You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act - they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain?
He who walks without fault;
he who acts with justice and speaks the truth from his heart;
he who does not slander with his tongue. (R./)
He who does no wrong to his brother,
who casts no slur on his neighbour,
who holds the godless in disdain.
but honours those who fear the Lord. (R./)
He who keep his pledge, come what may;
who takes no interest on a loan
and accepts no bribes against the innocent.
Such a man will stand firm for ever. (R./)
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."
The cure of the blind man suggests the gradual process by which we come to the light, that is, a proper understanding of our mission in life. Saint James offers a list of moral ideals, and we soon realise how much time is needed to comply all of them. Today's miracle story is told only by Mark. The fact that it was not adapted by Matthew and Luke, even though they rely so heavily on Mark for other stories, is probably because it's the only miracle that takes place in stages. At first, by touching the man's eyes with saliva, Jesus has only half cured the man's blindness, and only after a full laying on of hands was the man fully healed. There's probaly a lesson there for every kind of therapy. We are healed by stages. One senses the great compassion of Jesus in this story. The blind man could not see the sorrow in Jesus' eyes at the sight of this disability, but could feel the clasp of his hand and touch of his fingers. How fully Jesus adapts himself to the human condition of need.
The story also suggests the stages of our own growth to spiritual maturity. We may need his healing spittle on our eyelids, to give us a more compassionate view of life. He can then gently lay hands on us until we get full insight and see everything in a new light. We could find more ways for helping others, finding the time and the resources to serve where we are needed.
In light of this, the advice of Saint James can make more sense, to: "Strip away all that is filthy, and humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you, with power to save you." He stresses the need for action, for living the faith in daily life. He warns against a purely notional faith, when he says, "Act on this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves."
We cannot walk the path alone but must be like the blind man whom Jesus took by the hand. This hand we clasp is leading us to salvation, just as Jesus led the blind man into a new way of seeing the world.