Looking for an inspiring Lenten practice? Read Mark’s Gospel in which Christ heals the blind man.

“When they arrived at Bethsaida, they brought a blind man to Christ and begged him to touch him. He took the man by the hand and led him outside the village” (Mk 8:22-23). The passage is reminiscent of the passage of Isaiah, “I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, Do not fear, I will help you” (41:13).

When praying during Lent, let us start our prayer, “Oh God take my hand and lead us. May we put ourselves into your hands wholeheartedly. Often prayer can be about our agenda, please let it be an opening of ourselves to your will.”

There is a saying, “The more we are disinterested in our self, the stronger we are.” By letting God take center in our prayer life and pursue His agenda, we allow his providence to fortify us.

Leading the blind outside the village gives us another principle of prayer: dispelling outside distractions to be “all there” with God in silence. Only he who can be silent can speak meaningfully. Prayer is conversation with God in which we not only exhale, but also inhale. Silence and its tranquility allow us to exhale our needs and to breathe in God more fully.

Mark’s Gospel is unique in that Christ first puts spittle on the blind man’s eyes allowing him to see, but not fully. Then Christ lays His hands on him and cures his blindness entirely.

Some have interpreted this double healing as a lesson for His apostles who were slow in understanding Christ’s mission and needed repeated reminders. It also contains the principle that prayer takes time in growing our relationship with Christ.

To be touched by God’s love, prayerful patience and courage are necessary. At times, prayer is sweet, and at other times it is difficult to practice. Lent’s 40 days encourage us to be patient and persistent in our endeavors to draw closer to God.

Once cured, the blind man had the ability to look deeply into the eyes of Christ and to cherish his newfound faith in Him. May this also be our Lenten blessing.

Father Eugene Hemrick

—Originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.