The Lord’s Gradual Healing of the Eyes of our Heart, 6th Wednesday (I), February 15, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Claude La Colombière
February 17, 2017
Gen 8:6-13.20-22, Ps 116, Mk 8:22-26

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today in the Gospel Jesus does something noteworthy. Unlike most of the other recorded miracles of Jesus where he healed instantaneously by his touch or by his words, today he heals a blind man progressively, in stages. After Jesus puts spit on his eyelids, the man can see people looking like walking trees; the next time he did it he could see everything distinctly. Jesus obviously had the power to heal him of his blindness instantaneously, but he progressively healed him, I believe, in order to help the man persevere in hope and faith. Many of Jesus’ miracles since then are progressive. He heals us in stages, so that we, too, may grow in the Christian virtues of patience, perseverance and faith in contact with Jesus’ sacred humanity touching our own.
  • Today we can ponder how Jesus seeks progressively to heal us, to heal our sight, so that we can see things in his light. Jesus worked this miracle in the Gospel immediately before the scene tomorrow when he’ll ask the apostles and us who we believe him to be. The apostles needed God’s help to see who he really is. Some thought initially he was the Messiah, others didn’t, but they all needed to grasp that he was also the Son of God. Peter confesses him as the Christ and Son of God by the grace of the healing of his mind by God the Father. We, too, need that healing to see him and confess him. And we need to continue to see him as the Messiah as he both foretells and then accomplishes our redemption by being betrayed, suffering, dying and rising. That’s why prior to today’s Gospel we asked for that illumination with the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians, “May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to his call.” We’re asking perpetually for that enlightenment, that healing of our interior darkness. And God does that, most of the time, gradually, and in far more than two steps!
  • In order for God to work our progressive healing, we need to be patient. We need to trust in him as he takes us, like the man in today’s Gospel, step by step. Many of us would want to be cured instantaneously, but he goes in stages with many of our cures precisely so that we can grow in faith and trust along the journey. We see the type of patience we need in Noah today. After enduring 40 straight days of torrential downpours, his waiting wasn’t over; now he needed to wait for the waters to recede enough for a dove to bring back a leaf. He would need to wait far longer for the land to be exposed. But wait he did, because he trusted in God and in all the stages he was taking in the regeneration of the human race. He saw things more clearly at each step.
  • Discussing our vision and the patience and help needed to see things in the eyes of God is a good introduction to the saint whom the Church celebrates today, St. Claude la Colombière (1641-1682), most famous for his having been for a short but crucial time the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Jesus appeared to reveal the mystery of his Sacred Heart. Even though she had been receiving apparitions of Jesus, there was so much she didn’t understand. St. Claude was like the healing spittle Jesus used to open her up and give her confidence to handle others’ blindness. It’s a good day for us to ponder the importance of spiritual direction, both the spiritual direction we receive and that we’re called to give to others, passing on to them the light God has given us so that they may walk less in darkness. It’s a feast on which to pray for our spiritual directors and to ask God’s grace to become apt spiritual guides for others. St. Margaret Mary said of him,”His gift is to lead souls to God,” and would that that be able to be said about each of us: that we help others to see God and the way God is working in their life.
  • We know what happened with St. Margaret Mary. As she had been receiving apparitions from Jesus, she eventually confided to her superiors and various priests came in to examine here. Some thought she was crazy. Others thought she was possessed. They hurt her quite a bit and their evaluations caused her huge problems in her community. The priest theologians who were in were not properly trained to help her. Finally, God sent her St. Claude, who was able to be Jesus’ instrument to tell her that she wasn’t a freak, that she wasn’t being diabolically played, but that this came from the Lord. And then he helped her fulfill what the Lord was asking of her. Here’s what she wrote in her autobiography:
  • “In the midst of all my fears and difficulties my heart, … I was made to speak to certain theologians, who, far from reassuring me in my way, added still more to my difficulties, until at last Our Lord sent the Rev Father de la Colombiere here. I had already spoken to him in the beginning of my religious life. My Sovereign Master had promised me shortly after I had consecrated myself to Him, that He would send me one of His servants, to whom He wished to make known according to the knowledge He would give me thereof, all the treasures and secrets of His Sacred Heart that He had confided to me. He added that He sent him to reassure me with regard to my interior way, and that He would impart to him signal graces from His Sacred Heart, showering him abundantly over our interviews. When that holy man came and was addressing the community, I interiorly heard these words: ‘This is he whom I send thee.’ I soon realized this in the first confession on the Ember days; for, although we had never either seen or spoken with each other, the Reverend Father kept me a very long time and spoke with me as though he understood what was passing within me. But I would not in anyway open my heart to him just then, and, seeing that I wished to withdraw for fear of inconveniencing the community, he asked me if I would allow him to come and speak with me again in this same place. But in my natural timidity which shrank from all such communications, I replied that, not being at my own disposal, I would do whatever obedience ordered me. I then withdrew, having remained with him about an hour and a half. Before long he again returned, and although I knew it to be the Will of God that I should speak with him, I nevertheless felt an extreme repugnance to be obliged to do so. I told him so at once. He replied that he was very pleased to have given me an opportunity of making a sacrifice to God. Then without trouble or method, I opened my heart and made known to him my inmost soul, both the good and the bad; whereupon he greatly consoled me, assuring me that there was nothing to fear in the guidance of that Spirit, since It did not withdraw me from obedience; that I ought to follow Its movements, abandoning to It my whole being, sacrificing and immolating myself according to Its good pleasure. At the same time he expressed his admiration at the goodness of God, in not having been repelled at so much resistance on my part. He further taught me to value the gifts of God and to receive with respect and humility the frequent communications and familiar converse with which he favored me, adding that I ought to in a continual state of thanksgiving towards such infinite goodness. I told him that as this Sovereign Lord of my soul pursued me so closely regardless of time or place, I was unable to pray vocally, and, although I did violence to myself in order to do so, I nevertheless remained sometimes without being able to pronounce a single word, especially when reciting the Rosary. He replied that I was not to force myself anymore to say vocal prayers but to be satisfied with what was of obligation, adding thereto the Rosary when I was able. Having mentioned some of the more special favours and expressions of love which I received from this Beloved of my soul, and which I refrain from describing here, he said that in all this, I had great cause to humble myself and to admire the mercy of God in my regard. But as this infinite Goodness did not wish that I should receive any consolation without its costing me many humiliations, this interview drew several upon me, and the Reverend Father himself had much to suffer on my account. For it was said that I wanted to deceive him and mislead him by my illusions, as I had done others. He was, however, in no way troubled by what was said, but continued nonetheless to help me, not only the short time he remained in this town, but always. Many a time I have been surprised that he did not abandon me as others had done, for the way in which I acted towards him would have repulsed any other; he spared me, however neither humiliations nor mortifications, which gratified me greatly.”
  • All of us need, as disciples, the help of someone else to assist us in seeing God and in ensuring we are really hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice in prayer. We need the help of others to encourage us to follow the true voice of God when what he’s asking of us is challenge. And we priests, in particular, need to be ready and equipped to give this type of direction to others, helping them to discern whether and what God is saying to them.
  • Today at this Mass, we ask, through St. Claude’s intercession, that we might behold the Lamb of God come down from heaven to earth and never to take our eyes off of him.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 GN 8:6-13, 20-22

