I began to wear glasses at an early age. At first, it was to help with reading, but soon, I needed them all the time. In 2019, I had lens replacement and surgery to repair my retinas. My eyes are improved, at least distance wise. But I still need glasses when reading or working on the computer. Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve been thinking a lot about my eyes…and other things…since Wednesday’s gospel reading.
When they arrived at Bethsaida, they brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?”
Looking up he replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.”
Then Jesus laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored, and he could see everything distinctly.
Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26)
When I read or rather listened to this reading, on my way to Evansville (super Granny Kaye was called into action), I focused at first on the man’s vision problem. I can totally relate to not seeing things clearly. Before my surgery, without glasses or contacts, I could see very little. Most things blended together and seemed “bloblike”. And it had been that way for a very long time. Once, after Jim and I were first married, we were laying in bed and he asked me what I could see, without my glasses, of a picture that was across the room from us. I squinted and said, “Well, there are some blues and browns…” Jim said, “No, I mean the objects in the picture.” I answered him, “Oh, no…I can’t make out anything. It’s one big blur.”
I’m sure a good many of you can relate. So, I can imagine how, even though his vision was still blurry, the man might have felt, being able to make out images. But Jesus didn’t stop there. He went on and laid his hands on the man’s eyes a second time.
The more I thought about the story, that was the part that stuck with me. A second time. But why? Why, unlike other occurrences, did Jesus decide to make this a two-part healing? I thought about this the rest of the day and even talked to Jim about it when he came home from work. Since it was Wednesday, and we go to Mass at St. Sebastian on Wednesday evenings, I thought Father Robert might provide an answer in his homily. But no…he talked about the first reading (which, by the way, was from the book of James…always a heavy hitter, especially leading into Lent!)
That evening, when we got home, Jim and I continued to discuss the possible meanings. One website was very helpful and said that you had to consider what was happening before this exchange. From the website Living Space…
We have seen the blindness of the Pharisees, unable to recognize the power of God in the words and works of Jesus. We can see the blindness of his own disciples when he asked them in the boat: “Can you not see? Can you not hear? Do you not understand?” This story, coming where it is, is a parable about the gradual opening of the disciples’ eyes as it begins to dawn on them just who Jesus is.
Can you imagine if the fullness of who Jesus is were revealed to us all at once? Even with his chosen disciples, Jesus had to reveal his glory to them in stages. He could have opened the heavens and called down angels on Day One. But he didn’t…the disciples weren’t ready. Even after he revealed the details of his impending death, they ran. They hid. They were afraid. But gradually, he revealed a bit more of himself to them.
Another website, Fr. Martin’s Daily Homilies and Reflections, had this to add…
Without presuming that the man is healed, Jesus asks him, ‘Can you see anything?’, thereby involving the man in his own healing. When the man indicated that he was beginning to see but could not yet see clearly, Jesus laid his hands on him again. It was only then that the man could see everything plainly and distinctly.
We can see in this healing story an image of how the Lord wishes to relate to us today. He calls each one of us into a personal relationship with himself. To deepen this relationship, he will often lead us by the hand away from the places where we normally congregate to a quiet place where he can speak to our hearts and touch our lives. The Lord needed to touch this man more than once to bring him from darkness to light; the man’s healing was not instantaneous. We need the repeated touch of the Lord’s presence if we are to keep journeying towards ever greater light, the light of the Lord’s life-giving love by which we can see everything clearly. The Lord continues to call us ‘out of the village’ and he looks to us to keep responding to his call.
This is me…this is my story. When I look back over my spiritual journey, I see time and time again where God has called me to a quiet place to reveal just a bit more…just what I can process at the time. God doesn’t overwhelm. He doesn’t force his way into my life. There are great periods over my journey that were stagnate. Times when I was comfortable and complacent. It’s up to me to dig deeper…to study more…to spend more time listening. God waits until I am ready and then, like a gentle breeze, shows me a little glimpse of his glory.
My spiritual journey is not over. It is ongoing. I have not arrived anywhere. I must keep responding to His call…much like Samuel. I must have a heart that listens for and recognizes His voice. There is so much more than I will ever understand in this lifetime. But one day I will…and then I will know as I am known.
God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.