Jas 1:19-27; Ps 15:2-4; Mk 8:22-26
The Psalms invite all who pray them to ask a simple question: Who shall live on the holy mountain of the Lord? We can live in the presence of holiness only if we seek to grow in holiness. We must walk blamelessly and do justice. We must think the truth in our hearts and slander not with our tongues. Never can we harm our fellow man. Nor can we reproach our neighbor. Since the Word Became Flesh we can never despise the reprobate for we are summoned by the Gospel to love sinners and hate only sin, vice, and evil. Indeed, we must honor all who fear the LORD; the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and the crown of wisdom. From the early church we were forbidden to lend money at usury, these economic policies have been modified. Now, we are forbidden to charge too much interest or take advantage of our suffering neighbor’s misery. Justice does not allow us to accept bribes that would twist the truth and injure those with whom we live. When we live this way, we live on the holy mountain. When we live this way our religion is not in vain, nor is it some opiate to calm the peasants. When we live this way the Lord Jesus takes away our blindness and enables us to see with his eyes. Indeed, then and only then will we be doers of the word and not just hearers.
Anger is never enough, it provides the energy to get out of our complacency, but it cannot accomplish the righteousness of God. As the Catholic Catechism teaches anger is the first movement of the human heart in reaction to injustice and evil. The only way it becomes a deadly sin is when it becomes an excuse for violence and further injustice. To move beyond anger we must to listen quickly and speak rarely. To move beyond anger we must put aside all excess hostility and seek the ways of humility. Only if we escape the bonds of our defensive reactions, will we be able to be quick to hear and slow to speak. Only if we surrender our self-righteous judgments and have the same tenderness for others as we have for ourselves, will we be able to peer into the perfect law of freedom and persevere. This is the kind of religion that Christ came to promote and establish in this broken and wicked world. This is the only kind of religion that is pure and undefiled before God. This is the only kind of religion that cares about the orphans and the widows in their afflictions. Once we have died with Christ and risen in the power of the Holy Spirit will we be able to keep ourselves unstained by the world.
The crowd was asking for another sign and wonder. They wanted the Lord Jesus to touch the blind man and make him whole. Do it now! Wow us Jesus! The Lord Jesus knew the blind man better than the crowds knew him. The Lord Jesus knew that he needed a deeper healing; he needed the Lord to touch his heart. So the Lord took him by the hand; he touched him. However, it was more than a simple touch that the Lord had in store for the blind man. He took him by the hand and led him away from the crowd, outside the village. Then the Lord Jesus anointed his eyelids with his spittle. After this ritual healing process, all the man could see was walking trees. Then the Lord Jesus laid hands a second time, and he was restored to full sight. He could see everything distinctly. The Lord did not want the healed blind man to again become the focus of the crowd’s curiosity. He commanded, “Do not even go into the village.” The sacrament of healing continues to bring wholeness to body and to soul. Those healed are not the objects of curiosity or publicity. They are models for all of us who bring our blindness of sight or insight to the Lord Jesus. Only the Lord Jesus can touch us where we most need healing. Only the Lord Jesus can see what crowds cannot see, our hearts and our thoughts. Such secret information the Lord never uses to hurt us, but his knowing reveals his loving. We are touched and we are made whole by the Lord Jesus, who takes us aside from the crowd to find his healing love at every Mass.