At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch he had made in the ark,
and he sent out a raven,
to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth.
Then he sent out a dove,
to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
But the dove could find no place to alight and perch,
and it returned to him in the ark,
for there was water all over the earth.
Putting out his hand, he caught the dove
and drew it back to him inside the ark.
He waited seven days more and again sent the dove out from the ark.
In the evening the dove came back to him,
and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf!
So Noah knew that the waters had lessened on the earth.
He waited still another seven days
and then released the dove once more;
and this time it did not come back.

In the six hundred and first year of Noah’s life,
in the first month, on the first day of the month,
the water began to dry up on the earth.
Noah then removed the covering of the ark
and saw that the surface of the ground was drying up.

Noah built an altar to the LORD,
and choosing from every clean animal and every clean bird,
he offered burnt offerings on the altar.
When the LORD smelled the sweet odor, he said to himself:
“Never again will I doom the earth because of man
since the desires of man’s heart are evil from the start;
nor will I ever again strike down all living beings, as I have done.
As long as the earth lasts,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
Summer and winter,
and day and night
shall not cease.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 116:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (17a) To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
or:
R. Alleluia.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
or:
R. Alleluia.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
or:
R. Alleluia.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia EPH 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to his call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 8:22-26

When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida,
people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus 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 the man and asked,
“Do you see anything?”
Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.”
Then he laid hands on the man’s 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.”