419. The Yeast of the Pharisees.
22nd April 1946.
After the Holy Week and the consequent penitence of not having any visions , the spiritual vision of the Gospel comes back to me this morning. And all my anxiety is forgotten in this joy that is foretold by an indescribable sensation of superhuman jubilation...
...And now I see Jesus, Who is still walking along the thickets on the banks of the river, and He stops and orders the apostles to have a rest during the hours which are too warm to travel. Because, while it is true that the thickly interlacing branches protect from the sun, they form a kind of canopy which obstructs the very light breezes, and thus the air in there is warm, still, heavy, and damp; dampness in fact rises from the ground near the river, and far from being a relief it is a sticky torture, which mixes with and increases the troublesome perspiration streaming down their bodies.
"Let us stop until evening. We will then go down to the whitish gravel bed still visible in starlight and we will proceed by night. Let us take some food and a rest now."
"Ah! before taking any food I will refresh myself in the water. The water will be warm, too, like a decoction for a cough, but it will wash my sweat away. Who is coming with me?" asks Peter.
They all go with him: everyone, Jesus also, as, like everybody else, He is perspiring and His tunic is heavy with dust and sweat. Each of them takes a clean tunic from his sack and they all go down to the river. On the grass, to mark their stop, there are only thirteen sacks and the small water flasks, watched over by old trees and countless birds, which look curiously with their tiny jet eyes at the thirteen full multi-coloured sacks spread over the grass.
The voices of the bathers fade away and mingle with the murmuring water. Only now and again the sharp laughter of the younger ones resounds like a high note above the low monotonous tone of the river. But silence is soon broken by the shuffling of feet. Some heads appear from behind a thicket; they cast sidelong glances and say with an expression of satisfaction: "They are here. They have stopped. Let us go and tell the others" and they disappear behind the bushes...
… In the meantime the apostles come back with the Master. They are refreshed, their hair is still wet, although they have dried it hurriedly, they are barefooted and are holding their dripping washed sandals by the straps, and they are wearing fresh clothes and the other ones are hanging in the cane-brake after being washed in the blue water of the Jordan. They are obviously in very good form after the long bath.
Unaware of the fact that they have been discovered, they sit down, after Jesus has offered and handed out the food. And after the meal, sleepy as they are, they would like to lie down and slumber, when a man arrives and after him another one, and then a third one...
"What do you want?" asks James of Zebedee, who sees them arrive and stop behind a large bush, undecided about moving forward or not. The others, including Jesus, turn round to see to whom James is speaking.
"Ah! it's the people of the village... They have followed us!" says Thomas without enthusiasm, as he was preparing to have a little nap.
In the meantime the visitors reply somewhat timorously, seeing the obvious reluctance of the apostles to receive them: "We wanted to speak to the Master... To tell Him that... Is that right, Samuel?..." and they stop not daring to say anything more.
But Jesus benignly encourages them: "Speak up. Have you more sick people?..." and He stands up directing His steps towards them.
"Master, You are even more tired than we are. Have a little rest and let them wait..." say some of the apostles.
"There are creatures here who want Me. So their hearts have no rest either. And the weariness of a heart is heavier than the tiredness of limbs. Let Me listen to them."
"All right! Farewell to our rest!..." grumble the apostles, who are so affected by fatigue and heat as to reproach the Master in the presence of strangers, so much so, that they say to Him: "And when Your lack of prudence will have caused us all to be taken ill, You will realise too late that we were necessary to You."
Jesus looks at them... compassionately. There is nothing else in His kind tired eyes... And He replies: "No, My friends. I do not expect you to imitate Me. Look, you stay here, and rest; I will speak and listen to these people and then I will come and rest with you."
His reply is so kind that it achieves more than a reproach would obtain. The kind hearts and affections of the Twelve are awakened and overwhelm them: "No, Lord! Stay where You are and speak to them. We will go and turn our clothes round so that the other side may dry. We will thus overcome sleep, and then we will come back and rest all together." And the more sleepy ones go towards the river... Matthew, John and Bartholomew remain.
