Cornelius the Centurion
From Gabara Jesus went to the estate of the officer Zorobabel near Capharnaum. The two lepers whom at His last visit to Capharnaum He had healed, here presented themselves to return Him thanks. The steward, the domestics, and the cured son of Zorobabel also were here. They had already been baptized. Jesus taught and cured many sick. In the dusk of the evening, after His disciples had separated and gone to their respective families, Jesus proceeded along the valley of Capharnaum to the house of His Mother. All the holy women were here assembled, and there was great joy. Mary and the women renewed their petition to Jesus that He would cross to the other side of the lake early next morning because the committee of the Pharisees was so irritated against Him. Jesus calmed their fears. Mary interceded for the sick slave of the Centurion Cornelius, who was, she said, a very good man. Although a pagan, he had, through affection for the Jews, built them a synagogue. She begged Him likewise to cure the sick daughter of Jairus, the Elder of the synagogue, who lived in a little village not far from Capharnaum.
When Jesus next morning, with some of the disciples, was going to the residence of the pagan officer Cornelius, which stood on a height to the north of Capharnaum, He was met in the neighborhood of Peter’s house by the two Jews whom Cornelius had once before sent to Him. They again begged Him to have pity on his servant, for Cornelius, they said, deserved the favor. He was a friend of the Jews and had built them a synagogue, reckoning it at the same time an honor to be allowed to do so. Jesus responded that He was even then on His way to Cornelius’, and He directed them to dispatch a messenger in haste to announce His coming. Before reaching Capharnaum, Jesus took, just to the right of the gate, the road running between the city and the ramparts and passed the hovel of a leper living in the city wall. A short distance farther on brought Cornelius’ house in sight. Upon receiving the message sent by Jesus, Cornelius had left it as if to get a glimpse of Him. He knelt down and, esteeming himself unworthy to approach Him or to speak with Him personally, hurried off a messenger with these words: “The Centurion bids me say to Thee, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof! Speak but one word, and my servant shall be healed. For if I, who am only a humble man dependent upon my superior, say to my servant: Do this! Do that! and he does it, how much easier will it be for Thee to command Thy servant to be healed and that he should be so!’ When these words were delivered to Jesus by Cornelius’ messenger, He turned to those standing around and said: “Verily, I say unto ye, I have not found such faith in Israel! Know ye then! Many shall come from the east and the west and shall take place with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Heaven; and many of the children of God’s kingdom, the Israelites, shall be cast out into exterior darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth!” Then, turning to the servant of the Centurion, He said: “Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee!” The messenger bore the words to the kneeling Centurion, who inclined to the earth, arose, and hastened back to the house. As he entered, he encountered his servant, who was coming to meet him, enveloped in a mantle, his head bound in a scarf. He was not a native of the country, as was indicated by his yellowish-brown complexion.
Jesus immediately turned back to Capharnaum. As He was again passing the leper’s hut, the leper himself came out and threw himself down before Him. “Lord,” he said, “if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” Jesus replied: “Stretch forth thy hands!” He touched them and said: “I do will it. Be thou clean!” and the leprosy fell from the man. Jesus commanded him to present himself to the priests for inspection, to make the offering prescribed by the Law, and to speak to none other of his cure. The man went to the pharisaical priests and submitted himself to their examination as to whether he was cured or not. They became enraged, examined him rigorously, but were forced to acknowledge him cured. They had so lively a dispute with him that they almost drove him from their presence.
Jesus turned off into the street that led into the heart of the city, and for about an hour cured numbers of sick that had been brought together, also some possessed. Most of the sick were lying near a well, around which stood little huts. After that Jesus, with several of the disciples, left the city and went to a little vale beyond Magdalum not far from Damma. There they found a public inn, at which were Maroni, the widow of Naim, and the pagan Lais of Naim and her two daughters, Sabia and Athalia, both of whom Jesus, when at Meroz, had from a distance delivered from the devil. Maroni, the widow of Naim, now came beseeching Jesus to go to her son Martial, a boy of twelve years, who was so ill that she feared to find him dead on her return. Jesus told her to go home in peace, that He would follow her—but when, He did not say. Maroni had brought with her presents for the inn. She immediately hurried back home with her servant. She had about nine hours to travel. She was a wealthy woman and very good, a mother to all the poor children in Naim.
