508. The Cure of the Man Born Blind.
10th October 1946.
Jesus goes out with His apostles and Joseph of Sephoris, turning His steps towards the synagogue. The clear limpid day makes people glad, like a promise of springtime after windy cloudy winter days. Thus many people of Jerusalem are in the streets, some going to synagogues, some coming back from them or from other places, some with their families, wishing to leave the town and enjoy the sunshine in the country. From Herod's Gate, which is visible from the house of Joseph of Sephoris, one can see people go out to enjoy themselves beyond the walls, in the open: a plunge into the green vegetation, into the free open space, away from the narrow streets between high buildings. I think that the rural strip which ran around Jerusalem was purposely wanted by the citizens, who wanted to conciliate the walking limitations of the Sabbath with their wish for air and sunshine, to be enjoyed in the open, and not only on roof-terraces of houses. But Jesus is not going towards Herod's Gate. On the contrary He turns His back to it, bending His steps towards the town centre.
But He has only taken a few steps in the wider street, into which opens the little street where Joseph of Sephoris' house is, when Judas of Kerioth draws His attention to a young man who is proceeding towards them feeling his way by touching the wall with a stick, raising up his face deprived of eyes, in the gait typical of blind people. His garments are poor, although clean, and he must be well known to many people in Jerusalem, because more than one point him out, and some go towards him saying: "Man, you have lost your way today. You have already passed the Moria streets and you are in Bezetha."
"I am not begging for alms today" replies the blind man with a smile, and still smiling he proceeds towards the northern part of the town.
"Master, look at him. His eyelids are sealed. Nay, I would say that he has no eyelids at all. His forehead is joined to his cheeks without any cavity and no eyeballs appear to be underneath. The poor fellow was born like that. And he will die like that without seeing even once the light of the sun or the face of a man. Now tell me, Master. He has certainly sinned to be punished so severely. But if he was born blind, as he definitely was, can he have sinned before being born? Perhaps his parents committed sin and God punished them by allowing him to be born thus?"
Also the other apostles and Isaac and Marjiam press round the Master to hear His reply. And two well- to-do men of Jerusalem, who were a little behind the blind man, quicken their paces hastening towards Jesus, as if they were attracted by the height of the Master, Who towers above the crowd. There is also Joseph of Arimathea, who remains at a distance, and leaning against a main door raised on two steps, he looks around watching all the faces.
Jesus replies and His words are clearly heard in the silence which has been created: "Neither he nor his parents have sinned more than any man sins, and perhaps they have sinned less. Because poverty often refrains from sin. But he was born thus, so that once again the power and works of God may be revealed through him. I am the Light which has come to the world so that those of the world who have forgotten God, or have lost His spiritual image, may see and remember Him, and those who seek God, or already belong to Him, may be confirmed in their faith and love. The Father sent Me that I may complete the knowledge of God in Israel and in the world, in the time still granted to Israel. I, therefore, must accomplish the work of Him Who sent Me, testifying that I can do what He can, because I am one with Him, and the world may know and see that the Son is not different to the Father, and may believe in Me for what I am. Later the night will come when it will no longer be possible to work, and it will be dark, and those who have not engraved in themselves My sign and their faith in Me, will no longer be able to do so in the darkness, confusion, sorrow, desolation and ruin, which will overwhelm these places and astonish spirits with the orgasm of anguish. But as long as I am in the world, I am Light and Witness, Word, Way and Life, Wisdom, Power and Mercy.
So go, meet the man born blind and bring him here to Me."
"Will you go, Andrew. I want to stay here and see what the Master does" replies Judas pointing at the Master, Who has bent down on the dusty road, has spat on the ground and with His finger is mixing the dust with the spittle forming a pellet of mud. While Andrew, who is always obliging, goes to get the blind man, who is about to turn into the narrow street where the house of Joseph of Sephoris is, Jesus spreads the mud on both forefingers and remains thus, with His hands raised, as priests hold them at Holy Mass, at the Gospel or at the Epistle. Judas withdraws from his place saying to Matthew and Peter: "Since you are not very tall, come here and you will see better." And he stands at the back, almost concealed by the sons of Alphaeus and by Bartholomew, who are tall.
