And they came to Beth-sa′ida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men; but they look like trees, walking.” Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly. And he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” Mark 8:22-26 RSV
BY: ASHLEY BLACKBURN
I often read the daily readings and pray with them using lectio divina as I reflect on not only the larger theme of the readings, but also what God wants to teach me through them. Often times, I read through them and then don’t really have anything that sticks out to me at first. So this is when I say a quick prayer and ask God to reveal to me what He wants me to hear from these readings. After I do this… it is as if scripture opens up and a whole new world of wisdom and understanding begins to blossom in my mind and in my heart. The readings from Wednesday of this week (Feb 20, 2019) were one of those occasions. At first, I felt nothing was sticking out to me, then I said my prayer and God revealed something to me that I thought was relevant to share to a wider audience.
The gospel was Mark 8:22-26. In this passage, Jesus heals a blind man in two stages. We must realize that this blind man was living in complete darkness. He could not see anything. How many of us are or were living in spiritual darkness at one point or another in our lives, I know that I was for a time. The blind man is brought to Jesus, which means he was brought with the help of his friends or family. This is a reminder to us that those in our lives who are living in darkness, those who are NOT living with the light of Christ in their lives, can be brought to Jesus (spiritually) by you and me through prayer. We can lift these souls up to heaven on their behalf and ask the Lord to bring them out of the darkness… to heal their blindness.
In the gospel story, the first stage of the man’s healing was when Jesus spits on his eyes and lays his hands upon him. Then Jesus asks him if he can see anything. The blind man says “I see men; but they look like trees, walking”. This line here is where God stopped me in my reading of this passage. There was something very peculiar about what this man says. He says he sees men, but they look like trees, and they are walking!? What in the world? Such a weird thing to say, but it was included in the bible, so we know that it is the inspired Word of God. After reflecting on this further, I realized that this was only the first stage of healing for the blind man and it only gave him a partial view. He said he could see man, he knew they were walking, but he said they looked like trees. This is a distortion of what was really there. We must not discount the fact that the man was no longer in darkness. He could SEE. This in and of itself was a miracle. But what he was seeing was distorted.
I began to reflect even more upon this reality… that there is something such as a partial healing. And then God showed me when in my life I was partially healed. As I said previously, there was a time in my life when I was living in complete darkness. I was not recognizing God’s presence in my life, thus I was not walking with him in the light. Then through the prayers of my parents and family, and through the mercy of God, I was lifted up out of my darkness and brought into the light. But this was only a partial healing. For I too had a distorted view of reality. I was living in duplicity. Sure, I was reconciled back with God and I began walking with Him, but I was still not willing to surrender ALL of my old ways and habits to Him. I held on to some things that I considered to be justifiable in my own relative view of what was right and what was wrong. I didn’t consider learning the truth of the Church or seeking full forgiveness where I was still living in sin, because I had convinced myself that these things were not all that bad. Afterall, God is merciful! I could have stayed in this spiritual place, reconciled and believing in God, but continuing to walk in distortion, but God called me deeper. Deeper into truth.
If we go back to the gospel reading we see that after the man explains to Jesus what he can see, which was a distorted view, Jesus laid his hands upon the man’s eyes a second time. This time the man looked “intently” and he was “restored” and he “saw everything clearly”. The second stage of this man’s healing was not done until he surrendered his view to Jesus. After the first time Jesus laid his hand on the man’s eyes, he could have told Jesus, “Yes I can SEE!” and walked away. This would have been a true statement. He could now see. But instead we see the man tell Jesus WHAT he saw. He surrendered what he was now seeing to Jesus… He was open and honest with Jesus, allowing Him to determine what further healing was needed. Once the blind man tells Jesus what he saw, Jesus is then able to heal him of his distorted view. He is able to pull the veil back even further so that the blind man could see in full view the TRUE reality of what was around him.