Bartholomew also had arrived bringing with him Joses, the little son of his widowed sister, perhaps to be baptized. Thomas too was there and with him Jephte, the little cured son of Achias, the Centurion of Giskala. Achias himself was not present, hut Judas Iscariot had come from Meroz. Lais and her two daughters had already embraced Judaism in Naim and renounced idolatry before the Jewish priests. At this ceremony a kind of baptism was performed by the priests which, however, consisted only of a sprinkling with water and other purifications. In such cases, the Jews baptized women, but the Baptism of Jesus and of John was not conferred upon females before Pentecost.
All the future Apostles were now in Capharnaum, with the exception of Matthias. A great many of Jesus’ disciples and relatives, among the latter many women related to Him by blood, were present. Of the number was Mary Heli, Mary’s elder sister. She was now perhaps seventy years old, and together with her second husband, Obed, had come bringing an ass laden with presents to Mary. She dwelt at Japha, a little place an hour at most from Nazareth, where Zebedee once lived and where his sons were born. She was greatly rejoiced at seeing again her three sons, James, Sadoch, and Heliacim, all disciples of John. This James was as old as Andrew. He is the same that with two other disciples, Cephas and John, once disputed with Paul on the subject of Jewish circumcision. After Jesus’ death he became a priest, and was one of the oldest and most distinguished of the seventy disciples. Later he accompanied James the Greater to Spain, to the islands, into Cyprus, and into the idolatrous countries bordering the confines of Judea. Not this James, but James the Lesser, the son of Alpheus and Mary Cleophas, became the first Bishop of Jerusalem.¹
Miraculous Cures Wrought by Jesus. His Reasons for Teaching In Parables
The Pharisees and Sadducees determined to oppose Jesus today in the synagogue. They had laid their plans and bribed the people to raise a tumult in which Jesus was to be formally thrust out of the edifice or taken prisoner. But the affair turned out quite differently. Jesus commenced His teaching in the synagogue by a very vigorous address, like one having power and authority to speak. The rage of the exasperated Pharisees increased at each moment. It was about to be let loose upon Him when suddenly a great disturbance arose in the synagogue. A man belonging to the city and possessed by the devil, and who on account of his madness had been fast bound, had while his keepers were in the synagogue broken his bonds. He came plunging like a fury into the synagogue, and with frightful cries pressed his way through the people, whom he tossed right and left, and who also began to utter screams of terror. He ran straight to the spot where Jesus was teaching, crying out: “Jesus of Nazareth! What have we to do with Thee? Thou hast come to drive us out! I know who Thou art! Thou art the Holy One of God!” But Jesus remained quite unmoved. He scarcely turned from His elevated position toward him, made only a menacing gesture sideways with His hand, and said quietly: “Be still, and go out of him!” Thereupon the man, becoming silent, sank down, still tossed to and fro on the ground, and Satan departed from him under the form of a thick, black vapor. The man now grew pale and calm, prostrated on the ground, and wept. All present were witness to this awful and wonderful spectacle of Jesus’ power. Their terror was changed into a murmur of admiration. The courage of the Pharisees forsook them, and they huddled together, saying to one another: “What manner of man is this? He commands the spirits, and they go out of the possessed!” Jesus went on quietly with His discourse. The man that had been freed from the devil, weak and emaciated, was conducted home by his wife and relatives, who had been in the synagogue. When the sermon was over, he met Jesus and asked for some advice. Jesus warned him to refrain from his evil habits lest something worse might befall him, and exhorted him to penance and Baptism. The man was a cloth weaver. He made cotton scarves, narrow and light, such as were worn around the neck. He returned to his work perfectly cured in mind and body. Such unclean spirits often domineer over men that freely give themselves up to their passions.
After this scene, the Pharisees were afraid to assault Jesus that day, and so they remained quiet while He went on with His teaching. The lessons for the Sabbath were taken from Moses and Osee. There were no more interruptions, though Jesus spoke very forcibly and severely. His appearance and His words were much more impressive than usual. He spoke as One having authority. The instruction over, He went to Mary’s, where were gathered the women with many relatives and disciples.
I counted all the holy women who were associated together till the death of Jesus to help the little Community. There were seventy. At this time there were already thirty-seven who took part in this duty. Sabia and Athalia also, the daughters of Lais of Naim, were toward the last admitted among the female followers. At the time of St. Stephen, they were among the Christians who settled in Jerusalem.
