Jesus Leaves Mageddo. Cure of a Leper
As the Feast of the New Moon was beginning, Jesus took the return route from Mageddo to Capharnaum. He was accompanied by about twenty-four of His disciples, the four false disciples of John, and some of the publicans of Mageddo who wanted to be baptized in Capharnaum. They journeyed along slowly, sometimes pausing to stand or sit in the charming spots through which they passed, for Jesus taught the whole time. The way led from Mageddo northeastward, and off to the northwest side of Thabor. Jesus’ teaching was a preparation for the definitive calling and sending of the Apostles, which was soon to take place. He earnestly exhorted them to lay aside all worldly cares and to abandon their possessions. His words were so touching and affectionate. Once He snapped off a flower that was growing by the wayside, and said: “These have no cares! Look at their beautiful colors, their delicate little stamens! Was Solomon the Wise in all his magnificence more beautifully clothed than they?” Jesus often made use of this similitude.
He continued His instruction in a series of parables so striking that each of the Apostles could recognize the one intended for himself. He spoke also of His Kingdom, telling them that they should not be so eager after high employments therein, should not picture it to themselves as something earthly. Jesus said this because John’s four disciples, who were secret partisans of the Herodians, were especially interested in this part of His discourse. He warned the disciples of what people they should for the future beware, and described the Herodians in terms so exact that no one could fail to recognize them. Among other things, He said that they should beware of certain people in sheep’s skins and long leathern straps! “Beware,” He said, “of the profane in sheepskins and long girdles!” By these words, Jesus signified the lurking Herodian disciples of John who, in imitation of John’s true followers, wore a kind of sheepskin stole around the neck and crossed on the breast. They might know them, He said, by this, that they could not look one straight in the face; or again, if they (the disciples of Jesus), their hearts overflowing with joy and ardor, should impart something of their feelings to one of these false zealots in sheepskins and girdles, they might recognize him for what he was in reality by the agitation of his heart. It would turn this way and that way like a restless animal. Jesus named a beetle which, when confined, runs round and round, seeking some hole by which to escape. Once He bent back a thorn bush, saying: “Look, and see whether you can find any fruit here or not.” Some of the disciples had the simplicity to look into the bush. But Jesus said: “Do men seek figs upon thistles and grapes upon thorns?”
Toward evening they arrived at a row of houses, twenty in number, with a school on the northwestern side of the foot of Thabor. The place lay from one and a half to two hours eastward from Nazareth and one-half hour from the city of Thabor. The people here were a good-natured set. They had known Jesus in His early years when He used to wander around Nazareth with His young friends. They were for the most part shepherds. While guarding their flocks, they busied themselves in gathering cotton which, as soon as they spied Jesus coming, they packed up in their sacks and carried to their homes, after which they hurried forth to meet Him. I saw them with their rough fur caps in their hands, but in the school their heads were covered. They received Jesus at the spring, washed His feet and those of the disciples, and offered them some refreshment. There was no synagogue in the place, only a school with its resident teacher. Jesus went to it, and taught in parables.
This little village belonged to a distinguished man who lived with his wife in a large house at some distance. This man had fallen into sin and was now afflicted with leprosy; consequently, he lived apart from his wife. She occupied the upper stories of the house, while he lodged in one of the side buildings. In order to escape the grievous alternative of entire separation from his fellowmen, he had not made known his malady. His case was not, however, so secret that many were not aware of its existence, but they connived at it. It was well known in the little village, and although the ordinary route ran past his dwelling, the people always managed to take another way. They informed the disciples of the circumstance. The poor leper had for a long time sincerely bewailed his transgressions and longed for the coming of Jesus. And now he called a little boy of about eight years, his slave, who supplied him with necessaries, and said to him: “Go to Jesus of Nazareth and watch your chance. When you see Him at some distance from His disciples or walking apart from them, cast yourself at His feet and say: ‘Rabbi, my master is sick. He thinks that Thou canst help him by merely passing before our house, a way that all others shun. He humbly beseeches Thee to have compassion on his misery and to walk along the street, for he is certain of being cured.” The boy went to Jesus and very cleverly executed the commission. Jesus replied: “Tell your master that I shall go to him in the morning,” and He took the boy by one hand, laying the other on his head with words of praise. This meeting took place as Jesus was leaving the school to go to the inn. Jesus knew that the boy was coming, and had designedly remained a little behind the disciples. The boy wore a yellow tunic.
Anne’s property lay on a height to the west of Nazareth. It was distant about an hour, and was between the valley of Nazareth and that of Zabulon. A narrow vale planted with trees ran from it to Nazareth, and by it Anne could go to Mary’s house without traversing the city.
Next morning at early dawn Jesus left the inn with the disciples. When He turned into the street that ran past the leper’s dwelling, they told Him that He ought not to go that way. But He went on and commanded them to follow. They did so, but timidly and apprehensively, for they feared being reported at Capharnaum. John’s disciples did not go with Him by this way.
The boy, who was on the watch, notified his master of Jesus’ approach. The sick man came down by a path leading to the street, paused at some distance, and cried out: “Lord, do not come nearer to me! If Thou dost merely will me to be healed, I shall be saved.” The disciples remained standing at a distance. Jesus replied: “I will it!” went up to the man, touched him, and spoke to him, as he lay prostrate on his face at His feet. He was clean; his leprosy had fallen off. He related to Jesus all the circumstances of his case, and received for reply that he should return to his wife, and by degrees appear again among the people. Jesus admonished him of his sins, commanded him to receive the penance of Baptism, and enjoined upon him a certain alms. He then went back to His disciples and spoke to them of the cure just wrought. He told them that whoever had faith and possessed a pure heart might with impunity touch even the leprous.
When the cured man had bathed and dressed, he went to his wife and told her of the miracle just effected in him by Jesus. Some spiteful people of the place sent news of the affair to the priests and Pharisees of the city of Thabor, who immediately saw fit to institute a commission of investigation. They surprised the poor man by submitting him to a close examination as to whether he was really cured or not, and sharply called him to account for keeping his malady secret. They now made a great noise over the affair which, though publicly known, they had long tolerated.