Andrew comes back holding by the hand the blind man who is anxiously repeating: "I don't want money. Let me go. I know where the man named Jesus is. And I am going to ask..."
"This is Jesus, He is here in front of you" says Andrew stopping in front of the Master.
Jesus, contrary to His usual habit, does not ask the man anything. He at once spreads the little mud, which He has on His forefingers, on the closed eyelids and says: "And now go, as quickly as you can, to the Pool of Siloam, and do not stop to speak to anybody."
The blind man, his face soiled with mud, remains perplexed for a moment and moves his lips to speak. He then closes them and obeys. His first steps are slow, as if he were pensive or disappointed. Then he quickens his pace, grazing the wall with his stick, walking faster and faster, as far as it is possible for a blind man, as if he felt being guided...
The two men of Jerusalem laugh sarcastically shaking their heads and go away. Joseph of Arimathea, and this amazes me, follows them without even a word of greeting to the Master, retracing his steps, that is, going towards the Temple, whilst he was coming from that direction. Thus, the blind man, the two men and Joseph of Arimathea go towards the southern part of the town, while Jesus goes westwards and I lose sight of Him, because the Lord wants me to follow the blind man and his followers.
After passing through Bezetha they all enter the valley which lies between Moria and Zion - I think that in the past I heard it being called Tyropoeon - they go along it as far as Ophel, they walk round it, they come out on the street leading to the Siloam Pool, always in the following order: first the blind man who must be well known in that quarter of common people, then the two men, last, at some distance, Joseph of Arimathea.
Joseph stops near a poor house, and he is half-hidden by a box hedge that sticks out surrounding the little kitchen garden of the poor house. The two men instead go near the pool and watch the blind man who cautiously approaches the large pool and feeling the damp wall puts one hand into the cistern and withdraws it dripping water and washes his eyes once, twice, three times. At the third time he drops his stick and presses his face with the other hand, uttering a cry which sounds like a painful one.
He then removes his hands slowly and his previous painful cry changes into a shout of joy: "Oh! Most High! I can see!" and he throws himself on the ground overwhelmed with emotion, his hands shielding his eyes and pressing his temples, anxious to see but troubled by the light, and he repeats: "I can see! I can see! So this is the earth! And this is the light! This is the grass which I knew only through its coolness..." He stands up and stoops, like one carrying a weight, his weight of joy, he goes to the stream of the overflowing water and looks at it flowing brightly and joyfully and he whispers: "And this is the water... There you are! That's how I felt it with my fingers (he dips his hand into it) it is cold and cannot be held, but I did not know you... Ah! Beautiful! Beautiful! How beautiful everything is!" He looks up and sees a tree... he approaches it, touches it, stretches out a hand, draws a little branch to himself, looks at it and laughs, laughs, he screens his eyes with his hand and looks at the sky, at the sun, and two tears stream down from his virgin eyelids open to contemplate the world... And he lowers his eyes on the grass where a flower undulates on its stem and sees himself reflected in the water, and he looks at himself and says: "That's how I am!" and he is amazed when he sees a dove come to drink a little farther away, and a little goat tearing off the last leaves of a wild rose bush, and a woman coming to the pool with a baby on her breast. And that woman reminds him of his mother, whose face is unknown to him and raising his arms towards the sky he shouts: "May You be blessed, Most High, because of light, because of my mother, because of Jesus!" and he runs away, leaving his now useless stick on the ground...
The two men have not waited to see all that. As soon as they realised that the man could see, they ran towards the town. Joseph instead remains until the end, and when the blind man - who is no longer blind - darts past him towards the labyrinth of lanes of the working-class neighbourhood of Ophel, he leaves his place and retraces his steps towards the town, looking very pensive...
The Ophel suburb, which is always very noisy, is now in a real turmoil: people are running in all directions, asking questions or replying to them.