Next morning Jesus again taught unmolested in the synagogue. The Pharisees had said to one another: “We can do nothing with Him now, His adherents are too numerous. We shall contradict Him now and then, we shall report all at Jerusalem, and wait till He goes up to the Temple for the Pasch.” The streets were again filled with the sick. Some had come before the Sabbath, and some till now had not believed, but on the report of the possessed man’s cure, they had themselves transported thither from all quarters of the city. Many of them had been there before, but had not been cured. They were weak, tepid, slothful souls, more difficult to convert than great sinners of more ardent nature. Magdalen was converted only after many struggles and relapses, but her last efforts were generous and final. Dina the Samaritan turned at once from her evil ways, and the Suphanite, after sighing long for grace, was suddenly converted. All the great female sinners were very quickly and powerfully converted, as was also the sturdy Paul, to whom conversion came like a flash of lightning. Judas, on the contrary, was always vacillating, and at last fell into the abyss. It was the same with the great and most violent maladies which I saw Jesus, in His wisdom, cure at once. They that were afflicted with them, like the possessed, had no will whatever to remain in the state in which they were, or again, self-will was entirely overcome by the violence of the malady. But as to those that were less grievously affected, whose sufferings only opposed an obstacle to their sinning with more facility, and whose conversion was insincere, I saw that Jesus often sent them away with an admonition to reform their lives; or that He only alleviated without curing their bodily ills, that through their pressure the soul might be cured. Jesus could have cured all that came to Him, and that instantaneously, but He did so only for those that believed and did penance, and He frequently warned them against a relapse. Even those that were only slightly sick He sometimes cured at once, if such would prove beneficial to their soul. He was not come to cure the body that it might the more readily sin, but He cured the body in order to deliver and save the soul. In every malady, in every species of bodily infirmity, I see a special design of God. Sickness is the sign of some sin. It may be his own or another’s, a sin of which he may be conscious or not, that the sufferer has to expiate, or it may be a trial expressly prepared for him, which by patience and submission to God’s will he may change into capital that will yield a rich return. Properly speaking, no one suffers innocently, for who is innocent, since the Son of God had to take upon Himself the sins of the world that they might be blotted out? To follow Him, we are all obliged to bear our cross after Him.
Since joy and the highest degree of patience in suffering, since the union of pain with the Passion of Jesus Christ, belong to the perfect, it follows that a disinclination to suffer is in itself an imperfection. We are created perfect and we shall again be born to perfection, consequently the cure of sickness is an effect of pure love and mercy toward poor sinners’ a favor wholly unmerited by them. They have deserved more than sickness, they have deserved death; but the Lord by His own death has delivered them that believe in Him and perform works in accordance with their faith.
And so I saw Jesus on this day cure many possessed, paralyzed, dropsical, gouty, dumb, blind, many afflicted with an issue of blood, in fine, violent maladies of all kinds. I saw Him several times pass by some that were able to stand. They were those who had frequently received slight relief from Him, but their conversion not being earnest, they had relapsed in body and soul. As Jesus was passing by them, they cried out: “Lord, Lord! Thou dost cure all that are grievously sick, and Thou dost not cure us! Lord, have pity on us! We are sick again!” Jesus responded: “Why do ye not stretch forth your hands to Me?” At these words, all stretched out their hands to Him, and said: “Lord, here are our hands!” Jesus replied: “Ye do indeed stretch forth these hands, but the hands of your heart I cannot seize. Ye withdraw them and lock them up, for ye are filled with darkness.” Then He continued to admonish them, cured several, who were converted, slightly relieved others, and passed by some unnoticed.
That afternoon He went with all His disciples and relatives to the lake. There was on the south side of the valley a pleasure garden provided with conveniences for bathing, the water being furnished from the brook of Capharnaum. Here they paused, and administered Baptism in the garden.
The Blessed Virgin with several of the women, among them Dina, Mary, Lais, Athalia, Sabia, and Martha, went for a walk in the neighborhood of Bethsaida, a little beyond the lepers’ asylum. A caravan of pagans was encamped thereabouts, and among them were several women from Upper Galilee. The Blessed Virgin consoled and instructed them. The women sat in a circle on a little eminence, and Mary sometimes sat, sometimes walked among them. They asked her questions which she answered clearly, and told them many things about the Patriarchs, the Prophets, and Jesus.