Jesus journeyed quickly with the disciples all the remainder of the day, pausing only now and again to rest a few moments and take some refreshment. He taught all along the way about the forsaking of temporal goods, and in parables instructed them upon the Kingdom of God. He told them that it was impossible to make all these things clear to them just then, but a time would come when they would comprehend all. He spoke of giving up earthly care of food and raiment. They would soon see a hungry multitude with provisions far from sufficient for their wants. They, the disciples, would say to Him: “Whence shall we get bread?” and a superabundance should be given unto them. They had to build houses and build them securely! Jesus said this in such a way as to intimate that it was by sacrifice and personal exertion that these houses, namely, employments and charges in His Kingdom, were to be obtained. The disciples, however, understood Him in a worldly sense. Judas was very much rejoiced. He gave noisy expression to his satisfaction and said aloud in the hearing of all that he would not shirk labor, that he would do his share of the work. On hearing this, Jesus stood still and said: “We are not yet at the end of our mission. It will not always be as it is now. Ye will not always be well received and entertained, ye will not always have things in abundance. The time will come when they will persecute you and thrust you out, when ye will have neither shelter, nor food, nor clothing, nor shoes.” And He went on to tell them that they should think seriously of these things and hold themselves in readiness to renounce everything, also that He had something important to propose to them. He spoke likewise of two kingdoms opposed to each other. No one can serve two masters. Whoever desired to serve in His Kingdom must forsake the other. Then passing to the Pharisees and their accomplices, He said something about the masks or disguises that they wore. They taught the dead form of the Law and sought to have it observed; but the best part of it, its purport—the charity, forgiveness, and mercy that it inculcates—they wholly neglected. But He, Jesus, taught just the contrary, namely that the rind without the kernel is dead and barren. First comes the essence of the Law, and then the Law itself; the kernel must increase with the growth of the shell. He gave them also some instructions on prayer. They should, He said, pray in secret and not ostentatiously before others. Many similar things He said on this occasion.
When journeying with His disciples, Jesus generally instructed them, thus preparing them to understand better what they would hear in His next public discourse and be able to make it clear to the people. He often repeated the same things, though in different words and order. Among the disciples who accompanied Jesus today, James the Greater and Judas Barsabas most frequently put questions to Him, though Peter did so sometimes. Judas often spoke in a loud voice. Andrew was already well acquainted with the teachings of his Master. Thomas was preoccupied, as if weighing consequences. John took everything simply and lovingly. The best instructed of the disciples were the most silent, partly through modesty, and partly because they were not always willing to show that they did not understand Jesus’ words.
Thus journeying through the valleys, they arrived shortly before the beginning of the Sabbath at the valley east of Magdalum. Here they encountered the pagan Cyrinus of Dabereth, and the centurion Achias of Giskala, who were going to Capharnaum for Baptism.
When nearing Capharnaum, Jesus was instructing the disciples as to how they should exercise themselves in obedience as a preparation for their mission, and especially how they should conduct themselves when He should send them to teach the people. He gave them likewise some general rules for their deportment when in certain company. He did this in a few words before the departure of the four Herodians who had journeyed with His little party, and sufficiently loud for them to hear. He said: “If on your journeys worldly men join you—whom ye may recognize by their smooth speech and sly questions—who will not be shaken off, who always, half agreeing, half good-naturedly contradicting, question and discuss various subjects that agitate the heart, then should ye at any cost break away from them. And why? Because ye are still too weak, too simple-hearted. Ye might easily fall into the snares of such lurkers. I do not shun them, for I know them, and I wish them to hear My teaching.”
Jesus Teaches in the Synagogue of Capharnaum, and Heals Two Lepers
Jesus again passed by the estate of the Centurion Zorobabel as He and His disciples were hurrying along, for the Sabbath had already begun. In his charity, Zorobabel had permitted two young Scribes of about twenty-five years, who on account of their dissolute life had been stricken with leprosy, to take up their abode in his garden. They were perfectly loathsome to look upon, and in their misery subjected to the greatest contempt. The red mantles that enveloped them hid the ulcers with which they were covered. They had once formed a part of Magdalen’s gay coterie at Magdalum, had afterward carried on their excesses in other places, and fell at last into the extreme misery in which they now were. At Jesus’ recent visit to these parts, they were ashamed to present themselves before Him, but now, convinced by the news of His miracles and great mercy, they had allowed themselves to be dragged to a place near the road by which He would pass and where they could cry to Him for help. Jesus would not pause. He hurried on, but told two of Zorobabel’s servants, who came running after Him pleading for the unfortunate creatures, to bring them to the synagogue in Capharnaum. When the people were assembled, they (the servants) were to conduct the lepers to the gallery one story high that had been built adjoining the synagogue, and from which the teaching going on inside could be heard by those from without. There they should pray and excite themselves to contrition until He should call them. The servants immediately hastened back, and took the poor men by a shortcut through the flowery ravine to Capharnaum. They dragged them, though not without difficulty, up the outside steps to the gallery where, leaning in at the windows of the synagogue, they could, apart from the throng and in the open air, listen to the teachings of Jesus and with penitent hearts await their Saviour’s call.
Jesus soon arrived with the disciples. After they had washed their feet and ungirded their garments, they entered the synagogue. When Jesus approached the pulpit, He found it occupied by one who was reading aloud. The latter, however, at once arose and yielded his place to Jesus, who immediately took the roll of Scriptures and began to teach upon the passages referring to Jacob’s being called to account by Laban, his struggle with the angel, his reconciliation with Esau, and the seduction of Dina, after which He turned to the Prophet Osee. When Jesus without the least hesitation took the rolls and began to read, the Pharisees smiled scornfully, as if to pronounce Him wanting in courtesy. They were exasperated at Jesus’ reappearance, for the raising of the youth of Naim, as well as His numerous cures in Mageddo, were already noised throughout Capharnaum. They watched eagerly and with inquietude to see what new thing He was now going to undertake. Almost all of Jesus’ relatives, including the women, were gathered today in the synagogue.
As the crowd was leaving the synagogue followed by Jesus, the disciples, and the Pharisees, these last thought they would still carryon the dispute with Jesus in the portico, but an unforeseen incident prevented their design. Jesus went to the door, looked up to the gallery where the two unclean men were still standing, and called to them to come down. But they were timid and ashamed. Through fear of the Pharisees, they did not venture to obey at once. Then Jesus commanded them, in a name that I cannot recall, to come down, and to their own great astonishment they found themselves able to descend the steps alone. The portico had been lighted up with torches for the convenience of the dispersing crowd. How furious were the Pharisees when they recognized by the dull glare of the torches the two poor, despised sinners in their red mantles! The lepers sank trembling on their knees before Jesus. He laid His hand on them, breathed into their faces, and said: “Your sins are forgiven you!” and admonished them to continence and the baptism of penance. He commanded them also to forsake their vain studies, for that He Himself would teach them the truth and the way. They rose up. Their disfigurement had visibly decreased, their ulcers had dried, and the scales had fallen off. With tears they thanked their Benefactor, and left the place with Zorobabel’s servants. Many of the well- disposed among the bystanders pressed around the cured, celebrating in words of praise their penance and their healing.
