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Four Johannine Meditations

 

In Samaria

In Samaria, several manifested their faith in him. He saw them not. Samaria the parvenu, the egotist, more rigid observer of its Protestant law than Judah of antique tables. There, universal wealth permitted all enlightened discourse. Sophism, slave and solider of routine, had there already, after flattering them, cut the throats of several prophets.

It was a sinister word, that of the woman at the fountain: “You’re a prophet, you know what I’ve done.”

Women and men believed in prophets. Now they believe in the statesman.

Two steps from the foreign city, incapable of materially menacing it, if he was taken for a prophet, since he had shown himself there so bizarre, what would he have done?

Jesus could say nothing in Samaria.

 

In Galilee

The light and charming air of Galilee: the inhabitants received him with a curious joy: they had seen him shaken with holy wrath, whip the moneychangers and the merchants of game from the temple. Miracle of pale and furious youth they thought.

He felt his hands at hands laden with rings and at an officer’s mouth; the officer was kneeling in the dust: and his head was rather pleasing, although half-bald.

Cars flew along the city’s narrow streets; a bustling, rather great for this burg; everything seemed to have to be too content that evening.

Jesus drew back his hand: it was a motion of infantile and feminine pride. “The rest of you, if you see not miracles, you believe nothing.”

Jesus hadn’t yet done any miracles. He’d, in a wedding party, in a dining room pink and green, spoken rather openly to the Holy Virgin. And nobody’d spoken of the wine of Cana in Capernaum, neither in the market, nor on the quays. The bourgeois, perhaps.

Jesus said, “Go, your son is well.” The officer went off, as one bears some light pharmaceuticals, and Jesus continued along the streets less frequented. Orange bindweed, borage showed their magic gleam between the paving-stones. At last he saw afar the dusty grasslands, and the buttercups and daisies begging the day for mercy.

 

The pool at Bethesda

Bethesda, the pool of five galleries was a place of grief. It seemed it was a sinister wash house, always heaped with rain and dark; and the beggars stirring on the inside steps—paled by those storm gleams precursive of hell’s lightnings, while jesting about their blind blue eyes, the white or blue cloths around their stumps. O military washroom, o popular bath. The water was always dark, and no cripple fell in even dreaming.

It’s there Jesus did the first grave action, with the despicable cripples. Came a day, February, March or April, when the sun at two in the afternoon let a large sickle of light spread out on the shrouded water; and as, over there, far behind the cripples, I could have seen all that this lone beam awakened of buds and crystals and worms, in this glint, like unto a pallid angel lying on one side, all the infinitely pale glints moved.

All the sins, light and tenacious sons of the demon who, for hearts a little sensitive, rendered these men more frightful than monsters, wanted to jump in that water. The cripples went down, railing no more, but keenly.

The first ones in would be cured, it was said. No. The sins hurled them back on the steps, and forced them to seek other posts: for their Demon may not stay but in places where alms are sure.

Jesus entered just after midday. Nobody was washing nor leading down beasts. The light in the pool was yellow like the last vine leaves. The divine master stood next to a column: he regarded the sons of Sin; the demon stuck his tongue out in theirs, and laughed at the world.

The paralytic arose, who had been lying on his side, and it was with a step singularly assured that they saw him cross the gallery and disappear in the city, the Damned souls.

 

IV

Thus Jesus delivered grand speeches, for he shone like a burning light, for he was the son of God. And the crowds followed him, five thousand at Tiberias, desirous of a Moses, famished, without water, shelter or wine—weary with the faith that Jesus was their shepherd.

Atop a mountain, Jesus discussed with his disciples the nourishment of the flock. He said: “My flesh is bread and he that shall eat of it shall live eternally.”

The fervent masses clawed the sky, opened their gullets, and cried for worms. Five round loaves of spoiled barley were shared out among the delirious folk, under the blinding sunrays.

This repast was served with two rotten fish. The skin of clouds stretched away, and the sea boiled underneath. Thousands of arms arose in a wave. Some few spoke in strange tongues, others flew, mingling voices and visions in the drunken air. The void was a phantasmagoria so fantastic that it became true and holy and eternal.

The disciples were confused, floated on a boat. The sea grew high, the storm swelled. But where was Jesus? There! walking on the waves.

“It is I,” said Jesus, “fear nothing.” And the boat continued ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to Jerusalem.

 

 Arthur Rimbaud