In the meantime the three citizens have become more than ten and their number increases more and more...
"So? Come here and speak without any fear."
"Master, after You left, the Pharisees have become even more violent... They attacked the man freed by You... and it will be a new miracle if he does not become mad... because... they said to him... that You freed him from a demon who hampered only his reason and that You gave him a stronger demon, so strong that he defeated the previous one and is stronger than the previous one, because this one damns and possesses his soul, and thus, while in next life he would not have had to bear the consequences of the first possession because his actions were not... what did they say, Abraham?..."
"They said... oh! a strange word... In short God would not have asked him to give an account of those actions because he had not done them with a free mind, whereas now, by adoring You through the imposition of the demon he has in his heart, placed there by You - oh! forgive us for telling You - by You, the prince of demons, by adoring You with a mind which is no longer mad, he is impious, cursed and will be damned. Consequently the poor wretch regrets his previous state and... he almost curses You... So he is more insane than previously... and his mother is in despair because her son has given up hope of being saved... and all their joy has become a torture. We have been looking for You so that You may give him peace, and an angel certainly guided us here... Lord, we believe that You are the Messiah. And we believe that the Messiah has in Himself the Spirit of God. He is therefore Truth and Wisdom. And we ask You to give us peace and an explanation..."
"You are in justice and in charity. May you be blessed. But where is the poor wretch?"
"He is following us with his mother, shedding desperate tears. See? The entire village, except them, the cruel Pharisees, is coming here, disregarding their threats. Because they have threatened to punish us for believing in You. But God will protect us."
"God will protect you. Take Me to the man I cured."
"No. We will bring him here. Just wait" and many of them depart towards the larger group of people who are coming making gestures, while two shrill cries overwhelm the confused noise of the talk of the crowd. The others, those who have remained, are already so many, and when they are joined by the group surrounding the cured demoniac and his mother, a really large crowd is pressing among the trees around Jesus, climbing even the trees to find a place to hear and see.
Jesus goes towards the cured demoniac, who begins to tear his hair as soon as he sees Him, and kneeling down he says: "Give the first demon back to me! Out of pity for me, for my soul! What have I done to You that You should injure me so much?"
And his mother, also on her knees, says: "He is raving mad with fear, Lord! Do not pay attention to his blasphemous words, but free him from the fear that those cruel people have infused into him, so that he may not lose the life of his soul. You have already freed him once!... Oh! for the sake of a mother, free him once again!"
"Yes, woman. Be not afraid! Listen, child of God!" And Jesus lays His hands on the ruffled hair of the man delirious with supernatural fear: "Listen. And judge. Judge by yourself because your reason is free and you can judge according to justice. There is an unerring way to find out whether a prodigy comes from God or from a demon. And it is what a soul feels. If the extraordinary event comes from God, it infuses peace into the soul, peace and solemn joy. If it comes from the demon, it brings about perturbation and sorrow. And peace and joy come also from the words of God, whereas perturbation and sorrow come from those of a demon, be it a demon spirit or a demon man. And also the closeness of God grants peace and joy whereas the closeness of wicked spirits or men bring about perturbation and sorrow. Now consider, child of God. When, by yielding to the demon of lust, you began to receive your oppressor within you, did you enjoy happiness and peace?"
The man ponders and blushing replies: "No, Lord."
"And when your everlasting Enemy captured you completely, did you enjoy peace and happiness?"
"No, Lord. Never. As long as I could understand, as long as a particle of my mind was free, I was distressed and grieved by the arrogance of the Enemy. Later... I do not know... My mind was no longer able to understand what I suffered... I was lower than a beast... But even in that state when I seemed to be less intelligent than an animal... oh! how much I could still suffer! I cannot say what... Hell is dreadful! It is nothing but horror... and it is not possible to say what it is..."