The Pharisees, however, were mad with rage. They cried out to Jesus: “What! Healest Thou on the Sabbath! And dost Thou also forgive sins! How canst Thou forgive sins?” Then, turning to the people, they cried: “He has a devil who helps Him! He is a madman! That is easily seen in His wandering about. Scarcely had He begun to carryon His game here, when off He goes to Naim to raise the dead, then to Mageddo, and then back here again! No good man in his senses would carryon in that way! He has a powerful, wicked spirit who helps Him!” And they added: “When Herod finishes with John, this Man’s turn will come, unless He takes Himself out of the way!” But Jesus went out through the midst of them. His female relatives, who had waited for Him in a neighboring house after leaving the synagogue, wept and lamented over the violent rage of the Pharisees.
Jesus left the city and, taking the road to the northeast, directed His steps to the hill beyond the valley where Mary’s house stood. On the way thither were clumps of trees and grottos in which He stopped to pray. He arrived late at Mary’s, where He consoled the women, after which He again went out and spent the whole night in prayer.
Next morning, Jesus repaired to the garden in the neighborhood of Peter’s house. It was enclosed by a hedge, and in it all the preparations for Baptism had been made. There were several circular cisterns, formed in the ground and surrounded by a little channel, into which the water of a stream running nearby could be turned. A long arbor could, by hangings and screens, be divided into little compartments for the convenience of the neophytes when disrobing. An elevated stand had been erected for Jesus. The disciples were all present and about fifty aspirants to Baptism, among the latter some relatives of the Holy Family, an old man and three youths from Sephoris, the boy whom Jesus had healed at that same place, and the old woman from there, who had recently visited Jesus in Abez. There were present, moreover, Cyrinus from Cyprus; the Roman Centurion Achias and his little, miraculously cured son Jephte, of Giskala; the Centurion Cornelius, his yellow slave who had been cured by Jesus, and several of his domestics; many pagans from Upper Galilee; a dark-skinned slave of Zorobabel; the five publicans of Mageddo; some boys, among whom was Joses, the nephew of Bartholomew; likewise all the cured lepers and possessed of these parts, including the two young Scribes healed the preceding evening. The last mentioned were indeed free from ulcers, but their countenance was still disfigured and bore the marks of suffering.
All the neophytes were clothed in penitential robes of gray wool, a four-cornered kerchief over their heads. Jesus instructed and prepared them for Baptism, after which they retired into the arbor and put on their baptismal garments, white tunics, long and wide. Their heads were uncovered, the kerchief, now thrown round their shoulders, and they stood in the channel around the basins, their hands crossed on their breasts. Andrew and Saturnin baptized, while Thomas, Bartholomew, John and others imposed hands as sponsors. The neophytes, with bared shoulders, leaned over a railing around the edge of the basin. One of the disciples carried a vessel of water that had been blessed by Jesus, from which the baptizers scooped some with the hand and poured it thrice over the heads of those being baptized. Thomas was sponsor to Jephte, the son of Achias. Although several received Baptism at the same time, yet the ceremony lasted until nearly two 0′ clock in the afternoon.
The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus, the Chief of the Synagogue
Later on when Jesus was curing some of the sick in the square before the synagogue of Capharnaum, Jairus, the Chief of the synagogue, presented himself before Him. He cast himself at His feet and implored Him to visit and cure his sick daughter, who was then breathing her last. Jesus was on the point of starting with Jairus when messengers hastily arrived from the house of the latter and thus addressed him: “Thy daughter has expired. There is no need further to trouble the Master.” On hearing these words, Jesus said to Jairus: “Fear not! Trust in Me, and thou shalt receive help!” They directed their steps to the northern quarter of the city where dwelt Cornelius, whose house was not far removed from that of Jairus. As they drew near they saw a multitude of minstrels and female mourners already assembled in the courtyard and before the door. Jesus entered, taking with Him only Peter, James the Greater, and John. In passing through the court, He said to the mourners: “Why do ye thus lament and weep? Go your way! The damsel is not dead, but only sleeping.” At this the crowd of mourners began to laugh Him to scorn, for they knew that she was dead. But Jesus insisted on their retiring even from the court, which He ordered to be locked. Then He entered the apartment in which the grief-stricken mother was busied with her maid preparing the winding sheet; thence, accompanied by the father, the mother, and the three disciples, He passed on to the chamber in which the girl lay. Jesus stepped toward the couch, the parents standing behind Him, the disciples to the right at the foot of the bed. The mother did not please me. She was cold and wanting in confidence. The father, too, was not a warm friend of Jesus. He would not willingly do anything to displease the Pharisees. It was anxiety and necessity alone that had driven him to Jesus. He was actuated by a double motive. If Jesus cured his child, she would be restored to him; if not, he would have prepared a triumph for the Pharisees. Still, the cure of Cornelius’ servant had greatly impressed him and awakened in him a feeling of confidence. The little daughter was not tall, and she was very much wasted. At most, I should say she was eleven years old, and even at that small for her age, for the Jewish girls of twelve are usually full-grown. She lay on the couch enveloped in a long garment. Jesus raised her lightly in His arms, held her on His breast, and breathed upon her. Then I saw something wonderful. Near the right side of the corpse was a luminous figure in a sphere of light. When Jesus breathed upon the little girl, that figure entered her mouth as a tiny human form of light. Then He laid the body down upon the couch, grasped one of the wrists, and said: “Damsel, arise!” The girl sat up in her bed, Jesus still held her by the hand. Then she stood up, opened her eyes, and supported by the hand of Jesus, stepped from the couch to the floor. Jesus led her, weak and tremulous, to the arms of her parents. They had watched the progress of the event at first coldly, though anxiously, then trembling with agitation, and now they were out of themselves for very joy. Jesus bade them give the child to eat and to make no unnecessary noise over the affair. After receiving the thanks of the father, He went down to the city. The mother was confused and stupefied. Her words of thanks were few. The news soon spread through the mourners that the maiden was alive. They immediately returned, some confused at their former incredulity, others still uttering vulgar pleasantries, and went into the house, where they saw the damsel eating.
On the way back, Jesus spoke with His disciples on the subject of this miracle. He said that these people, namely, the father and mother, had had neither real faith nor an upright intention. If the daughter was raised from the dead, it was for her own sake and for the glory of God’s Kingdom. The death from which she had just been roused, that is, the death of the body, was a guiltless one, but from the death of the soul she must now preserve herself. Jesus then went to the great square of the city, cured many sick there awaiting Him, and taught in the synagogue until the close of the Sabbath. The Pharisees were so agitated and incensed that it would not have taken much to make them lay hands on Jesus if He had trusted Himself among them. They began again to declare that He effected His miracles by the power of sorcery. Jesus, however, slipped out of the city through Zorobabel’s garden, and the disciples also dispersed.
