Today Thoughts: In our Gospel today, we have the story of Jesus’ healing of the blind man of Bethsaida. It is a unique story because it only appears in Mark’s Gospel and because it takes Jesus two tries to accomplish the healing.
In all the Gospels, we have stories of Jesus physically healing people. However, with every healing there is a deeper meaning. It is not just about the person’s physical struggles it is also about the spiritual struggles of those who are present and us who are listening. This is easy to grasp when the healing is of blindness.
In our story today, just before Jesus heals the blind man he chastises the disciples for failing to understand his reference to “the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." A number of times in yesterday’s Gospel Jesus asks the disciples, “Do you still not understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see?” Jesus is not talking about physical blindness. He is using sight as a metaphor. For Jesus the reference to seeing is understanding.
With this focus in mind we get a sense why Mark placed the story of the healing of the blind man right after the disciples struggle to understand and right before he asks them about who people think he is which we will encounter tomorrow.
Today’s healing story corresponds to Peter’s situation when Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter gets it half right. That is, he correctly identifies Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, but he fails to understand what Messiah means in Jesus’ case. When Jesus mentions rejection and death, Peter rebukes him. In other words, Peter shows that he “sees” half way. Seeing, understanding is a process, a journey. Like the blind man today it takes a while until he sees clearly. It is going to take a while for the disciples to see clearly.
Throughout Mark’s Gospel the disciples struggle to understand, to see clearly the mission and ministry of Jesus. Each time Jesus talks about his Passion and Death the disciples seem to miss the point. Faith is a journey. It is not something we come to in a single moment or because of one event in our life. It is a journey that must be taken every day.
The disciples did not understand, they did not see yesterday. The blind man today at first did not see clearly but then did. We are all like the disciples and the blind man in our story today. Seeing clearly in not always easy. But if we take the time to listen, to understand and to have faith things will become clear.
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...