Jesus meantime was instructing a crowd in parables. The disciples did not understand Him. Later, when again alone with them, He explained the parable of the sower. He spoke of the tares among the wheat and of the danger of pulling up the wheat with them. It was principally James the Greater who told Jesus that he and his companions did not understand Him, and he asked Him why He did not speak more clearly. Jesus answered that He would make all intelligible to them, but that on account of the weak and the pagans, the mysteries of the Kingdom of God could not then be exposed more plainly. As even with such precautions, these mysteries alarmed His hearers, who in their state of depravity, esteemed them too sublime for them, they must at first be presented, as it were, under the cover of a similitude. They must fall into their hearts like the grain of seed. In the grain the whole ear is enclosed, but to produce it, the grain must be hidden in the earth. He explained to them likewise the parable referring to their own call to labor in the harvest. He insisted chiefly upon their following Him; they would soon be with Him always, and He would explain all things to them. James the Greater said also: “Master, why wilt Thou explain all to us who are so ignorant? Why must we publish these things to others? Tell them rather to the Baptist, who believes so firmly who Thou really art. He can publish them, he can make them known!”
That evening when Jesus was teaching again in the synagogue, the Pharisees, who could once more breathe somewhat freely, began to dispute with Him on the subject of His forgiving sins. They reproached Him with the fact of His having in Gabara said to Mary Magdalen that her sins were forgiven her, and they asked how He knew that. How could He do that? Such talk was blasphemy! Jesus silenced them. Then they tried to provoke Him to say that He was not a man, that He was God. But Jesus again confounded them in their words. This scene took place in the forecourt of the synagogue. At last the Pharisees raised a great cry and tumult. But Jesus slipped from their hands and into the crowd, so that they could not tell where He had gone. He went by the flowery dale back of the synagogue to the garden of Zorobabel and thence by roundabout ways to the house of His Mother. He tarried there a part of the night, and sent word to Peter and the other disciples to meet Him next morning at the opposite side of the valley beyond Peter’s fishery, as He wished them to go with Him to Naim.
The Centurion Cornelius and his servant asked Jesus what they should do. He answered that they and all their family should receive Baptism.
The Raising of the Youth of Naim From the Dead
The road to Naim crossed the valley of Magdalum above Peter’s fishery to the east of the mountain that looked down upon Gabara, and then ran into the valley eastward of Bethulia and Giskala. Jesus may have journeyed with the disciples nine to ten hours when they put up at a shepherd inn about three or four hours from Naim. They had crossed the brook Cison once. Jesus taught the whole way, explaining to His disciples in particular how they would be able to detect false teachers.
Naim was a beautiful little place with well-built houses, and was sometimes known also as Engan-nim. It lay upon a charming hill on the brook Cison to the south, about an hour from Mount Thabor, and facing Endor on the southwest. Jezrael was more to the south, but was hidden by intervening heights. The beautiful Plain of Esdrelon stretched out before Naim, which was almost three or four hours distant from Nazareth. The country here was uncommonly rich in grain, fruit, and wine. The widow Maroni owned a whole mountain covered with the most beautiful vineyards. Jesus had about thirty companions. The path over the hill was rather narrow, so some went on before Jesus, and others behind Him. It was almost nine in the morning when they drew near to Naim and encountered the funeral procession at the gate.
