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That his condition was a punishment for something was an ever-present thought; there was some judgment on him. But he knew his place, sitting there near the synagogue and begging; it was what he did, it was who he was; he deserved it. He did not know why, but that was the way it was. But why did people assume that blindness was the same as deafness? Who were these Galileans using him as a means of asking their Rabbi questions about suffering? If it made him useful, it reminded him of his condition – as though that was needful. What was that about light? It would be nice to know what light was. Now some fool was putting wet clay on his eyes – was there no limit to the humiliations he was expected to put up with? Still, the voice, presumably that of the Rabbi, was authoritative, and he was used to doing what he was told, so he picked his way to the pool and washed his eyes. That was when everything changed.

The light, that was what he remembered even now; odd to say, but it had blinded him. It had taken a lifetime to get used to it, to live with it, to live in it. How they had quizzed him afterwards. Some had refused to believe the story, though they had seen him every day for years. “I am the man” he had told them. But it was not enough for those Pharisees. They had done nothing to help him, and now they seemed to resent the fact someone had. They’d demanded to know who did it. He’d heard the Rabbi’s followers calling him Jesus, so he told the Pharisees; but that just made them angrier. They were the disciples of Moses, they told him proudly; well, he thought to himself, Moses hadn’t done very much for him, and this Jesus had. But the Pharisees would not have it, Jesus was a sinner. Born blind he might have been, but born stupid he was not, and he had wondered aloud how they could think this Jesus a ‘sinner’. They had thrown him out of their synagogue. He had had nowhere to go, but the Rabbi Jesus had sought him out.

He had gone from one sort of marginal existence to another; even his parents had kept their distance; it didn’t do to upset the Pharisees. But Jesus had not forgotten him. He remembered his own words, “I am the man”, and Jesus told him he was the ‘Son of Man’; he knew then who Jesus was, and he had followed him ever since. The Pharisees had no believed him, they proclaimed they were not blind. Perhaps not, but they had not seen, all the same; there were worse things than not being able to see with your eyes.

He had followed Jesus until what the others had thought was the end; but he had been quietly confident that he knew what the Rabbi had meant when he had said the temple would rise again in three days;and he had. That light, lit that day, had burned inside him, and even though it had led him to this dungeon in Rome, he was satisfied. They had taken Peter earlier, and soon they would come for him and the others. It would not be long now before he saw again the ‘Son of Man’. The key turned in the lock; they had come; it was time.