St Mark 8:22-39

St Mark 8: 22-39:

22 Et veniunt Bethsaidam, et adducunt ei cæcum, et rogabant eum ut illum tangeret. 23 Et apprehensa manu cæci, eduxit eum extra vicum: et exspuens in oculos ejus impositis manibus suis, interrogavit eum si quid videret. 24 Et aspiciens, ait: Video homines velut arbores ambulantes. 25 Deinde iterum imposuit manus super oculos ejus: et cœpit videre: et restitutus est ita ut clare videret omnia. 26 Et misit illum in domum suam, dicens: Vade in domum tuam: et si in vicum introieris, nemini dixeris.27 Et egressus est Jesus, et discipuli ejus in castella Cæsareæ Philippi: et in via interrogabat discipulos suos, dicens eis: Quem me dicunt esse homines? 28 Qui responderunt illi, dicentes: Joannem Baptistam, alii Eliam, alii vero quasi unum de prophetis. 29 Tunc dicit illis: Vos vero quem me esse dicitis? Respondens Petrus, ait ei: Tu es Christus. 30 Et comminatus est eis, ne cui dicerent de illo. 31 Et cœpit docere eos quoniam oportet Filium hominis pati multa, et reprobari a senioribus, et a summis sacerdotibus et scribis, et occidi: et post tres dies resurgere. 32 Et palam verbum loquebatur. Et apprehendens eum Petrus, cœpit increpare eum. 33 Qui conversus, et videns discipulos suos, comminatus est Petro, dicens: Vade retro me Satana, quoniam non sapis quæ Dei sunt, sed quæ sunt hominum. 34 Et convocata turba cum discipulis suis, dixit eis: Si quis vult me sequi, deneget semetipsum: et tollat crucem suam, et sequatur me. 35 Qui enim voluerit animam suam salvam facere, perdet eam: qui autem perdiderit animam suam propter me, et Evangelium, salvam faciet eam. 36 Quid enim proderit homini, si lucretur mundum totum et detrimentum animæ suæ faciat? 37 Aut quid dabit homo commutationis pro anima sua? 38 Qui enim me confusus fuerit, et verba mea in generatione ista adultera et peccatrice, et Filius hominis confundetur eum, cum venerit in gloria Patris sui cum angelis sanctis. 39 Et dicebat illis: Amen dico vobis, quia sunt quidam de hic stantibus, qui non gustabunt mortem donec videant regnum Dei veniens in virtute.

 [22] And they came to Bethsaida; and they bring to him a blind man, and they besought him that he would touch him. [23] And taking the blind man by the hand, he led him out of the town; and spitting upon his eyes, laying his hands on him, he asked him if he saw any thing. [24] And looking up, he said: I see men as it were trees, walking. [25] After that again he laid his hands upon his eyes, and he began to see, and was restored, so that he saw all things clearly. [26] And he sent him into his house, saying: Go into thy house, and if thou enter into the town, tell nobody. [27] And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi. And in the way, he asked his disciples, saying to them: Whom do men say that I am? [28] Who answered him, saying: John the Baptist; but some Elias, and others as one of the prophets. [29] Then he saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Peter answering said to him: Thou art the Christ. [30] And he strictly charged them that they should not tell any man of him. [31] And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the ancients and by the high priests, and the scribes, and be killed: and after three days rise again. [32] And he spoke the word openly. And Peter taking him, began to rebuke him. [33] Who turning about and seeing his disciples, threatened Peter, saying: Go behind me, Satan, because thou savorest not the things that are of God, but that are of men. [34] And calling the multitude together with his disciples, he said to them: If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. [35] For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel, shall save it. [36] For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? [37] Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? [38] For he that shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: the Son of man also will be ashamed of him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. [39] And he said to them: Amen I say to you, that there are some of them that stand here, who shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God coming in power.