A crowd of Jews enveloped in mourning mantles passed out of the city gate with the corpse. Four men were carrying the coffin, in which reposed the remains upon a kind of frame made of crossed poles curved in the middle. The coffin was in shape something like the human form, light like a woven basket, with a cover fastened to the top. Jesus passed through the disciples who, formed into two rows on either side of the road, advanced to meet the coming procession, and said: “Stand still!” Then as He laid His hand upon the coffin, He said: “Set the coffin down.” The bearers obeyed, the crowd fell back, and the disciples ranged on either side. The mother of the dead youth, with several of her female friends, was following the corpse. They too paused just as they were passing out of the gate a few feet from where Jesus was standing. They were veiled and showed every sign of grief. The mother stood in front shedding silent tears. She may indeed have been thinking: “Ah, He has come too late!” Jesus said to her most kindly and earnestly: “Woman, weep not!” The grief of all present touched Him, for the widow was much loved in the city, on account of her great charity to orphans and the poor. Still there were many wicked and malignant people around, and numbers of others came flocking from the city. Jesus called for water and a little branch. Someone brought to a disciple, who handed them to Jesus, a little vessel of water and a twig of hyssop. Jesus took the water and said to the bearers: “Open the coffin and loosen the bands!” While this command was being executed, Jesus raised His eyes to Heaven and said: “I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me by My Father, and not one knoweth the Son but the Father; neither doth anyone know the Father but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls, for My yoke is sweet and My burden light!” When the bearers removed the cover, I saw the body wrapped like a babe in swaddling clothes and lying in the coffin. Supporting it in their arms, they loosened the bands, drew them off, uncovered the face, unbound the hands, and left about it only one linen covering. Then Jesus blessed the water, dipped the little branch into it, and sprinkled the crowd. Thereupon I saw numbers of small, dark figures like insects, beetles, toads, snakes, and little black birds issuing from many of the bystanders. The crowd became purer and brighter. Jesus then sprinkled the dead youth with the little branch, and with His hand made the Sign of the Cross over him, upon which I beheld a murky, black, cloudlike figure issuing from the body. Jesus said to the youth, “Arise!” He arose to a sitting posture, and gazed around him in questioning astonishment. Then Jesus said: “Give him some clothing!” and they threw round him a mantle. The youth then rose to his feet and said: “What is all this? How came I here?” The attendants put sandals upon his feet and he stepped forth from the coffin. Jesus took him by the hand and led him to the arms of his mother, who was hastening toward him. As He restored him to her, He said: “Here, thou hast thy son back, but I shall demand him of thee when he shall have been regenerated in Baptism.” The mother was so transported with joy, amazement, and awe, that she uttered no thanks at the moment. Her feelings found vent only in tears and embraces. The procession accompanied her to her home, the people chanting a hymn of praise. Jesus followed with the disciples. He entered the widow’s house, which was very large and surrounded by gardens and courts. Friends carne crowding from all quarters, all pressing eagerly to see the youth. The attendants gave him a bath, and clothed him in a white tunic and girdle. They washed the feet of Jesus and the disciples, after which the customary refreshments were presented them. Now began at once a joyous and most abundant distribution of gifts to the poor, who had gathered around the house to offer congratulations. Clothing, linen, corn, bread, lambs, birds, and money were given out plentifully. Meantime Jesus instructed the crowds assembled in the courtyards of the widow.
Martial, in his white tunic, was radiant with joy. He ran here and there, showing himself to the eager throng, and helping in the distribution of gifts. He was full of childish gaiety. It was amusing to see school children brought by their teachers into the courtyard and approaching him. Many of them hung back quite timidly as if they thought Martial a spirit. He ran after them and they retreated before him. But others played the valiant and laughed at their companions’ fears. They looked with disdain upon the cowardly and gave Martial their hand, just as a large boy touches with the tips of his fingers a horse or other animal of which the little ones are afraid.
Tables were spread both in the house and courts, and at them all were feasted. Peter, as the widow’s relative, for she was the daughter of his father-in-law’s brother, was especially happy and at home in the house. He discharged in a certain degree the office of father of the family. Jesus frequently addressed questions and words of instruction to the resuscitated boy. He did this in the hearing of those present, who all appeared to be touched by what He said. His words implied that death, which had entered the world by sin, had bound him, had enchained him, and would have dealt him the mortal blow in the tomb; furthermore, that Martial with eyes closed would have been cast into the darkness and later would have opened them where neither mercy nor help could be extended to him. But at the portals of the tomb the mercy of God, mindful of the piety of the boy’s parents and of some of his ancestors, had broken his bonds. Now by Baptism he was to free himself from the sickness of sin, in order not to fall into a still more frightful imprisonment. Then Jesus dilated upon the virtues of parents.
Their virtues profit their children in after years. It was in consideration of the righteousness of the Patriarchs that Almighty God, down to the present day, had protected and spared Israel; but now, enchained in sin and covered with the veil of mental blindness, they had become like unto this youth. They were standing on the brink of the grave, and for the last time was mercy extended to them. John had prepared the way and with a powerful voice had called upon their hearts to arise from the slumber of death. The Heavenly Father had now, for the last time, pity upon them. He would open to life the eyes of those that did not obstinately keep them closed. Jesus compared the people in their blindness to the youth shut up in his coffin who, though near the tomb, though outside the gate of the city, had been met by salvation. “If,” He said, “the bearers had not heeded My voice, if they had not set down the coffin, had not opened it, had not freed the body from its winding sheet, if they had obstinately hurried forward with their burden, the boy would have been buried—and how terrible that would have been!” Then Jesus likened to this picture He had drawn the false teachers, the Pharisees. They kept the poor people from the life of penance, they fettered them with the bonds of their arbitrary laws, they enclosed them in the coffin of their vain observances, and cast them thus into an eternal tomb. Jesus finished by imploring and conjuring His hearers to accept the proffered mercy of His Heavenly Father, and hasten to life, to penance, to Baptism!
