Today’s Gospel is Mark 8:22-26. Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida, and some people brought to him a blind man whom they begged him to touch. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Then putting spittle on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked, ‘Can you see anything?’ The man, who was beginning to see, replied, ‘I can see people; they look like trees to me, but they are walking about’. Then he laid his hands on the man’s eyes again and he saw clearly; he was cured, and he could see everything plainly and distinctly. And Jesus sent him home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village’.
The account of the healing of the blind man has great significance in Mark’s Gospel. It comes just after a period when the disciples seem unable to understand who Jesus is, despite the miracles they have seen, and just before the revelation given to Peter and his proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah.
Jesus’ healing of the blind man was primarily an act of merciful compassion, but it also symbolically showed the disciples that their eyes needed to be opened. Mark intends the account to teach his readers the same truth, that they need the eyes of their hearts enlightened (Eph. 1:18) before they can understand that Jesus is Lord.
Why is it so vital that our blindness be healed? We have probably experienced first-hand or witnessed around us the anguish of seeing no clear purpose in life or seeking happiness where it can’t be found or falls short of our hopes. A commentator on St Thomas Aquinas writes: ‘Until truth gives light to a man’s mind, his heart is immobilized more effectively than the feet of a man in the pitch blackness of a strange place … if the light of knowledge be false we can only make missteps.’
Jesus has come as the light of the world, the light that enlightens everyone and will set our hearts aflame. Pope John Paul II encouraged us to come to Christ the Light in these words: ‘The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly and not just in accordance with immediate, partial and even illusory standards and measures of his being must — with his unrest, sinfulness, with his life and death — draw near to Christ’ (Redemptor Hominis).
A unique aspect of this miracle is that Jesus heals the blind man in stages; his love and patience are shown in that he does not leave him until his vision is completely restored. If we have questions and doubts, we can trust that Jesus wants to give us the same clarity he gave the blind man. If we ask him in our prayer and seek him in Scripture reading, he will reveal himself and teach us just as he taught his disciples. (Bible Alive.)
Lord Jesus, thank you for the light you have given me. I know there are many things that I do not see clearly yet; please touch my eyes every day, so I may see more of your glory and lead others to your light.