‘Peace to you all‘ says Jesus entering the hall aglitter with silver lamps.
‘Peace and blessing to You, Master, and many years of holy happiness. ‘They kiss each other. ‘Some friends of ours have told me that You were born when Bethlehem was ablaze for the Purification Feast years ago. Both they and we are happy to have You here this evening. Do You not want to know who they are? ‘
‘I have no friends but My disciples, the dear ones in Bethany and the shepherds. So it is the shepherds. Did they come? What for?‘
‘To adore You, our Messiah. With our herds and with our hearts we are now and always at Your holy feet.‘ says Isaac, speaking for Elias, Levi, Joseph and Jonathan, who are all prostrated at His feet.
‘Is that why you sent Me into the garden? May God bless you all! Only My Mother is missing to make Me completely happy. Stand up. This is My first birthday away from My Mother. But your presence relieves Me from the nostalgia of Her kisses…‘ They all go into the dining room…. Today, we are one family. Let us put rules aside to make room for love. Martha, sit here, beside Me, John near you and Lazarus with Me. But, give Me a lamp, a light to keep watch between Martha and Me… a flame: for the women who are absent and yet are present, for the women loved, awaited, dear to us and far away. For them all.
The meal progresses, the shepherds begin to speak, and what should they speak of but their recollections-of 31 years today?
‘We had not been long back in the pen‘ says Levi ‘ and I felt so cold that I sought comfort among the sheep, weeping because I wanted my mother…‘
‘I, was thinking of the young Mother I had met not long before …and I felt even colder, thinking how much She must be suffering. Do you remember the light that night? And your fear?‘
‘Yes… but then… the angel… Oh!…‘ and Levi smiles, somewhat lost in reverie.
‘Oh! listen a moment, friends. We know very little and we are badly informed. We have heard about angels, mangers, herds, Bethlehem… And we know that He is a Galilean and a carpenter… This young man who knows has not told me anything… Yes, I am speaking to you, John of Zebedee. Is that how you respect an elder? You keep everything to yourself and you allow me to remain a stupid disciple. Am I not already a dunce on my own? …They are laughing. But I am right…Come on, you tell them, too, protest with me! Why do we know nothing?‘
‘Really…Where were you when Jonah was dying? And when we were on Lebanon?‘
‘You are right. But in the case of Jonah, I thought it was the delirium of a dying man and on Lebanon… I was tired and sleepy. Forgive me, Master, but it is the truth.‘
‘And it will be the truth for many! The world of those who have been evangelised will often reply to the eternal Judge, to justify their ignorance despite the teaching of My apostles, what you have said: “I thought it was delirium… I was tired and sleepy.” … as a result of indulging in too many useless, fleeting and even sinful things. One thing only is necessary: to know God.‘
‘Well, now that You have told us what we deserve, tell us what happened… Tell Your Peter. Then I will tell the people…‘
‘Yes, Master. Let us know, too… We know that You are the Messiah and we believe it. But, at least as far as I am concerned, I found it difficult to admit that anything good could come from Nazareth… Why did You not make me acquainted at once with Your past? ‘ says Bartholomew.
‘To test your faith and the brightness of your spirit. But now I will speak to you, or rather, we will speak to you of My past. I will tell you what even the shepherds do not know, and they will tell you what they saw. And you will be acquainted with the dawn of Christ. Listen: