30th May 1945.
Amongst the many flowers which perfume the earth and delight our eyes, I see the horrible spectre of a revolting, corroded leper, completely covered with sores.
The crowds shout with fear and rush back to the lower slopes of the mountain. Some of them gather stones to throw at the rash man.
But Jesus turns round with His arms fully stretched out and shouts: « Peace! Stay where you are: be not afraid. Put the stones down. Have mercy on a poor brother. He is a son of God, too. »
The crowds obey, overwhelmed by the power of the Master, Who moves forward through the tall grass in bloom to a few steps from the leper, who, on his part, has understood that Jesus is protecting him, and has come nearer.
When he reaches Jesus, he prostrates himself, and the blooming grass envelops him like cool scented water. The flowers undulate and gather together, forming a veil over the miserable man concealed amongst them. Only the mournful voice that can be heard reminds people of the wretched creature lying there. It says: « Lord, if You want, You can cure me. Have mercy also on me! »
Jesus replies: « Raise your head and look at Me. A man who believes in Heaven must be able to look at it. And you do believe, because you are asking for a grace. »
The grass is shaken and opens out once again. Like the head of a shipwrecked person emerging from the sea, the head of the leper appears, stripped of hair and beard. His head is a skull not yet entirely deprived of all flesh.
And yet Jesus does not disdain touching that forehead with the tips of His fingers, where there are no sores on the skin. But the skin on that spot is ashen-grey, scaly, and lies between two putrid erosions, one of which has destroyed his scalp, and the other has opened a hole where his right eye was, so that I could not say whether the ball of his eye is still in the huge socket, which, between his temple and his nose, lays bare his cheek-bone and his nasal cartilage, full of corruption. And Jesus, holding the fingertips of His lovely hand there, says: « I want it. Be cleansed. »
And as if the man were not eaten away and covered with sores, but only covered with dirt on which cleansing waters were poured, the leprosy disappears at once. First the wounds heal; then his skin becomes clear, his right eye appears between fresh eyelids, his lips close round his yellowish teeth.
Only his hair and beard are missing, that is, there are only scanty tufts of hair where previously there was only a tiny piece of wholesome skin.
The crowds shout in amazement. And their joyful shouts tell the man that he is cured. He lifts his hands, so far concealed by the grass, he touches his eye, where the huge hole was; he touches his head, where the large sore showed the skull and feels his fresh skin. He stands up, looks at his chest, his hips... He is all wholesome and clean... He collapses once again on the flowery meadow weeping out of joy.
« Do not weep. Stand up and listen to Me. Go back to life according to the rite and do not tell anybody until you have accomplished it. Show yourself to the priest as soon as possible, make the offering prescribed by Moses as evidence of your miraculous cure. »
« It's for You that I should witness, my Lord! »
« You will witness for Me by loving My doctrine! Go. »
The crowd has come close once again and they congratulate the man miraculously healed, although from due distance. There are some people who feel they ought to give him some provisions for his journey and throw some coins to him. Others throw bread and foodstuffs, and a man, seeing that the leper's clothes are nothing but torn rags, through which his entire body is visible, takes his mantle off, ties it in a knot, as if it were a large handkerchief, and throws it to the leper who can thus cover himself decently. Another man, as charity is contagious when it is in common, cannot resist his desire to supply him with sandals, takes off his own and throws them to the leper.
« And what about you? » asks Jesus Who saw the gesture.
« Oh! I live nearby. I can walk barefooted. He has to go a long way. »
« May God bless you and all those who have helped our brother. Man: you will pray for them. »
« Yes, I will, I will pray for them and for You: that the world may have faith in You. »
« Goodbye. Go in peace. »
The man walks away a few yards, then turns round and shouts: « Can I tell the priest that You have cured me? »
« It is not necessary. Just say: “The Lord had mercy on me.” It is the whole truth and nothing else is required. »
The people throng round the Master, forming a circle which does not want to open at any cost. But the sun has set and the Sabbath rest begins. The villages are far away. But the people do not pine for their villages, their food or anything else. But the apostles are worried about it and they tell Jesus. Also the elder disciples are worried. There are women and children, and while the night is mild and the grass of the meadow is soft, the stars are not bread, neither do stones become food.
