28th July 1945.
Jesus then goes down into the kitchen, and when He sees that John is about to go to the fountain, instead of remaining in the warm smoky kitchen, He prefers to go with John. He thus leaves Peter to deal with the fish that Zebedee's servants have just brought in for the supper of the Master and His disciples.
They do not go to the spring well at the end of the village, but to the fountain in the square, the water of which still comes from the clear plentiful spring on the mountain side near the lake. In the square there are many people as is customary in Palestinian villages in the evening. Women with amphoras, boys playing, men discussing business or... local gossip. Also some Pharisees pass by, surrounded by servants or clients, on their way to their rich homes. Everybody moves aside to let them pass, paying their respect, but as soon as they have gone, many curse them wholeheartedly mentioning their most recent abuses and usury dealings.
Matthew is haranguing his old friends in a corner of the square and that causes the Pharisee Uriah to remark scornfully in a loud voice: « The famous conversions! But attachment to sin is still there as can be seen from lasting friendships. Ah! Ah! »
Matthew turns round and replies angrily: « They last in order to convert them. »
« There is no need for that! Your Master is quite sufficient. You had better stay away, lest you might be taken ill again, presuming that you have really been cured. »
Matthew becomes purple in the effort to control himself and not give him a piece of his mind, and he simply replies: « Do not be afraid, and have no hope. »
« What? »
« Don't be afraid that I may become once again Levi the publican, and have no hope that I may imitate you in order to lose these souls. I leave to you and to your friends to keep contemptuously aloof from other people. I imitate my Master and I approach sinners to lead them to Grace. »
Uriah would like to retort, but another Pharisee, old Eli, arrives and says to him: « Do not contaminate your purity and your tongue, my friend. Come with me » and walking arm-in-arm with him he takes him towards his house.
In the meantime the crowd, particularly children, have gathered round Jesus. Among the children there are Toby and Johanna, the little brother and sister, who one day, a long time ago, were quarrelling over some figs. They now say to Jesus, hanging on to His tall body to draw His attention: « Listen, listen. Also today we have been good, You know? We have never cried and we have not teased each other, for Your sake. Will You give us a kiss? »
« So you have been good for My sake! What joy you give Me. Here is My kiss. And be even better tomorrow. »
And there is James, the little fellow who used to bring Matthew's purse to Jesus every Sabbath. He now says to Jesus: « Matthew does not give me anything now for the poor of the Lord, but I have put aside all the money they give me when I am good and I will give it to You now. Will you give it to the poor on account of my grandfather? »
« Of course I will. What is the matter with your grand-dad? »
« He cannot walk any more. He is so old and his legs will not support him. »
« Are you sorry for that? »
« Yes, I am, because he was my master when we went into the country. He told me many things. And he made me love the Lord. Also now he tells me of Job and he shows me the stars in the sky, but he does that from his chair... It was much nicer before. »
« I will come to your grand-dad tomorrow. Are you happy now? »
And James is replaced by Benjamin, not the boy from Magdala, but the one from Capernaum, the boy I saw in a vision a long time ago. When he arrives in the square with his mother and sees Jesus, he leaves his mother's hand and rushes through the crowd, shrieking like a swallow and when he arrives in front of Jesus, he embraces His knees saying: « I want a caress, too! »
Simon, the Pharisee, passes by at that moment and bows pompously to Jesus, Who responds to his salutation. The Pharisee stops and while the crowd draw aside as if frightened, Simon says: « And would You not caress me as well? » and he smiles lightly.
« I will caress anyone who asks Me. I congratulate you, Simon, on your very good health. I was told in Jerusalem that you were rather ill. »
« Yes, I was very ill. I wanted You, to be cured. »
« Did you believe that I could cure you? »
« I never doubted it. But I had to recover by myself, because You have been away for a long time. Where have You been? »
« In the border area of Israel. That is how I spent the days between Passover and Pentecost. »
« A very successful journey? I heard of the lepers at Hinnom and Siloam. Really wonderful. Only that? Certainly not. But we hear of You, through John, the priest. He who is not biassed believes in You and is happy. »
« And what about him who does not believe because he is biassed? What about him, my wise Simon? »
The Pharisee is somewhat upset... he cannot make up his mind, as while he does not wish to condemn his too many friends, who are prejudiced against Jesus, he does wish to deserve being praised by Jesus. He decides on the latter alternative and says: « He who does not want to believe in You, notwithstanding all the proofs You give, is condemned. »
« And I wish nobody were...»
« Yes, You do. But we do not return to You the same measure of goodness that You have for us. Too many do not deserve You... Jesus, I would like You to be my guest tomorrow...»
« I cannot tomorrow. Let us make it in two days' time. Do you agree? »
« I always agree with You. I will have... some friends... and You will have to put up with them if...»
« I know. I will come with John. »
« John only? »
« The others have other tasks to attend to. Here they are, they are just coming back from the country. Peace to you, Simon. »
« God be with You, Jesus. »
The Pharisee goes away and Jesus joins His disciples.
They go back home for supper.
But while they are eating roast fish, some blind men arrive, who had already implored Jesus on the road. They now repeat their prayer: « Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us! »
« Go away! I told you to come tomorrow and let it be tomorrow. Let Him eat » says Peter reproachingly.
