377. Jesus Speaks at Bethany.
6th February 1946.
The vision dated 14th August 1944: The sheep in the fold at the feet of the Good Shepherd, is to be put before this chapter.
Jesus is at Bethany and the fertile country is full of blossoms and flowers in this beautiful month of Nisan, which is so serene and clear that creation seems to have been cleansed of all filthiness. But the crowds who have been looking for Him in Jerusalem and do not wish to go away without hearing Him, to take away in their hearts His words, soon find Him. And they are so numerous that Jesus orders His disciples to gather them all together, so that He may teach them. And the twelve apostles and the seventy-two disciples, who have formed a group of approximately that number with the new disciples who joined them recently, spread out in all directions to carry out His instructions. In the meantime Jesus, in Lazarus' garden, takes leave of the women, and particularly of His Mother, as they are all going back to Galilee, as instructed by Him, escorted by Simon of Alphaeus, Jairus, Alphaeus of Sarah, Marjiam, Susanna's husband and Zebedee. They greet one another and weep. Many wish they did not have to obey. A desire brought about by their love for the Master. But the power of their perfect love for the Most Holy Word, being entirely supernatural, is stronger, and that power makes them obey and accept the painful separation.
The one who speaks least is Mary, His Mother. But Her countenance is more eloquent than all the words of the others put together. Jesus understands Her grief, and He reassures and comforts Her, overwhelming Her with caresses, if a mother, and particularly that Mother, can ever be overwhelmed, as She is full of love and in great distress for Her persecuted Son. And the women depart at last, turning round several times to greet the Master, their sons and the lucky Judaean women disciples who are still staying with the Master.
"They have suffered in going away..." remarks Simon Zealot.
"But it is better that they have gone, Simon."
"Do You foresee sad days?"
"Troubled, at least. Women cannot bear fatigue as we do. In any case, now that I have almost as many Judaeans as Galileans, it is better if they are divided. They will have Me in turns, and in turns they will have the joy of serving Me, and I the consolation of their holy love."
The crowds are continuously increasing in numbers. The orchard between Lazarus' house and that which belonged to the Zealot is swarming with people. There are people of all castes and conditions, as well as Pharisees from Judaea, members of the Sanhedrin and veiled women. The members of the Sanhedrin who on Passover Sabbath had called on Lazarus in Jerusalem, come out of Lazarus' house, with other people, in one group, close to a litter in which Lazarus is carried. When passing by, Lazarus waves his hand and smiles happily at Jesus. And Jesus returns the salutation, while He follows the little procession to where the people are waiting for Him.
The apostles join Him and Judas Iscariot, who has been exulting for some days, in a very happy mood, turns his very dark bright eyes here and there and reports to Jesus what he discovers.
"Oh! look! There are also some priests!... Look! There is also Simon of the Sanhedrin. And there is Helkai. What a liar! Only a few months ago he used to speak evil of Lazarus, and now he pays his respects to him as if he were a god!... And Doro the Elder and Trison are over there. See? He is greeting Joseph. And Samuel the scribe with Saul... And Gamaliel's son! And over there there is a group of Herodians... And that group of women with veils... must be the Roman ladies... They are standing on one side, but look how they are watching where You are going, so that they can change place and hear You! I recognise them notwithstanding their large mantles. See? Two are tall, one is broader than taller, the others are of middle height, but well shaped. Shall I go and greet them?"
"No. They have come here as strangers, as anonyms who wish to hear the word of the Rabbi. We must consider them as such."
"As You wish, Master. I wanted to remind... Claudia of her promise..."
"It is not necessary. And even if it were, we must never become beggars, Judas. Is that right? Heroism in faith is to be perfected among difficulties."
"It was for Your sake, Master."
"And for your everlasting idea of a human triumph. Do not cherish false hopes, Judas. Neither with regard to My future behaviour, nor with regard to promises you have received.. You believe in what you say to yourself. But nothing will be able to change the thought of God, which is, that I am Redemeer and King of a spiritual Kingdom."
Judas does not reply.
Jesus is now in His place, in the middle of the apostles. Lazarus is in his little bed, almost at His feet. Not far from Him there are the Judaean women disciples, that is Lazarus' sisters, Eliza, Anastasica, Johanna with the children, Annaleah, Sarah, Marcella, Nike. The Roman ladies, or at least those pointed out by Judas as such, are a little behind, almost at the end, mingled in a group of common people. Members, of the Sanhedrin, Pharisees, scribes, priests are in the first row, which is unavoidable. But Jesus begs them to make room for three small litters with sick people, whom Jesus asks questions, but He does not cure them at once.
