Reflection on the Lectionary: Mark 10:46-52
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection on the Lectionary: Mark 10:46-52
(October 25, 2009)

In this passage, Jesus heals a blind man, saying, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” While many people think that having the “right” religious beliefs will curry God’s favor and induce God to heal whatever ails us, I think the word “faith” better describes how religion can heal us.
I see “belief” as adherence to a dogma for which there is weak evidence. We don’t “believe” the sun will rise in the morning, because ample experience tells us it will happen. Various people believe in the immaculate conception of Jesus (Christians), that God communicated the Koran to Mohammed (Muslims), and that Canaan is a Holy Land ordained by God for the Hebrew people (Jews). There are many people who adhere to such beliefs with an air of certainty, but certainty is a state of mind, not necessarily a state of knowledge.
Faith involves trust and does not require a sense of certitude. One can have faith that following Jesus is a path toward righteousness yet remain uncertain as to whether all the stories about Jesus, such as the miracle stories, are historically accurate. I have faith that following Jesus – using Jesus’ words and actions as guideposts for my life – will help me find meaning. Jesus showed compassion and respect for everyone, and in summarizing his teachings he said, “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt 7:12). I find that this dictum, as well as other teachings, helps provide a sense of purpose, which is needed for fulfillment in life.
When belief involves certitude despite weak or even contravening evidence, believers (both religious and secular) become dangerous. Historically, religious believers have felt entitled to banish or kill non-believers, burn those suspected of witchcraft, ostracize that who are different, like homosexuals, and abuse animals on the very dubious grounds that animals lack souls. While many believers deny that they would ever harm innocent individuals, their willingness to ignore evidence that undermines their beliefs is an approach to truth that readily lends itself to victimizing others. As Voltaire said, “If we believe absurdities, we will commit atrocities.”

If we have faith, we can be “well” in the sense that our lives can be meaningful and joyful.  Nobody is perfectly “well” in the medical sense – we all have limitations and infirmities – and yet faith can make us feel whole, both physically and spiritually.

Go on to: Commentary on the Lectionary: Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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