Commentary by de Lapide

Ver. 23. And taking the blind man by the hand, He led him out of the town, i.e., outside of Bethsaida, as is plain from ver. 22. He led him forth for the same reason that when He was about to heal the deaf and dumb man He took him aside from the multitude. This was, ist. For the sake of prayer, that, being alone, He might collect His thoughts, and unite Himself wholly to God, and pray the more intently and collectedly. 2nd. To fly from the applause of men, and teach us to do the same. 3rd. Because the citizens of Bethsaida were unworthy of the miracle of Christ ; for although they had seen Him work so many miracles, they would not believe in Him. And spitting upon his eyes. Fasting spittle does good to the purblind, but does not illuminate those who have actually lost their sight. The saliva, therefore, of Christ was not a natural but a supernatural remedy for blindness, being the instrument by which Christ s Godhead wrought. S. Hilarion imitated this miracle by which Christ gave sight to a blind man, as S. Jerome relates in his Life. "A blind woman was brought to B. Hilarion, who said that she had expended all her substance upon physicians. Hilarion said to her, If thou hadst given to the poor what thou hast thrown away upon physicians, Christ the true Physician would have healed thee." Laid His hands, i.e., when He had placed His hands upon the eyes of the blind man, and again removed them. For that is improbable which the Scholiast in S. Chrysostom says, that this blind man saw people (ver. 24) when Christ s hands were over his eyes. For this would have been a new and uncalled-for miracle. 

Ver. 24. And looking up, he said, 1 see men as it were trees, walking. As much as to say, I see something obscurely and confusedly; for I see men walking, but in such a way that I cannot distinguish whether they are men or trees. Just as it happens to ourselves, says Bede ; when we see people at a great distance, we can only distinguish men from trees- by their motion, because men walk, but trees do not. The word walking must be referred to men, not to trees, as is plain by the Greek. The word walking in the Latin text, however, might refer to trees in this sense : I see men as it were trees split, and therefore two-footed, and so walking. This blind man, therefore, as yet in darkness, saw men as it were through a mist and cloud, in which they appeared greater than they really were, it might be as thick and tall as trees, as by means of magnifying glasses letters appear larger than they are in reality. 

It is related of S. Gregory Thaumaturgus, that in the Decian persecution he fled with his deacon to a certain hill. A certain traitor made known where they were to the persecutors, who carefully searched the whole hill to discover Gregory. With strong faith in God, he stood in prayer, with eyes immovable and hands stretched out But God smote the persecutors with inability to see. They returned and reported that they had seen nothing on the hill except two trees a little distant from one another. When they had gone away, the traitor himself went up the hill and saw two men, Gregory and his deacon, instead of the trees. He acknowledged that it was the work of Divine power that they had appeared to the persecutors to be trees, and he fell down at their feet, and from a traitor became a confessor of the faith. (S. Greg. Nyss. in Vita.) 

Mystically: The Scholiast in S. Jerome says, "The blind man is a penitent sinner. He sees men as trees walking, because he esteems every one superior to himself. With David he counts himself unworthy to be called a man, deeming himself to be a dead dog and a flea" (2 Sam. xvi.). 

Ver. 25. After that again He laid His hands upon his eyes, and he began to see, and was restored so that he saw all things dearly. Christ wished not suddenly, but by degrees, perfectly to illuminate this blind man: 1st. That He might exhibit miracles of every description. 2nd. That this miracle might be more esteemed. 3rd. And principally, That He might accommodate Himself to the imperfect faith of the blind man and those who brought him, their faith increasing as the miracle proceeded ; and that He might the more kindle in them faith, hope, and desire that it might be brought to a perfect work. " In the first place, He cured this blind man imperfectly," says Euthymius, "inasmuch as he believed imperfectly, that he who as yet had but a little vision might by means of the little light believe more perfectly, and be healed more completely ; for He was the wise Physician." And by and by he says, " Increase of faith deserved increase of healing." 

Tropologically : Christ wished to teach us that the unbeliever and the sinner are gradually illuminated by God, and that they ought correspondingly to make gradual increase in the knowledge and worship of God. "He did it," says Bede, "that He might show the greatness of human blindness, which is wont to arrive step by step, and by certain grades, as it were, of progression, at the light of the Divine knowledge." For as the Scholiast says, "There are degrees of knowledge; neither can any one arrive in a single hour, or, indeed, without considerable time, at perfect knowledge." We have experience of this in children and scholars, who must be taught and instructed step by step. For if the teacher, being impatient of delay and trouble, should wish to teach them everything at once, he would crush their memory and intellect, so that they would take in nothing. It is like wine when it is poured into a vessel with a narrow neck ; if you try to pour it all in at once, you pour in scarcely anything, but nearly the whole is spilled. Worthy of note is the Italian proverb, "Gently, gently, if you would go far ; " or the saying of the philosopher, " Progression is by degrees." 

Symbolically : The Scholiast in S. Jerome says, "Christ laid His hands upon his eyes, that he might see all things clearly, that is, that by visible works he might understand things invisible, and which eye hath not seen ; and that after the film of sin he might clearly behold the state of his soul with the eye of a clean heart. For blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." 

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