Our ultimate goal in seeking full union with God is to be able to see the world as God sees it, to think as God does, to act as God does. If we look at the readings for today (Feb 21, 2019), Jesus rebukes Peter for thinking as human beings do and not as God does. And how does God see, and think and act? With MERCY and JUSTICE. All of us must get past our cloudy view of the world and the people in it. The way that we do this is by seeking FULL healing in our own lives first. This can only be done through a complete surrender of our view to Jesus. We must speak honestly and openly with Jesus. Asking him to show us the fullness of the Truth, so that we may live it in our daily lives. If we hold anything back from God, then we will never be completely healed. We will remain in our sin, we will remain in our distorted view, where we will not be able to see clearly as God does.
For me, I remained in this stage of being partially healed for many years. Not until I began listening to God and OBEYING HIM instead of my own desires, was I able to get on the path of full healing. Although I would not consider myself fully healed at this point, I do know that God is gently working with me, leading me step by step along this path. I am not sure how long this journey will be for me, but I do know that my desires have changed and I now desire to do the Will of God in all things.
In the first reading from Wednesday’s daily readings, the promise that God made to Noah after the flood is that God will never curse the earth because of human beings again. We may be tempted to sin and may give in and act on it in our lives, but God is always going to be standing there with his hand outstretched to us, offering us full healing for our lives. He wants nothing more than to pull us up out of our confusion, out of our distorted view, and bring us into the fullness of the light of the Truth. We must only reach our hand out to His so that He can pull us up out of our state in life and into his Merciful Love.
What you write is very interesting. I am blind. But I can, like many other blind people, see SLIGHTLY. Like greyish shapes, and, I too see “men as trees walking.” This is such a very good description, and I am always struck by it. This is just so true to what some legally blind people see. And for myself, speaking just in physucal terms, I am SO GLAD that I can see that much, though realky it is nothing at all. I agree so much when you talk about the spuritually blind. I was very i terested to read your oerspective on this. And talking about people leading the man to Jesus ie, Helping him, I am regularly left out of Communion because I am in a wheelchair and blind. I have to sit at the back of the Church because there is no room at the front, and so I do not areceive Communion ie. Jesus. And so I would dearly love someone to take me, help me, and lead me to Jesys.
Thank you for sharing your story. Have you mentioned to your Priest that you get left out of communion? I will say a prayer for you. God Bless you.
Oh yes my priest knows. However, hedid not address the issue. So the problem continued. But I told you my story simply becayse it seemed obvious to me that the writer of the Gospel knew EXACTLY what some blind people see or don’t see. People often assume various things about blindness that are not true. It takes a blind person to actually point out the truths and faksehoods concerning blindness. Thankyou for your prayers. I go to acdifferent Catholic Church now, where I CAN Receive Communion. The one thing that I would like to say though is that though Jesus did heal this blind man, and I note your comnents about the two stages, there is some mileage in consudering the fact that phtsical healing is not a,wats required, and indeed may not be the will of God. This is true for me. But in fact, though we are phtsically blind, we can be whole inside, and see clearer than people who have physical sught. For mysekf, I thank God for my blindness (that resulted from chemo drugs five years ago) abpnd accept it as a gift, as I did my cancer. So for some people God’s will is to receive physical healing, whereas for others it is not, yet both are healed, and for those who are not physucally healed the path is one of redemptive suffering, for the good of others. So in fact this story has many facets to it.
Yes, thank you for pointing that out. It is a living Gospel that can speak into each of our lives differently. I appreciate your telling us what a blind person actually experiences. And your story reminds me of the blind man that prayed for the intercession of Saint Bedasto to be cured of his blindness and he regained his sight, but later prayed that if possessing his sight wasn’t good for his soul that his blindness return. His blindness did indeed return. When we accept our suffering as gifts we do indeed become spiritual in our sight which unites us with Christ. God Bless you.
Thankyou. I wasn’t sure whether tomoffer my perspective on it, and was not sure I gad expressed myself clearly, but in the end could not pass it by. Each time a story from the Gospels about a blind person is read in Mass, I kind of start at it in a way that sighted leple might not. I knew about Saint. Edasto, and in fact my old priest a d Spiritual Director posed that question to me. I knew immediately what my answer was – that I oreferred to remain blind for the spuritual benefits it gave, and the witness to other people. Thankyou for your Blog. I often read it but do not always comment. We need more Blogs like this one. Again, thankyou for yourn prayers 😊
You certainly can see clearly. Thank you for your witness.