It was remarkable that Jesus blessed on this occasion with holy water, in order to drive out the evil spirits that held sway over several of the bystanders. Some of the latter were scandalized, others were envious, and some again were full of a certain malicious joy at the thought that Jesus would certainly be unable to raise the youth from the dead. When Jesus blessed with the water, I saw a little cloud, composed of the figures or shadows of noxious vermin, arise from the youth’s body and disappear in the earth. At the raising of others from the dead, Jesus called back the soul of the deceased, which was separated from the body and in the abode assigned it according to its deeds. It came at the call of Jesus, hovered over the dead body, finally sank into it, and the dead arose. But with the youth of Naim, it was as if death—like a suffocating weight—had been taken away from his body.
The meal over, Jesus went with the disciples to the beautiful garden of the widow Maroni at the southern end of the city. The maimed and sick lined His whole route, and He cured them all. The streets were alive with excitement. It was already growing dark when Jesus entered the garden where Maroni with her relatives and domestics, several Doctors of the Law, Martial, and some other boys were gathered. There were several summer houses in the garden. Before one more beautiful than the others, whose roof was supported on pillars, and which might be shut in by movable screens, was a flambeau placed high under the palm trees. Its flames lighted up the whole hall, and glistened beautifully on the long, green leaves. Near the trees on which fruit was still hanging, one could see as distinctly and clearly by the light of the flambeau as by day. At first Jesus taught and explained walking around; afterward, He entered the summer house. He often spoke to Martial in the hearing of others. It was a wonderfully beautiful evening in that garden. The night was advanced when Jesus and His followers returned to Maroni’s house, in whose side buildings all found lodgings.
At the news of Jesus’ presence in Naim and the resurrection of the boy, crowds of people, among them many sick, gathered into the city from the whole country around. They completely filled the street in front of Maroni’s residence, where they stood in long rows. Jesus cured part of them the next morning, and established peace in several households. Several women had come to Him, asking whether He could not give them a bill of divorce. They complained of their husbands with whom, they said, they could no longer live. This was an artful device of the Pharisees. They were confounded by His miracles and could do nothing against Him; but yet being full of wrath, they resolved to tempt Him to say on the subject of divorce something against the Law, that they might be able to accuse Him as a teacher of false doctrine. But Jesus said to the discontented wives: “Bring me a vessel of milk and another of water. Then I shall answer ye.” They went into a neighboring house and returned with a bowl of milk and one of water. Jesus poured one into the other and said: “Separate the two again, so that the milk shall be again by itself, and in like manner the water. Then I shall give you a bill of divorce.” The women replied that they could not do that. Then Jesus spoke of the indissolubility of marriage, and that it was only on account of the obduracy of the Jews that Moses had allowed divorce. But perfectly disunited husband and wife never could be, since they are one in the flesh; and although they might not live together, yet must the husband support the wife and children, and neither could remarry. After that Jesus accompanied the wives to their homes, where He had a private interview with the husbands. Then He saw each couple together, reproached both parties, the wives coming in for the larger share, and ended by forgiving them. The delinquents shed tears and afterward lived happily together, more faithful to each other than they had ever before been. The Pharisees were furious on seeing that their design had completely failed.
That morning Jesus restored sight to many of the blind by mixing in His hand clay and saliva and smearing it to their eyes.
Jesus in Mageddo. John’s Disciples
When Jesus was leaving Naim, Maroni, her boy and her domestics, all the cured, and many good people of the city accompanied Him, singing Psalms and bearing green branches before Him. He went with the disciples westward along the north bank of the Cison. The mountain that shut in the valley of Nazareth lay to the right. Toward evening He and the disciples arrived at the environs of Mageddo, which stood on the mountain chain whose eastern declivity leads down into the valley of Zabulon. Here He entered an inn, and soon afterward gave an instruction in front of it. When the laborers in the fields saw Jesus and His followers drawing near, they threw on the garments which at their work they had laid aside.
