AGAPE IN BETHANIA AND IN THE HOUSE OF THE LAST SUPPER; DESTRUCTION OF THE HOLY PLACES BY THE JEWS

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I saw the Apostles in Bethania, whither they were

followed by about three hundred of the Faithful, among

them fifty women. They had given over their goods to the

Community. The Blessed Virgin also had come from

Jerusalem to Bethania, and was stopping in Martha and

Magdalen’s house. There was a great Love Feast of

bread-breaking and passing round of the cup held in the

open hall of Lazarus’s court.

Peter afterward gave an instruction before a great

multitude. There were some spies among the listeners.

When Peter announced that they should leave all and join

the Community, and that he would give them what they

needed, the spies laughed derisively. He had nothing

himself, they said. He was only a poor fisherman, a

vagrant, who could hardly support his wife at home.

Peter still continued to teach, more on the command of

Jesus than from any interior, quickening sentiment which

the Apostles received only with the Holy Ghost. He now

spoke in the assemblies, excepting when the crowd was

very great, for then he ordered some of the others to

teach on various points. Since his reception of the mantle

from Jesus and the meal of fish (which indeed was not a

natural fish), at which he had received special power, he

had become quite another being. All recognized him as

the head, the mouth, the hand of the Community. At

Jesus’ prediction on the seashore respecting Peter’s death

and John’s future, at the command, “Feed My lambs!”. I

felt that Peter, in his successors, was forever to provide

for the guiding and feeding of the flocks, while John

should stand ever at the source of the water that was to

refresh and irrigate the meadow and quicken the sheep.

It seemed to me that Peter’s influence belonged more to

time, more to the exterior condition, and therefore was it

divided among his successors; but that John’s was more

interior, that it consisted more in inspiration, in the send-

ing abroad of inspired messengers. Peter was more like

the rock, the edifice; John more like a wind, a cloud, a

thunderstorm, a son of thunder, a voice sender. Peter was

more like the frame, the cords, and the tone of a harp;

John was the sighing of the breeze through its strings. I

am unable to express in more significant words what I

inwardly perceived.

About fifty soldiers, the same that seized the Lord on

Mount Olivet, came from Jerusalem to Bethania. They

were guards belonging to the Temple and the High

Priests. Some deputies also of the Sanhedrim made their

appearance at the Council House in Bethania, and sum-

moned the Apostles before them. Peter, John, and

Thomas presented themselves and replied boldly and

openly to the charge that they convened assemblies and

occasioned disturbance among the people. Soldiers were

placed at Lazarus’s. The deputies from Jerusalem inter-

rogated the Apostles publicly before the Council House.

The magistrates of Bethania opposed them, saying that if

they knew anything against those men, they ought to take

them into custody, but that they must not disturb the

peace of the place by the presence of soldiers. Peter, in

order to avoid giving offense, dismissed one hundred and

twenty-three of the assembled Faithful. Those from the

greatest distance were directed to remain at the dwellings

in the neighborhood, for they already had all things in

common. The fifty women also withdrew and lived

together in separate abodes. Peter gave orders for all to

return to Bethania before the day of Christ’s Ascension.

The Apostles, on leaving Bethania, went to the house

of the Last Supper near Jerusalem, where they prayed

under the lamp before the Holy of Holies. There were

about seven disciples with them. They could no longer

reach the house of the Last Supper through the city, for

the road on that side had been partly destroyed by the

Jews. They had to go to the left of the Temple, and strike

into the road taken by Peter and John on Maundy Thurs-

day. There were numerous inns for the accommodation

of strangers on this road, and the people living around

these parts were not of pure Jewish origin. The Jews had

expelled from their society and from public offices all

that declared themselves for Jesus and that fraternized

with the disciples. The places upon which Jesus fell dur-

ing His sorrowful journey to Calvary, or at which some-

thing noteworthy had happened, they cut through with

ditches. The ways leading to the sections chiefly in-

habited or frequented by the followers of Jesus, they

walled up. It appeared to me very strange to see a person

caught in such a street as in a blind alley, and have to

turn round and come out again. Sometimes the friends of

Jesus again opened the ways to Calvary by night. All

places around Jerusalem especially consecrated by the

presence or the sufferings of Jesus, and on that account

held in particular veneration by His followers, were

maliciously laid waste by the Jews. The charming sites

upon which Jesus had taught and tarried were rendered

impassable and closed in with hedges. In some places

they actually dug pitfalls into which the pious pilgrim

might fall, but I saw some of those vicious Jews plunging

into them themselves. Mount Calvary was rendered unap-

proachable by hedges and beams. Its summit was dug up

and the earth scattered like manure over the paths, also

over the five grassy, heart-shaped plots that were formed

by the pathways running up to the place of crucifixion.

When they had taken away the mound that encircled the

place of crucifixion, there remained a white stone. In it

was a four-cornered hole about an ell deep, in which the

cross had been planted. I saw the workmen toiling with

crowbars, trying to upturn that stone, but the more they

tried, the deeper it sank, so they buried it at last under

some rubbish. The Holy Sepulcher alone was left un-

molested, for that was Nicodemus’s property. Christ’s

head, while in the tomb, lay toward the east. If a person

on leaving the cave went around toward the south, he

would have the sun directly above him, and the west on

his right.

I was interiorly instructed that all demolishers of repre-

sentations of the Holy Way of the Cross, of Crucifixes,

chapels or churches, of ancient devotions, of holy exer-

cises and practices, and in general of all objects that

draw us into closer relation with the history of Redemp-

tion, whether in building, picture, and writing, or by

custom, festival, and prayer, will be judged with the

enemies of Jesus’ bloody footsteps and as belonging to

them.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our King and Our High Priest preserve His faithful ones

and Mary Our Immaculate Mother and Queen pray for us.

Fr. Stephen, o.f.m.

Posted on April 20, 2018 at 12:03 pm

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