"You may have mistaken him for somebody else..."
"No, I am sure. I spoke to him saying: “But is it really you, Sidonia, nicknamed Bartholmai?”, and he replied: “It's me”. I wanted to ask him how it happened, but he ran away."
"Where is he now?"
"He is certainly with his mother."
"Who has seen him?" ask some people who have just arrived.
"I did. I did" reply many.
"But how did it happen?"
"... I saw him running without his stick, with two eyes in his face and I said: “Look! Bartholmai would be like that if... “"
"I tell you that I am still trembling. He came in shouting: “Mother, I see you!”"
"A great joy for his parents. He will now be able to help his father and earn his food..."
"That poor woman! She was so overwhelmed with joy that she was not feeling well. Oh! There is one thing! I had gone to ask for some salt and..."
"Let us go and hear the man himself..."
Joseph of Arimathea is caught in the uproar and, I do not know whether out of curiosity or spirit of imitation, he follows the crowd and ends up in a blind alley, which would lead to the Kidron, if it continued. The people crowd there overcoming with their voices the rustling noise of the water of the torrent, swollen with the autumn rains. And Joseph arrives there when, from another lane joining with this one, the two men previously mentioned come with three more: a scribe, a priest and another one whom I cannot identify by his garments. They elbow their way through the crowds arrogantly and they try to enter the house crammed with people.
The house consists of a large kitchen as black as tar, with a corner cut off by a rustic wooden partition, beyond which there is a couch and a door opening into another room with a bigger bed. Through a door on the opposite wall one can see a small kitchen garden only a few square metres large. That is all.
The cured blind man is speaking leaning on a table, replying to those asking him questions, all poor people like himself, the common people of Jerusalem, of this suburb, which is perhaps the poorest in town. His mother is looking at him, standing beside him, and is weeping drying her tears with her veil. His father, a man worn out by work, is rubbing his beard with a shaky hand.
It is impossible also for the overbearing Judaeans and doctors to go into the house and the five are compelled to listen to the words of the cured man outside.
"How were they opened? That man whose name is Jesus dirtied my eyes with some damp earth and He said to me: “Go and wash yourself in the pool of Siloam”. I went there, I washed myself, my eyes opened and I could see."
"But how did you manage to find the Rabbi? You always said that you were unlucky, because you never met Him, not even when He used to pass here going to Jonah at Gethsemane. And today, now that one never knows where He is..."
"Eh! yesterday evening one of His disciples came and he gave me two coins saying: “Why don't you try to see?” I said to him: “I have tried. But I never find Jesus Who works miracles. I have been looking for Him since He cured Annaleah, a girl of my suburb, but if I come here, He is there... and he said to me: “I am one of His apostles and He does what I want. Come to Bezetha tomorrow and look for the house of Joseph the Galilean, the one who sells dried fish, Joseph of Sephoris, near Herod's Gate and the arch in the square, on the eastern side, and you will notice that sooner or later He will be passing there or going into the house and I will mention you to the Master”. I said: “But tomorrow is the Sabbath”. I wanted to say that He would not do anything on a Sabbath. He replied to me: “If you want to be cured, that is the day, because afterwards we are leaving the town and you do not know whether you will ever meet Him again”. I said also: “I know that they are persecuting Him. I heard about it at the gates of the Temple enclosure, where I go to beg. So I say that now that they persecute Him, He will be less willing to be persecuted and He will not cure me on a Sabbath”. And he replied: “Do as I tell you and on a Sabbath you will see the sun”. And I went. Who would not have gone, when one of His apostles says so? He also said to me: “I am the one to whom He listens most and I came specially because I feel sorry for you and because I want His power to be displayed brightly after they despised Him. You, who were born blind, will make it shine. I know what I am saying. Come and you will see”. And I went and I had not yet arrived at Joseph's house, when a man took me by the hand, but by his voice I knew that he was not the man who spoke to me yesterday, and he said to me: “Come with me, brother” but I did not want to go, I thought he wanted to give me some bread and money, perhaps some clothes, and I repeatedly asked him to let me go, because I had heard where I could find the man named Jesus, and he said to me: “This is Jesus, here, in front of you”. But I could not see anything, because I was blind. I felt two fingers, covered with wet earth, touch me here and here, and I heard a voice say: “Go to the Siloam pool quickly and wash yourself and do not speak to anybody” and I did so. But I was down-hearted, because I was hoping to see at once, and I almost concluded that it was the joke of some heartless youngsters and I almost decided not to go. But I heard a kind of a voice within me say: “Hope and obey”., so I went to the pool and I washed myself and I could see." And the young man stops ecstatically remembering the joy of his first vision...