Mageddo stood on an eminence and was partly fallen to decay. In the very heart of the city there were ruins entirely overgrown with moss, while here and there arose a dilapidated arch. They must have belonged to a castle of the kings of Canaan.¹ I heard that Abraham also once sojourned in this region. The suburb in which Jesus put up was more modern and more full of life than the city itself. It consisted of a long row of houses at the base of the mountain, over which ran a great commercial highway from Ptolomais. There were numerous large inns in the neighborhood, and many publicans dwelt here. They had heard Jesus’ teaching and had resolved to receive penance and Baptism. The Pharisees of the place were scandalized at these things. A great crowd of sick were already gathered and others were constantly coming. Jesus sent word to them by the disciples that He would go to them toward evening, and He directed how they should be arranged, which directions the disciples fulfilled. Outside the city of Mageddo was a large meadow surrounded by walls and porches wherein the sick were brought and laid in order.
Meanwhile Jesus, with the disciples, went through the fields outside the city instructing in parables the laborers there engaged in sowing. Some of the disciples taught those at a greater distance until Jesus came up; then they turned back to those that Jesus had already instructed, explained to them whatever they had not clearly understood, and told them about the Lord’s miracles. Jesus and the disciples always taught the same things to the different sets of workmen, so that on comparing notes, they all found that they had heard the same. They who had understood better, could afterward explain to the others. They often discontinued their work in this hot country to rest, and it was of these intermissions, and the opportunity afforded by the time devoted to meals, that Jesus took advantage to teach.
While Jesus was thus traversing the fields with the disciples, four of John’s followers arrived. They saluted the disciples and paid attention to their instructions. They had strips of fur around their necks, and leathern thongs bound their waists. They had not been sent by John, although they had constant intercourse with him and his disciples. They were degenerate followers of John, sworn to the Herodians, who had sent them to follow Jesus and hear what He taught concerning His Kingdom. They were more austere, though at the same time more polished in their manners, than Jesus’ disciples. Some hours after, another troop of John’s disciples made their appearance. They were twelve in number, only two of whom had been sent by John; the rest had come through curiosity. As they approached, Jesus was returning to the city, and they followed Him. Some of them had been present at the last miracles wrought by Jesus, and had hastened back to tell John what they had seen. When Jesus raised the youth of Naim, some of them were present, and they hurried off to Machaerus to inform John. They said to him: “What is it? What must we think? We have seen Him perform such and such miracles! We have heard such and such words from His lips! But His disciples are much less strict than we in the observance of the Law. Whom shall we follow? Who is Jesus? Why does He cure all that appeal to Him? Why does He console and help strangers, though He does not take a step toward freeing you?”
John always had trouble with his disciples, for they would not separate from him. It was for that reason that he sent them so often to Jesus, that they might learn to know Him and eventually follow Him. But they were so prejudiced in favor of John that what they saw and heard made little impression upon them. It was his desire that his disciples should follow Jesus that led John to urge Him so frequently to manifest Himself; he hoped that his followers would yield to the movement that converted the other Jews. He thought that, seeing them come again and again with their doubts, Jesus would be, as it were, necessitated to proclaim aloud that He was the Messiah, the Son of God; therefore it was that he sent those two with their usual questions to Him.
On entering the city with His disciples, Jesus went to the circular enclosure where the sick from the whole country around were encamped. Among them were some from Nazareth who knew Him. The lame, the blind, the dumb, the deaf, the sick of all kinds were here gathered, also several possessed. Making a turn around the circle, Jesus cured the last named, many of whom were suffering from different degrees of possession. They were indeed not so violent as such poor creatures had been at other times, but they were afflicted with convulsions and their limbs were distorted. Jesus cured them with a word of command uttered as He passed and at some distance. A dark vapor issued from them, they became somewhat faint and, when returned to full consciousness, they were quite changed. The vapors, on first issuing from their bodies, appeared quite subtle; but they soon condensed and united. Sometimes they sank into the earth, or again rose in the air; on this occasion they followed the former course. The evil spirit often departs like a dark shadow in human form. Instead of vanishing immediately, I have seen him wandering around among the bystanders before disappearing.