The man shivers remembering what he suffered when he was possessed. He trembles, blanches, perspires... His mother embraces him and kisses his cheek to distract his mind from that nightmare... People whisper their comments. "And when you woke up with your hand in Mine, what did you feel?"
"Oh! Such a wonderful sensation... and such a joy and an even greater peace... I seemed to be coming out from a dark prison, where countless snakes had been my chains and the air was permeated with the stench of a putrid sewer, and I seemed to be entering a garden full of flowers, of sunshine, of songs... I became acquainted with Paradise... but even that cannot be described..." The man smiles as if he were enraptured by the remembrance of his recent short hour of happiness. He then sighs and concludes: "But it was soon all over..."
"Are you sure? Now that you are close to Me and far from those who upset you, tell Me, what do you feel?"
"Peace once again. Here with You, I cannot believe that I am damned, and their words sound like blasphemy to me... But I believed them... So did I not sin against You?"
"You did not sin; they did. Rise, child of God, and believe in the peace within you. Peace comes from God. You are with God. Do not sin and be not afraid" and He removes His hands from the head of the man making him stand up.
"Is it really so, Lord?" ask many.
"It is really so. The doubt raised by the deliberately harmful words was the final revenge of Satan, who had come out of him defeated, but anxious to recapture the lost prey."
With much good common sense a man of the people says: "Then... the Pharisees... assisted Satan!" and many applaud the keen remark.
"Do not judge. There is Who judges."
"But at least we are sincere in our judgment... And God sees that we judge evident sins. They pretend to be what they are not. They act deceitfully and with wicked purposes. And yet they are more successful than we are, although we are honest and sincere. They are our terror. They extend their power even on the freedom of faith. One must believe and practise to their liking and they threaten us because we love You. They strive to reduce Your miracles to witchcraft and to frighten You. They conspire, they oppress, they injure..." The people speak excitedly.
With a gesture Jesus imposes silence and says:
"Do not receive in your hearts anything originating from them, neither their suggestions nor their methods, not even the thought: “they are wicked and yet they are successful”. Do you not remember the words of Wisdom: “Fleeting is the triumph of the wicked”., and the words of Proverbs. “Son, do not follow the examples of sinners and do not listen to the words of the wicked because they will become entangled in the chains of their sins and they will be deceived by their own great stupidity”? Do not put into yourselves what comes from them and which you, although imperfect, consider wrong. You would, in fact, put within yourselves the same yeast which corrupts them. The yeast of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. Let it never be in you, neither with regard to the forms of worship of God nor with regard to your behaviour with your brothers. Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. Remember that there is nothing concealed which cannot be disclosed, there is nothing hidden which is not revealed in the end. You can see that yourselves. They allowed Me to leave and then they sowed darnel where the Lord had scattered chosen seed. They thought they had acted artfully and successfully. And it would have been enough if you had not found Me, if I had crossed the river leaving no trace of Myself on the water, which resumes its normal aspect after the bows open it, and their wickedness, under the appearance of good, would have triumphed. But their trick was soon found out and their evil deed was annulled. And the same applies to all the actions of man. At least One is aware of them and provides: God. What is spoken in the dark, ends up by being disclosed by Light, and what is plotted in the secrecy of a room can be disclosed as if it had been planned in a square. Because every man may have an informer. And because every man is seen by God Who can intervene and unmask offenders.
