Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 4 June 2021, during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.
Friday 4 June 2021. Blindness. Tobit 11:5-17
The second chapter of Tobit gives us the rather humorous way in which Tobit became blinded. I will resist the temptation of describing it as that will rob you of the joy you will receive when you engage with the text.
In the passage for today we see Tobit’s sight being restored. Raphael gives Tobias a guarantee that his father’s sight will be restored. This is significant because ‘Raphael” literally means “God heals”. Although cultural elements are used, it is God who restores Tobit’s sight. This is not unusual in the Bible. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman has to do a ritual of dipping seven times in the Jordan prior to being cured of leprosy, and in John 9 and Mark 8, Jesus uses spittle to make a paste and brings about healing of the blind.
Tobias, the son of Tobit, marries Sarah the daughter of Raguel. Raguel represents fairness, harmony and justice. Sarah is fittingly welcomed into her new home and family. The book was composed to encourage the Jews who were far away from their homeland not to give up on their traditions. It combines prayers, ethical teachings and Jewish folklore. This ancient text is particularly relevant to us during this pandemic as Covid-19 puts distance between us and our loved ones and also physically separates us from our faith communities.
It is also important to help us discover our own selective blindness. To use an analogy from our freeways – when changing lanes, one can at times not see a vehicle in the rearview mirror or the wing mirror simply because that vehicle is hidden in the so called “blind spot”. One has to glance over ones shoulder in order to see the danger. Similarly we can train ourselves not to see certain people and to keep them in our blind spots. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, this is precisely what the sin of the rich man was. He was indifferent to Lazarus. This is the only parable in the NT where the protagonist is named – Lazarus is the Greek and Latin version of Eleazar; a name which is very significant because it means “I have only God as my help”. These are often people who become invisible in plain sight.
In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus heals a blind man. This story is significant because it is the only miracle worked by Jesus that had to be repeated as it did not work the first time. After the first treatment the man could see people but they looked like trees. Jesus treated him again and this time he saw clearly. The word used to indicated “clearly” literally means that he saw in the way the Creator intended him to see. It is true that if we cannot see people as people, then we are blind and need further treatment by Jesus. The question still remains: in which ways do I not see clearly? We can so easily be blind to our own shortcomings and focus instead on the faults of others. We must remember that in the NT clear vision is synonymous with faith and to have the eyes opened is to come to faith.
Let us pray: Lord help us to see clearly what you intend us to see. Restore in us the vision of innocence, of truth and of beauty. Help us to recognise the neighbour who needs help and to see people as people. Help us to see ourselves in others so that we may share our blessings with them. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen [Blessing].