"My Father," Jesus prays, "I thank you for all the beauty of nature with which You surround Me, Your Son. I thank You that You give to Me at this time these beautiful souls who love Me, and thus love You. Let the Divine Will be made known to them who seek comfort as the darkness of My Passion approaches."
A timid knock on the door, and a woman enters. She is dressed in a light linen dress of dark color, and her veil completely covers her face as she hurries across to kneel before Jesus. It is evident she is crying.
"Martha," says Jesus with utmost kindness. "Do not weep. Am I not here to help and comfort you?"
His gentle tone helps Martha to lift her head and the stains of her tears are evident. She appears to me to be of medium height and build. Her face has a beauty that comes from within, but is not the beauty the world ponders and desires. Her eyes are large, dark velvet brown awash in her deep inner sorrow.
"O! Master! The tears have flowed all day. Even I do not understand them. But my heart, (here she strikes her breast) does understand. All you have said to us concerning Yourself is about to happen, and I, I--."
"Martha, do not grieve. You are strong. You have always been strong. The hour has come for Me, that is true. But you must believe also that which the Sacred Scriptures foretell of Me after My death."
"O! I believe. But, I... O! My Lord, My God, to not have you any more! When shall I see you again?"
Jesus gently touches her grief-stricken face and then lays His hand in blessing upon her head. "Martha, you are one of my strong believers. And in the days to come, many who, for now, are weaker, shall look to you for strength. Martha, I shall always be with you. You shall truly feel My presence. This I promise you until I call you to Me in Heaven. And you will also have My Mother!"
"Yes," Marthaís lips quiver slightly. "O! Master, what is my grief compared to that of Your Holy Mother? Jesus, allow me to be of service to her, who is blessed among all women."
"You shall comfort each other, my beloved daughter. Be at peace, Martha. Now is the time for strength."
Martha takes His right hand and kisses his long, slender fingers, then leaves the room. The door does not close. Rather, another enters, an older woman, yet stately. Despite the heat of the day which still lingers in the room, she wears a dark dress, a mantle and veil also of dark color. She crosses to Jesus, who instantly takes her outstretched hands and gently moves into position another chair, until they sit knee-to-knee.
"Well, Aunt?" Jesus beings, gazing at Mary fondly.
"My Lord, I -" Mary looks down, then up and directly into His eyes.
"I have come to ask forgiveness."
"You have it, Mary. But of what do I need to forgive you, my dear aunt?"
"O! Jesus! I am often a foolish old woman. I...I have caused You grief because of my worries over my sons. I have been proud to have James and Judas in your company. But..."
"Continue, Mary. I am listening and I read your heart."
"Jesus, I have always believed you to be The Son of God, the promised Messiah. Yet never could I conceive that all that Scripture contains about You - Your death - could really be true. I did not want to accept it."
"I know. James and Judas do not accept fully. Only My Mother...."
"I need Your forgiveness, Jesus. And I need your blessing. All I ask now is to remain faithful."
"Dear Aunt Mary, I do forgive you and I do bless you. Have no fear. You and your sons shall serve Me faithfully and you shall assist My Gospel to spread far and wide. You shall have My Mother to continue to guide and instruct you. I give you My Peace, Mary of Alpheus. Do not be troubled, for I solemnly tell you that in My Fatherís Kingdom your place is prepared."
Mary, Jesusí aunt, now breaks down and really sobs and Jesus, compassionate, allows her cleansing grief to run its course. At length He rises, and leading Her gently by the arm walks to the doorway with her. He says once again, "Peace, My beloved Aunt. I will always be with you."
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Three of Lesson 2: FAREWELL TO THE HOLY WOMEN AND THE MOTHER