Both scripture readings today present us with stories about living in a wounded world. The first, from Genesis, recounts the last half of the story of Noah. The forty days of rain have stopped and now Noah is waiting for the flood waters to recede so he can free the animals and his family from the protection of the arc. He hopes that all the residents of the arc can now begin to repopulate the earth and heal the world. He doesn’t know for sure whether that’s possible but wants to trust that God will be faithful to him and to all of God’s creation. At the end of today’s reading, God promises to be faithful even in the face of any evil that remains in the human heart. “As long as the earth lasts, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Noah’s hope in God’s faithfulness is fulfilled.
The Gospel reading also presents us with a different kind of wounded world, a world of a blind man. The people of the village of Bethsaida bring the blind man to Jesus and encourage him to touch their blind friend. They hope that such a simple touch will cure his blindness. But, this time it’s not quite that simple. Jesus takes him out of the village and then puts his spittle on his eyes and lays his hands on him. His sight gets better but is not fully restored until Jesus lays his hands on him a second time.
Most of us live in our own wounded world. The wounds can affect the whole world as in the time of Noah or they can fester in our own personal worlds. But those wounds can fill us with fear and hopelessness, with pain and suffering, with discouragement and despair. Often enough we feel helpless in the face of those wounds we carry. The readings today remind us that even in the darkest times we can be confident that God will continue to be faithful to us as he was in the time of Noah. The story of the blind man invites us to allow Christ and His saving presence to touch our lives, to bring us light, to help us see the beauty of our lives in Christ. The touch of Jesus can and does allow us to see the movement of God in our lives, even in and through the wounds we carry.
Perhaps our prayer today can be, “Lord, help us to see you touching our world and bring healing into our wounds and light into our world.”
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director retreats at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.