The word of God this Sunday gives us a promise of restoration for those who are in exile, first reading, and the healing of a blind man, Gospel, which is somewhat the fulfilment of the announced promise. And you, what captivity or blindness do you want to present to the Lord?
Bible readings Jeremiah 31: 7–9 Psalm 126 Hebrews 5: 1–6 Mark 10: 46–52
What a question! Obviously, we all know it’s the condition of not being able to see. However, in the bible, blindness is not just a physical condition. That’s why in certain ways even those who have good eyesight can be considered as being blind when for one reason or another they can’t perceive what’s going on around them. Let’s look at some examples.
We are in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus begins his ministry in the North of Israel, after the death of John the Baptist; the ministry that opens in a spectacular manner: a new, dynamic preaching which is accompanied by great deeds -especially healings. But how do people respond to that?
Apparently, most religious leaders take a decisive position as opposers so much that they will not spare any effort to ridicule Jesus from what he says or does. Besides, the people of his own town have problems believing this young man, Jesus, whom they saw growing among them. Even his close collaborators are not any better. The disciples seem to have difficulties grasping Jesus’ message, leave alone welcoming it; they are preoccupied with power and honour. Isn’t that a kind of blindness?
Yet, and very likely, these people hardly recognise their blindness. So, they will never think of seeking healing, thus, they remain blind since they think they are ok. They can’t make use of the opportunity of healing that presents itself before them. Anyway, whatever form of blindness we suffer from, we need healing. But do you recognise spots in you that need healing? Take care so that you don’t squander the moment of grace passing just near you!
Don’t let yourself be impressed! In fact, I never studied any Latin at all! But I know this expression, thanks to one professor of my seminary years. He took great pleasure in encouraging us: Carpe Diem; seize the day or seize the moment! Of course, the interpretation of this beautiful expression is quite elastic; it may mean different things to different persons. For some people it’s enough to have a bit of fun, in terms of pleasure -that’s ok. It’s legitimate. Others would love to go beyond fleeting amusement; they look at each day as grace period that they won’t let go without making a very good use of it. I think of our biblical wrestler, Jacob, who seizes a stranger and tells him: “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gn 32:26). We can draw similar inspiration from the blind Bartimaeus.
Acknowledging my blindness
Pointing a finger at one’s wound and naming it may demand, for some of us, a lot of courage and humility. No wonder we find refuge in shortcuts and simply say -I’m fine. Am I? Are you? That’s how the grace of healing just slips off our hands. It’s not the case with Bartimaeus who has the courage of acknowledging his blindness, and more importantly, the insight of perceiving the grace near him. He may have eyesight problems, but his insight is remarkable. While Pharisees squander their time opposing Jesus and the disciples elbow one another for power; Bartimaeus shouts out quickly and loudly when he notices Jesus passing: “son of David, have mercy on me”. By such address, son of David, Bartimaeus recognises in Jesus a messiah, and the liberation that he seeks is not about fighting the Romans out of power but the blindness that robes him of his dignity. Before such precious moment Bartimaeus will allow no one to silence him or come between him and his healing. And you, are you resisting the forces that may be blocking you from recovering your well-being?
Bye to the cloak of misery!
When Jesus stops and calls for him, Bartimaeus leaps, shedding his cloak of a beggar -the sun has risen for him. And when Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” he answers: “that I may see”. It takes a certain level of self-knowledge to be able to name one’s wound simply and precisely. And you, are you in the position to name your diseased spot in a simple and precise way? What do you want Jesus, your partner or your friend to do for you?
It’s our turn to seize the moment so that we can have the joy of saying goodbye to that sombre mantle of our past, whatever its nature, that may have been enveloping us for long time. Indeed, the first reading is the promise of liberation to the people of Israel in exile who, most likely, are wondering if at all they will ever come out. But Jeremiah invites them already to shout for joy in anticipation of the liberation that is surely coming their way. That’s also a message of hope for us today. However, to be able to benefit from this hope we need an attitude of faith to spur us into a leap, thereby shedding off the cloak of captivity and blindness.
So, take heart my sister, take heart my brother, Jesus is calling you. Seize the moment; the grace of healing and of restoration is just in your neighbourhood.
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