Jesus spent part of the night retired in prayer. He supplicated for the conversion of sinners and besought His Heavenly Father to confound and frustrate the designs of the Pharisees, for He acted in everything as man, in order that we should imitate Him. He also begged His Father to allow Him to perfect His work, since according to our way of thinking, the Pharisees were ready to tear Him to pieces. He withdrew from their presence, but on the following day, the Sabbath itself, He again cured at the door of the synagogue and taught inside. And why did not the Pharisees drive the sick away? Why did they not forbid Jesus to teach in the synagogue? It was because Prophets and Doctors had at all times the right to teach, to help, and to heal. They did indeed accuse Him of error and blasphemy, though they were unable to prove their accusations. As for the Baptism that He gave, they did not trouble themselves about it and went not to where it was administered. There was no public highway through the valley; only a road over the mountains led to Bethsaida. The valley was traversed by only the footpath taken by the fishermen and the peasants when on their way to the lake.
Martha and the holy women of Jerusalem, Dina and others, after Jesus’ departure went back to Naim and thence to their own homes. Maroni and her son were so beset by people desirous of seeing one raised from the dead that they were obliged to conceal themselves.
Cornelius the Centurion gave a feast at his house in honor of his cured servant. Numbers of heathens were in attendance, also crowds of the poor. Immediately after the miracle, Cornelius informed Jesus of his intention to sacrifice burnt offerings of all kinds of animals. But Jesus replied that it would be better for him to invite his enemies in order to reconcile them one with another; his friends, that he might lead them to the truth; and the poor, that he might recreate and entertain them with the food he had destined for sacrifice, for God no longer delighted in burnt offerings. Multitudes of heathens went from beyond Bethsaida and the mountains to the house of Cornelius, where the feast was celebrated.
Jesus was again at the place of Baptism. Saturnin experienced great joy in baptizing his two younger brothers and an uncle, all of whom were heathens. Their mother also had come with them. She was already a Jewess. His father was dead. Saturnin was descended from a royal race. His parents dwelt in Patras. At the time of which I speak his father was dead, but his stepmother with two daughters and two sons still lived there. From a brown-skinned man, a relative and follower of the dark complexioned one of the Three Kings, and whom he had met on a journey, Saturnin heard the story of the star and the birth of Jesus. Thereupon he went to Jerusalem and, when John began his career, became one of his first disciples; but after Jesus’ baptism, he went with Andrew to Jesus. His stepmother with her two little girls had removed to Jerusalem with him, while the boys remained behind with their uncle. They too were now come to their brother. They were rich.
There were about twelve other men baptized. When they stepped into the channel around the basin, they tucked up their long garments and leaned over the edge. After their Baptism they retired into the arbor and reclothed themselves, putting on a baptismal garment consisting of a long white mantle. The Jews did not trouble themselves about the baptized heathens. If the latter did not present themselves before the priests for circumcision, the former took no notice of it. They did not make much account of the heathens, for they themselves were quite lukewarm and they avoided whatever could give them trouble. Cornelius, who dwelt among them and had caused a synagogue to be built, would probably have to receive circumcision if he wished to continue his intercourse with them.
Jesus afterward taught on the borders of the lake, not far from Peter’s fishery. He had journeyed with the disciples over the mountain back of Mary’s and Peter’s dwellings in the direction of Bethsaida, and thence had descended to the lake. The shore near Bethsaida was steep, but at the point to which I now allude it gently sloped and afforded an easy landing place. Peter’s ship and Jesus’ little barque lay here. The latter was small and could at most contain fifteen men.
Jesus Instructs From His Barque. Call of Matthew
A great crowd of pagans who had been at Cornelius’ feast were here assembled. Jesus was instructing them and, as the throng became very great, He with some of His disciples went on board His little barque, while the rest of them and the publicans went on Peter’s boat. And now from the barque He instructed the heathens on the strand, making use of the parables of the sower and the tares in the field. The instruction over, they struck out across the lake, the disciples in Peter’s boat plying the oars. Jesus’ barque was fastened to Peter’s, and the disciples took turns to row. Jesus sat on a raised seat near the mast, the others around Him and on the edge of the boat. They interrogated Him upon the meaning of the parable and asked why He spoke in similitudes. Jesus gave them a satisfactory explanation. They landed at a point between the valley of Gerasa and Bethsaida-Julias. A road ran from the shore to the houses of the publicans, and into it the four who were with Jesus turned. Jesus meanwhile, with the disciples, continued along the shore to the right, thus passing Matthew’s residence, though at a distance. A side path ran from this road to his custom office, and along it Jesus bent His steps, the disciples timidly remaining behind. Servants and publicans were out in front of the custom house, busied with all kinds of merchandise. When Matthew from the top of a little eminence beheld Jesus and the disciples coming toward him, he became confused and withdrew into his private office. But Jesus continued to approach, and from the opposite side of the road called him. Then came Matthew hurrying out, prostrated with his face on the ground before Jesus, protesting that he did not esteem himself worthy that Jesus should speak with him. But Jesus said: “Matthew, arise, and follow Me!” Then Matthew arose, saying that he would instantly and joyfully abandon all things and follow Him. He accompanied Jesus back to where the disciples were standing, who saluted him and extended to him their hands. Thaddeus, Simon, and James the Less were particularly rejoiced at his coming. They and Matthew were half brothers. Their father Alpheus, before his marriage with their mother Mary Cleophas, was a widower with one son, Matthew. Matthew insisted upon all being his guests. Jesus, however, assured him that they would return next morning, and then they continued their way.
Matthew hurried back to his house, which stood in a corner of the mountains about a quarter of an hour from the lake. The little stream that flows from Gerasa into the lake ran past it at no great distance, and the view extended over lake and field. Matthew at once procured a substitute in his business, an excellent man belonging to Peter’s barque, who was to discharge his duties until further arrangements could be made. Matthew was a married man with four children. He joyfully imparted to his wife the good fortune that had fallen to him, as well as his intention to abandon all and follow Jesus, and she received the announcement with corresponding joy. Then he directed her to see to the preparing of an entertainment for the next morning, he himself taking charge of the invitations and other arrangements. Matthew was almost as old as Peter. One might easily have taken him for the father of his young half brother Joses Barsabas. He was a man of heavy, bony frame with black hair and beard. Since his acquaintance with Jesus on the way to Sidon, he had received John’s baptism and regulated his whole life most conscientiously.
On leaving Matthew, Jesus crossed the mountain at the rear of his dwelling and proceeded northward into the valley of Bethsaida-Julias, where He found encamped caravans and travelling pagans, whom He instructed.