Jesus had scarcely begun to cure when John’s disciples, with a certain air of importance—as if the bearers of a commission—stepped up to Him and gave signs of their desire to address Him. Jesus, however, paid no attention to them, but went on with the cures. Such treatment was greatly displeasing to them, and they could not understand it. Many of John’s disciples were decidedly narrow-minded and jealous. Jesus wrought miracles, John did not. John spoke so highly of Jesus, and yet Jesus made no effort to free him from confinement. Although impressed by His miracles and doctrine, yet they soon allowed themselves to be influenced again by the public voice which was asking: “Who is He? Are not His poor relatives known by everyone?” Then again, they could not understand His words relative to His Kingdom. They saw no kingdom and no preparations for one. As John had been honored by so many and now lay proscribed in prison, they thought, among other things, that Jesus did not help him, that He allowed him to languish in captivity, in order to increase His own popularity. They were scandalized also at the liberty of His disciples. They esteemed it excessive humility in John to prize Jesus so highly and that he was constantly sending to implore Him to manifest Himself, to make an open declaration of who He was. As Jesus always spoke evasively on that point and as they had no idea that John sent them to Him in order that they might know Him, this knowledge was to them at the time, on account of their preconceived ideas, more difficult than it might have been to the most simple child.
As Jesus was making the circuit of the enclosure curing, He came to a sick man from Nazareth who began to speak of his acquaintance with Him. “Do You remember,” he said, “that You lost Your grandfather when You were twenty-five years old? We were often together in those days.” The man referred to the death of St. Anne’s second or third husband. Jesus did not pause for many words. He answered merely: “Yes, yes, I remember,” and turned at once to the man’s sins and sufferings. When He found him penitent and believing, He cured him, addressed to him some words of admonition, and passed on to the next invalid.
When Jesus reached the opposite side of the enclosure, the disciples sent by John confronted Him. They had, from their stand in the center, watched with amazement the miracles wrought. They now addressed Him in these words: “John the Baptist has sent us to Thee to ask art Thou He who is to come or look we for another?” Jesus answered: “Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen.
The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, widows are consoled, the poor have the Gospel preached to them. What is crooked is made straight. And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me.” After these words Jesus turned away, and John’s disciples took their departure.
Jesus could not speak more plainly of Himself, for who would have understood Him? His disciples were good, simple-hearted, generous, and pious souls, but as yet quite incapable of comprehending such a mystery. Many of them were related to Him by ties of blood, consequently they would have been scandalized at more precise language on Jesus’ part, or would have conceived erroneous ideas of Him. As for the multitude at large, they were altogether unprepared for such a truth, and besides, He was encompassed by spies. Even among John’s disciples, the Pharisees and Herodians had their creatures.
When John’s messengers had departed, Jesus began to teach. The cured, crowds of people, the Scribes of the place, His disciples, and the five publicans that dwelt here, formed the audience. The instruction was continued by the light of flambeaux, and the remaining sick were afterward cured. Jesus took for the subject of His discourse His own reply to John’s disciples. He spoke of how they should use the benefits received from God, and exhorted to penance and a change of life. As He knew that some of the Pharisees present had taken occasion, from the brevity of His reply to John’s messengers, to say to the people that He, Jesus, made little account of John and was willing enough to see him ruined in public estimation that He Himself might be exalted, He explained the answer He had given as well as what He had said on the score of penance. He also recalled to them what they themselves had heard John say of Him. Why, He asked, were they always doubting? What did they expect from John? He said: “What went ye out to see when ye went to John? Did ye go to see a reed shaken in the wind? Or a man effeminately and magnificently clothed? Listen! They that are clothed sumptuously and who live delicately are in the palaces of kings. But what did ye desire to see when ye went in quest of him? Was it to see a Prophet? Yea, I tell ye, ye saw more than a Prophet when ye saw him. This is he of whom it is written: Amen, I say to you there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater Prophet than John the Baptist, and yet he that is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied of it until John; and if ye will receive it, he is Elias that is to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!”
All present were very much impressed by Jesus’ words, and wanted to receive Baptism. The Scribes alone murmured. They were especially scandalized at Jesus because He accepted hospitality from the publicans, who also were present at this instruction. Jesus therefore profited by this opportunity to speak of all the reports they had set afloat concerning both John and Himself, particularly of the reproach made against Him of frequenting the company of publicans and sinners.
After that Jesus entered the house of one of the publicans, where He found the other four, and there He taught. Among His hearers on this occasion were some that had determined to amend their lives and to receive Baptism. This house was near the enclosure wherein Jesus had just cured the sick. There was another publican’s house at the entrance of the city, and still some others beyond.
Debbaseth, where Bartholomew resided, could be seen from the road when first starting from Naim to Mageddo, but on a nearer approach the heights of the latter place concealed it from view. It was situated about an hour and a half to the west on the Cison, at the entrance of the valley of Zabulon.