhaps a miracle..."
"No, brother. A miracle does a lot of good, particularly that kind of miracle, when it is granted at the right time and in the right place, to people who are not mischievously guilty. When, instead, it is granted to people mischievously guilty, it increases their guilt, because it increases their pride. They mistake the gift of God for weakness of God, as if God implored such proud people to allow Him to love them. They consider the gift of God the result of their great merits. They say: “God humbles Himself before me, because I am holy.” Then the ruin is complete. The ruin of Mark of Josiah, for instance, and of other people with him... Woe to those who take that Satanic road. The gift of God changes in them into poison of Satan. To be blessed with unusual gifts is the greatest and safest test of the degree of elevation and holy will in man. Very often man becomes humanly exhilarated with them, and from spiritual he becomes entirely human, he then descends lower and becomes a demon."
"Why does God grant them then? It would be better if He did not!"
"Simon of Jonah, when your mother wanted you to learn to walk, did she keep you in swaddling-clothes and in her arms all the time?"
"No. She put me on the floor with my legs free."
"Did you ever fall?"
"Innumerable times! Also because I was very... Well, since I was a child, I wanted to do things by myself and I maintained that I did everything well."
"But you no longer fall now!"
"Of course not! Now I know that it is dangerous to climb on the back of a chair, that it is wrong to make use of rain-pipes to descend from the roof to the ground and that it would be foolish to try to fly from the fig-tree into the house, just like a bird. But when a child, I did not know. And if I did not get killed it is a real mystery. But little by little I learned to make the right use of my legs and also of my brains."
"So God did a good thing in giving you legs and brains, and your mother also did a good thing in letting you learn at your own expense?"
"And God does likewise with souls. He gives them gifts, and like a good mother He warns and teaches them. But then everybody must consider by himself how to use them."
"And if one is a blockhead?"
"God does not give gifts to blockheads. He loves them, because they are unhappy, but He does not give them what they could not appreciate."
"But supposing He did give them, and they used them wrongly?"
"God would treat them for what they are: disabled people, and consequently not responsible. He would not judge them."
"And if one is intelligent when one receives them, and later becomes silly or mad?"
"If the change is due to disease, one is not guilty of not using the gift."
"But... one of us, for instance? Mark of Josiah... or... somebody else, then?"
"Oh! In that case it would be better for him not to be born! But that is how the good are separated from the wicked... A painful but just operation."
"Which is the interesting subject of your conversation? Does it not concern us?" ask the other apostles who, thanks to the width of the street, have been able to join Jesus.
"We were speaking of many things. Jesus told me a parable on the leprosy of houses. I will repeat it to you later" replies Peter.
"What superstition, however! Really worthy of those days. Walls are not affected by leprosy. Foolish ancient people applied animal characteristics to clothes and walls. Absurd theories which make us ridiculous" remarks the Iscariot displaying his learning.
"Not quite as you say, Judas. Under an apparent fiction, suited to the mentality of those days, they achieved an important scope, which corresponded to holy foresight. Just like many other precepts of old Israel. Precepts safeguarding the health of the people. It is the duty of legislators to keep people healthy, it honours and serves God because people are creatures of God. Therefore they are not to be neglected, as we do not neglect animals and plants. It is true that the houses that are called leprous, do not have the physical disease of leprosy. But they have position and construction faults, which make them unhealthy and are revealed by stains called “leprosy of the walls”. In the long run they are not only unhealthy for man, but they become dangerous because they can easily fall. Thus the Law prescribes what is right and orders the houses to be abandoned and restored and even to be pulled down, if after being repaired, they still show signs of the disease."
"Oh! What harm can a little dampness do? It can be dried with braziers."
"Then the dampness will not show exteriorly and the deception is greater. The dampness will grow in depth and corrode, and one fine day the house collapses burying those who are in it. Judas, Judas! It is better to be exceedingly watchful than imprudent."
"I am not a house."
"You are the house of your soul. Do not let evil filter into your house and crush it to pieces... Watch over the safety of your soul. You must all be watchful."
"I will watch, Master. But tell me the truth, have my mother's words made a deep impression on You? She is ill. She imagines things. I must have her treated. Cure her for me, Master."
"I will comfort her. But you are the only one who can cure her, relieving her anxiety."
"She is anxious about nothing. Believe me, Lord."
"Better so, Judas. Better so. But try to remove her anxiety completely, through a more and more just behaviour. If it is there, there must be a reason for it. Cancel the very memory of it, and your mother and I will bless you."
"Master, are You afraid that I should come to terms with Mark of Josiah?"
"I am afraid of nothing."
"Ah! Good! Because I was really trying to convince him. And I think it was my duty to do so. No one does it! But I am zealous for souls, I really am!"
"Be careful that no harm befalls you" says Peter, good-naturedly.
"What do you mean?" asks Judas aggressively.
"Just this: to handle what is burning you must use something which is fireproof."
"What, in our case?"
"What? Great holiness."
"And I have none, have I?"
"Neither you, nor I, nor anyone among us. So... we might burn ourselves and be left with scorch marks."
"So, who will take care of souls?"
"The Master, for the time being. Later, when we have the means to do so, according to His promise, we will."
"But I want to do so now. One never works too early for the Lord."
"Yes, I think that you are right. But the first work for the Lord is to be done within ourselves. To go preaching holiness to other people before preaching it to ourselves, is..."
"You are selfish."
"Not at all."
"Yes, you are."
"No, I'm not."
The dispute begins. Jesus intervenes: "Most of what Peter says is right. There is also some truth in what you say. Because preaching is to be based on facts. So you must sanctify yourselves in order to be able to say: “Do what I do because it is right.” And that corroborates what Peter says. But to work on other souls also helps to perfect our own, because we are compelled to improve ourselves, lest those to be converted should criticise us. But here we are at Johanna's house... Let us go in and enjoy being among workers of the Lord, and preach, through facts, future times."