Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Jesus Gives True Sight



They arrived at Bethsaida. There the people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him away out of the village. Then he spat on his eyes, laid his hands upon him, and asked whether he could see anything. The man's sight began to come back, and he said, "I see men; they look like trees, but they are walking about." Jesus laid his hands  on his eyes again; he looked hard, and now he was cured so that he saw everything clearly. Then Jesus sent him home, saying, "Do not tell anyone in the village."  Mark  8:22-26

Here is Buoninsegna's painting of Jesus restoring the sight of the blind man. Notice that the artist has painted a scene within a scene. In the middle, the blind man stands before Jesus, then he's pictured a second time immediately to the right and walking down the road, one hand in the air praising God while with the other, letting go of the stick he'd used for so long to help him find his way. 

The turreted city of Bethsaida is pictured in the background (remember we're told Jesus led the man outside the village). The spellbound apostles huddle close behind Jesus. 

We must recall too that in the verses just prior to this miracle, the apostles are fussing about having forgotten to take bread along with them, though they had just witnessed Jesus feeding five thousand people with so little. Let's hear again the words of Jesus as they sailed along:

Jesus said to them: "Why do you talk about no bread? Have you no inkling yet? Do you still not understand? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes: can you not see? You have ears: can you not hear?"

Then right after calling the apostles blind and deaf to their faces, Jesus gave new sight to a blind man. Let's understand, this miracle isn't essentially about optical sight.Jesus would have me know that I can have 20/20 vision and detect even the most subtle clicks and beeps in the hearing test, and still be blind and deaf. 

Likely Jesus wanted the apostles to understand HIM clearly - who he is. But I think there's even more to it than that - Jesus wants us to see and hear each other clearly. He wants us to understand each moment well. He wants us to understand ourselves clearly! When I was a boy, my father would sometimes take us to Yankee Stadium ballgames. It felt gentlemanly, men wearing hats, jackets and neckties. Conversely, this morning's news reported that now baseball games rather routinely feature violence - pitchers and batters throwing punches, whole teams rushing out onto the field in a frenzy of fighting, the stadium erupting into a celebration of cheers. That's deaf and blind. 

But Jesus is patient with us. Notice the healing doesn't happen all at once but in stages. We grow in goodness. In the Gospel verses to follow, Peter will call Jesus Messiah, and then in a great misunderstanding, he will reject that Jesus will have to suffer as Messiah. Finally, Peter will even deny knowing Jesus the night of Jesus' arrest. Still, in one of the first Easter appearances, Jesus, ever patient, will recycle Peter in love, giving him new tasks, again inviting, Follow me." 

14 comments:

  1. If only we could always see things as they truly are and not be clouded by preconceptions or other people's opinions. Jesus is patient, but we are not so we will remain deaf and blind to things on earth. Our eyes will be open in the afterlife.

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    1. Yes, our eyes will be open in an afterlife (that's why the eyes of a Byzantine icon are always so large - they SEE) but I don't want to use that as an excuse to go around "blind" and "deaf" in this present life. Christianity is supposed to be an inner spiritual WAY that leads us to seeing and hearing even NOW.

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    2. I'm still trying to find that inner spiritual way. I'm getting there slowly. It's difficult to erase the close-mindedness of my upbringing and to open my eyes and ears and mind to a more holistic set of beliefs. I was lost and now I am found.

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    3. I believe God is pleased with every effort to grow ourselves and evolve as human persons. And becoming a full human person matters - that's the Incarnation. And as for "getting there slowly" - there isn't any other way. Apples don't pop out red and ripe in the spring - but only after a long, slow exposure to light and warmth.

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  2. I had never thought past this miracle as more than Jesus healing the blind man. A miracle to help someone and show that he was God. But this makes it so much meaningful. A deeper look into what Jesus was teaching his disciples and now us. A lesson for the ages. It is one thing to follow Jesus, but another to really feel his deep love for all people and carry that onward.

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  3. This is why I read this blog. You give the insights we all miss along the way. My eyes are open and trying to see clearly. My ears are open and trying to hear with real understanding. Amen Father Stephen. Love your work here.

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    1. Thank you for following the posts. The Lord bring to completion the good that has begun in you.

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  4. You really come across as a great teacher with your explanation of this gospel. I understood so clearly what Jesus was trying to show us with His miracle here. It was fun learning this. Also brought back the days when, my father wore his hat and tie to the "Dodger" games. Thanks for your effort.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly with this comment. You are a great teacher Fr. Morris. I read and learn so much here that I feel my eyes see more clearly and my understanding of faith and religion falls into place in a way that I can live my life in the peace of knowing that God might be pleased with me, even though I might stumble and fall once in awhile.

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  5. It is fine to advise people on what to do with their lives. But one should also practice what they preach.

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    1. To be sure. I think it was Chesterton or C.S. Lewis who wrote that after Jesus, it was Saint Francis of Assisi who was the only person ever utterly successful at doing that.

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    2. That was my point exactly. Open your eyes and ears to understand each moment as they occur. Open your mind so may appear less thoughtless and undiscerning to the cares of others.

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  6. This post was forwarded to me from a friend. I love it. Your message is loud and clear. Amen!

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  7. The worlds needs to grow in this goodness. God save us.

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