So one must always live honestly in order to live peacefully. And those who live thus need not be afraid, neither in this life nor with regard to the next one. No, My friends, I tell you: who acts righteously need not be afraid. They must not fear those who kill, yes, those who can kill the body, but can do nothing else. I will tell you what you must be afraid of. Be afraid of those who after putting you to death, can send you to hell, that is, of vices, of evil companions, of false teachers, of all those who insinuate sin or doubt into your hearts, of those who try to corrupt your souls more than your bodies, to detach you from God and to drive you to despair of divine Mercy. I repeat to you that that is what you are to be afraid of, because in that case you will be dead forever. But be not afraid for the rest, for your lives. Your Father does not lose sight even of one of these tiny birds which builds its nest in the leafy branches of trees. Not one of them is caught in the net without its Creator being aware of it. And yet their material value is tiny: five sparrows for two pennies. And their spiritual value is nil. And yet God takes care of them. Will He, therefore, not take care of you? Of your lives? Of your welfare? Every hair on your heads is known to the Father, and no wrong done to His children passes unnoticed by Him, because you are His children, that is, you are worth much more than the sparrows which nest on roofs or among leafy branches.
And you remain His children until, by your own free will, you renounce to be so. And one renounces such filiation when one denies God and the Word Whom God sent amongst men to lead men to God. Then, when a man will not acknowledge Me in the presence of men, because he is afraid of being damaged by such acknowledgement, God will not acknowledge him as His child, and the Son of God and of man will not acknowledge him in the presence of the angels in Heaven, and those who disown Me in the presence of men, will be disowned as children in the presence of God's angels. And those who have spoken ill of the Son of man or against Him will still be forgiven, because I will plead with the Father for their forgiveness, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Why that? Because not everybody can understand the extent of Love, its perfect infinity and see God in a body like the body of every man. The Gentiles, the heathens cannot believe that through faith, because their religion is not love. Also among us the fearful respect of Israel for Jehovah can prevent people from believing that God has become man and the humblest of men. It is a fault not to believe Me. But when it is based on excessive fear of God, it is still forgiven. But he cannot be forgiven, who does not yield to the truth shining through My deeds, and denies that the Spirit of Love has kept the promise to send the Saviour at the fixed time, the Saviour preceded and accompanied by the signs foretold.
Those who are persecuting Me, are acquainted, with the prophets. The prophecies are full of Me. They are acquainted with the prophecies and they know what I do. The truth is evident. But they deny it because they want to deny it. They systematically deny that I am not only the Son of man, but also the Son of God, foretold by the prophets, He Who was born of a Virgin, not by the will of man, but of the Eternal Love, of the Eternal Spirit, Who announced Me so that men could recognise Me. In order to be able to say that the night of the Expectation of the Christ is still enduring, they persist in keeping their eyes closed, so that they may not see the Light which is in the world, and therefore they deny the Holy Spirit, Its Truth and Its Light. And they will be judged more severely than those who do not know. Neither will they be forgiven for saying that I am “satan”., because the Spirit works divine, not satanic deeds for Me. And they will not be forgiven for driving people to despair, when Love had led them to peace. Because those are all offences against the Holy Spirit. Against this Paraclete Spirit Who is Love and grants love and asks for love and Who is awaiting My holocaust of love in order to spread out in wise love, illuminating the hearts of My believers. And when that has happened and they will still persecute you, accusing you before magistrates and princes of synagogues and in courts, do not worry about how to defend yourselves. The same Spirit will tell you what to say to serve the Truth and conquer Life for yourselves, just as the Word is giving you what is necessary to enter the Kingdom of eternal Life.
Go in peace. In My Peace. In that Peace with God and which God sheds to saturate His children with it. Go and be not afraid. I have not come to deceive you, but to teach you, not to lose you, but to redeem you. Blessed are those who will believe My words. And you, man, who have been saved twice, be firm and remember My peace, so that you may say to tempters: “Do not try to seduce me. My faith is that He is the Christ”. Go, woman. Go with him and be in peace. Goodbye. Go back to your homes and leave the Son of man to His humble rest on the grass, before resuming His persecuted journey in search of other people to be saved, until the end. My peace be with you."
He blesses them and goes back to the place where they had their meal. The apostles are with Him. After the people disperse, they lie down, resting their heads on their sacks and they soon go to sleep, in the sultry heat of the afternoon and in the heavy silence of those torrid hours.