400. Farewell to Bether.
16th March 1946.
I do not know how I shall manage to write, worn out as I am with continual heart attacks by day and by night... But I am beginning to see and I must write. I see Jesus before the mansion-house of Johanna at Bether. The garden in front of it widens out forming a semicircular open space by means of two green pincer-shaped wings. The central part of the open space is bare and is bordered by old tall leafy trees rustling in the light breeze blowing on the top of this hill, and casting a pleasant shade that protects from the sun in afternoons. Hedges of roses beneath the trees form a colourful sweet-smelling semicircle around the open space.
The sun is about to set and, as this castle is on a high position, one can clearly see that it is descending towards the horizon and is about to hide behind the western mountains. Andrew points those mountains to Philip, reminding him of their fear, when they had to announce the Lord at Bethginna. Bethginna is in fact on those mountains, where the Lord the previous year cured the daughter of the hotel-keeper, at the beginning of His pilgrimage towards the Mediterranean shores, if my memory does not fail me. I am all alone, so I cannot get anyone to give me the copy-books of months ago to check, and my head just cannot remember.
All the apostles are present. I do not know what happened when Jesus and Judas met. Apparently everything went very well, because I do not see any standoffishness or excitement in anybody and Judas is free and easy and cheerful, as if nothing had happened. In fact he is very kind also to the most humble servants, which is most unusual of him, particularly when he is upset.
Eliza is still here and also Anastasica, who has certainly come here with the apostles and Eliza's maidservant. And there is Chuza, who is very ceremonious and is holding Matthias by the hand. Johanna is near Eliza and little Mary is beside her. Jonathan is behind his mistress.
Jesus is protected from the sun, which is still shining on the western side of the house, by a tent that has been stretched out on ropes and poles, like a canopy. All the servants and gardeners of Bether, including casual labourers from the village, which comes under the castle, are before Jesus. They are in the shade of the leafy trees of the semicircle, protected from the sun and are standing in silence, lined up, awaiting the blessing of the Master, Who seems to be on the point of departing and is only waiting for sunset to indicate the end of the Sabbath.
Jesus is now speaking to Chuza a little aside. I do not know what He is saying to him, because they are speaking in low voices. But I see that Chuza is lavish in bows and protestations, and presses his right hand against his breast, as if to say: "Upon my word, You may rest assured that as far as I am concerned" etc. The apostles have gathered discreetly in a corner. But no one can prevent them from watching, and if Peter and Bartholomew are watching with the simple naturalness of people who are already somehow aware of the situation, the others, and particularly James of Alphaeus, John, Simon and Andrew, appear to be anxious and sad, while Judas of Alphaeus looks upset and severe. The Iscariot is the only exception, as he wishes to appear free and easy, whereas he watches more keenly than the others, and he seems to be anxious to make out, from the gestures of their hands and from their lips, what Jesus and Chuza are saying.
The women disciples are also watching silently and respectfully, and Johanna smiles unintentionally, a somewhat ironical smile in its sadness, and she seems to be pitying her husband when Chuza, raising his voice at the end of the conversation, declares: "My debt of gratitude is such that in no way will I ever be able to free myself from my obligation. I, therefore, give You what is dearest to me: my Johanna... But You must understand my provident love for her... Herod's wrath... her self-defence... They would have given vent to their anger by taking reprisals upon our property,... and our influence... and Johanna is accustomed to these things, she is delicate... she needs them... I protect her interests. But I swear to You that now that I am sure that Herod will not be angry at me, as if I were an accomplice of his enemy, although his servant, I will do nothing but serve You with perfect joy, granting complete freedom to Johanna..."
"Very well. But remember that to barter eternal goods for a fleeting human honour, is like bartering one's birthright for a dish of lentils. And it is even much worse..."
The women disciples have heard the words. The apostles have also heard them. And while most of them consider it an academic speech, Judas of Kerioth perceives a special purport and he changes colour and countenance, casting a frightened angry glance at Johanna... I realise that so far Jesus has not spoken of what happened, and that only now Judas begins to suspect that his trick has been found out.
Jesus addresses Johanna saying: "Well, let us make our good disciple happy. As you wished, I will speak to your servants before leaving."