« No, Simon. Do not send them away. So much perseverance deserves a reward. You two, come forward » He then says to the blind men, who go in sounding the floor and walls with their sticks. « Do you believe that I can give your eyesight back to you? »
« Oh! Yes! Lord! We came because we are certain. »
Jesus gets up from the table, approaches them, lays His fingertips on the blind eyes, raises His head and prays: « Let it be done to you according to your faith. » He removes His hands, and the eyelids, so far motionless, begin to wink, because light strikes the revived pupils of one of the men, and the eyelids of the other become unsealed, whereas before they were sealed probably by neglected ulcers, and the palpebral edges are reshaped anew without the least fault, so that he can wink freely.
The two men fall on their knees.
« You may stand up and go. And mind you, do not let anybody know what I have done to you. Take the news of the grace to your relatives and friends in your villages. It is not necessary to do so here and it would not do your souls any good. Make sure that the faith of your souls does not suffer from any injury and now that you know what it is like to be able to see, ensure that your eyes do not get injured, so that you may not become blind again. »
The supper is over. They go up on the terrace where it is cool. The lake is shining in the moonlight.
Jesus sits on the edge of the low wall and lets His mind wander watching the silvery surface of the lake. The others are talking to one another in low voices, so as not to disturb Him. But they look at Him as if they were fascinated. In fact how handsome He is! The moon forms a halo around His head and illuminates His face, which is severe and serene at the same time, emphasising its tiniest details. He is sitting with His head lightly tilted backwards, leaning against the coarse vine branch, which climbs up there and then spreads out on the terrace. His deep blue eyes look like onyx in the night and seem to be pouring peaceful waves over everything. At times He looks up at the clear sky, strewn with stars, at times He looks down at the hills, and farther down, at the lake or He stares at a distant hazy point and His eyes seem to be smiling at something they only can see. His wavy hair is gently blown by a light breeze. He is sitting slightly sideways, touching the floor with one foot, while the other is a few inches off it, with His hands relaxing on His lap. His white robe emphasises His splendour, which becomes silvery in the moonlight, and His long white hands look more like old ivory emphasising the virile beauty of His tapering fingers. Also His face, with its high forehead, straight nose, lightly oval-shaped cheeks and its pale-copper beard, looks like old ivory without the pinkish nuance visible during the day on the upper part of His cheeks.
« Are You tired, Master? » asks Peter.
« No, I am not. »
« You look pale and pensive...»
« I was thinking. But I do not think I am paler than usual... The moonlight makes you all look pale as well. You will go to Korazim tomorrow and you may find some disciples there. Speak to them. And remember to be back here at vesper. I will be preaching near the torrent. »
« How lovely! We shall tell the people of Korazim. On our way back we met Martha and Marcella. Did they come here? » asks Andrew.
« Yes, they did. »
« There was a lot of talk at Magdala about Mary, who does not go out any more and has no more parties. We had a rest in the house of the same woman as last time. Benjamin told me that when he feels inclined to be naughty, he thinks of You and...»
« ... and of me, You may as well say so, James » says the Iscariot.
« He did not say so. »
« But he meant it when he said: “I do not want to be handsome, but I want to be naughty” and he cast me a side glance. He cannot stand me...»
« A dislike of no importance, Judas. Forget about it » says Jesus.
« Yes, Master. But it is annoying that...»
« Is the Master there? » someone shouts from the street.
« Yes, He is. But what do you want now? Is the day not long enough for you? Is this a decent hour to disturb poor pilgrims? Come back tomorrow » orders Peter.
« The trouble is that we have a dumb demoniac with us. And he escaped three times on the way. Had it not been for that, we would have arrived earlier. Be good! Before long, when the moon is high in the sky, he will begin to howl louder and will frighten the village. Look how he is struggling already?! »
Jesus goes to the other side of the terrace and leans out over the low wall. The apostles do likewise. A row of faces bending over a crowd of people looking up at them. In the middle, moving about and howling like a chained bear or a wolf, there is a man with his wrists tied together so that he may not escape. He howls while moving about restlessly, as if he were looking for something on the ground. When he looks up and meets Jesus' eyes, he utters a beastly cry, an inarticulate howl, and tries to run away.
The crowds, almost all the adults of Capernaum are there, move aside frightened.
« Come, for goodness' sake! He is starting all over again.. »
« I am coming at once. » And Jesus runs downstairs and goes in front of the poor wretch who is more agitated than ever. « Go out of him. I want it. »
The howling fades into one word: « Peace! »
« Yes, peace. Peace to you now that you are freed. »
The crowd shout for wonder seeing the sudden change from fury to calm, from being possessed to freedom, from dumbness to speech.
« How did you know that I was here? »
« At Nazareth they said to us: “He is at Capernaum.” This was confirmed at Capernaum by two men who said their eyes had been cured by You in this house. »
« That is true! It is very true! They told us as well...» many shout. And they remark: « Such things have never been seen in Israel before! »
« If He were not helped by Beelzebub He would not do them » sneer the Pharisees of Capernaum. Simon, however, is not amongst them.
« Help or not help. I have been cured and so were the blind men. You would not be able to do it, notwithstanding your great prayers » retorts the cured dumb demoniac and he kisses Jesus' robe. The Master does not reply to the Pharisees, He simply dismisses the crowd saying: « Peace be with you » and He asks the cured man and those who accompanied him to stay, and offers them hospitality in the room upstairs so that they may rest until the following morning.
Jesus says: « You will put here the Parable of the lost sheep, which you had on the 12th of August 1944. »