Jesus, as a starting point for His speech, draws the attention of the audience to the large number of birds that nestle in the trees in Lazarus' garden and in the orchard where His listeners are gathered.
"Watch them. Some are indigenous, some exotic, they are of all breeds and sizes. And when it gets dark, they will be replaced by night birds, which are also very numerous, although we are inclined to forget about them, because we do not see them. Why so many birds here? Because they find what they need to live happily: sunshine, peace, plenty foodstuff, safe shelter, cool water. And they gather coming here from east and west, north and south, if they are migrant birds, and they stay here permanently if they are indigenous. So? Shall we thus see that the birds of the air exceed the sons of man in wisdom? How many of these birds are the young ones of birds that are now dead, but last year or farther back in time, built their nests here and were happy here. They told their little ones, before dying. They showed them this place and the young ones obeyed and came here. The Father, Who is in Heaven, the Father of all men, did He perhaps not tell His saints the truth, did He not give them all the necessary instructions for the welfare of His children? All the instructions: those concerning the welfare of the body and those concerning the welfare of the spirit. But what do we see? We see that while what was taught for the health of the body − from the hide tunics, which He made for the First Parents, stripped in their own eyes of the dress of innocence, which was torn by sin, to the latest discoveries made by man through the light of God − is remembered, handed down and taught, the rest, which was taught, ordered and pointed out for the spirit, is not kept, or taught or practised."
Many people of the Temple begin to whisper. Jesus calms them with a gesture. "The Father, Whose goodness exceeds by far man's understanding, sent His Servant to remind men of His teaching, to gather birds in healthy places, to give them clear knowledge of what is useful and holy, to establish the Kingdom, where every angelical bird, every soul, will find grace and peace, wisdom and health. And I solemnly tell you that as the birds born in this place, in springtime will say to the birds of other places: “Come with us, because there is a good place where you will enjoy peace and the bounty of the Lord”, and thus next year new birds will be seen gathering here, in the same way, we shall see numerous spirits rush from every part of the world, as predicted by the prophets, towards the Doctrine, which has come from God, and towards the Saviour, the founder of the Kingdom of God. But the day-birds are mixed in this place with night-birds, which are birds of prey, disturbers and quite capable of terrifying and killing the good little birds. And those birds have been such for years, for generations, and nothing can flush them, because they work in darkness and in places impenetrable by man. They work in darkness, with their cruel eyes, their silent flights, their voracity, their cruelty and unclean as they are, they spread filth and sorrow.
To whom shall we compare them? To those who in Israel do not want to accept the Light that has come to illuminate darkness, the Word that has come to teach, Justice that has come to sanctify. I have come for them in vain. Nay, I am the cause of sin for them, because they persecute Me and My faithful believers. So what shall I say? What I have already said many a time: “Many will come from east and west and will sit with Abraham and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven. But the children of this kingdom will be thrown out into the dark.”"
"The children of God in the dark? You are blaspheming!" shouts one of the hostile members of the Sanhedrin. It is the first sprinkle of the slaver of the reptiles, who have been silent for too long and who can no longer be quiet, otherwise they would be drowned in their own poison.
"Not the children of God" replies Jesus.
"You said so! You said: “The children of this kingdom will be thrown out into the dark.”"
"And I repeat it. The children of this kingdom. The kingdom that is ruled by flesh, blood, avarice, fraud, lust, crime. But that is not My Kingdom. My Kingdom is the Kingdom of Light. Yours is the kingdom of darkness. Righteous spirits, including those that at present are heathens, idolaters, despised by Israel, will come to the Kingdom of Light from east and west, north and south. And they will live in holy communion with God, having accepted the light of God within themselves, while waiting to ascend to the true Jerusalem, where there are no tears, no sorrow and above all no falsehood. The Falsehood that now rules over the world of darkness and gluts its children to such extent that they cannot hold a tiny beam of the divine Light. Oh! Let the new children come and replace the disowning children! Let them come! And wherever they come from, they will be enlightened by God and will reign forever and ever!"
"You have spoken to insult us!" shout the hostile Judaeans.
"I spoke to tell you the truth."
"Your power lies in Your language, by which You, the new snake, allure and mislead the crowds."
"My power is the strength that comes to Me by being One with My Father."
"Blasphemer!" shout the priests.
"Saviour! You, who are lying at My feet, what are you suffering from?"
"I broke my spine when I was a child and I have been lying on my back for thirty years."
"Rise and walk! And what are you suffering from, woman?"