"Let that man come out. We want to question him" shout the five men. The young fellow elbows his way through the crowd and goes to the door.
"Where is He Who cured you?"
"I don't know" replies the youth to whom a friend whispered: "They are scribes and priests."
"What do you mean you do not know? You were saying just now that you knew. Do not lie to the doctors of the Law and to the priest! Woe to those who try to deceive the magistrates of the people!"
"I am not deceiving anybody. That disciple said to me: “He is in that house” and it was true because I was near it when I was taken by the hand and led to Him. But I don't know where He is now. The disciple told me that they were going away. He may be already outside the gates."
"But where was He going?"
"And what do I know about that?! Perhaps He is going to Galilee... considering how He is treated here!..."
"You disrespectful fool, be careful how you speak, you scum of the mob! I asked you which way did He go?"
"But how can you expect me to know, if I was blind? Can a blind man say which way another man is going?"
"All right. Come with us."
"Where are you taking me?"
"To the chiefs of the Pharisees."
"Why? What have they got to do with me? Did they perhaps cure me, and I have to thank them? When I was blind and I used to beg, my hands never felt one of their coins, my ears never heard a merciful word of theirs, and my heart never felt their love. What shall I say to them? I have only one person to thank, in addition to my father and mother who have loved me, a poor wretch, for so many years. And that is Jesus Who cured me, loving me with His heart, as my parents loved me with theirs. I am not coming to the Pharisees. I am staying with my mother and father, enjoying the sight of their faces, while they delight in looking at my newly born eyes, so many springtimes after the one in which I was born but I did not see the light."
"Stop chattering. Come and follow us."
"No! I am not coming! Have you ever wiped a tear of my mother, depressed by my misfortune, or a bead of perspiration of my father, exhausted with work? I can do that now with my present appearance, and according to you I should leave them and follow you?"
"We order you to come. Orders are not given by you, but by the Temple and the chiefs of the people. If the pride of being cured blunts your mind so that you do not remember that we give orders, we will remind you. Come on! Go on!"
"But why must I come with you? What do you want of me?"
"We want you to give evidence of the fact. This is the Sabbath. The deed was accomplished on the Sabbath. It is to be recorded as a sin. A sin of yours and of that satan."
"You are satans! You are sinners! And I should come and testify against Him Who helped me? You must be drunk! I will come to the Temple. To bless the Lord. But not more than that. I have been in the darkness of blindness for many years. But my closed eyelids obscured only my eyes. My intellect has seen the light just the same, by the grace of God, and it tells me that I must not harm the Only Holy One in Israel."
"Man, that's enough! Don't you know that there are punishments for those who oppose the magistrates?"
"I know nothing. I am here and I am staying here. And you had better not injure me. You can see that the whole of Ophel is on my side!"
"Yes. Leave him alone! Jackals! He is protected by God. Don't touch him! God is with the poor! God is with us, you profiteers and hypocrites!" The crowd shouts and threatens in one of those spontaneous popular demonstrations which are the outbreak of indignation of humble people against their oppressors, or the explosion of love for their protectors. And they cry out: "Woe betide you if you injure our Saviour! The Friend of the poor! The three times Holy Messiah. Woe to you! We were not afraid of the wrath of Herod or of the Chiefs, when we wanted. We are not afraid of yours, you old toothless hyenas! You jackals with blunt claws! You useless overbearing fellows! Rome does not want tumults and does not oppress the Rabbi, because He is peaceful. But Rome knows you. Go away! Away from the quarters of those whom you oppress with tithes exceeding their means, in order to have money and satisfy your hunger for pleasure and accomplish disgraceful negotiations. You are the descendants of Jason! The descendants of Simon! The torturers of the true Eleazars, of the holy Oniases. You despisers of the prophets, go away!" The tumult becomes fiercer and fiercer.
