They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26)
What is worse than physical blindness? Well we could say blindness of heart and soul are for sure! In this story, Mark suggests that those who are truly blind are Peter and the other disciples. The disciples don’t understand the statement of Jesus, just before this story, when he spoke about his suffering and the cross. Peter accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but not as a suffering Messiah. Peter seemed to be blind. But all of us are blind as well!
Like the disciples and the man in the gospel we sometimes are “blind” in many ways. We have been touched by God often during our lives. Spittle, in the form of holy oil was placed on our eyes at the time of our baptism, and yet blindness still overshadows us some of the time. Just like the disciples, Jesus has been with us from the very beginning of our lives. Like the disciples, we have surely seen how great God is in our lives. Maybe not in strange and huge ways, but I’m sure God has shown something wonderful to each of us time and time again. Unfortunately, various reasons and situations, or even events in life, have caused us to be blind at times. It might be fear, anger, guilt, temptations, human weakness, and pain, to mention a few. God is always present to us. It is we through our own blindness who distance ourselves from God. With open eyes and hearts, it is important for us that we reflect on and be grateful for the many actions of Jesus in our lives. With open eyes and hearts, we have to take seriously where Jesus is leadingus. He is leading us to have clear eyes to see his presence and love in our lives.
It is interesting that Jesus asked the man if he could see because this is the only instance of healing in which Jesus asked if the person was healed. The man could see only partially. Then Jesus again placed His hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly. How many times are we convinced that we are right, that we have all the facts and it is those around us who just do not get it? And how many times do we find out later that we were wrong, that we were the ones who did not get all the facts right, could not see the situation clearly?
The same is true of our spiritual or theological lives. We are sometimes convinced that our way of praying is the only valid way to pray. Or we believe something in the Church is unchanging only to find that our theology was flawed. Are we open to seeing new ways of praying or thinking theologically? Do we need new insight, some form of healed vision? Maybe others can lead us to new understandings. Maybe we need to pray for new sight as well.
At the end of the story Jesus sent the man away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.” Jesus may have known that there were influences in the village that could threaten this man’s newly found sight and faith. Maybe in your life there is some person who always causes you to lose your temper or become impatient? If you are with certain people do you become critical or say disparaging remarks about others? Do you neglect time for prayer because you think something else is more important? There is no place we can go in life that there will not be temptations. What “village” do you have to avoid?
None of us is completely finished. We have to continue to grow and be transformed every day of our lives no matter how old we are. We should be better women and men today than we were yesterday and be better women and men tomorrow than we are today. Look to God and see with eyes of faith and love.
Describe an instance when you were sure you were right only to be proved wrong?
In what ways can you improve your spiritual vision to see more clearly?