Jesus is the only one who does not trouble. The people in the meantime eat the remnants of their food without any worry and Jesus points it out to His apostles: « I solemnly tell you that these people are worth more than you are! Look how thoughtlessly they are finishing everything. I said to them: “Who cannot believe that God will provide food for His children tomorrow, may go away”, and they stayed. God will not belie His Messiah and will not disappoint those who hope in Him. »
The apostles shrug their shoulders and do not show concern for anything else.
It is nightfall after a placid, beautiful red sunset and the silence of the country spreads over everything, after the last choir of birds. There is a light whispering of the wind and then the first mute flight of a night bird, the first star appears and a frog croaks.
The children are already asleep. The adults are talking among themselves and now and again someone goes to the Master asking for clarification of some point or other. So no one is surprised when a person, imposing by look, garments and age, is seen coming along a path between two corn fields. Some men are following him. Everybody turns round to look at him and they point him out to one another whispering. The whispering spreads from one group to another, it revives and fades away. The groups that are farther away come near drawn by curiosity.
The noble looking man reaches Jesus, Who is sat at the foot of a tree listening to some men, and bows down before Him. Jesus stands up at once and responds with equal respect to the salutation. The people present are watching attentively.
« I was up on the mountain and perhaps You thought that I did not have faith as I went away for fear of having to fast. But I went away for another reason. I wanted to be a brother among brothers, the eldest brother. I would like to speak to You aside. Can You listen to me? Although a scribe, I am not Your enemy. »
« Let us move away a little... » and they go into the corn field.
« I wanted to provide some food for the pilgrims and I came down to tell the baker to bake bread for a large crowd. You can see that I am at a legal distance, because these fields belong to me, and it is lawful to walk from here to the top on a Sabbath. It was my intention to come up tomorrow with my servants. But I found out that You are here with the crowd. I beg You to allow me to provide for the Sabbath. Otherwise I would be very sorry that I had to forego Your words for nothing. »
« For nothing, no, never, because the Father would have compensated you with His light. But I thank you and will not disappoint you. I only wish to point out that the crowd is very large. »
« I asked them to heat all the ovens, also the ones used to dry foodstuffs and I will succeed in having bread for everybody. »
« I did not mean that. I was referring to the quantity of bread... »
« That does not trouble me. Last year I had a good crop of corn. You have seen what the ears of corn are like this year. Let me do it. It will be the greatest protection for my fields. After all, Master... You gave me such bread today... You really are the Bread of the spirit!... »
« Let it be done as you wish. Let us go and tell the pilgrims. »
« No. You said so. »
« Are you a scribe? »
« Yes, I am. »
« May the Lord take you where your heart deserves. »
« I understand what You mean but do not say. You mean: to the Truth. Because great are our errors... and our ill-will. »
« Who are you? »
« A son of God. Pray the Father for me. Goodbye. »
« Peace be with you. »
Jesus goes slowly back to His apostles while the man goes away with his servants.
« Who was he? What did he want? Did he say something unpleasant to You? Has he sick people? » Jesus is assailed with questions.
« I do not know who he is. Or rather, I know that he is goodhearted and that... »
« He is John, the scribe » says one of the crowd.
« Well, I know now, because you said so. He only wanted to be the servant of God with His children. Pray for him because tomorrow we shall all have food, thanks to his goodness. »
« He is really a just man » says one.
« Yes, indeed. I do not know how he can be the friend of others » remarks another one.
« He is swathed in scruples and rules like a baby, but he is not a bad man » concludes a third one.
« Do these fields belong to him? » ask many who are not from this part of the country.
« Yes, they do. I think that the leper was one of his servants or peasants. But he allowed him to stay around here and I think that he also fed him. »
The comments continue but Jesus does not pay attention to them. He calls the Twelve near Him and asks them: « And what should I say now in regard to your incredulity? Did the Father not put bread for all of us into the hands of one who, by caste, is an enemy of Mine? Oh! men of little faith!... Go into the soft hay and sleep. I am going to pray the Father that He may open your hearts and to thank Him for His kindness. Peace be with you. »
And He goes to the lower slopes of the mountain. He sits down and collects His thoughts in prayer. When He raises His eyes He sees the myriad of stars crowding the sky, when He lowers them, He sees the crowd of people sleeping on the meadows. Nothing else. But such is the joy in His heart that His face seems to become transfigured by a bright light...