Joseph of Arimathea, who is crushed against a little wall and so far has been a diligent but passive spectator of the events, climbs on the little wall with agility unforeseeable in an old man and what is more muffled in garments and a wide mantle, and standing on the wall he shouts: "Silence, citizens. And listen to Joseph the Elder!"
One, two, ten heads turn round in the direction of the cry. They see Joseph. They shout his name. The Arimathean must be well known and must stand high in the people's favour because the cries of indignation turn into shouts of joy: "Joseph the Elder is here! Long live Joseph! Peace and long life to the just man! Peace and blessings to the benefactor of the poor! Silence! Joseph is going to speak! Silence!"
The crowd becomes silent with some difficulty and for some moments the rustling of the Kidron can be heard beyond the lane. Everybody is now looking at Joseph, as they have all forgotten what made them look in the opposite direction: the five wretched improvident men who gave rise to the uproar.
"Citizens of Jerusalem, men of Ophel, why are you allowing yourselves to be blinded with suspicion and anger? Why lack respect and infringe the customs, since you have always been so faithful to the laws of our ancestors? What are you afraid of? Do you perhaps fear the Temple is a Molech who does not give back what he receives? Are you afraid that your judges are all blind, blinder than your friend, blind in their hearts and deaf to justice? Is it not our custom that prodigious events are testified, written and kept by those who are responsible for the Chronicles of Israel? So, also to honour the Rabbi Whom you love, let the miraculously cured man go up to the Temple to give evidence of the work He accomplished. Are you still hesitant? Well I stand surety that no harm will befall Bartholmai. And you know that I do not lie. I will escort him up there like a son dear to me, and then I will bring him back here. Believe me. And do not turn the Sabbath into a day of sin by rebelling against your chiefs."
"What he says is right! We must not do that. We can believe him. He is a just man. His voice is always predominant in the good resolutions of the Sanhedrin."
The people consult with one another and they end up shouting: "Yes, we will trust our friend to you!" They then address the young man: "Come! Be not afraid. With Joseph of Arimathea you are as safe as you would be with your father and even safer" and they open out so that the young man may go to Joseph, who has come down from his improvised pulpit, and while he passes by they say to him: "We are coming as well. Don't be afraid!"
Joseph, in his beautiful sumptuous woollen clothes, lays one hand on the young man's shoulder and sets out. The grey worn tunic of the young fellow, and his short mantle rub against the dark red wide tunic and the even darker sumptuous mantle of the old member of the Sanhedrin. Behind them there are the five men, then a large crowd from Ophel...
They are now at the Temple, after crossing the central streets, attracting the attention of many people who point out to one another the previously blind man saying: "It's the blind fellow who used to beg! And now he has eyes! Perhaps it's one like him! No. It's certainly the same man and they are taking him to the Temple. Let's go and see" and the train becomes longer and longer until they all disappear within the walls of the Temple.
Joseph leads the young man into a hall, which is not the Sanhedrin, where there are many Pharisees and scribes. Joseph goes in with Bartholmai and the five men follow them. The common people of Ophel are pushed back into the court.
"This is the man. I brought him here myself, because I was present, without being seen, at his meeting with the Rabbi and at his recovery. And I can tell you that it was completely accidental as far as the Rabbi is concerned. The man, you will hear this yourselves, was led or rather invited to go where the Rabbi was, by Judas of Kerioth, who is known to you. And I heard, and these two who were with me also heard because they were present, how Judas induced Jesus of Nazareth to work the miracle. I now testify here that if there is one who ought to be punished, it is neither the blind man nor the Rabbi, but the man from Kerioth who - God sees whether I am lying in saying what I think - is the only one responsible for what happened, as he provoked it with deliberate manoeuvre. That is my statement."