Toward noon the next day Jesus returned with the disciples to Matthew’s, where many publicans who had been invited were already assembled. Some Pharisees and some of John’s disciples had joined Jesus on the way, but they did not enter Matthew’s. They stayed outdoors, sauntering around the garden with the disciples, to whom they put the question: “How can you tolerate your Master’s making Himself so familiar with sinners and publicans?” They received for answer: “Ask Himself why He does so!” But the Pharisees responded: “One cannot speak with a man who always maintains that he is right.”
Matthew received Jesus and His followers most lovingly and humbly, and washed their feet. His half brothers warmly embraced him, and then he presented his wife and children to Jesus. Jesus spoke to the mother and blessed the children, who then retired, to return no more. I have often wondered why the children whom Jesus blessed usually appeared no more. I saw Jesus seated, and Matthew on his knees before Him. Jesus laid His hand upon him, blessed him, and addressed to him some words of instruction. Matthew had formerly been called Levi, but now he received the name of Matthew. The feast was a magnificent one. The table, in the form of a cross, was set in an open hall. Jesus sat in the midst of the publicans. In the intervals between the different courses, the guests arose and engaged in conversation with one another. Poor travelers passing by were supplied with food by the disciples, for the street on which the house stood led down to the ferry. It was on the occasion of their leaving table that the Pharisees approached the disciples, and then occurred the speeches and objections narrated in the Gospel of 5:30-39. The Pharisees insisted particularly on the subject of fasting, because among the strict Jews a fast day began that evening in expiation of the sacrilege King Joachim committed by burning the Books of the Prophet Jeremias. Among the Jews, especially in Judea, it was not customary to pluck fruit by the wayside. Now Jesus permitted it to His disciples, and this the Pharisees made a subject of reproach to Him. While giving His answers to the Pharisees, Jesus was reclining at table with the publicans, whereas the disciples to whom the questions of the Pharisees were addressed were standing or walking among them. Jesus turned His head from side to side in answering.
Capharnaum was much more lively now than formerly. Crowds of strangers were streaming in on account of Jesus, some of them His friends, others His enemies, and most of them pagans, the followers of Zorobabel and Cornelius.
The Final Call of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Jesus Stills the Tempest on the Lake
Next morning when Jesus went to the lake, which was about a quarter of an hour distant from Matthew’s dwelling, Peter and Andrew were upon the point of launching out on the deep to let down their nets. Jesus called to them: “Come and follow Me! I will make you fishers of men!” They instantly abandoned their work, hove to their boat, and came on shore. Jesus went on a little farther up the shore to the ship of Zebedee, who with his sons James and John was mending his nets on the ship. Jesus called the two sons to come to Him. They obeyed immediately and came to land, while Zebedee remained on the ship with his servants.
Then Jesus sent Peter and Andrew, James and John into the mountains where the heathens were encamped, with the order to baptize all that desired it. He Himself had prepared them for it during the two preceding days. With Saturnin and the other disciples, Jesus went in another direction. All were to meet again that evening at Matthew’s, and I saw Jesus pointing out with His finger the way they were to take. While He was calling the four disciples, the others had waited for Him at a little distance up the road, but when He commissioned those four to go and baptize, they were all together.
Jesus had indeed, at an earlier period, formally called the fishermen from their occupations, but with His consent they had always returned to them. So long as they themselves were not engaged in teaching, it was not necessary for them to follow Him constantly. Their means of navigation and their intercourse with the pagan caravans were very advantageous, likewise, while He sojourned at Capharnaum. When, after the last Pasch, they had for a longer time been with Jesus, they had indeed taught here and there, and had even wrought some miraculous cures. In these latter, however, they were not always successful, on account of their want of faith. They had also suffered persecution at this early stage of their apostolic career. In Gennabris they were led bound before the Pharisees and cast into prison. They received at that time from Jesus the power to bless the water intended for Baptism. This power was not imparted to them by the imposition of hands, but with a blessing.
Peter was, besides his fishery, engaged also in agriculture and cattle raising; consequently it was harder for him than for the others to break away from his business affairs. To this was added the feeling of his own unworthiness and his fancied incapacity for teaching, which made separation from his surroundings still more difficult. His house outside Capharnaum was large and long, surrounded by a courtyard, side buildings, halls, and sheds. The waters of the brook of Capharnaum, flowing in front of it, were dammed nearby into a beautiful pond in which fish were kept. All around were grass plots, upon which bleaching was done and nets were spread.
Andrew had followed the Lord longer, and he was already more detached from worldly affairs than his brother. James and John up to this period were accustomed to return at intervals to their parents.
It is understood that the Gospels do not contain the details of Jesus’ intercourse with the disciples, but only a short statement of it. This call of the fishermen from their boats to make them fishers of men is there set down as happening at the beginning of His public life, and as the only call that Saints Peter, Andrew, John, and James received. Many of the miracles, parables, and instructions of Jesus are afterward recorded as instance of His power and wisdom, without any reference whatever to their order of time.
Peter, Andrew, James and John went to the pagan encampment, and there Andrew baptized. Water was brought from the brook in a large basin. The neophytes knelt in a circle, their hands crossed upon their breasts. Among them stood boys from three to six years. Peter held the basin, and Andrew, scooping the water up with his hand three different times, sprinkled the heads of the neophytes three at a time and repeated the words of Baptism. The other disciples went around outside the circle laying their hands on the newly baptized. These latter then withdrew, and their places were immediately filled by others. The ceremony was discontinued at intervals, and then the disciples recounted the parables they had learned from their Master, spoke of Jesus, His doctrine, and His miracles, and explained to the pagans points of which they were still ignorant regarding the Law and the Promises of God. Peter was particularly animated in his delivery and accompanied his words with many gestures. John and James likewise spoke very beautifully. Jesus meantime was teaching in another valley, and with Him was Saturnin, baptizing.
That evening when all were again assembled at Matthew’s, the crowd was very great and pressed around Jesus. On that account, with the twelve Apostles and Saturnin He went on board Peter’s barque and commanded them to row toward Tiberias, which was on the opposite side of the lake in its greatest breadth. It looked as if Jesus wanted to escape from the crowd that pressed upon Him, for He was worn out with fatigue. Three platforms surrounded the lower part of the mast, like steps one above the other. In the middle one, in one of the apartments used by the sentry, Jesus lay down and fell asleep, for He was very tired. The rowers were above Him. From Jesus’ resting place, although protected by a roof, there was an unobstructed view over the whole lake. When the party put out from shore, the weather was calm and beautiful, but they had scarcely reached the middle of the lake before a violent tempest arose. I thought it very strange that, although the sky was shrouded in darkness, the stars were to be seen. The wind blew in a hurricane and the waves dashed over the boat, the sails of which had been furled. I saw from time to time a brilliant light glancing over the troubled waters. It must have been lightning. The danger was imminent, and the disciples were in great anxiety when they awoke Jesus with the words: “Master! Hast Thou no care for us? We are sinking!” Jesus arose, looked out on the water, and said quietly and earnestly, as if speaking to the storm: “Peace! Be still!” and instantly all became calm. The disciples were struck with fear. They whispered to one another: “Who is this Man that can control the waves?” Jesus reproved them for their little faith and their fear. He ordered them to row back to Corozain, for so the place of Matthew’s custom house was called, on account of the city of Corozain. The region on the other side of the lake between Capharnaum and Giskala was named Genesareth. Zebedee’s barque also returned with them, and another filled with passengers went off to Capharnaum.
