“Do you still not understand?” Jesus said this to his disciples in Mark’s gospel right after he cured a blind man who only gradually gains his sight. He has to lay his hands on the man’s eyes a second time before he sees clearly. Is that the way we see and understand, gradually?
The cross Jesus says we all must bear takes many forms and I wonder if one form it takes in our time is the cross of confusion. We like clear sight for ourselves and everyone else, but in times of great change confusion is inevitable. Like the man in the gospel we’re living in a world of “talking trees” and that’s hard to take, reasonable, resourceful people that we are. It’s humbling to live in confusing times like ours..
It makes us angry. There’s a lot of anger around us today, the anger that boils over and lashes out, or the anger that retreats into a fortress of resistence and isolation.
Pope Francis often speaks of patience. He said patience keeps the church going. It keeps the world going too. He spoke once of the music of patience, a patience that hears and waits, like the patient blind man who waits for the hand of Jesus to reach out again.
That’s one of the lasting teachings of the Gospel of Mark. We’re human, we think as humans do, and that means we learn gradually, by patience.
“When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida,
people 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 the man and asked,
“Do you see anything?”
Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.”
Then he laid hands on the man’s 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.”