February 18th, 2002
Received by H.
On the following day, Jesus said goodbye to Zebedee, thanking him
for his hospitality. He left, taking with him his new disciples.
He suggested Peter and Andrew return to Kpar Nahum in their boat,
while he would return by foot in the company of James, John, Simon
and Philip. And so they did. Peter and Andrew were not very happy
with this decision, because they suspected that Jesus would give
some first lessons to the others, but reluctantly they consented.
The distance between Bethsaida and Kpar Nahum was not long, only
a few miles. The four disciples, who had hoped to receive deep instructions,
were disappointed. Jesus talked with them, but he did not give any
explanations, he only smiled uncannily, until they arrived at the
place where the river Jordan pours its water into Lake Tiberias.
Crossing the tributary, they arrived at the shanty where the tax
collector used to bail up the passers-by. He used to stay in the
shack together with some armed men, not exactly soldiers, but people
he had hired to give him security. However this time, for some reason,
he was alone. And when he saw Jesus' companions, he turned pale
from terror. Yes, he knew these radicals, the Zebedee brothers and
the others, and he really feared for his life.
Jesus told them to stay behind, while he approached the tax collector.
He smiled to him and everybody could feel the wave of love that
the Master radiated. "Follow me!" he said to Matthew,
and the collector, to everyone's surprise, obeyed him. He left his
shanty like he was in a state of hypnosis and joined the group.
The four did not know what to do. What was this? A test? Should
they protest or keep silent? How was it possible that the Master
cared about such garbage? Didn't he know who Matthew was? Didn't
he know that he fraternized with the hateful foreigners, with the
nobility that had moved away from the people, that he was a leech that stole
the last denarius they had gained with their hands' work? Did he
not know this?
When Jesus resumed the walk, they lagged a little behind, discussing
the matter in low voices. Finally, they resolved to keep silent
and to wait for what would come.
Matthew has already commented to you what had happened, that he
was a very unhappy person, enjoying money but lacking peace and
friends. And in fact, Jesus' presence had hypnotized him. Frequently
in life, we face the decision of following the footprints of others,
or choosing another direction, about which we know deep inside that
this is the correct way. However, we always think: What will the others
say? Won't it be dangerous? And so, we continue with the crowd,
allowing an opportunity to pass, and trying to find our way and
our realization in the goals that others propose to us. Eventually,
that situation becomes ever more difficult. Dissatisfaction finds
its expression in several ways: In resignation, in aggression, in
hate against those who dared to choose another direction, in
scorn of oneself, etc. And it sometimes triggers a cry from our
chest: Please, help me! Nevertheless, when the help comes, we often
do not accept it, because our fear is very strong. All along our
path, we have nurtured and caressed it. And now the fear is a
monster that is capable of dominating what is left
of our courage and enthusiasm.
These are the situations of extreme anguish, when our cry brings
us help. In Matthew's case, he had the good luck that it was the
Master in person who came to help him. However, somebody always
comes. Perhaps you don't see them, but you can feel them. This somebody
offers help, and he gives you energy. He is a catalyst, so to
say, diminishing the initial energy necessary to start a reaction. He helps you to overcome your internal resistance, your fear. And
Jesus certainly was a first class catalyst.
You also know that Matthew invited Jesus and the disciples to a
farewell party, his leaving party from his job, and that
Matthew's partners were also present there, or rather, his employees,
because he was the boss.
It was a cheerful and happy party, and Peter and Andrew were also
there. Cheerful and happy for some, because their boss was saying
good-bye, leaving free the way for one of them to be the new
chief collector, with the opportunity of filling his pockets with
many coins from bribes, and for the others, because now Jesus did
give them a first lesson:
He had come with a glorious message of Love and of Forgiveness.
He explained to them that God waited for each of them with open
arms, as a loving father does. And for the very first time they
had the opportunity to listen to one of the Master's parables:
There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his
father, "Father, give me the share of the property that comes
to me." So he divided his wealth between them. Not long afterwards
the younger son got everything together and traveled to a distant
country, where he wasted his money in debauchery and excess.
At last, when he had spent everything, there came a terrible famine
throughout that country, and he began to feel the pinch of want.
So he went and hired himself out to one of the inhabitants of that
country, who sent him to his farm to tend swine; and he longed
to make a hearty meal of the pods the swine were eating, but no
one gave him any. But in assessing his situation he said, "How
many of my own father's hired men have more bread than they want,
while I here am dying of hunger! I will rise and go to my father,
and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before
you: I no longer deserve to be called a son of yours: treat me as
one of your hired men." So he rose and came to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and pitied
him, and ran and threw his arms round his neck and kissed him tenderly.
"Father," cried the son, "I have sinned against Heaven
and before you: no longer do I deserve to be called a son of yours."
But the father said to his servants, "Fetch a good coat quickly
- the best one - and put it on him; and bring a ring for his finger
and shoes for his feet. Fetch the fat calf and kill it, and let
us feast and enjoy ourselves; for my son here was dead and has come
to life again: he was lost and has been found." And they began
to be merry.
Now his elder son was out on the farm; and when he returned and
came near home, he heard music and dancing. Then he called one of
the servants to him and asked what all this meant. "Your brother
has come," he replied; "and your father has had the fat
calf killed, because he has got him home safe and sound." Then
he was angry and would not go in. But his father came out and entreated
him. "All these years," replied the son, "I have
been slaving for you, and I have never at any time disobeyed any
of your orders, and yet you have never given me so much as a kid
for me to enjoy myself with my friends; but now that this son of
yours is come who has wasted your property amongst his bad women,
you have killed the fat calf for him." "You my dear son,"
said the father, "are always with me, and all that is mine
is also yours. We are bound to make merry and rejoice, for this
brother of yours was dead and has come back to life, he was lost
and has been found."
And the four revolutionaries wondered, who was the lost son, who
had come back to life, they or Matthew? And Peter and Andrew were
happy, enjoying the glare of fame, because they had "discovered"
the Messiah. And Matthew meditated on coincidence. This same morning
he had heard the old woman as she yelled in the streets, telling
everybody how she had been cured and rescued from death by the selfsame
Messiah. And he had headed reluctantly to his tax post, thinking
of that Messiah. What would he bring? A war? Destruction? Be that
as it may, it surely meant the end of his career. And he turned
sad and irritated. And just when he was meditating without coming
to any solution, he saw how these four hotheads approached, people
he feared like the plague, and with them, this tall man, with those
This is a good moment for stopping our account. The lesson Jesus
gave on that occasion go far beyond what the disciples had grasped.
Think it over.
God bless you,
Your brother in the spirit,