The Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, "Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation." And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out - beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod." They said to one another, "It is because we have no bread." And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" They said to him, "Twelve." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" And they said to him, "Seven." Then he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Can you see anything?" And the man looked up and said, "I can see people, but they look like trees, walking." Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, "Do not even go into the village." Mark 8:11-26
I have been leading the clergy conference here in Villa Palazzola, outside of Rome for the Churches in Europe. It has been a gathering of amazing people, with incredible stories and powerful ministries. We have been staying at this ancient monastery, climbing up and down ancient stairways, steps rubbed and broken from years of wear. At one time, Nazi forces occupied these buildings and after their surrender, it became the field hospital. Many of the stories from WW2 become alive in a place like this. Once I didn't understand but now I see and feel clearly the presence and pain of life under seige.
Jesus heals a man who was blind. The first healing touch only brought about dim vision at first but then, after a second touch, he could see clearly. Somehow, it often takes several exposures and several experiences for us to be healed, for us to be made whole. It is not our lack or the less that effective power of God, but rather, an organic coming to wholeness and clarity. Sometimes we have to be partners with God in our healing, coming to full understanding over time.
Today, as we go forward into Rome, I ask God for an open heart and mind. May I be brought around to see and know the living presence of God everywhere I go. May we all work with God's love and activity to bring healing to ourselves and others. May we be open so that miracles can happen today.