The Blind Man of Bethsaida

Mark 8: 22-26
Gen 8: 6-13,20-22 / Psa 29

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?”
(Mark 8:23)

Asking instant healing to appear,
Our faith does not amount to much;
But if in prayers we persevere,
Our God will grant “the final touch.”

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When He had spit on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26)

Reflection

The Gospel of Mark is the only one that relates this miracle in our Lord’s life. And this appears to be the only miracle performed by Jesus that did not happen instantly. It seems our Lord had a purpose in performing this healing in stages, and it was for the benefit of His apostles.

When they first arrived in Bethsaida, some people brought the blind man to Jesus, and “begged Him to touch him.” The crowd had heard about Jesus and only wanted to witness a miracle. We recall how Jesus felt about these people in Bethsaida: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” (Mt.12:21) They had such little faith, and Jesus would not let them make a spectacle of the blind man’s healing. Instead, He led him out of the village, away from the crowd, and when he was healed, told him not to go back to the village. Jesus taught His apostles that His work of charity was not for show. But why the two-step, process of healing? One explanation could be that a gradual process of seeing for the first time was preferable than a sudden visual experience that could traumatize the once blind man. Seeing people upright for the first time was for him like “seeing trees walking.” But more importantly, the reason Jesus used this gradual process of healing was to show His apostles how like their discernment was still in the process of growing — they still couldn’t ‘see’ clearly because of their weak faith, even after they had witnessed a number of miracles beforehand. Just before they landed in Bethsaida, He had told them, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” (Mk.8:17-18)

God is more interested in developing our faith than in healing our physical ailments. He helps us go through a process of spiritual formation until we are able to mature as His spiritual leaders and be a blessing to others. A couple in our brotherhood are always in the forefront in providing assistance to the needy and sight-impaired when ever we hold medical missions of mercy. They have given away hundreds of reading glasses, and helped in the cataract operations of some indigent patients. Because of their generosity, they have helped hundreds of poor people see the beauty of life and God’s wonderful creation. May the Lord bless their kind and increase their bounty for the sake of the more than 500,000 blind and sight-impaired people in our country.

Father, help us to see beyond our temporal difficulties, for although we have faith in You, our vision still lacks clarity. Lead us closer to the light of Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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