Jesus appears on the shore of the lake —Maria Valtorta

It is a calm and sultry night. There is not a breath of wind. The stars, spread out, twinkling, fill the serene sky. The lake, calm and motionless - so much so that it looks like a vast basin sheltered from the winds - reflects on its surface the glory of the sky that throbs with the stars that populate it. The trees on the shores are a block without a whisper. So still is the lake that its waves, on the shore, are reduced to a faint murmur. There is a boat, in the lake, barely visible as a wandering form that, at times, with its lantern tied to the mast of the sail to give clarity to the interior of the boat, puts a little star a short distance from the surface of the waters.

A small group of shacks - so few that they do not even constitute a village - are concentrated there, at the foot of the small promontory; poor houses, located almost on the beach, belonging, no doubt, to fishermen.

There are some boats out of the water, on the small beach, and others in the water, next to the shore, ready to sail, but so still that, instead of floating, they seem to be stuck in the ground.

Through the door of one of these shacks, Peter pokes his head out. The oscillating light of a fire burning in the smoky kitchen illuminates from behind the bullish figure of the apostle, making it stand out like a sketch. He looks at the sky, he looks at the lake.... He advances to the edge of the beach. Then - he wears a short tunic and goes barefoot - he enters the water, up to mid-thigh, and caresses the edge of a boat by extending his muscular arm.

The sons of Zebedee join him. -It's a nice night.

-In a little while the moon will rise. -Fishing night.

-But with oars.

-There's no wind.

-What do we do?

They speak in low, clipped sentences, like men accustomed to fishing and to the maneuvers of sails and nets,

which require attention and, therefore, few words.

-It would be a good idea to go out. We would sell part of the catch.

Andrew, Thomas and Bartholomew joined them on the shore.

-How hot it is tonight! - exclaims Bartolomé.

-Will there be a storm? Do you remember that night? - asks Tomás.

-No! Maybe fog. But no storm. I... I'm going fishing. Who's coming with me?

-Let's all go. Maybe it's better in there - says Tomás, who sweats; and adds: "The woman needed that fire, but it's as if we had been in the hot springs...".

-I'm going to tell Simon, he's all alone there," says John. Peter is already getting the boat ready, together with Andrew and James.

-Shall we go all the way home? A surprise for my mother... - asks James.

-No. I don't know if I can bring Margziam. Before... before the... well, yes... before we went to Jerusalem - we were still in Ephraim - the Lord told me that He wanted to celebrate the second Passover with Margziam. But then He didn't say anything else to me....

-It seems to me that he said yes," said Andrew.

-Yes, the second Easter, yes, but I don't know if he wants to make her come earlier. I've made so many mistakes, that... Ah, are you coming too?


-Yes, Simon of Jonah. -Yes, Simon of Jonah. You'll remind me a lot of this fishing...

-Of course! It will remind us all of many things... Things that will never come back... We were going with the Master in this boat on the lake... And I cherished it as if it were a palace, and it seemed to me that I could not live without it. But now that He is not in the boat... well... I am in it and it does not give me joy," says Peter.

-No one feels joy for the things of the past anymore. It is no longer the same life. And, besides, looking back... between those past hours and these present ones, there are those horrendous moments in between.... - sighs Bartholomew.

-Get ready. Come along. You, at the helm; we, at the oars. Let's head for the Ippo curve. It's a good place. Oop! Op! Oop! Op!

Peter steers the bogue and the boat glides through the still water. Bartolomé at the helm. Tomás and Zelote act as assistant waiters, ready to cast the nets (they already have them spread out). The moon rises, that is, it surpasses the mountains of Gadara, if I am not mistaken. Gamala (in short, those on the eastern shore, but to the south of the lake), and the moonbeam strikes the lake and traces a path of diamonds on the still waters.

-It will be with us until morning.

-If there is no mist.

-The fish leave the bottom, attracted by the moon.

-Well, we'd better have good fishing. For we have no more money. We'll buy bread, and to those in the bush we'll bring fish and bread.

Slow words, with long pauses between each voice.

-You roar well, Simon, you have not lost the bogue! - says the Zealot in admiration.

-Yes... Damn it!

-What's wrong with you? - ask the others.

-What happens to me... is that the memory of that man haunts me everywhere. I remember that day when we were rowing two boats to see who could row better, and he….

-I, however, thought that one of the first times I had the vision of their abyss of perfidy was the time we met, or better: we collided, the boats of the Romans. Do you remember? - says the Zealot.

-Of course we remember! Anyway!... He was defending him... and we... between the defenses of the Master and the duplicity of... ours, we never understood well... - says Thomas.

-Mmm! Me, more than once.... But he said: "Do not judge, Simon!

-Judas Thaddeus always suspected him.

-What I can't believe is that he never knew anything," says Santiago, nudging his brother. But Juan ducks his head and keeps quiet.

-You can say it now... - says Tomás.

-I'm trying hard to forget. It's the order I received. Why do you want to make me disobey?

-You're right. Let's leave him alone," says the Zealot, coming to John's defense.

-Cast the nets. Slowly... You row. Slowly row. Turn to the left, Bartholomew. Come closer. Turn. Close in.

Turn. Is the net stretched out? Yes? Raise the oars and we'll wait," orders Pedro.

How beautiful is this lake, enchanting, in the peace of the night, under the kiss of the moon! It is truly paradisiacal in its purity. The moon reflects all from the sky and dresses the waters in diamonds. Its phosphorescence flickers on the hills and shows them; it dresses the cities of the shores with snow....

From time to time they pull out the net: cascade of diamonds and arpeggios on the silver of the lake; empty. They submerge it again. They change position. No luck...