"My legs have been hanging lifelessly since my son, who now carries me about with my husband, was born" and she points at a young man who is at least sixteen years old.
"Rise, too, and praise the Lord. And why is that child not walking by himself?"
"Because he was born feeble-minded, blind, deaf and dumb. He is a lump of breathing flesh" explain those who are with the poor child.
"In the Name of God, have intelligence, speech, sight and hearing. I want it!"
And after working the third miracle, He turns to His enemies and asks: "What do you say now?"
"Dubious miracles. Why do You not cure Your friend and supporter, if You can do anything?"
"Because God wants otherwise."
"Ah! Ah! God! A fine excuse! If we bring You a sick man, nay, two, will You cure them?"
"I will, if they deserve it."
"Wait then" and they go away quickly, grinning sarcastically.
"Be careful, Master! They may set a trap for You" some say.
Jesus makes a gesture as if He wanted to say: "Let them do as they like!" and He bends to caress the children, who little by little have approached Him, leaving their relatives. Some mothers imitate them, taking to Him those who are not yet steady in their first steps or sucklings.
"Bless our children, Blessed One, because we are lovers of the Light!" say the mothers.
And Jesus imposes His hands, blessing them. That brings about a bustle in the crowd. All those with children want the same blessing and they push and shout to make their way through the crowd. The apostles, both because they have been irritated by the usual mischievousness of scribes and Pharisees, and because they feel pity for Lazarus, who risks being carried away by the wave of relatives taking their little ones to the divine blessing, become impatient and shout reproaching and pushing back this one and that one, particularly the little children who have come by themselves. But Jesus says kindly and lovingly: "No, do not do that! Never prevent children from coming to Me, nor their relatives from bringing them to Me. Because the Kingdom is of these innocent souls. They will not be guilty of the great Crime, and they will grow up in My Faith. Let Me therefore consecrate them to it. Their angels are leading them to Me."
Jesus is now in the middle of a crowd of children looking at Him ecstatically; so many little faces looking up at Him, so many innocent eyes, so many little smiling mouths...
The veiled ladies take advantage of the confusion to go round at the rear of the crowd and come behind Jesus, as if they were urged by curiosity to do so. The Pharisees and scribes come back with two sick people who seem to be suffering from severe pain. One particularly is moaning in his little litter, and is completely covered with a mantle. The other one, apparently, is not so seriously ill, but is certainly very ill, because he is reduced to a skeleton and is panting. "Here are our friends. Cure them. They are really ill. Particularly that one!" and they point to the moaning one.
Jesus lowers His eyes and looks at the sick people, He then looks up at the Jews. He darts a dreadful look at His enemies. Standing behind the group of innocent children, who do not reach up to His groin, He seems to be rising from a wreath of purity, to be the Avenger, as if from that purity He were drawing the strength to be so. He opens His arms and shouts: "Liars! That man is not ill! I tell you! Uncover him! Or he will be really dead in a moment, for attempting to deceive God."
The man jumps out of his litter shouting: "No, no! Don't strike me! Here, you cursed ones, take your money!" and he throws a purse at the feet of the Pharisees and takes to his heels...
The crowds howl, laugh, boo, applaud...
The other sick man says: "And what about me, Lord? They forced me out of my bed and they have been using violence on me since this morning... But I did not know that I was in the hands of Your enemies..."
"Be cured, poor son, and may you be blessed!" and He imposes His hands on him, after making His way through the children.
The man lifts for a moment the blanket covering his body and he looks at I do not know what... He then stands up. He is nude from his thighs downwards. And he shouts and shouts until he becomes hoarse: "My foot! My foot! But who are You, Who can give back what was lost?" and he throws himself at Jesus' feet. He then stands up, jumps precariously on his little litter shouting: "My disease was eating away my bones. The doctor had torn off my toes, he had cauterised my flesh and had cut me up to the bone of my knee. Look! Look at the scars. But I was going to die just the same. And now... It is all cured! My foot has been restored... It is no longer painful! I feel well... strong... My chest is free... My heart is sound! Oh! mother! I am coming to share my joy with you!"
He begins to run away. But gratitude stops him. He goes back to Jesus and he kisses His blessed feet repeatedly, until Jesus, caressing his head, says to him: "Go! Go to your mother and be good."
He then looks at His enemies, who have been held up to ridicule and says: "And now? What should I do to you? What should I do, people, after this ordeal?"
The crowds shout: "Let the offenders of God be stoned! Death to them! No more snares for the Holy One! May you be cursed!" and they begin picking up lumps of earth, branches, little stones, ready to throw them.
