« I will follow You wherever You go. Which way are You going? »
« The way to Heaven. »
178. I see Jesus turning His steps towards the lake with eleven apostles, as John is still absent. Many people press round Him: among them there are many who were on the Mount, mainly men, who have reached Him at Capernaum to hear His word once again. They would like to detain Him. But He says: « I belong to everybody. And there are many who are entitled to have Me. I will come back. You will join Me. But let Me go now. » He has difficulty in walking through the crowd who throng the little narrow street. The apostles push with their shoulders to make room for Him. But it is like pushing a spongy substance which immediately springs back again. They get angry, too, but to no avail.
They are already in sight of the lake, after a fierce struggle, when a middle-aged refined looking man goes near the Master and touches His shoulder to attract His attention.
Jesus turns round and stops, asking: « What do you want? »
« I am a scribe. But our precepts can in no way be compared to Your word and I am fascinated by it. Master, I do not want to leave You. I will follow You wherever You go. Which way are You going? »
« The way to Heaven. »
« I do not mean that. I am asking You where are You going now. In which houses will You stop after the present one, so that I may always find You? »
« Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. The world is My home, wherever there are spirits to be taught, distress to be relieved, sinners to be redeemed. »
« Everywhere, then. »
« You are right. Can you, a doctor in Israel, do what these simple men do for My sake? What are required here are: sacrifice, obedience, charity for everybody, a mind adaptive for everything and with everybody. Because compliance is alluring. Because he who wishes to cure must bend over all sores. Afterwards there will be the purity of Heaven. But here we are in mud and we have to pull out of the mud, on which we walk, the victims already submerged in it. We cannot lift our clothes and move to one side because the mud is deeper there. Purity must be within us. We must be sated with it so that nothing else can enter. Can you do all that? »
« At least let me try. »
« Try. I will pray that you may succeed. »
Jesus begins to walk again and His attention is drawn by two eyes staring at Him, the eyes of a tall strong young man who has stopped to let the train of followers pass, as he seems to be going in a different direction. Jesus says to him: « Follow Me. »
The young man starts, changes colour, blinks as if he were dazzled by light, then opens his mouth to speak but cannot find an immediate reply. At last he says: « I will follow You. But my father died at Korazim and I must bury him. Let me do that and then I will come. »
« Follow Me. Leave the dead to bury their dead. You have already been attracted by Life. On the other hand, you aspired to that. Do not weep over the gap which Life opened around you to make you a disciple. The maiming of affection is the root of the wings which are born of a man who has become a servant of the Truth. Leave corruption to its own fate. Rise towards the Kingdom of the incorrupt. You will find there also the incorruptible pearl of your father. God calls and passes by. Tomorrow you would no longer find your heart of today or God’s invitation. Come. Go and announce the Kingdom of God. »
The man is leaning against a low wall and with his arms hanging by his sides: he is holding two bags, full of perfumes and bandages; his head is lowered in thought, wavering between two loves: for God and for his father.
Jesus waits and looks at him, he then gets hold of a little child, clasps him to His heart saying: « Say with Me: “I bless You, o Father, and I invoke Your light for those who weep in the haze of life. I bless You, o Father, and I invoke Your strength for those who are like a child in need of support. I bless You, o Father, and I invoke Your love that it may cause men to forget everything which is not Yourself, as they can find all good in You, both here and in Heaven, although they cannot believe it.” » And the child, an innocent boy about four years old, repeats in his thin voice the holy words with his hands held in prayer by the right hand of Jesus, Who holds them by their plump wrists as if they were two flower stems.
The man makes up his mind. He hands the two bundles to a companion and comes towards Jesus, Who puts down the child after blessing him, and embraces the young man, proceeding thus with him, to comfort him and support him in his effort.
Another man questions Him: « I would like to come with You, too. But before following You I would like to take leave of my relatives. Will You allow me? »
Jesus stares at him and replies: « There are too many roots in your human being. Uproot them and if you cannot, cut them off. One must come to God’s service with spiritual freedom. He who gives himself, must have no ties. »
« Flesh and blood are always flesh and blood. I will slowly reach the freedom You refer to… »
« No, you would never reach it. God is as exacting as He is infinitely generous in rewarding. If you wish to be a disciple you must embrace your cross and follow Me. Otherwise one remains a simple believer. The way of the servant of God is not strewn with petals of roses. And it is absolute in its demands. No one who has put his hand to the plough to furrow the fields of hearts and spread there the seed of God’s doctrine, can look back to see what he left, what he lost and what he could have had if he had followed another common way. Who does that is not fit for the Kingdom of God. Work upon yourself. Make a man of yourself and then come. Not now. »
They reach the shore. Jesus goes on board Peter’s boat and whispers a few words to him. I see Jesus smile while Peter makes a gesture expressing amazement. But He does not say anything. Also the man who did not go to bury his father in order to follow Jesus, gets into the boat.