"What you state does not cancel the fault of the Rabbi. If one of His disciples sins, the Master must not commit sin. And He sinned by curing this man on a Sabbath. He accomplished a servile work."
"To spit on the ground is not a servile work. And to touch the eyes of another person is not a servile work either. I am touching the man as well, but I do not think that I am committing a sin."
"He worked a miracle on the Sabbath. That's why He sinned."
"To honour the Sabbath by means of a miracle is a grace of God and a sign of His bounty. It is His day. Can the Almighty not celebrate it with a miracle that makes His power shine brightly?"
"We are not here to listen to you. You are not accused. We want to question that man. It's for you to reply. How did you get your eyesight?"
"I have explained that and these people heard me. The disciple of that Jesus said to me yesterday: “Come and I will have you cured”. And I came. And I felt some mud being put here and I heard a voice say to me to go to the Siloam pool and wash myself. And I did it and now I see."
"But do you know who cured you?"
"Of course I do! Jesus. I told you."
"But do you know exactly who Jesus is?"
"I know nothing. I am poor and ignorant. And up to a short time ago I was blind. I know that. And I know that He cured me. And if He was able to do that, God is certainly with Him."
"Don't blaspheme! God cannot be with those who do not keep the Sabbath" shout some.
But Joseph and the Pharisees Eleazar, John and Joachim remark: "Neither can a sinner work such prodigies."
"Have you been seduced as well by that possessed man?"
"No. We are just. And we say that if God cannot be with those who work on the Sabbath, neither can man make a fellow born blind see without the help of God " says Eleazar calmly, and the others nod in assent.
"Are you forgetting about the demon?" shout the evil-minded enemies irritably.
"I cannot believe, neither you believe, that the demon may work a deed capable of making one praise the Lord" says John the Pharisee.
"And who is praising Him?"
"This young man, his relatives, the whole of Ophel, and I with them, and with me all those who are just and God fearing in a holy way" replies Joseph. The evil-minded ones, now held up to ridicule, not knowing what to object, assail Sidonia nicknamed Bartholmai: "What do you say of Him Who opened your eyes?"
"As far as I am concerned He is a prophet. And He is greater than Elijah with the son of the widow of Zarephath. Because Elijah brought the soul back into the boy. But this Jesus has given me what I had never lost, because I never had it: my eyesight. And if He made my eyes in a flash with nothing, except a little mud, whilst my mother had not been able to make them in nine months with flesh and blood, He must be as great as God Who made man with mud."
"Go away! Go away! You blasphemer. Liar! Corrupted!" and they eject him as if he were possessed.
"The man is lying. It cannot be true. Everybody knows that a person born blind cannot be cured. It must be one like Bartholmai, and the Nazarene has prepared him... or... Bartholmai has never been blind."
Upon hearing such an astonishing statement Joseph of Arimathea bursts out: "It is known since the days of Cain that hatred blinds people. But that it makes them fools was not yet known. Do you think it credible that a man may reach maturity pretending that he is blind, just to wait for... a probable and very remote clamorous event? Or that Bartholmai's parents do not recognise their son or that they lend themselves to this deception?"
"Money can do everything. And they are poor."
"The Nazarene is poorer than they are."
"You are lying! Sums worthy a Satrap pass through His hands!"
"But don't stay there for a moment. That money is for the poor. It is used for a good purpose, not for falsehood."
"How you defend Him! And you are one of the Elders!"
"Joseph is right. The truth is to be told whatever the office a man may hold" says Eleazar.
"Go and call the blind man back. Make haste and bring him here again. And let others go to his parents and bring them here" shouts Helkai opening the door and giving orders to some people waiting outside. And his mouth is almost covered with foam, so much is he choking with anger.