Jesus stops them. "That is the word of the crowds. That is their answer. Mine is different. I say: Go away! I will not soil My hands striking you. The Most High will take care of you. He is My defence against the wicked."
The culprits, instead of being silent, do not hesitate to offend the Master, and although they are afraid of the people, they shout foaming with anger: "We are Judaeans and we are powerful! We order You to go away. We forbid You to teach. We banish You. Go away! Enough of You. The power is in our hands and we are making use of it; and we will use it more and more, persecuting You, cursed usurper..."
They are about to say more in a tumult of cries, tears, hisses, when the tallest veiled woman comes forward, placing herself between Jesus and His enemies with swift imperious movement, with even more imperious countenance and voice; she uncovers her face and her sentence drops sharper and more lashing than a whip on galley-slaves or an axe on a neck: "Which of you is forgetting that he is a slave of Rome?" She is Claudia. She lowers her veil again. She bows lightly to the Master. She goes to her place. It was enough.
The Pharisees calm down at once. One only, on behalf of everybody, says with creeping servility: "Forgive us, domina! But He is upsetting the old spirit of Israel. As you are powerful, you should forbid Him and get the brave just Proconsul to forbid Him to do so; long life and health to him!"
"That does not concern us. It is enough that He does not disturb the order of Rome. And He does not!" replies scornfully the patrician, who then gives a sharp order to her companions and goes away towards a thicket of trees at the end of the path and disappears behind it. She reappears in a creaky covered wagon, all the curtains of which she has ordered to be lowered.
"Are You happy now that You had us insulted?" ask the Judaeans, Pharisees, scribes and their companions, making a fresh attack.
The crowds shout contemptuously. Joseph, Nicodemus and all those who have proved to be friends − among them there is Gamaliel's son, who has not joined them but has spoken the same words − feel that they must interfere and reproach the others for passing all bounds. The altercation thus passes from Jesus' enemies to the two opposite groups, leaving out the One most interested in it. Jesus is silent, with arms folded, listening, and I think that He emanates a power to hold the crowds back and particularly the apostles, who are beside themselves with rage.
"We must defend ourselves and other people" shouts a hot-headed Jew.
"We are tired of seeing fascinated crowds run after Him" says another one.
"We are the powerful ones! Nobody else! We are the only ones to be listened to and followed" cries a scribe.
"Away from here! Jerusalem is ours!" shouts a priest as red as beetroot.
"You are wicked!"
"You are more than blind!"
"The crowds have left you, because you deserve it."
"Be holy if you want to be loved. If you vex and insult people, you lose your power, which is based on the reputation of the people for its governors!" shout those of the opposite party and many of the crowd.
"Silence!" orders Jesus. And when there is silence, He says: "Oppression and imposition cannot change love or the consequences of good received. I gather what I gave: love. By persecuting Me, you only increase such love, which compensates Me for your indifference. In all your wisdom, do you not know that to persecute a doctrine serves no other purpose but to increase its power, particularly when the doctrine in actual fact corresponds to what it teaches?
Listen to a prophecy of Mine, people of Israel. The more you persecute the Rabbi of Galilee and His followers, trying to destroy by violence His Doctrine, which is divine, the more you will help it to thrive and spread throughout the world. Every drop of blood of the martyrs killed by you, hoping to triumph and reign with your corrupt hypocritical laws and precepts, which no longer correspond to the Law of God, every tear of saints oppressed by you, will become the seed of future believers. And you will be defeated just when you think that you are going to triumph. Go. I am going as well. Those who love Me should look for Me at the borders of Judaea and beyond the Jordan, or they can wait for Me there, because like lightning flashing from east to west, so fast will be the movement of the Son of man, until He ascends the altar and the throne, new Pontiff and King, and will remain there firmly in the presence of the world, of creation and of Heaven, in one of His many epiphanies, which only good people can understand."
The hostile Pharisees and their companions have gone. All the others have remained. Gamaliel's son struggles against himself to come to Jesus, but he goes away without speaking...
"Master, You will not hate us because we belong to the same castes as they do?" asks Eleazar.
"I never strike with anathema a single person only because his class is guilty. Be not afraid" replies Jesus.
"They will now hate us..." whispers Joachim.
"That will be an honour for us!" exclaims John, the member of the Sanhedrin.
"May God fortify wavering souls and bless strong ones. I bless everybody in the name of the Lord" and opening His arms He gives the Mosaic blessing to all the people present.
He then takes leave of Lazarus, his sisters, Maximinus, the women disciples, and He sets out... The green country on the sides of the road to Jericho receives Him while its green is growing red in a glorious sunset.