There were in all about fifteen men on the boat with Jesus. We must not be surprised at the rowers’ position above the sleeping place of Jesus, nor at the fact of Jesus’ being able, notwithstanding, to take in the whole view of the lake. The oars rested upon the high sides of the boat and struck far out into the water. They were provided with long handles and the rowers were obliged to stand high. It was about one hour from Corozain to the southwest and a little to the north of Gergesa, which occupied a less elevated position.
At the place where Jesus paused to address the multitude there was a stone seat intended for the teacher. The instruction had been announced two days before, and there were in all probability two thousand listeners in attendance. Jesus healed also a great crowd of people, the blind and lame, the dumb and leprous. As He began to teach, some of the possessed who had been led thither commenced to shout and to rave. Jesus commanded them to be silent and to lie down on the ground. Like frightened dogs they lay on the ground and moved not until, at the close of His discourse, He went to them and delivered them.
Among the numerous cures, I remember that of a man with an arm perfectly withered and a hand shrunken and crooked. Jesus stroked down the arm, took the hand in His own, and straightened out each finger one after the other, at the same time gently bending and pressing it. All this took place almost instantaneously, in a shorter time than one takes to say how it was done. The hand was restored to its proper shape, the blood began to circulate, and the man could move it although it was still wasted and weak. Its strength, however, momentarily increased.
There were in the crowd many women and children of all ages. Jesus had them brought to Him in bands, one after another. He walked about among them, gave them His blessing, and instructed them in tones loud enough to be heard by all. I saw Him during this instruction take a child by the hand and turn it here and there, to show how men, without complaint or resistance, should allow themselves to be conducted by God. He paid great attention to the children. Most of these people were heathens, others were Jews from Syria and Decapolis. At the spreading rumor of Jesus’ doings, they had come in great caravans with their servants and children and sick to the teaching, healing, and Baptism. Jesus came to meet them here, that the crowd in Capharnaum might not become too great. Among them I saw the relatives of the woman mentioned in the Gospel, the woman afflicted with the issue of blood, who was then at Capharnaum. Those relatives were an uncle of her deceased husband from Paneas, in whose house she had been married; her grown daughter; and another woman. They spoke to the disciples, begging them to conduct them to Capharnaum that evening, and they inquired also after their sick relatives. They heard Jesus’ instructions.
Baptism was administered the whole day at this place. As on the preceding day, the neophytes knelt in circles. I saw again many little boys baptized. They stood in circles, their hands joined on their breasts. The water had been brought in leathern bottles from the valley of Corozain. Present among the crowd of hearers were some Pharisees from the surrounding districts and some of John’s false disciples, who acted as spies upon Jesus. In the evening He returned to Matthew’s with the disciples. He related another parable, that of the treasure which a man found hidden in his neighbor’s field. Without disclosing the secret, he went and sold all that he owned in order to buy that field. This parable Jesus applied to the great desire of the Gentiles to seize upon the Kingdom of God. To escape the crowd that pressed upon Him, Jesus again went on board a barque and there taught. He did not, however, go far out on the water, but returned and spent the night in prayer.
Next morning the disciples brought Him the news that Mary Cleophas was lying very ill at Peter’s near Capharnaum, that His Mother entreated Him to come to her soon, and that a great multitude of sick of whom many were from Nazareth, were awaiting His arrival. Jesus again taught and cured numbers on the shore of the lake. Many possessed were brought to Him, and He delivered them. The crowd of people and the pressure of the throng were constantly on the increase, and no words can say how unweariedly Jesus labored and helped all in need.
That afternoon He and all His Apostles rowed over to Bethsaida. Matthew had delivered the custom house to a man belonging to the fishery. Since his reception of John’s baptism, he had carried on his business in an altogether blameless manner. The other publicans also were honest in their dealings and very liberal men, who gave large alms to the poor. Judas is still good. He is uncommonly active and ready to render service, though in his distribution of alms somewhat close and calculating. A large number of Gentiles crossed the lake today. Those that were not going on further, to Capharnaum for instance, left their camels and asses on rafts towed by the boats, or led them over the bridge that crossed the Jordan above the lake.
It was approaching four o’clock when Jesus reached Bethsaida, where Mary with Maroni and her son, who had been here for two days, were awaiting His coming along with others. Jesus took some refreshments, while Mary Cleophas’ sons repaired at once to their sick mother. A crowd of people was assembled in front of Andrew’s house, and Jesus taught and cured until after night had closed.
The throng of strangers to Capharnaum at this time, both Jews and Gentiles, surpassed anything that can be imagined. Great caravans were encamped in all the country around. Very probably the number of strangers sojourning all around the country on Jesus’ account amounted to twelve thousand. The valleys and nooks of the surrounding districts were alive with grazing camels and asses. The fodder was put before them at a convenient height, and then they were tied to it. They browsed also on the numerous buds of the hedges and thickets, though to the great prejudice of the same. Tents were pitched everywhere. Since Jesus’ sojourn Capharnaum had greatly increased in size, wealth, and importance. Many families from afar had there taken up their abode, and the throng of visitors brought money into the city. Zorobabel’s house, as well as that of Cornelius, were now almost connected with the city proper.
Numerous sick were brought to Capharnaum from the towns and villages lying around. All had been thrown into excitement by the raising of the youth of Naim, and the other astonishing miracles. Many sick from Nazareth, even those that were considered incurable and others nigh unto death, had been brought hither to Jesus in all confidence by their friends. Peter’s house outside the city, its courtyard, outbuildings, and sheds were crowded with them. Tents and arbors of all kinds were hastily put up and provisions provided. The widow of Naim, who was related to Peter, and Mary Cleophas, likewise a connection of his through her third husband, were there. Mary Cleophas’ usual residence was at Cana, but she had accompanied the widow of Naim to Capharnaum. She had with her Simeon, the son of her third marriage, a boy of eight years. She was already fever-stricken on her arrival, and her sickness was on the increase. Jesus had not yet gone to her. I remarked some people from Greece among the multitudes here awaiting Jesus, some from Patras, Saturnin’s native city.