Some people run here, some there. The first to come back is Sidonia nicknamed Bartholmai, who is surprised and annoyed. They push him into a corner watching him as a pack of hounds gaze at game... Later, after some time, his parents arrive surrounded by a crowd.
"You two come in. All the others out!"
The two go in looking frightened. They see their son in the corner, unharmed, but under arrest. His mother moans: "Son! And this was to be a happy day for us!"
"Listen to us. Is that man your son?" asks one of the Pharisees rudely. "Of course he is our son! And who would it be if it were not him?"
"Are you really certain?" The father and mother are so amazed at the question, that they look at each other before replying. "Answer my question!"
"Noble Pharisee, do you think that a father and a mother may be deceived with regard to their child?" says the father humbly.
"But... can you swear that... Yes, that for no amount of money you have been asked to say that this is your son, whereas he is one like him?"
"Asked to say? And by whom? Swear? Yes, a thousand times, in the name of the altar and in the Name of God, if you wish so!" His assertion is so resolute that it would discourage the most pigheaded person.
But the Pharisees are not disheartened! They ask: "But was your son not born blind?"
"Yes, he was. His eyelids were closed and there was nothing under them..."
"How come he can now see, he has eyes and his eyelids are open? You are not going to tell me that eyes grow just like that, like flowers at springtime, and that an eyelid opens just like the calyx of a flower!..." says another Pharisee laughing sarcastically.
"We know that this man has really been our son for almost thirty years and that he was born blind, but we do not know how he can now see or who opened his eyes. In any case, ask him. He is not an idiot or a little boy. He is well on in age. Ask him and he will tell you."
"You are lying. In your house he said how he was cured and by whom. Why do you say that you do not know?" shouts one of the two men who had always followed the blind man.
"We were so dumbfounded with amazement that we did not listen to him" the two reply apologetically.
The Pharisees turn to Sidonia nicknamed Bartholmai saying: "Come here. And give glory to God, if you can! Don't you know that He Who touched your eyes is a sinner? Don't you know? Well, you had better know. We are telling you because we know."
"Who knows! It may well be as you say. I don't know whether He is a sinner or not. I only know that previously I was blind, and now I can see, and quite clearly."
"But what did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?"
"I have already told you and you did not listen to me. Now you want to hear it all over again? Why? Do you want to become His disciples?"
"Fool! You can be the disciple of that man. We are the disciples of Moses. And we know everything about Moses and that God spoke to him. But of this man we know nothing, where He comes from and who He is, and no prodigy of Heaven points Him out as a prophet."
"And that is just what is wonderful! That you do not know where He comes from and you say that no prodigy points Him out as a just man. But He opened my eyes and none of us in Israel had ever been able to do that, not even the love of a mother and the sacrifices of my father. But there is one thing that we all know, both you and I, that is, that God does not hear sinners, but only those who fear God and do His will. In no part of the world it has ever been heard that anyone was able to open the eyes of a man born blind, but this Jesus has done that. If He did not come from God, He would not have been able to do it."
"You were born a sinner through and through and you are as disfigured in your spirit as you were in your body and even more so, and you pretend to teach us? Go away, cursed abortion and become a demon with your seducer. Go away, all of you, foolish sinful populace!" and they eject the son, father and mother, as if they were three lepers.
The three go away quickly, followed by their friends. But when he is outside the enclosure, Sidonia turns round and says: "And you can stay where you are, and say what you like. The truth is that I see and I praise God for it. You may be demons, not the Good One Who cured me."
"Be quiet, son! Be quiet! Lest it should be detrimental to us!..." moans his mother.
"Oh! mother! Has the air in that hall poisoned your soul, as you used to teach me to praise God in my misfortune, and now you cannot thank Him in our joy and you are afraid of men? If God has loved me and you so much as to grant us the miracle, will He not be able to defend us from a handful of men?"
"Our son is right, woman. Let us go to our synagogue to praise the Lord, since they have driven us out of the Temple. And let us go at once before the Sabbath is over..."
And hastening their paces they disappear in the lanes in the valley.