“The Blind Man of Bethsaida” (3 panels)
Mark 8:22-26 in a tercet
Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
©2022 by Gloria M. Chang
When they arrived at Bethsaida, they brought to him a blind man and begged him 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 him and asked, “Do you see anything?” Looking up he replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then he laid hands on his 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
Do You See Anything?
In the fishing village of Bethsaida, people brought a blind man to Jesus so that he might touch him. As with the deaf-mute in the Decapolis, he led the man away from the crowd.1 Once again, spittle became a healing salve as Jesus applied it to the man’s eyes and laid hands on him.
“Do you see anything?” Jesus asked the blind man. Back in the boat, he had asked his disciples, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend?”2
With blurry vision, the man reported seeing “people looking like trees and walking.” His ability to distinguish people from trees indicated that he had not been born blind. Jesus laid hands on his eyes again and the man’s sight was “restored” (apekatestē). The Greek verb indicates a return to his original condition. People and trees came into sharp focus and distinction. The first face he beheld was that of his loving Savior, who sent him home. “Do not even go into the village,” Jesus commanded, averting publicity.
Peter’s Eyes Open
Like the blind man who recovered his sight in stages, Peter awakened as they journeyed on to Caesarea Philippi. In answer to Jesus’ personal question, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter declared, “You are the Messiah.”3 His eyes opened upon leaving Bethsaida, where Luke reports the feeding of the five thousand took place.4 Jesus—the “one loaf” among them— truly feeds the world as “bread from heaven.”5
Jesus spat and touched my eyes outside the village.
I saw men as trees, walking—a blurry image.
He touched my eyes again, and I saw Christ’s visage.
1 Mark 7:33.
2 Mark 8:17.
3 Mark 8:29.
4 Luke 9:10.
5 Mark 8:14; Exodus 16:4; Psalm 105:40; Wisdom 16:20; John 6:32-58.