The hours pass. The moon sets, while the light of dawn breaks through, uncertain, blue-green... A warm mist, near the shores, smokes, especially towards the southern end of the lake. Tiberias is veiled in mist, and so is Tarichea. It is a low fog, not very dense, that the first sun will dissolve. To avoid it, they prefer to coast on the eastern side, where it is less dense (while on the western side, coming from the marshland beyond Tarichea on the right bank of the Jordan, it becomes denser, as if the marshland were smoking). ) They are careful to avoid any danger from the bottom of this lake, which they know well.

-Do you in the boat have anything to eat?

A male voice comes from the shore. A voice that shakes them.

But they shrug their shoulders and answer in a loud voice:


And then they comment among themselves:

-We always seem to hear it!.....

-Cast your nets to the right and you will find it.

The right is in the lake. They cast the net, with a little perplexity. Shaking, weight tilting the boat to the side of the net.

the side of the net.

-But it is the Lord! - shouts Juan.

-The Lord, you say? - asks Peter.

-But do you doubt it? We thought it was his voice. But this is the proof. Look at the net! Just like that time! I tell you it's Him! Oh!

my Jesus!

-Where are you?

They all look sharp, wanting to pierce the veils of fog, after having secured the net well to drag it in the wake of the boat, since it would be a dangerous maneuver to try to raise it; and they row to go to the shore. But Thomas must take hold of Peter's oar, who hastily and hastily put on his short tunic over his very short breeches-which was his only clothing, as it is also the only clothing of the others, except Bartholomew's-and has swum out into the lake, and is now cleaving the still water with long strokes, preceding the boat, so that he is the first to reach the little deserted beach, where, on two stones protected by a thorny thicket, a fire of hornija glows. And there, near the fire, Jesus stands, smiling and benevolent.

-Lord! Lord!

Peter gasps with emotion and can say no more. He drips water, so that he does not even dare to touch the robe of his Jesus, and remains prostrate on the sand, with the robe clinging to his flesh, adoring.

The boat skims the bottom of the pebble and stops. All are standing, restless with joy.....

-Bring here some of those fish. The fire is ready. Come and eat," Jesus orders.

Peter runs to the boat and helps to hoist the net. He reaches into the pile of wriggling fish and grabs three of them, big ones. He slams them against the edge of the boat, to kill them, and empties them with his knife. But his hands shake (not from cold, certainly). He rinses them, takes them to where the fire is, places them on top, and watches them roast. The others are worshiping the Lord, a little separated from Him; fearful before Him, as always, now that, risen, He is seen so divinely powerful.

-Look, here is the bread. You have worked all night and you are tired. Now you will recover your strength. Is it ready, Peter?

-Yes, my Lord," says Peter with a voice even hoarser than usual, leaning towards the fire, and he dries his eyes, which are dripping, as if the smoke, irritating them, makes them cry, while it also irritates the throat. But it is not the smoke that produces that voice and those tears

He carries the fish. He lays it on top of a scratchy leaf - it looks like a pumpkin leaf - that Andrew has brought him after having rinsed it in the lake.

Jesus makes the offering and blesses, breaks the bread and fish. He breaks eight pieces. He distributes it. He also tastes it. They eat with the reverence with which they would celebrate a rite. Jesus looks at them and smiles. But He is silent too, until He asks:

-Where are the others?

-On the mountain. Where you said. We have come to fish because we have no more money and we do not want to abuse the disciples.

-You are right. But from now on, you, the apostles, will be on the mountain, praying, building up the disciples by example. Send them out to fish. It is good for you to be there in prayer, and also to listen to those who need advice or who may come to give you news. Keep the disciples close to you. Soon I will come.

-We will, Lord.

-Margziam is not with you?

-You didn't tell me to bring him so soon.

-Dispose him to come. -His obedience is over. His obedience is finished.

-So I will, sir.

A moment's silence. Then Jesus, who had been a little with his head down, thinking, raises his head and looks at Peter. He looks at him with the gaze of the hours of the mightiest miracles and the mightiest empire. Peter is startled, almost with fear, and draws back a little.... But Jesus, placing a hand on Peter's shoulder, holds him tightly and, holding him thus, asks him:

-Simon of Jonas, do you love me?

-Yes, Lord! You know that I love you," Peter answered confidently.

-Feed my lambs..... Simon of Jonas, do you love me?

-Yes, my Lord. And You know that I love You.

There is less sense of assurance in the voice; indeed, there is a little astonishment at the repetition of the question.

-Feed my lambs..... Simon of Jonas, do you love me?

-Lord... You know everything... You know... you know if I love you... - Peter's voice trembles, he is sure of his love, but he has the impression that Jesus is not sure.

-Feed my sheep. Your threefold profession of love has erased your threefold denial. You are all pure, Simon of Jonah. And I say to you: assume the pontifical vestment and bring to my flock the Holiness of the Lord. Gird your garments about your waist and gird them about your waist, until you too become a lamb from a shepherd. Truly I tell you, when you were younger, you alone girded yourself and went where you wanted to go, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and another will gird you and lead you where you would not want to go. But now I am the One who says to you: "Gird yourself and follow Me on My same path". Rise up and come.

Jesus rises and Peter rises. They go to the shore. The others put out the fire, drowning it under the sand.

But John, having gathered up the remains of the bread, follows Jesus. Peter hears the sound of footsteps and turns his head. He sees John and, pointing him out to Jesus, says:

-What will become of him?

-If I want him to remain until I return, what about you? You follow me.

They are already on the shore. Peter would still like to say something, but the majesty of Jesus and the words he has heard hold him back. He kneels down - imitated in this by the others - and worships. Jesus blesses them and bids them farewell, and they get into the boat and row away. Jesus looks at them as they row away.