Gn 8:6-13, 20-22; Ps 116:12-15,18-19; Mk 8:22-26: After all that time in the ark, with the noise and stench of all those animals, finally the dove came back with an olive leaf. This sign that there was plant life again upon the earth gave Noah a reason to rejoice. For this man of faith his first question is found in today’s psalm: “How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me?” Although Noah does not raise up a cup and call upon the name of the LORD, he does offer a pleasing sacrifice to the LORD from every species of animal and bird on the ark. His vow to the LORD is gratitude. Noah offers an abundant sacrifice of praise to the One who saved him and his family and the animals from the flood. In the presence of all those with him upon the ark and in the court of the new earth Noah offers his sacrifice of thanksgiving. He is not in Jerusalem yet, but Noah is where the LORD wants him to be in a freshly cleansed earth ready to receive the former creation to give it a new life upon the face of the earth. The man who was blind is healed in today’s gospel. With him we join all creation in a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the power of God’s love and grace to give us sight and save us from the flood.
Noah is a patient man, and he is a man of prayer. After many long weeks crowded in with all those birds and beasts, clean and unclean, Noah and his family cannot wait for the floodwaters to dry up and dry land to appear again. However, such a strong desire to spread out and to breathe fresh air does not evoke an impatient response from Noah. Rather, he sends out a raven, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth. This bird did not return to Noah; he flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth. This bird was no help. Then he sent forth a dove, and it comes back. The water is still dominant; the land is still covered. A week later the dove is sent out again, and it comes back with an olive leaf. The trees are soaking up the water, and the plant life is beginning to reclaim the earth. A week later, the dove is sent out again; it flies away and is never seen again. The gradual process is complete and now the covering can be removed and the ark emptied. These birds are like prayers. The birds need time to survey and report back the conditions on the surface of the earth. It takes time for prayer to work on the soul. All our petitions and intercessions to change the situation or change others in the situation have an impact upon us. Primarily, prayer changes us so that we can serve better, forgive wholeheartedly, and love more intensely. Prayer changes the one who prays, because the LORD already knows what we need before we ask it. The LORD does not need our prayer to take good care of us; the LORD hears the Spirit praying in us long before we give thought or voice to our petitions. One of the things we learn as we grow in prayer is how to be patient. We learn how to wait for the dove with an olive leaf in its mouth.
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.