Thursday, February 17, 2011

Once Is Not Enough

February 16, 2011
Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O’Sullivan

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.” (Mark 8:22-26)

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

(from “Be Thou My Vision,” Attributed to Dallan Forgaill, 8th century)

In the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus calls to Simon and Andrew as they are at work fishing. “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” A little bit down the road, he sees James and John, also at work in a boat. He calls them to come along, too. I have often wondered just where they thought they were going and what being “fishers of men” meant to them. Maybe the whole thing sounded like a great adventure, more exciting than fishing day after day. Had they understood about the Cross and a suffering servant Messiah, would they have tagged along so eagerly?

In the Sacrament of Confirmation young teenagers in our parishes renew the promises made for them in Baptism by their parents and godparents. When you’re 12 or 13, what does it mean to declare your faith in Jesus and to promise to follow him? At 12 or 13 years of age, I remember thinking the 17-year-old girl next door was all-wise and all-knowing. If I couldn’t think further ahead than four or five years, I’m sure I had no real concept of what Christian discipleship would entail or what I was signing on for.

By the time we come to today’s Gospel reading, the disciples have been with Jesus for quite a while. Jesus is frustrated, though, because they still don’t grasp what his ministry is all about. In the passage right before today’s, Jesus asks them in exasperation: “Do you not understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? Do you still not understand?”

When they get to Bethsaida, Jesus heals the blind man, but it takes two attempts before the man sees clearly. After the first one, his vision improves, but he can’t tell trees and human beings apart. Jesus has to lay hands on his eyes a second time before his vision is 20/20.

How symbolic of the way Jesus is at work in me! Jesus has had to lay his hands on my eyes many times throughout my life. Each time my vision becomes sharper. At age 57, each day still brings new discoveries and struggles about what it means to be a disciple, what it means to follow Jesus to the Cross. It’s easy to answer that initial call of Jesus; it’s more difficult to stay the course when everything in the culture around us calls to us to take the easy way through life. The Cross was a scandal in Mark’s day; it’s still a scandal to non-believers today.

Take a few minutes to reflect on ways in which Jesus has clarified your vision of your path through life. Give thanks that we have a Savior who heals our inability to see again and again. If you are having trouble seeing the way forward, just call on him for help.