18 February 2009. Wednesday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 8, 6-22; Psalm 116; Mark 8, 22-26
The stories of the readings today is about seeing a new creation, and thus starting anew. Genesis is about Noah and those in the ark finally experiencing a new earth after the flood. God has given them a new lease on life. The Gospel is about the first blind man to be healed. But his seeing happened in stages.
During the time of Jesus, there was great belief in the medicinal properties of our saliva. Jesus spat on the eyes of the man to cure him. This is not too surprising for many of us Filipinos. When gashed, we would take a few guava leaves, masticate it and put them on the wound. We think that our saliva would help stop the bleeding. With the advent of science and medicine, we know that our spittle contains bacteria that can aggravate any wound.
St. Augustine once said that grace builds on nature. God begins from where we are to bring us to where He want us to be. Jesus’ healing was subtle: He began from the context of the patient. This is used by medical practitioners: to explain the diagnosis, we use a language that is familiar to the patient. By doing so, the patient easily understands his or her condition. The same thing with Jesus: He moved the man away from the crowd to avoid embarrassment, and used spittle to cure. Jesus’ considerateness gave the blind man the opportunities to return to his relationships.
Finally, healing happens gradually. There are stages. Sudden miracles usually happen, but Frederick WH Myers wrote a poem called “Saint Paul”. It says:
“Let no man think that sudden in a minute
All is accomplished and the work is done.”
We do not discover God’s truth wholesale, in one single sweep. We learn about God little by little, incrementally, in stages. When we were baptized as infants, we learn that life unfolds and thus, we form the child until it reaches the age when they are finally ready to decide on their own in Confirmation. We should believe that our faith grows and is never static. That we need continual conversion. That we need space to improve. We need to see that life is movement and process.