John the Baptist’s Message To the Synagogue. The Miraculous Draught of Fishes
Several of John’s disciples, sent by their master, came from Machaerus to Capharnaum before the Sabbath began. They were some of the oldest and most confidential of his disciples, and among them were the brothers of Mary Cleophas, James, Sadoch, and Heliachim. They called the Elders and the committee appointed by the Pharisees into the porch before the synagogue, and there presented to them a long, narrow, conical roll of parchment. It was a letter from John, and contained in strong and expressive terms his testimony of Jesus. While they were reading it and, somewhat perplexed, were discussing its contents among themselves, a numerous crowd assembled, to whom the messengers from John made known what their master had at Machaerus declared in a magnificent discourse before Herod, his own disciples, and a crowded audience. I saw the whole scene. When the disciples whom John had sent to Jesus at Mageddo had returned to their master, bringing with them the news of Jesus’ miracles and teachings, as well as the persecution He endured from the Pharisees; when they repeated the various rumors afloat concerning Jesus and the complaints of many because He made no effort to release him (John), the Baptist felt himself urged once more to bear public witness to Him. This he did the more readily since all his efforts to induce Him to testify of Himself had been fruitless. Therefore he sent a request to Herod to allow him to address his disciples and all others who might desire to hear him. He brought forward as a plea in his own favor that he should soon be reduced to silence. Herod did not hesitate to grant the favor asked. John’s disciples and a crowd of people were admitted to the open square of the castle in which the Precursor was confined. Herod and his wicked wife sat on elevated seats surrounded by a numerous guard of soldiers. Then John was led forth from his prison and he began his discourse. Herod was quite pleased that the affair should come off, as he was glad of the opportunity to appease the people by letting them see how light and easy was the imprisonment to which John was subjected. Under the powerful inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the Baptist spoke of Jesus. He himself, he said, was sent only to prepare the ways for Him. He had never announced another than Jesus; but, stubborn as they were, the people would not acknowledge Him. Had they then forgotten, he asked, what he had told them of Him? He would recall it to them clearly once more, for his own end was not far distant! At these last words, the whole assembly was moved, and many of John’s disciples wept. Herod grew uneasy and embarrassed, for he had by no means resolved upon John’s death, while his concubine dissembled her feelings as best she could. John continued zealously to speak. He recounted the wonders that took place at Jesus’ baptism and declared Him the Beloved Son of God announced by the Prophets. His doctrine was the same as His Father’s. What He did the Father also did, and no one can go to the Father excepting by Him, that is, by Jesus. And so he went on, refuting at length the reproaches of the Pharisees against Him, and especially that of His healing on the Sabbath day. Everyone, he said, should keep holy the Sabbath, but the Pharisees profaned it, since they did not follow the teachings of Jesus, the teachings of the Son of Him who had instituted the Sabbath. John said many things of a similar nature, and proclaimed Jesus the One outside of whom no salvation could be found. Whoever believed not in Him and followed not His doctrine, would be condemned. He exhorted his disciples to turn to Jesus, not to remain standing blindly near Him on the threshold, but to enter into the Temple itself.
After his discourse, John sent several of his disciples with a letter to the synagogue of Capharnaum. In it he repeated all that he had said in testimony of Jesus, namely, that He was the Son of God and the fulfillment of the Promise, and that all His acts and teachings were right and holy. He refuted their objections, threatened them with God’s judgments, and earnestly entreated them not to turn away from salvation. He commanded the disciples to read to the people another letter containing the same things, and to repeat to them all that he had just said. And now I saw John’s disciples doing in Capharnaum what had been commanded them. An unusually large crowd was assembled, for the city was actually swarming with people on this Sabbath. There were here Jews from all quarters, and they listened with great joy to John’s testimony of Jesus. Many gave utterance to loud acclamations, and their faith gained new strength.
The Pharisees had to give way to the multitude; they could not say a word. They shrugged their shoulders, shook their heads, and feigned to be well-disposed. They, however, asserted their own authority and told John’s disciples that they would place no obstacle in Jesus’ way if He refrained from violating the laws and disturbing the public peace. He was, it was true, very wonderfully endowed; but it was theirs to maintain order, and there should be moderation in all things. John too was a good man, but shut up as he was in prison, he might easily form a wrong estimate of things; besides, he had never been much with Jesus.
And now the hour for the Sabbath struck, and all betook themselves to the synagogue, among them Jesus and the disciples. All listened with the greatest admiration to Jesus’ words. He spoke of Joseph, sold by his brethren, and explained some passages from Amos that contained the menaces of God against the prevarications of Israel.¹ No one interrupted Him. The Pharisees listened with secret envy and astonishment that they could not repress. John’s testimony, proclaimed so boldly to the public, had somewhat intimidated them.
But suddenly there arose fearful cries in the synagogue. Some people had brought in a man, violently possessed, belonging to Capharnaum. All of a sudden he made an assault on those around him, and attempted to tear them with his teeth. Jesus turned to the side whence the noise proceeded and said: “Silence! Take him!” The man became perfectly calm. They led him out of the synagogue, and he threw himself on the ground, looking quite intimidated. When Jesus had finished the Sabbath instructions and was about to withdraw, He went to where the man was lying and delivered him from the devil. After that He repaired with the disciples to Peter’s near the lake, because there He could be more at peace. That night He went off by Himself to pray. Among all those that Jesus cured, I never saw any such as we call insane. They were all demoniacs and possessed.
The Pharisees were still together. They ran through all kinds of ancient writings relative to the Prophets, their manner of life, their teachings, and their actions. They dwelt especially upon Malachias, of whom many traditions were still extant, and compared what they found with the doctrine of Jesus. They were obliged to give Jesus the preference and admire His gifts, though they continued to criticize His teachings.
Next morning Jesus again taught in the synagogue before an immense crowd. Meanwhile Mary Cleophas had become so sick that the Blessed Virgin sent to Jesus to implore His help. Jesus then went to Peter’s near the city where Mary, the widow of Naim, and the sons and brothers of the sick
woman were. The sorrow of little Simeon, then about eight years old, was quite remarkable. He was the youngest son of Mary Cleophas by her third husband, Jonas. Jonas was the young brother of Peter’s father-in-law, who had been associated with him in the fishery, and who had died about half a year previously. Jesus went to the sick woman’s bed, prayed, and laid His hands upon her. She was quite exhausted by fever. Then He grasped her by the hand and told her that she should no longer be sick. He directed them to give her to eat, and I saw them bringing her a cup of something, after which she had to eat a little. This He ordered to almost all the sick whom He cured, and I heard that it bore some signification to the Most Blessed Sacrament. As a general thing, Jesus blessed the food thus ordered. The joy of her sons, and especially that of little Simeon, was indescribable when their mother arose cured and began to serve the other sick. As for Jesus, He went out immediately and began to cure the crowds of sick awaiting His coming in the sheds and buildings around the house. The sick of all kinds were gathered here, some of long duration looked upon as incurable, others apparently at the point of death. They had been brought from far and wide; some were even from Nazareth and had known Jesus in His early youth. I saw some carried to Him on the shoulders of others, looking more like corpses than creatures with life.