He comes forward, as far as the limit of the shade, which is growing longer and longer as the sun sets slowly, and now looks like an orange mutilated of its lower part; and the mutilation increases as the sun sets behind the mountains of Bethginna setting the clear sky ablaze.
"My beloved friends Chuza and Johanna, and you, her good servants, who have known the Lord for many years through the words of My disciple Jonathan, and through Johanna's, since she has been My faithful disciple, listen.
I have taken leave of all the Judaean villages, where My disciples are more numerous through the work of the first disciples, the shepherds, and because they have responded to the Word, Who passed by teaching them in order to save them. I am now taking leave of you because I will never come back to this Eden, which is so beautiful, not only because of the rose-bushes and peace reigning here, not only because of the excellent mastery which is sovereign here, but above all because you believe in the Lord and you live according to His Word. A paradise! Yes. What was the paradise of Adam and Eve? A wonderful garden where they lived without sin, where the voice of God resounded and His first two children loved and listened to it with joy...
Well, I exhort you to watch that what happened in Eden may not happen to you: that the serpent of falsehood, of calumny, of sin may creep in and bite your hearts separating you from God. Be watchful and firm in your Faith... Do not fret. Do not be incredulous. That might happen because the Cursed One will enter, will strive to enter everywhere, as he has already entered many places, to destroy the work of God. And as long as the Sly, Cunning, Indefatigable One enters places, and searches, eavesdrops, lies in wait, slavers, endeavours to seduce, there is no great harm. Nothing and no one can prevent him from doing that. He did that in the Earthly Paradise... But it is much worse to let him stay there without driving him out. The enemy who is not chased away ends up by becoming the master of the place as he settles there and builds his defensive and offensive structures. Pursue him at once, put him to flight using the weapons of Faith, Charity, Hope in the Lord. But the greatest evil, the supreme evil is to let him live not only undisturbed amongst men, but to allow him to penetrate inside from the outside, and let him build his nest in the hearts of men. Oh! Then!! And yet many men have already received him in their hearts, against the Christ. They have welcomed Satan with his wicked passions driving away the Christ. If they had not yet known Christ in all His truth, if their knowledge of Him had been only superficial, as wayfarers know one another, when they meet by chance on a road, looking very often at one another just for a moment, people unknown to one another who meet for the first and last time, at times exchanging only few words to inquire about the right road, to ask for a pinch of salt, for tinder to light a fire, or a knife to cut some meat, if such were the knowledge of the Christ in such hearts, which today, and even more tomorrow drive the Christ away, more and more, to make room for Satan, they might still be pitied and treated mercifully because they did not know the Christ. But woe to those who know Me for what I really am, who have been nourished with My word and My love, and now drive Me away, receiving Satan who allures them with false promises of human triumphs, the reality of which will be eternal damnation.
You who are humble and do not dream of thrones and crowns, who do not seek human glory, but the peace and triumph of God, His Kingdom, love and eternal life, and nothing else, do not imitate them. Be vigilant! Keep free from corruption, be strong against insinuations, against threats, against everything."
Judas, who has realised that Jesus knows something, has become livid with anger. He darts angry looks at the Master and at Johanna... He withdraws behind his companions, as if he wished to lean against the wall. In actual fact he does so to conceal his disappointment.
After a short interruption, which serves to separate the first part of His speech from the second one, Jesus goes on. He says:
"There was once Naboth, a Jezreelite, who had a vineyard close by the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. It was the vineyard of his ancestors, therefore most dear and almost sacred to him, as it had been bequeathed to him by his father, who had inherited it from his father, who in turn, had received it by inheritance from his father and so on. Generations of relatives had worked hard in that vineyard to make it more flourishing and beautiful. Naboth was very fond of it. Ahab said to him: “Give me your vineyard that is near my house, as I want to use it as a vegetable garden for myself and my family. In exchange for it I will give you a better vineyard, or if you prefer, I will give you its worth in money.” But Naboth replied: “I am sorry to disappoint you, king. But I cannot satisfy your request. I received that vineyard by inheritance from my ancestors and it is sacred to me. God forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”
Let us meditate on that reply. It has been meditated on too little and by too few Israelites. Those whom I mentioned before, the majority of people, who are inclined to drive away the Christ to welcome Satan, do not have much respect for the inheritance of their ancestors, and provided they get much money or a great deal of land, that is, honours and the certainty that they will not be easily supplanted, they agree to give away the inheritance of their ancestors: that is, the Messianic idea for what it really is, as it was revealed to the saints of Israel, and should be held sacred in all its details, also the least ones, without tampering with it, or altering it, or degrading it with human limitations. How many barter the bright Messianic idea, entirely holy and spiritual, for a puppet of human regality, which they agitate as a bugaboo to injure and curse authorities and truth!
