15 February
Mk 8:22-26

Some people brought a blind man to Jesus 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."

In Italian they call it ‘campanilismo’.  A ‘campanile’ is a church bell-tower – in the context, a village church bell-tower.  ‘Campanilismo’ is the attitude of people who think their own place is the only real place in the world.  It applies to bigger villages too: a New Yorker said with humour, “New York is real; the rest is done with mirrors!” 

Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village; then when he had healed him he said, “Do not return to the village.” 

A village identifies you in too great detail.  It locks you into a narrow identity.  (And you do the same to the others; village is something we do to one another.)  You are not free to see things differently from the other villagers – unless you are willing to accept the still narrower identity of village idiot.  Leaving your village is like leaving the womb: it is a setting out into a new life.

Spiritually the village may symbolise the ego.  One’s ego is seldom the independent thing it claims to be: it is supported (even imprisoned) by a rather small group of like-thinking people.  When that ego is really isolated it is the village idiot.  ‘Idiot’ comes from the Greek word ‘idios’, which means ‘peculiar, private’.  We may have to become a village idiot for a time.  It’s a long hard road to humanity. 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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