Some of John’s disciples, they that had brought the writings, came here to Jesus to amuse them-selves and tell Him how indignant they were against Him because He made no effort to deliver their master from imprisonment. They told Him how rigorously they had fasted to obtain that God would move Him to free their master. Jesus comforted them and again praised John as the holiest of men. After that I heard them speaking with Jesus’ disciples. They inquired why Jesus did not Himself baptize. Their master, as they said, labored so zealously in that way. The disciples of Jesus answered in words like these: “John baptized, because he is the Baptist; but Jesus heals, because He is the Saviour,” adding that John had never effected a miraculous cure.
And now there came to Jesus some Scribes from Nazareth. They were very courteous, and besought Him once more to visit Nazareth. It looked as if they wanted to make Him forget what had happened there. But Jesus replied that no Prophet is esteemed in his own native city. He went then to the synagogue, where He delivered the Sabbath instructions till its close. On leaving the synagogue, He cured a blind man.
Peter’s wife presided over the domestic affairs of his house outside the city, while those of the other near the lake were directed by his mother-in-law and stepdaughter. Jesus went away to pray. Some of the disciples, they that had formerly been engaged in fishing, asked and obtained their Master’s permission to go on board their barques and pass the night at their old occupation, since there was great need of fish to supply the stupendous multitude of strangers then present in Capharnaum. There were also many desirous of crossing to the other side of the lake.
The disciples spent the whole night in fishing, and next morning rowed many passengers across. Jesus meanwhile, with the rest of the disciples, busied Himself in distributing alms to the poor, to the sick that had been cured, and to needy travelers. This distribution was accompanied by instruction. With His own hands Jesus presented to each one that of which he had need, giving him at the same time words of consolation and advice. The alms consisted of clothing, various materials and covers, bread, and money. The holy women also gave alms from their own stock of provisions, as well as from the gifts bestowed upon them by certain benevolent persons. The disciples carried the bread and clothing in baskets, and made the distribution of them according to Jesus’ orders.
Later in the day Jesus gave at Peter’s fishery a discourse, which was attended by an immense crowd. The boats of Peter and Zebedee were lying not far from the shore. The disciples who had been fishing the night before were on the shore a little distant from the crowd, busy cleaning their nets.
Jesus’ little barque was lying near the larger ones. When the press became too great-for the level shore was very narrow at this point, a rocky mountain wall rising in the rear-Jesus made a sign to the fishermen, and they rowed His barque to where He was standing. While it was approaching, a Scribe from Nazareth, who had come hither with some of the sick whom Jesus had cured yesterday, said: “Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest!” Jesus replied: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head.”
The little barque pushed up to the shore, and Jesus entered it with some of His disciples. They rowed out a short distance from the land and then up and down, pausing sometimes here, sometimes there, while Jesus instructed the crowd on the shore. He related to them several parables of the Kingdom of God, among them that in which the Kingdom of Heaven is compared to a net cast into the sea, and that of the enemy who sowed cockle among the wheat.
Evening was now closing. Jesus told Peter to row his boat out on the lake and to cast his nets to the fish. Peter, slightly vexed, replied: “We have labored all night and have taken nothing, but at Thy word I will let down the net,” and he with the others entered their barques with their nets and rowed out on the lake. Jesus bade adieu to the crowd, and in His own little boat—wherein were Saturnin, Veronica’s son, who had arrived the day before, and some of the other disciples—He followed after Peter’s. He continued to instruct them, explaining similitudes, and when out on the deep water told them where to let down the nets. Then He left them and rowed over in His little boat to the landing place near Matthew’s.
By this time it was night, and on the edge of the boats near the nets, torches were blazing. The fishers cast out the net, and rowed toward Chorozain, but soon they were unable to raise it. When at last, continuing to row eastward, they dragged it out of the deep into shallow water, it was so heavy that it gave way here and there. They inserted scoops formed like little boats into the net, seized the fish with their hands, and put them into smaller nets and into the casks that floated at the sides of their barques. Then they called to their companions on Zebedee’s boat, who came and emptied a part of the net. They were actually terrified at the sight of the draught of fishes. Never before had such a thing happened to them. Peter was confounded. He felt how vain were all the cares they had hitherto bestowed upon their fishing, how fruitlessly they had labored, notwithstanding their trouble—and here, at a word from Him, they had caught at one draught more than they had ever done in months together.
When the net was relieved of part of its weight, they rowed to the shore, dragged it out of the water, and gazed awestruck at the multitude of fish it still contained. Jesus was standing on the shore. Peter, humbled and confused, fell at His feet and said: “Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man!” But Jesus said: “Fear not, Peter! From henceforth thou shalt catch men!” Peter, however, was quite overcome by sadness at the sight of his own unworthiness and vain solicitude for the things of this life. It was now between three and four in the morning, and it began to grow light.
The disciples, having put the fish into a place of safety, retired to their boats for a short sleep. Jesus, with Saturnin and Veronica’s son, turned off to the east, and climbed the northern end of the mountain ridge upon whose southern extremity stood Gamala. Little hills and thickets were here scattered around. Jesus instructed Saturnin and Veronica’s son how to pray and gave them several points upon which to reflect. Then He withdrew from them into solitude, while they rested, walked about, and prayed.
The disciples spent the next day in transporting their fish, a great portion of which was distributed to the poor, and to all they recounted the wonderful circumstances attending their labor. The pagans bought a great many, and many more were taken to Capharnaum and Bethsaida. All were now firmly convinced of the folly of solicitude for the nourishment of the body; for as the sea obeyed Jesus in the time of tempest, so did the fish obey Him. They were caught at His word.
Toward evening they went again to the landing place on the east side of the lake, and Jesus with the two disciples went with them toward Capharnaum. He repaired to Peter’s house outside the city, and there until after night He cured by the light of torches many sick, men and women, who were quite abandoned on account of their maladies, which were considered unclean. Their friends had not dared to bring them openly with the other sick. Jesus cured them secretly by night in Peter’s yard. There were some among them who for years had been separated from their friends, and who were in a most pitiable condition. All the rest of the night Jesus spent in prayer.