I, Mercy, do not go to the extent of anathematising them with the dreadful maledictions of Moses against the transgressors of the Law. But behind Mercy there is Justice. Let everybody bear that in mind! I, as far as I am concerned, remind them − and if there is anyone present here, let him accept My warning with good grace I remind them of other words of Moses, addressed to those who wanted to count more than God had decided for them.
Moses said to Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who said that they were equal to Moses and Aaron and rebelled against being considered only as the sons of Levi among the people of Israel: “Tomorrow the Lord will reveal who is His, who are the consecrated men that He will allow to come near Him. Those He allows to come near Him are the ones He has chosen. Put fire in your censers and incense on the fire before the Lord, and come, you and your followers with Aaron. And we shall see whom the Lord chooses. You take too much on yourselves, sons of Levi!”
My good Israelites, you know how God answered those who wanted to extol themselves too much, forgetting that God only allots positions to His children, electing them with justice to the right position. I also must say: “There are some who wish to exalt themselves too much and they will be punished so that good people will understand that they cursed the Lord.”
Those who barter the Messianic idea, as it was revealed by the Most High, for their poor, human, dull, limited, revengeful idea, are they not like those who wanted to judge the sacredness of Moses and Aaron? Do you not think that those who want to take initiatives of their own, proudly stating that they are better than God's, so that they may attain their object and have their poor plans accomplished, do you not think that they want to exalt themselves too much and pass illegally from the stock of Levi to the stock of Aaron? Those who dream of a poor king of Israel and prefer him to the spiritual King of kings, those whose eyes are diseased with pride and greed, whereby they see the eternal truth written in the holy books distorted, and those who cannot understand the most clear words of the revealed Truth because of the fever of their lustful humanity, are they not the ones who barter the heritage of the whole race, the most sacred heritage, for a worthless nothing?
But if they do so, I will not barter the inheritance of the Father and of our ancestors, and I will die faithful to the promise, which has been alive since there was the need for redemption, and I will be faithful to the obedience which has always existed, because I have never disappointed My Father, and I will never disappoint Him for fear of death, however dreadful death may be. Let My enemies produce false witnesses, let them feign zeal and perfect practices. That will not change their crime or affect My holiness. But he and those who, after corrupting him, have become his accomplices, think that they can take possession of what is Mine, will find dogs and vultures feeding on their blood and bodies on the Earth, and demons feeding on their sacrilegious deicide souls in Hell.
I told you that, so that you may know. So that everybody may know. So that who is wicked may repent, while he is still in time, imitating Ahab, and who is good may not be upset in the hour of darkness.
Goodbye, children of Bether. May the God of Israel always be with you and may Redemption let dew descend on a clean field, so that all the seed, sown in your hearts by the Master, Who loved you even unto death, may germinate." Jesus blesses them and watches them go away slowly. The sun has set. Only a red hue, which slowly fades into violet, remains as remembrance of the sun. The Sabbath rest is over. Jesus can leave. He kisses the little ones, greets the women disciples and Chuza. And when He is near the gate, He turns round again and says in a loud voice, so that everybody may hear: "I will speak, when I can, to those people. But you, Johanna, do the necessary to let them know that I am the enemy of Sin only and the King of the spirit. And remember that, too, Chuza. And be not afraid. No one must be afraid of Me. Not even sinners, because I am Salvation. Only those who are unrepentant unto death must fear the Christ, Who will be Judge after being Infinite Love... Peace be with you" and He is the first to go out and begin to descend...